Thailand in April

Discussion in 'Asia' started by aterry1067, Mar 9, 2012.

  1. aterry1067

    aterry1067 Been here awhile

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    Hi.

    I will be going to Thailand for 2 weeks in April, from the 8th to the 22nd. I've been reading quite a bit here on ADVrider and on GT-Rider. Great sources of information, for sure. I am going to Chiang Mai, and plan on renting a dual-sport of some kind, most likely a KLX or D-Tracker. Should I make a reservation now, or wait until I get there and go look around? I have read that it's also a good idea to rent a Dream or other scooter for the first day or two. Any thoughts?

    I've rode quads or dirt bikes since I was little. Now I ride an 1100 sport tourer, and a 650 dual sport when it's actually running. I would really like to do some dual sport riding while there, but I will see when I get there. Nothing too extreme, as it will be a rented bike.

    I've traveled quite a bit in SE Asia, and this wouldn't be the first trip to Thailand, but would be the first time in Chiang Mai.

    I am really looking forward to the cultural experience as much as the riding. And of course, the food!

    My main question is about the bike reservation. If I wait until I get there, will I have trouble finding a dual sport? After that, I am certainly open to any insights, suggestions, some of your favorite places to eat (and more importantly, where not to eat), etc.

    Thanks.
    #1
  2. TonyBKK

    TonyBKK Secret Soi Rider

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    Chiang Mai has TONS of bike rental shops and April is not high season so I don't think you need to reserve a bike ahead of time. The Thai water holiday of Songkran takes place in April and it's a bit nuts in Chiang Mai around that time. Expect to get wet if you ride a bike during the holiday!
    Have FUN! :D
    Tony
    #2
  3. bush pilot

    bush pilot Long timer

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    You will be arriving in Chiang Mai for Songkhran. Be carefull the road carnage during this holiday is very high, especially in CM.
    You definately wont need any reservations as most people who know Songkhran will avoid CM that time of year.

    But if you dont mind some major insanity then you'll be just fine. I reckon the first time you experience Songkhran it can be fun.
    Pop by the Riders Corner in CM for good info on rentals and where to go. They also have great food and very cold beer.

    If CM is too nuts for you its a short flight out of there to either Kunming or Vientiane.
    #3
  4. taranaki

    taranaki statale

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    I rented a Dream in January for a week from POP. Only 200 baht per day, injected, nearly new. KLXs and D-Trackers are 4-5 times more and every one I saw at the shops was trashed - directionals hanging from wires, worn tires, watery hydraulics, etc. Maybe you'll find better stock. They're more interested in turning them again than making sure they're sound. I did see a number of fresh Honda CBR 250Rs at good rates. The Dream was about all I needed - plenty for around town and road trips (I rode the Samoeng loop twice). I wouldn't hesitate to take one on the Mae Hong Son loop.

    Riding can be dodgy during Songkran - the locals throw water on passing riders - not real safe but a way to cool down during Chiang Mai's hottest month.
    #4
  5. aterry1067

    aterry1067 Been here awhile

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    Awesome. Thanks guys for your comments. They are very much appreciated. I knew going in that I would be there during Songkran. I think it's something I would like to see at least once, but a flight somewhere else is certainly a possibility. I will check on that while I am there, for sure.

    I do have another question though, if anyone could advise. I intend to buy a helmet when I get there. I have read through the threads about the various brands and prices. I am pretty sure I would like a Real Drift in white, probably a size xl. I thought about buying it online and having it sent to a shop there. Is that even possible? Or advisable? The reason I was considering that, is that I have read on many of these forums that, while finding a helmet isn't hard, finding one in my size might prove difficult. Any thoughts or suggestions? I can bring my own if I have to, but I would rather get one there (souvenir).

    Thanks in advance,
    #5
  6. taranaki

    taranaki statale

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    I bought a Drift (in white) at the Kawi dealer on the moat. If you wear an XL here you'll likely need an XXL - they run small. You can bargain a bit - I think I got about 200 baht off.







    _
    #6
  7. TonyBKK

    TonyBKK Secret Soi Rider

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    "REAL" brand helmets are pretty much the only locally made helmet in Thailand that pass DOT certification tests. They're good quality helmets, a bit heavy, and they are made to fit the "round" Asian head so if you have more of an "oval" European head you might find the REAL helmet to be a poor fit. They certainly don't fit my egg-head very well and leave a nice red mark on my forehead after a short while and a nice headache if I keep one on for more than an hour or two...

    SHARK helmets are also made in Thailand and are world class, but quite expensive. Not sure how much you want to spend.

    Those of us who live here usually buy our helmets from abroad as imported helmets in Thailand are quite expensive.

    Happy Trails!

    Tony :D
    #7
  8. bush pilot

    bush pilot Long timer

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    Right now Chiang Mai is having one of thier worst smog seasons ever. Lots of flights cancelled going in there lately. Anyone heading there might wish to reconsider because it is pretty nasty. I doubt it will get much better next month unless a big weather system comes along and moves it all out.

    .....
    [/QUOTE]
    #8
  9. TonyBKK

    TonyBKK Secret Soi Rider

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    Very true! I was up in CM a couple weeks ago and it was terrible! Eyes burning, itchy nose and visibility was terrible.

    Good thread about the smoke and have with pics and videos on GT-Rider: http://www.gt-rider.com/thailand-mo...ir-quality-really-bad-in-Chiang-Mai-right-now

    'View' from Mae Ping River towards Doi Saket.
    There's mountains back there somewhere!


    [​IMG]

    'View' along Mae Ping towards Mae Rim.
    Mountains are missing.


    [​IMG]

    Yuck!!!
    [​IMG]

    Lots of CM friends have packed up their families and are vacationing in central Thailand until the situation improves.
    #9
  10. aterry1067

    aterry1067 Been here awhile

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    Do any of you know where international flights would normally divert to if they couldn't land in CNX? Coming from S. Korea, would they go to BKK?
    #10
  11. TonyBKK

    TonyBKK Secret Soi Rider

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    I don't believe big jets are affected by the smog and haze as CM airport has the modern radar system (what's it called... ILS?) that allows modern jets to land pretty much blind. But older jets that can't use that system and use VFR Visual Flight Rules can be forced to divert if the smoke is too thick. The airports in Bangkok are the nearest BIG airports that can accommodate international arrivals. There are other airports in norther Thailand but other than Chiang Rai which gets a few international arrivals I don't think many have the facilities to process an international arrival.
    #11
  12. aterry1067

    aterry1067 Been here awhile

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    Thanks Tony. It's certainly a dilema right now. Do I:

    1. Cancel the flight, stay in the US and ride my own bike around here for 2 weeks?
    2. Change the flight to the Philippines, or elswhere in Asia?
    3. Consider it part of the adventure and just go with it.

    Some factors weighing on the decision are:

    1. Staying in the US; while there is great riding and I'd have plenty of time to do it, I don't know when my next opportunity will be to travel overseas.

    2. If I go to the Philippines, I don't know if I would want to rent a bike. This would be over Easter holiday, and the roads will be packed. Same as Songkran, but sounds like I could get out of the city during Songkran. I do like the Philippines though, and have been there a few times before.

    3. If I keep my plane tickets and go to Chiang Mai, and find the smoke is too bad, I can always go south. Might not be as convenient, and might not get to ride near as much as I had hoped, but still lots to see and do.

    That said, has anyone rented a bike in the Philippines (Luzon)? Experiences?

    THanks for all your help, guys.

    I'ts much appreciated.
    #12
  13. TonyBKK

    TonyBKK Secret Soi Rider

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    Central and Southern Thailand aren't suffering the smoke and smog that have been plaguing Chiang Mai and the surrounding provinces for the last month or so.

    Ranong, Surat Thani, Krabi and further south are all beautiful provinces with amazing roads and stunning beaches.

    End of this month I'm riding down to Malaysia to visit Panang and ride the Cameron Highlands with some friends. Can't wait!

    Even up north there's been some rain which some say has brought some relief to the situation, but until the real rains start in April-May it's going to remain pretty smoky and miserable up north.

    Then again, the first time I rode up there this time of year I was completely clueless about the seasonal fires and smoke and have to say it was pretty amazing riding in to Mae Hong Song with both sides of the road engulfed in flames. Felt like riding through the apocalypse or something- quite amazing really :evil

    Seeing the hills on fire at night is eerily beautiful. As long as you're not asthmatic or have any other health problems that would be exacerbated by the smoke you might just want to stick to your plan and see how it turns out.

    FWIW I hear that provinces further east such as Nan aren't as smoky, and there are some FANTASTIC roads in that direction.

    Best of luck!

    Tony
    #13
  14. bush pilot

    bush pilot Long timer

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    Yea the south is pretty nice. The beaches and national parks great, I highly recomend Ranong. Its not a tourist trap, there's great food, relatively unspoiled islands, there's even a new airline flying a Saab 340 several times a week.
    One of my favorite hotels is there; the Palmy Hotel, there a nice biker cocktail bar down the street, lots of great thai restaurants as well as a decent expat restaurant for burgers pizza and western company. You can rent a scooter and explore the mountains. There are some nice roads, not as pretty as the north but close.
    Ranong is where many middle class Thai out of Bangkok go to holiday.
    Once of my favorite spots I go there often. The best chinese duck and rice restaurant I know outside of Bangkok is a five minute walk from the Palmy. Worth going there just for that!


    Next week I'm going to ride to Penang then to Melaka and explore a bit. Go south!
    #14
  15. Rackemcrackem

    Rackemcrackem Unsafe at any speed

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    aterry1067,

    If you decide to re-route to the Philippines, bikes are available at one location on Luzon. Nice-bike.com in Angeles City, has a Honda Dominator (NX 650), 2 or 3 Transalps, several XR200's and some street bikes and scooters. I'll be renting one of the Transalps for about a week, starting March 25th, so you can't have it! :D Nice-bike is a reputable business but be prepared to leave your passport as collateral. Roland, the German owner maintains the bikes well in my experience.

    I've rented a well-maintained XR200 from MB's Garden at Lapu-Lapu, near the Cebu airport. There are KLR 650 rentals at Dumaguete, on Negros Island and smaller bikes on Bohol Island, as well as other locations, at least for small bikes.
    #15
  16. aterry1067

    aterry1067 Been here awhile

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    Getting ready for the trip. :clapShould I bring my GPS (Nuvi 550, and I only have North American maps loaded) or get one when I am there? I also plan on getting the maps (laminated gt-rider maps) when I get there, and either use the maps exclusively, or supplement them with a GPS if needed.

    Thoughts/suggestions?:ear

    Thanks in advance.
    #16
  17. canoli

    canoli human

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    You can pick up knock off GPS maps in just about any electronics store here but to be honest you wont need it. I have a legit copy of the latest Garmin Maps but found the GT rider maps to be more accurate. My buddies from the states were over here a few weeks ago and used lesser maps and they never got too lost.
    Good luck, have fun. :D


    Canoli
    #17
  18. aterry1067

    aterry1067 Been here awhile

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    Here now. Will be renting a klx soon if anyone wants to get out of the city.
    #18
  19. stubzi

    stubzi Adventurer

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    when and where are you going?

    #19
  20. aterry1067

    aterry1067 Been here awhile

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    No idea.
    I will pick up the bike and head north west????? tomorrow. I have the gt-rider maps, but no gps.

    If you'd like to hook up, PM me and I will send my phone before I go get the bike,

    I dont intend on coming back clean.

    :clap:freaky
    #20