Top 10 tips for riding Chiang Mai to Pai (1095) by moped or motorbike.
Thai riders, rarely crash motorcycles. Look at any collection of bikes, in any rental business in Thailand and you will notice something. Holidaymakers do. Why? Well, there are many reasons, and poor cornering technique is one of them. If you want to ride to Pai safely, (and why wouldn’t you)? – Read on.
I love riding motorcycles. I have ridden them for the best part of 30 years. I even spent a short while selling them! Nowadays, I am content with writing articles about them for clients, riding on the odd track day, and of course, riding them in Thailand!
When it is hot and sticky, there is no quicker way to get a smile on your face than hiring a bike! Well, there is, but that is not up for discussion here. Even as an experienced rider, I found the idea of riding in Thailand a little bit daunting. When I heard the rumours about the road to Pai, I was even less enthralled. In fact, the road is not nearly as bad as I had thought it might be.
If you are new to riding a scooter, or bike, and want to hire a bike to get to Pai, here are some tips. I hope they can focus your thinking, and help make your trip a pleasant one.
These tips apply to motorcycles and scooters.
Top tips for riding to Pai
- Make sure your hire company gives you a bike that has been recently serviced.
- Check the brakes and tyre pressures anyway! You will find the correct tyre pressures for the bike you are riding online. Tyre manufacturers do vary in pressure, and tyre pressures drastically affect the way in which a bike handles. As a guide, expect around 25PSI front and 36 PSI rear for scooters. Expect 32 PSI front and 40 PSI rear for larger motorcycles.
- Go for the most powerful engine you are comfortable riding, the road is steep.
- Carry as little baggage as you can get away with. If that means leaving some clothing in Chiang Mai then do that. There are so many markets in Pai, you can buy stuff when you get there. You could use this as an opportunity to offload some of your old clothes or leave a pile with a laundry service in Chiang Mai to collect later. You will enjoy the ride more without a big bag on your back. (With hindsight, I wish I had done this).
- If you are new to two-wheels, learn to corner smoothly before the day of your trip. It won’t take much more than a few hours of practice. The process for safe cornering is; approach the bend and brake to get down to cornering speed; release brake and tip into the corner; keep your eyes focused on where you want to end up; accelerate only after you have exited the corner. NOTE: A bike will always go where you are looking, so on tight bends look through the corner to the exit. (You can learn how to corner here)
- Wear full-length trousers that cover your whole leg, and proper trainers or boots. If you are unfortunate enough to go over, you will be grateful for the extra protection.
- Wear your helmet. Thailand is notorious for people riding with no helmet. This is not the road to try that out on. If your helmet is loose, keep asking for another until you get one that fits. If you can get more than one finger between your forehead and the inside front of your helmet, it is too big. When the strap is done up, there should be minimal lateral, or front to back movement
- Never ride beyond your ability. Slow and steady is the way to avoid unwanted injuries. If you are riding with a pillion, let them set the speed at which you ride. A nervous pillion will move erratically and upset the bike.
- Finally; it is not a race! Remember to stop and enjoy the view on the way up. Around halfway there is a little community of shops and market stalls where you can catch your breath and enjoy a well earned cold drink.
- Don’t try riding this road if you are high, or have been drinking alcohol. Even sober, I had a couple of corners that tightened up on me a little quicker than I anticipated. You have zero chance of making it safely round an unexpectedly tight bend if you are pissed or tripping, so don’t be a c***
There is nothing like the feeling of freedom a bike brings. Build your confidence early enough, and you will have the best time riding to Pai and back. Who knows, it may be the beginning of a whole new side of life for you.
Shiny side up!
If you are enjoying my Digital Nomad Diaries, please click follow, share or like. None of the links in my articles is earning me any money. If I make a statement or suggest a course of action, it is based on a genuine opinion, rather than a monetary gain.
Sean Holland is the UK based Creative Director at Joined Up Think. He is a playwright and performs spoken word in the UK under the pseudonym Alexander Rhodes