After a chilly night under a thin sheet at our flop house, we set off for Chae Son National Park primarily to check out the waterfall. And what a waterfall it is. Six separate tiers and a hike and a half to the top, it was a great way to start the day. Even better, Susan got in for the Thai price of 20B whereas it cost me 100B — apparently 50% cheaper than it used to be. There’s also some hotsprings in the national park which are only marginally interesting and apparently a hotspring spa. I can imagine what it is like, so we didn’t bother checking it out. Besides, the sun was beating down hard by this stage and the last thing I wanted was a hot bath.
From Chae Son National Park we headed down the mountain enroute to Wat Prajomklao Rachanusorn. Wat Prajomklao Rachanusorn is basically a spectacular temple at the top of a mountain about 60km north of Lampang. We got to the parking area, had lunch and waited for a Songthaew to take us to the “top” — 100B for a return trip and no additional entry fee. When we got to the “top”, we realised we were only about 3/4 of the way up and that there was a staircase for the rest of the way. Brutal. The views along the way, however, were excellent and once we reached the top, we were rewarded with this.
I reckon this is one of my favourite wats in Thailand so far. A wat’s a wat, right? Well, this time it was interesting to get a view as well and it really did feel special. Surprisingly there were a few other foreign tourists here as well, although most sounded like the expat types who either teach English or have a Thai wife. Anyway, this place is certainly worth a visit if you’re in the area.
Next stop was Lampang and I gunned it down route 1035 all the way into town where I had planned to stay in a proper hotel rather than one of those guesthouses with thin walls. That turned out to be a good idea as Pin Hotel turned out to be good deal at 550B with AC, hot water and wifi.
I really like Lampang. It has a charm about it that is lacking in many places in Thailand, especially the bigger cities like Chiang Mai. I really loved the old shop houses, their idea of a traffic jam and the gentle pace of life along the river. While there’s not much to see and do in the town itself aside from the odd wat (and let’s face it, we’re all watted out by now), it’s an enjoyable place to stay with some good food options.
We tried Long Jim’s New York Pizza (quite decent), a good chicken rice place and a funky cafe (with attached hostel) called Homsook Homemade — great cakes!
Again, there were multiple ways of getting back to Chiang Mai and we chose the route which hugs the train line through the mountains. I highly recommend this road! It’s a narrow, quiet road which winds through the mountains, up to a national park and down into a valley on the other side. There’s a bunch of stuff to see and do if you’re not lazy like us — we skipped the train tunnel and mountain viewpoint, but I regret it now. In the valley, we stopped at an organic shop for a coffee — perhaps the first person to do so in about 15 years. And then it was a direct route straight back into Chiang Mai where we dropped off the bike.
All in all, a bloody fantastic roadtrip once again in northern Thailand. Can’t wait to do another one next year.