Opinion: An international riding holiday on a realistic budget

The great roads in Thailand are only part of the appeal.

I’m always grateful for the fact that I’ve had the opportunity to ride motorcycles in some of the fantastic places around the world. It really is a special experience to get to ride on exquisite roads that wind through exotic lands, but a recent ride through Thailand was the best experience yet and I think it’s worth sharing why that was.

The Yamaha R3 and MT-03 reviews were the result of a thoroughly enjoyable three-day ride through the northern region of Thailand. We flew into the city of Chiang Mai and began the 700-odd km ride from there. The route included the cities of Phayao, Nan and back to Chiang Mai, and what a route it was.

It was three days of nearly non-stop winding roads. Some were incredibly wide and fast, others gently meandering through the countryside. In some cases, we rode on the most exhilarating single-carriage mountain roads I’ve ever experienced.

Every road had near-perfect tarmac and road signage was meticulously detailed, to the point of even letting road users know the precise degree of gradient for upcoming inclines. I also liked how the roads there often run along the very top of hills for long stretches – rather than along the side of hills like we have here. That results in some spectacular crests and drops that stretch into the distance and make you go ‘whoa’ every now and then.

But outstanding road infrastructure is nothing new and you’ll find that in plenty of places around the world. What really made this ride stand out for me was the approachability of everything. For starters, this isn’t in some far-flung land in another continent – getting to Thailand takes just a few hours and flight tickets don’t come at the expense of a broken bank account.

But the affordability factor only gets better once you’re there. Food, accommodation and even fuel are delightfully cheap in Thailand. If you’re the experimenting type, Thailand’s street food is a huge part of the cultural immersion and even after multiple visits over the years, I still can’t get over how food this good can be so affordable.

Another aspect that struck a cord was how things feel different yet familiar. Many of us remarked how the landscape often felt like back home, particularly in North East India’s lush green countryside. Mostly though, just like us, you ride on the left side of the road and while the cars are very well-behaved, two-wheeler traffic strikes a lovely balance between order and chaos. The weather this time of the year is lovely and traffic was thin throughout. When I asked about speed monitoring, I was subtly informed that things are fairly relaxed and even if you do get a ticket, it’s not too expensive.

If you’re used to our free-for-all environment, riding in places like Europe and America can be a pretty stressful affair with all the strict rules and guidelines – both spoken and unspoken. In that respect, Thailand was enjoyably chill, and as long as you ride with general sensibility, respect and consideration, it’s all good.

Finally, Thailand has a surprisingly rich motorcycling culture and it’s very easy to hire motorcycles or simply to sign up for a curated motorcycle tour of the region. If an international road trip is something you’ve been dreaming about, a trip through northern Thailand is really worth it.

Also See:

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