Self camping at Doi Bo makes this place a view point with a difference
Perched high above Chiang Rai is Doi Bo, a viewpoint with a difference. Unknown and deserted, it’s an adventure in itself just getting there. That’s what makes it worth the journey.
In fact I would go so far as to say it’s pretty dangerous to reach, but only if you’re not careful. Here’s why.
A few days prior we had hiked to this particular area with a guide through the jungles of Chiang Rai and as we were leaving we noticed a fairly decent looking dirt track that vehicles could clearly navigate. As any well-travelled driving enthusiast would, I confidently stated to Sach that we would return on a rented vehicle. My mind was made up.
So to set things in motion we hired a bike from our hotel. They had a few options but to keep costs affordable we opted for a 2013 model Honda Wave 110 with step through semi-automatic gears. I’d had a go on one of these before and it handled the hills with relative ease, but what I hadn’t anticipated was the width of the wheels. What does that matter you might be thinking? I’ll explain.
As we navigated to Doi Bo the paved road inevitably gave way to dirt track. This was expected so no drama so far. It was when we reached the halfway point up the steep hill that the criss-crossing water channels cut into the mud began to become a danger.
To the left of us was a stone ridden wall of earth, to the right was a steep drop peppered with sloping trees. To the center was the most unforgiving road surface for a motorbike with an 8cm wheel base I have ever attempted to ride. The deep channels that allow water to run down the hill would swallow the entire wheel at any given moment. Shunting the weight of our bodies to the left or right and causing the bike to swerve either toward a hard wall or a big fall. I stopped talking and set my focus to tunnel vision.
Having the weight of 2 people on a bike that I could lift up by hand on pencil thin tyres that chose their own path up the hill made this road trip for experienced riders/drivers only. You have been warned, it actually got pretty ropey. (Note: Don’t even bother trying to get up there if it has rained, unless you ride a dirt bike/4×4 car with off road tyres)
When we got to our destination it made the adventurous ascent all the more rewarding. The view is stunning and if the weather permits you can see for miles and miles of North Thailand’s countryside. In fact you are so close to the border of Myanmar some of the hills might actually be in the neighboring country.
But the one thing that makes this place extra special is the fact that it’s the first place that we’ve found so far where you can go camping with an amazing view. Ashy evidence suggests that you are allowed to light a fire up there too and we saw a few empty bottles of Thai whisky in the nearby bin area. So eating and drinking around a camp fire is an option. There’s even a pretty big toilet block hidden away behind a mound. (More on this below )
All in all, the viewpoint at Doi Bo is worth the visit. Even the towns that you will pass through to get there are a beautiful rural experience in themselves. Even if you don’t fancy camping you can always go up there for a picnic and then head to the nearby Huay Mae Sai waterfall for a post-digestion swim.
Just be careful on the way down!
Self-Camping in Thailand
We have thought a few times that it seems odd that more people don’t camp in this amazing country. So in the time we have lived here we have kept our eyes open for worthy reasons to buy a tent and hit the outdoors. So far this is the first example of that. Doi Bo Viewpoint is a great camping spot if you have your own gear.
If you like primitive camping, just take supplies, pitch your tent, create a fire and you’re good to go. There is a toilet block on the grounds, but the water wasn’t on when we were there. All the signs were in Thai so I couldn’t tell if the plumbing was seasonal or not. But it was a pretty comprehensive restroom area with showers and flushing toilet cubicles to just be abandoned.
To get there you end up so far out from the city of Chiang Rai, your only neighbors are a couple of hill tribe villages. I assume that on a clear night the stars up there would be amazing!
Google Map of Doi Bo Viewpoint:
View Doi Bo Viewpoint in a larger map
Pet Friendly Hotels in Chiang Rai:
Jmayel El-Haj – 8 Miles from Home.