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“Challenging and fun but questionable safety standards”

ATV - Chiang Mai Tours
Reviewed January 6, 2013

Myself and my partner signed up for the Introductory ATV course, which I have a feeling turned into an intermittent course due to the unexpected competency of our group. Although we both enjoyed this thoroughly and nothing went wrong on our trip I do feel there are certain things that people need to be aware of before they sign up, including some concerns I have about safety standards.

- Once you go off the main highway the scenery up the mountain is quite beautiful. The farming area is green and lush and you get some stunning views over the countryside and mountains.
- Although I question whether or not this is actually appropriate for beginners the course can be quite challenging and this is fun if you have the right mindset, particularly once you are off the highway and into the offroading portion of the trip.
- It's definitely good fun

- A large portion of the trip (at least >50%) was based on the highway and this is quite scary as the numerous inpatient Thai drivers are constantly racing around you, especially if you aren't still 100% comfortable with the equipment. I kept looking back for my partner hoping she was still there and didn't feel completely at ease until we were off the highway. I can't imagine how this would feel if you were a parent with multiple kids.
- There was very little in the way of instruction, mainly due to the lack of the drivers English. I think the teaching went for around 2 minutes before we were on the road. We were meant to do a practice lap of a track near the store but this was ignored and we just went to top speed from the get go. This is particularly worrying from a safety standpoint as you are forced to sign a waver saying they are free from any liability if you are to hurt yourself and you would pay them for any damage incurred to the bike.
- Our tour went massively overtime and we did not get back to the area until dark time, which was particularly scary driving on the Thai highway at night. This seems to be a feature of this company based on past reviews.
- Turning the bike can be unsuspectingly physically challenging and your fingers and arms
- The ATVs vary in quality. The one I used could barely get me up the mountains, although this may have been a reflection of my 90kg frame. It did cause me to fall behind the group who would give me quite nasty stares while they waited for me to catch up despite the fact I had full throttle.
- BRING - Sunglasses (essential to stop dirty from getting in your eyes on dirt roads), long sleeve pants, raincoat/jacket. The mountains are pretty cool so this isn't an issue with heat.

Although my partner and I had a blast and found this a particularly challenging tour there were aspects of it that could be improved, particularly the large amount of time spent on highways can prove to be pretty un-nerving for some.

1  Thank Rowan H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed October 22, 2012

We took the 3 hr begineer ATV trip. The ATV that I was provided was in poor condition (lights not working, brakes poor, no horn, kept stalling, frame was welded in several places, etc.). The ATV ahead of me was smelly and smoking so that wasn't pleasant to be behind. The trip up the mountain was very scenic but all road ... probably took an hr or so. The area was lush, fertile, and beautifully green. Views at the top are wonderful and the crops a sight to behold ... have to tip your hat to those Thai farmers. Then a shot section of off-road before getting on a busy road back to the base. It would be far more enjoyable if we had been off road. As it was you could do it on a scooter and save a bunch of money.

Thank Julian B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 6, 2012

We booked this tour via Gems excursion as this is whom I had chosen to book our private guide thru. Seperate review for Gems posted under that title. Booking thru Gems was just easier as i then only needed to pay one provider and the price was exactly the same.
The ATV tour was with All Terrain Vehicle adventure in Chiang Mai and we did the morning tour.
We were picked up in a mini van from our hotel right on time and then headed out of town for about 30mins towards the foothills of the mountains. The van was full with a fun group of young Americans on spring break. My husband and I were the oldest by many years but that did not matter in the least we all enjoyed the morning tour and each others company.
We are used to travelling in Asia and we enjoy the differences such as only minimal regard to OHS with activities, really anything goes and it is up to the individual to decide what is safe for them. So the first bit of paperwork we had to fill out was a declaration that basically said we wouldn’t drive our bike down a mountain cliff and if we did we’d have to pay for it’s retrieval even if we should be dead! Unfortunately the Thai to English translation did not work very well so the looks on everyone’s faces as they read the form was interesting indeed but luckily everyone took it with a grain of salt, laughed, signed it and we were ready for our instructions and practice run. I was quite surprised how poor the English was of the guides that lead the excursion. They’d say something to us and we’d all stand around blank faced until one of us realised what he was trying to tell us, interpret, we’d all nod, then move onto the next sentence. In the end we all figured out how to use the bike and took off with our helmets on to try out the practice course. Now the one aspect i found disappointing was no advice was given on how to actually get thru the mud – do you go slow, accelerate like mad or just close your eyes and hope for the best. I went first and promptly got hopelessly bogged. I had to pushed and pulled out and was already covered in mud before we set off up the mountain. After that i decided to follow the guide and copy exactly what he did. I rode where he went and made the entire course without getting stuck once due to this. Which was quite a relief after my poor start.
I would highly recommend long pants and a long sleeved shirt. Couple of reasons – protection from scratchy branches but also you do get a bit of pace up on the bikes and you are sometimes riding on t he road so stones and such do sting if they fly into your bare skin. I’d also suggest sunnies to protect your eyes and definitely a rain jacket. We were there during the very hot humid rainy season and I could not believe how cool it was in the mountains after we got drenched in a down pour. I didn’t take my rain jacket with and regretted that quite quickly. Luckily a little village shop we stopped at sold rain ponchos which I was very glad I purchased.
Now I am quite fit, but only small so I found the half day quite long enough for me. My arms were very tired by the end as they do take some steering – they handle like a very big bus and take some effort to get around corners. At the time of booking I was considering a full day so am glad I opted not to. The only thing that really annoyed me was about half way thru the tour the guide asked did we want (for an extra price) to go further....this to me was really odd. I certainly didn’t want to but what if the rest of the group did? Luckily they didn’t want to either as they had another place to go to after the tour ended.
The other garment I wished i had brought with me was my gloves. My thumb quickly grew very sore from holding down the throttle and because we were wet for most of the tour, soft wet skin resting on hard hot handle bars is not a great combination. Saying all of this i did enjoy most of the tour. The top viewing spot would have been lovely in the sunshine but as it was pouring rain it didn’t warrant such a long pause – we were all wet, cold and muddy by then and really keen to keep going. Plus the tour went massively over time. Which meant our guide was sitting waiting for us back at the hotel for over an hour.
If you are planning on going to another tour straight after the ATV morning definatley bring with a change of footwear and clothes as you will be very dirty and covered in mud. I’d just plan to go back to your hotel for a shower – I know that is what I desperately needed and you will be starving as it is a morning of fun but tiring activity.
If you are feel a bit challenged by the onsite course I’d suggest you don’t take a bike of your own as the mountain course is tricky. We stopped many times for the instructors to unbog stuck bikes, quite often the mountain track is slippery and steep, and sometimes I was scared but felt confident enough when following where the instructor rode. One of our group decided not to ride her own bike and jumped on with another rider as once you start there is no turning back.
In summary, this was a good fun, exhilarating, sometimes a bit scarey outdoor activity which i would recommend for anyone that is fit and healthy and doesn’t mind a bit of a challenge.

1  Thank Suz003
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 4, 2012

My husband and I booked the all day tour and found it perfect! We do a lot of quading at home so this trip was perfect for us. Although the machines were not what we were used to, they did the trick. We saw some awesome scenery and a lot of the backcountry. Our lunch was provided and it was excellent. Our guide was quiet but knew his way around and how to fix the machines when they broke down. We would recommend this trip to anyone who has had a lot of quading experience. The road could be quite rough and difficult at times. I'm sure it would be quite interesting if you did the tour during the rainy season!!

1  Thank Terry G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed March 11, 2012

The tour takes you through some nice areas. I took the beginner 3 hour tour and we travelled mostly on tar road and some distance on dirt tracks. The guide was no good. The equipment was old and worn and the ATV of the guide was struggling.
I can recommend to anybody that wants to do a tour like this to do it after the wet season when all is green. I was unlucky at the viewpoint because of all the smoke. So avoid this time of the year and do it rather from October to February when it's not burning.

Thank Marki663
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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