Dream Drive – Renn Runn 2023

There are only a few places in the world (for RHD cars) that offer smooth roads, great weather and scenic vistas that stir the keen driver’s soul. The North Coast 500 route in Scotland, certainly, and on the opposite side of the globe, the Great Ocean Road in Australia – but if you want to drive your own car and live in South East Asia, Northern Thailand is the connoisseur’s choice.

Written by: Han K. Hoh
Photos by: Darren Chong

Our “Renn Runn” Tour, from Kuala Lumpur to Bangkok via Chiang Mai, Nan Province and Pai, was planned to coincide with Das Treffen 7- “Dreams in Colours”, hence our Porsche pilgrimage comprised 7 different Porsche sports cars in 7 different colours to match the 2023 theme:

964 Turbo – Maritime Blue. The air-cooled grand-daddy of the convoy presented in rare Maritime blue – only available through catalogue for ordering for 2 years (1991 and 1992)

993 Carrera 2S – Vesuvio Metallic. Last of the air cooled 911s – besides the special edition paintwork, it also featured factory fitted embellishments of silver painted mirrors, handles and the split air intake on the rear spoiler.

991 Carrera 4S – Carrera White Metallic. Last of the naturally aspirated 911 Carrera line – this model has the wide body that came standard with 4-wheel drive.

991.2 Carrera GTS – Jet Black Metallic. 450hp twin-turbo rear-wheel drive coupe built for grand touring, as its name, Gran Tourismo Sport, suggests!

991.2 GT3 – Miami Blue. A stunning colour for a stunning car, a track machine taking on a Grand Tour adventure.

981 Cayman S – Sapphire Blue. Mid-engined flat-six engined coupe in the winning shade of Porsche’s “Tournament of Colors” on Twitter.

981 Boxster S – Anthracite Brown. A mid-engined roadster to enjoy Northern Thailand’s cool weather and twisty curves.

Expectations exceeded!

The area east of Chiang Mai is often described as the Tuscany of Thailand because of its rolling hills, flawless (and largely deserted) roads, perfect weather and awesome food. “The roads are like a never-ending series of Nürburgring carousels flanked by steep walls of green. Coupled with the thick and tall forest canopy that renders it impossible to view the entire landscape from any one spot, it feels like you’re driving through a giant tunnel” said Curves Magazine founder, Stefan Bognor.. Expectations for our 4-day driving tour were extremely high, and even then, they were exceeded! The pictures speak for themselves:

A particularly scenic spot was the “3” road on the way to Bo Kluea – so named because the road curves like the number three! We took the opportunity to film our cars descending the road while the setting sun turned the sky pink behind us.

Spectacular roads cutting through beautiful scenery put indelible smiles on our faces! Winding our way through the hills and forests, interspersed with the occasional highway, allowed us to enjoy the power and handling of our cars to the full – the silky smooth road surfaces and exceptional weather adding to our enjoyment. From time to time, we pulled over to the side of the road to enable the convoy to regroup, creating Porsche photo-opportunities!

Part of the pleasure driving in this part of Thailand were the almost empty roads, affording us the chance to stop, rest and take a photo on practically any stretch. Normally, one can only dream of such traffic conditions, but it was a beautiful reality on our dream drive. We even had the luxury of taking a we-fie of our group standing in the middle of the road!

However, there was one unplanned stop – courtesy of the Thai Police! Our convoy was pulled over due to the Malaysian number plates on our cars. Initially, we were concerned that we had unknowingly exceeded the Thai speed limit, but after explaining (in very broken Thai) that we were on an epic road tour and confirming all our documents were in order, everyone was all smiles in the Land of Smiles! ปอร์เช่สร้างเพื่อนได้ทุกที่!

Coffee Break, anyone?

A surprising feature of the road trip were the many delightful coffee stops enroute, sometimes in the most unlikely places – miles from anywhere! Often with breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside, they provided relaxing breaks (and toilet stops!) from the thrill of the road. We took the opportunity to snap a group photo showing the reverse of our Renn Runn T-shirts – a clever design with all the drivers’ names serving as the background to our Thailand tour.

As with the roads, some of the coffee stops were so empty we wondered how they sustained economic viability – it was as if they were open just for us! Perhaps a side benefit of our trip not being on a weekend? Whatever the reason, we didn’t complain!

Renn Runners enjoy driving fast – two of our cars even have “go faster” stripes (don’t they add 5hp each? Ha ha!) – but such beautiful landscapes and rest stops compelled us to slow down and remind ourselves that life is also about taking it easy and enjoying the quiet moments…

Pai-radise Road

We drove from Nan Province to Pai, experiencing the first section of the Mae Hong Son Loop. This was possibly the most enjoyable driving day of the whole trip, encompassing 762 curves! The way to Pai is a curvy, narrow road that causes tailbacks if one is stuck behind a slow moving vehicle, but provides a thrilling drive when the road is clear! We let our now slightly less than clean (!) cars rest for the night in front of the hotel, while the drivers enjoyed the night market in Walking Street in the town centre.

After spending the night in Pai, the group split into 2 – one took on the remainder of the 4,088 curves towards Mae Hong Son and Mae Sariang, while the other took a route towards Mae Rim – both groups to meet up in Chiang Mai.

A Memorable Meal: Under the Stars with our Cars

The road from Bo Kluea to Pai is a 500km journey, so we stopped for one night near Phayao. Thailand is justifiably famous for its cuisine, but dinner that night was special not just for its food, but also because of the setting! With our cars parked in front of our villas, an outdoor dining table was set up so we could have dinner with our cars under the stars!

The next morning, breakfast was served on the porch, as seen in the photo above. Two drivers taking in the changes between 991.1 and 991.2 generations while they ate – clearly a black and white choice depending on whether you approve of forced induction engines!

Making Everything Smooth

Besides smooth roads, we wanted Renn Runn 2023 to BE smooth! Tenn (Founder of Das Treffen) suggested engaging Song and Au – the same guides who took Curves Magazine around Thailand for their seminal #12 issue.

These 2 superstars arranged practically everything from the time we drove across the Malaysia/Thai border – the transporter to ferry the cars up North and back, the local restaurants and accommodation on our route, the most interesting drives AND help when the Roadster went into a ditch! Its testament to Porsche Build Quality that no damage was done (other than a few superficial scratches) and the car could drive with zero problems (not even alignment!) all the way back to Kuala Lumpur! Who needs a Cayenne to go off-road – use a Boxster !

Other precautions we took was to ensure everyone had Thai 4G radio communication via internet signal – the True walkie talkies operated on data and had a range well over 100km! We also brought plenty of XR-1 Octane boosters as Thailand’s highest RON rating is RON95.

Thank You Tenn, Das Treffen and Thailand!

Renn Runn 2023 culminated in Bangkok with our cars displayed at Das Treffen 7, which celebrated a milestone year for Porsche in 2023: 75th Anniversary of the Company, 60th Anniversary of its iconic 911 model and 30 years of Porsche in Thailand – with the theme “Dreams in Colours”, With more than 500 P-cars attending, it was a huge Porsche Party for all aficionados of the brand.

Tenn was a most gracious host – welcoming us warmly after providing tons of advice for the tour when we first contacted him in 2022 about driving via Northern Thailand to Das Treffen. Every Porsche Enthusiast should attend at least once!

How was our Renn Runn 2023 experience ? A picture is worth a thousand words 🙂