Once you’ve been in South East Asia for a little while you will probably notice you’re slowly changing things about yourself either to fit in, to be more comfortable or because it’s easier. From wearing fisherman pants and no shoes to eating tofu and smoking a sheesha. There is no better place to let that happen than in the northern town of Pai, time to embrace your inner hippy!
This was, without a doubt, my favourite place in Thailand. If you only plan on staying in the south to island hop then stop that right now and schedule in a road trip to this mountain town surrounded with hot springs and elephants. The drive from Chiang Mai to Pai takes four hours along the winding mountain roads with amazing views.
Accommodation in Pai
When you arrive find yourself the perfect retreat to spend a few nights. A friend and I chose to stay at Pai Village Boutique Resort, our own private bungalow with a luxurious double bed, en-suit bathroom and a balcony to relax on by the stream for only 400฿ (£7) a night. If you can afford the luxury then book yourself a room at the Pai Hotsprings Spa Resort. If not, then you can pay a small fee to feel like you are and use the pools and other facilities for the day.
You can do the usual Thai cooking classes, or get yourself a Thai massages. There are great shops that line the main street and the market sells everything from hippy pants to leather handbags. Pai has some brilliant options for food and drink, most with cushions on the floor, logs around the fire, chill music, a lot of incense and some questionable decor. My favourite for good Thai food was The Curry Shack.
Pai is (or was) the only place in Thailand that would insure you to rent scooters. They take you out of town for a quick lesson before giving you the keys, regardless of how good or bad you are. It’s easy to get the hang of it, and we rented them for a week to explore the surrounding countryside.
We found some beautiful waterfalls, there is a swimming pool just outside of town to cool off in, and a temple at the top of a hill with nice views. We went to a half moon Jungle Party which would have been incredible if we weren’t sober, but may or may not have been stopped after too many accidents happened with drunk people trying to get out of the jungle in the dark…
One amazing thing to do if you have transport is to visit Pai Canyon to watch the sunset. You can take a few beers and catch up with the other backpackers that have come to do exactly the same thing as you.
Pai to Chiang Mai on a scooter
One of the highlights of my time in Thailand was our journey from Pai to Chiang Mai. Silke, Gloria, Mardi and I rented Honda Scoopies through Aya Service, loaded our backpacks into the minivan that would meet us there, and drove the mountain road to the big city.
A few people thought we were crazy as it can be quite dangerous and we had only been riding bikes for a total of 3 days, but we were sensible, stopped as much as we needed, and made the most of our all-girl motorbike gang!
It was a great experience and I would definitely recommend it to anyone willing to try it. If you already have experience riding a motorbike you can rent some much bigger bikes than the little 50cc scooters we had.
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