A Trek to Pai Thailand
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A Trek to Pai Thailand a curvy experience.
We had been living in the charming city of Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand for two months after leaving Phuket and were loving everything about it. People here are friendly and when asked what places to visit outside Chiang Mai, a trek to Pai Thailand always comes up.
How to get to Pai
Pai is a small town in northern Thailand’s Mae Hong Son Province, near the Myanmar border. Made famous as a hippy hangout, Pai is about 3 hours’ drive northwest of Chiang Mai.
Though Pai has an airport, we decided to take a minivan bus to Pai and booked it through one of the many youth hostels in Chiang Mai. You can also book a bus at the bus station. Hiring a car or motorbike is another option but keep in mind a trek to Pai from Chiang Mai is very windy with the road taking 762 turns and can get a little hairy at times.
On the Road
After leaving Chiang Mai city limits, we were excited to be getting out into the countryside. We drove through lush vegetation, passing small villages and roadside stalls as we made our way up through the mountains, briefly stopping for a refreshment break halfway through the trip.
The second half of our journey became more arduous as we wound our way through the tight twists and turns. I have never suffered from car or motion sickness before but I began to feel quite nauseated and woozy with every turn. The roads for the most part were good and a road upgrade was in progress to widen the road but care does need to be taken as we passed a car crash along the way. We tried not to watch as our Kamikaze bus driver overtook two cars at a time on the bends.
Where to stay in Pai Thailand.
Arriving safe and sound we walked through town to our hostel for the next two nights. We took a twin room with fan and private facilities at the Baan Ing Na Hostel. This quiet, clean and comfortable no frills Hostel about a 10 minute walk across the river from town. Our room overlooked a very peaceful rural setting with a few cows and extremely cute calves grazing in the rice paddies.
Things to do in Pai
Walking back into town we explored the streets with many bars, restaurants and shops. Never having a Thai massage before, I decided to see what all the fuss was about and chose to have a leg massage. I didn’t know what to expect and was quite surprised that some of the pressure hurt but I enjoyed it and in a blissed out state floated all the way back to the Hostel.
In the evening we went bar hopping, sampling a few of the many bars in Pai before stopping in at Burger Queen for dinner, I had Spicy Chicken Burger which was one of the most delicious burgers I have ever eaten. We ended the night at the Yellow Sun bar where we were entertained with live music.
Early Morning in Pai
Waking early in the morning we soaked up the peace of our rural environment before taking a leisurely stroll into town. We made our way to the Bamboo Bridge. This rickety bridge rocks as you cross it and makes you wonder how it can hold your weight but it has a lovely view of the river with glimpses of the big Buddha looking down from the mountain. That morning we were rewarded with the sight of the big red Budweiser balloon floating silently over the top of us.
Getting Out and About
After breakfast we hired a white songthaew to take us to see the sights out of town. A songthaew is a passenger vehicle with two bench seats in the back. We were whisked off to the first location Morpong Waterfalls. Climbing down to this pretty waterfall, we felt the temperature lower as we were engulfed lush tropical forest with palm trees and flowers. Placing our fingers in the water we were surprised to find that it was freezing. The falls were low when we were there but when the falls are high many people use rocks of the falls as a waterslide, which is a lot of fun.
We stopped at Coffee in Love and took in the vast view of the mountains and valley as we sipped our coffee and Mango shake.
We continued our drive through little villages. We watched women sow their fields and spotted cattle, goats, chickens and water buffalo, getting waved at by the locals as we passed. As we drove down the dirt roads we saw many different types of houses some made of woven bamboo, with the roof made of large overlapping leaves, alongside brightly painted brick houses. All surrounded by beautiful vistas of mountains and valleys.
Pam Bok Waterfall
Next stop was Pam Bok Waterfall. Upon arrival we walked up a narrow dirt track which climbs upwards following a small water fed canyon covered with a canopy of lush forest that shaded the path. We walked on further until we came to a wobbly bridge which crossed over the canyon and we worked our way upward on a path until we came to the waterfall which cascaded down to a natural rock basin. Though it was too cold to swim, it was lovely to just sit there and take in the peace and beauty of the scenery.
Not far from Pam Bok Waterfall is Pai Canyon. Walking up the hill, I will never forget my first glimpse of Pai Canyon. Surrounded by mountains and stunning views, this landscape of narrow red ridges rise 30 metres above the canyon floor. This Martian like landscape was created by decades of erosion, but take care as these sheer drops not for the feint hearted.
Wat Mae Yen
At the time of our visit, parts the temple on the hill were still under construction, but it didn’t take away from the impressive statue of Buddha that overlooks the town of Pai. Walking up the 350 steps you will be rewarded with spectacular views of the valley below and get a chance to buy souvenirs from the little stalls at the bottom of the steps.
Other activities such as River Rafting and Tubing, Elephant Camps, Pai Hot Springs and Pai Memorial Bridge are all reasons to take a Trek to Pai Thailand.
We wished we could have spent more time exploring the town of Pai and hope to visit again. Have you been to Pai? What was your favourite place in Pai? Feel free to leave a comment.