Surrounded by majestic mountains and laid back atmosphere, this Northern Thailand region has became backpackers paradise.
From Chiang Mai, we hired a driver, and conquered the most winding road we have ever drove on. Hiring a driver is very common in South East Asia, and it doesn’t cost much. Many other backpackers hire motorbikes, while the budget conscious take the public minivan. Driving takes about 3 hours. One the way to Pai, we stopped by the Karen Long Neck Tribe Village and Mok Fah waterfall in Chiang Mai.
Day 1: Chiang Mai → Mok Fah waterfall → Karen Long Neck Tribe Village → Pai Memorial Bridge → Yun Lai Chinese Village → Pai Canyon → Downtown Pai
Day 2: Pai → Sai Ngam Hot Spring → Tham Lot Cave → Chiang Mai
Pai Memorial Bridge
Our first stop in Pai is the Pai Memorial Bridge. This bridge is quite significant as it was built by the Japanese during WW2 to transport weapons to Burma.
Yun Lai Chinese Village
We then head to the Yun Lai Chinese Village. The village was built for the Chinese community. It is quite beautiful but we can see that it was built for tourist. They even have a replica of the Great Wall of China!
We wanted to visit Pai canyon for sunset, and our guide was really good at scheduling the time for us. Upon arrival we had sometime to enjoy some fresh smoothies before we explore the canyon. The scenery was more beautiful than we had imagine! Steve got to explore around the trails but I was quite scared. The trails were very narrow and definitely a challenge for those afraid of heights. I was also wearing a dress and flip flops…very inappropriate for conquering the trails. An advice is to wear proper shoes when visiting!
After about 30 mins of exploring, the sky slowly turned orange. The atmosphere became very relaxing. Boy, it was the most beautiful sunset we have ever seen! The sun dissapearing behind the mysterious hills made the sight so magical.
Pai Walking Street
After watching the sunset at the canyon, we made our way to our hostel in downtown Pai. We stayed at Day Off Guesthouse, and we were not a fan. It was not the cleanest but it did the job for one night. After taking a quick rest and cleaned up, we went to Pai Walking Street. It is very similar to the Chiang Mai’s Sunday Night Market but on a smaller scale. Street food was awesome, and we had the best fresh strawberries we have ever had!
While walking around, our first impression was “Wow, there are lots of hippies in this town. We have never seen so many people in dreadlocks!” The town definitely has a very laid back atmosphere. Pai has became a popular destination for backpackers. For many, this is the town that has made them stay, and live in Thailand. It is very easy to meet other backpackers here.
We absolutely love the nightlife! Bars line up the street, and they are all very lively. Pai has a more laid back feeling compared to Khao San Road – which is too wild for us (although we had an insanely fun time when we were there). We chose to go to Boom Bar. A backpacker (that works there) told us it is the best bar in town. People were so friendly, and drinks were flowing. Most bars close by midnight. And the town became peaceful into the morning where monks roam around the street. What a balance between wild and zen.
Sai Ngam Hot Spring
The next morning Steve was feeling sick. People told us it is from the fruits and veggies we ate in Thailand. They contain different bacteria than what we are used to. So we decided to visit a hot spring to help Steve feel better. We opt for the cheaper, less crowded Sai Ngam Hot Spring. The hot spring is surrounded by lush greens, and the clear, warm water was so comforting. Oh, it was heavenly!
Tham Lot Cave
Our last stop before heading back to Chiang Mai is Tham Lot Cave. This cave is massive, and you need a guide to get in. Our guide carried a traditional lantern to lead the way, and showed us some cool rock formations, 2000 years old painting, and some ancient coffins. We also crossed the river with a traditional bamboo raft. The experience was a bit eerie but super cool!
Pai is a place you never want to skip when in Thailand. The nature is beautiful, and the city is lively. Make sure to stop by- even for just one night!