Winding down with the hippies in Northern Thailand: Pai
So after some intense partying in Pattaya, I felt I needed to relax and get away from all the busy and hectic life down south. So I made my way up to Pai, a small town north of Chiang Mai. From Pattaya it was a loooong day of traveling. First I took the taxi from Pattaya to Bangkok DongMuang airport, then took an AirAsia flight to Chiang Mai. Once I arrived in Chiang Mai airport, I took a taxi to bus station. There are several buses you can take depending on your budget and your taste for adventure. You could take the airconditioned mini bus that takes 3 hours to get to Pai. Or you could take the 4h public bus which was cheaper.I took the mini bus as I heard that the public buses are quite old and shabby. Seeing how the route to Pai is steep and winding, I didn’t want to spend too much time on the bus and wanted to get there quicker. I actually got a bit of motion sickness in the bus, probably coz it’s been a while since I was on a mini bus in Asia. :)Once I arrived in the small busstation of Pai I walked to my hotel just a bit outside of the center. By now it was already dark and I was walking with my trolley through town. An odd sight as the town was predominantly inhabited by western hippies and backpackers and local rastafaries. The hotel itself was really nice though, along with a pool and great view of the fields on the outskirts of Pai. Pai itself has gained popularity the last couple of years due to it’s laid back and relaxing vibe. A lot of Western people have moved here and focused on working online and remotely. Judging from the stalls and stores at the nightmarket you notice the hippy lifestyle.Additionally, Pai was also the location for a Thai and Chinese movie, which caused an increase of local tourism and mainly Chinese grouptours. I rented a motorcycle for 2 days to go around and see the many sights. It was nice to be on a bike again and go wherever I wanted to. Most places are out of town and it was the most convenient way to go around. There’s this Strawberry themed cafe which was super cliché but also pretty cute. There was decoration and hearts everywhere, I even saw some couples taking wedding pictures around the cafe/restaurant. Anyway, eventhough I only stayed for 4 days, I was able to visit a lot of things in and around Pai. Here’s a short list of the things I did. Mind you, at the time of writing it already 2 year has past so my memory might be a bit clouded. Tha Pai Hot SpringsSulphuric water bubbles out of these hot springs at temperatures of up to 80 degrees Celsius and simple baths have been created where the springs meet a stream which cools temperatures to bearable levels. A short, marked forest trail takes you through the compact national park more noticeable for its smells than its sights. Pai Canyon / Kong LanThis seems to be like a miniature version of the Grand Canyon (USA). As I haven’t been to the Grand Canyon (yet), this seemed pretty impressive to me. It consists of narrow red ridges with steep-sided valleys, both sides filled with pine and dipterocarp forests. Just be cautious when walking around the ledges and mind your steps. The sand there can be quite dusty so easy to slip if you’re not paying attention. WWII Memorial BridgeThe original bridge here was built by the occupying Japanese. The current steel truss bridge which sits alongside the present main road was assembled in its current position rather more recently. It has a strong resembles to the bridge over the river Kwai. It wasn’t THAT impressive to me personally but a nice place to take some weddings pictures apparently. Mo Paeng waterfallA little more accessible than most of Pai’s waterfalls, this multi-tiered waterfall flows through a verdant green valley and is popular for its pools to swim in. It’s a nice side trip to take a break from the heat and go for a refreshing dip in one of the pools. NightmarketAt night there are several eating stalls and handy craft shops set up around the touristic center of Pai. The atmosphere is really laid back and at the time I was visiting, it didn’t seem that busy and noise compared to other night markets. Elephant treksIt’s also possible to do an elephant trek while you’re in Pai. There’s several elephant camps on the outskirts so you can probably go to any of them and arrange a trek. I didn’t really plan on doing one, but I passed by one on my bike and stopped to donate some money for the camp and in return I got some banana’s to feed them and take some pictures with them. All in all Pai is a really nice laidback place to chill out at for a few days or even weeks if you feel like it. There’s plenty to see and to do, but if you’re looking for any high end activity you’ll be disappointed. It’s a place to catch your breath and to do some slow traveling. I would probably go back if I did have the time or if I was working remotely.