Located in Northern Thailand, Pai is definitely a place to make time for..
For 150Baht per person you can hop on a mini bus that takes you from Chiang Mai to Pai in three hours! Its not the best trip for a person prone to car or motion sickness, like me – but I pulled through it. Just pop an anti-sickness tablet before you go and you will be sorted! The roads are so winded with many sharp turns. I tried to sleep for most of the journey and before I knew it we had arrived!
It is by far my favourite place in Thailand, so far. We stayed in a beautiful guesthouse, just out of the main ‘walking street’ in town. The guesthouse was called ‘Churn Yuen Pai Gampanat Guesthouse’, we found through Agoda.com for a total of $65Aud for four nights! It was beautiful and clean and surrounded by stunning greenland and country. The lady who owned the guesthouse was so sweet, she could not do enough for us! Washed our clothes for free, took us to town on our last day to save us carrying our bags, gave us free water and food. She was amazing, I could not recommend her more! She was like second mum! 😀
Pai is such a small town that you could get anywhere by foot, but we did decided to spend a very small fortune and rent a scooter for the time we were there. We rented our scooter in the town through AyA services. For 100baht for the scooter and 80baht for insurance per day, we were spending nothing! The gas was super cheap too and there are so many places to fill it up yourself.
What I loved most about Pai, was how ‘chilled’ it was. You can do as much or as little as you want there. As we only had three full days there we wanted to do as much as possible, but could have easily stayed for a week and relaxed by the swimming pool, biked around the countryside or relaxed in the cool bars.
Slightly hungover from the night before, Danny dragged me out of bed and we walked into town to get our scooter. We decided today would be a perfect day for some natural hot springs to sort my head out. So with me on the back, helmets on, we biked up and down the hills to a place called ‘Sai Ngam Hot Springs’. The scenery surrounding the springs was something else, so peaceful and tranquil, with green mountains surrounding the whole area. The water itself was not too hot, it was the perfect temperature to relax in. We arrived at about 1pm and within half an hour it got really busy so I would suggest you pick your time wisely if you want to avoid crowds of people.
The cost to enter the National Park and to enter the springs was approximately 80baht per person. If you decide to ride up yourself, make sure you have a full tank of gas. There is a lady who sells gas at the springs, but charged double what you would from a usual pump.
You can decide to do these activities through a tour, however, you will end up paying so much more I assure you. I believe I saw a tour to the hot springs and then to Lod Cave was 500baht per person. We easily spent 300baht maximum between us for gas, food, the Cave and the hot springs. It just depends how confident you are on the scooter etc. We have definitely learnt to book everything on our own accord, just like the locals would. It has saved us so much money so far.
Anyway…after spending a couple of house at the springs we slowly made our way back to Pai town for the night markets. Each night at around 5pm, the locals gather their goods and push their food trolleys onto the ‘walking street’. Danny and I spent so much time each night trying to decide which stall to eat from; it is so much harder to choose that you would think, being such foodies, so we usually ended up eating from 3-4 different stalls! It is so cheap, you just would not believe!
Today we decided to drive over to ‘Lod Cave’ in Pangmapha. It took roughly 1.5-2 hours to get there, especially because we kept stopping to look at the amazing views. We set off early so that we could get there and return before it go dark, stopping off for breakfast on the way, 25baht for a Pad Tai breakfast, thankyou!
Now, the roads are quite scary, to me. I am a bit of a nervous backseat driver, and I was probably chewing my boyfriends lug off telling him to slow down when he was already only going 40km/hr. But going down those steep hills is freaky; I found that closing my eyes actually helped when going down hill, putting all of my trust in Danny! Haha
Half way to the cave in a beautiful ‘look out’ point, being the highest peak you can go to by car you literally feel as though you are on top of the world, looking down on the rolling green mountains. It is honestly breathtaking how unbelievable beautiful and natural this part of Thailand is. Danny and I spent most of our time shaking our heads in disbelief. It also felt so good to stretch our legs!
Once we arrived at ‘Lod Cave’ we were met by a trained local tour guide, which you HAVE to have for safety reasons. It cost a total of 150baht per person to enter with a guide. I had never set foot inside a cave before so it was all new to me and it did not disappoint one bit! I could not believe that this cave actually existed! The tour guide took us into the cave with his little lantern so we could see and taught us a little bit about the cave’s history and how different parts of it were formed. He taught us how columns were made by a stalagmite and a stalagmite that both grow enough that they eventually meet in the middle, taking thousands and thousands of years to create. There were still picture calving’s of deer that were drawn over 50 thousand years ago using bamboo! (Sorry, this stuff just fascinates me!)
The third cave we had to travel to by bamboo boat. We heard all of the bats above and when shining our torch to the sealing, saw them all scatter, hundreds of them. The cave opened up to a beautiful cove, where we parked our boat and looked around the last cave. It was so difficult to get pictures as it was so dark, but this cave is definitely worth the visit, trust me!
The last day was spend biking from place to place to made sure we did not miss anything we wanted to see. So we started off with Pam Bok Waterfall; another winded road and rough surface to get there, but not far from the town at all. The waterfall itself, isn’t very impressive, but it is tucked away behind a stream and some rock boulders. Once you make your way through the water you see a little waterfall surrounded by rock. Im not sure how deep it is beneath the waterfall, but I did see some guys jumping into it from a short height and no one was hurt – but I was not going to find that one out for myself 😀 ! We didn’t stay too long as it began to get a bit crowded.
We then made our way to ‘Pai Canyon’, about 10 minutes down the road. There are a couple of places to eat here and a few markets you can buy souvenirs from. Danny and I prepped ourselves with a ton of suncream as it was so hot this day, then revved ourselves up for what we thought would be a long hike up a mountain to get there, I have no idea why we thought this, because we soon found out that we were there within 3-4 minutes. The canyon itself was small and all the tourists were walking around the thin surfaces of the canyon; it wasn’t busy, so we admired the view for a little while and then moved on to the next destination.
We wanted to watch the sunset somewhere, and heard that the sunset at the ‘White Buddha’ was nice, although its hard to see the full sunset with the area being surrounded by mountains. You can bike all the way up the mountain and park yourself just below the Buddha. He’s huge and held up by bamboo sticks! haha! Once again, the view did not disappoint and we spent forever watching the sun go down behind the mountains. It is so beautiful, I cannot even describe, nor can pictures do it the justice it deserves!
There are some nice little restaurants on the road to the Buddha, where I got myself the nicest spag bol EVER! I was craving some western food! To be honest, the drive around that day was gorgeous. The roads there were a lot quieter, so we took our time driving from place to place. Oh and before I forget…day three cost us a total of NOTHING, everything we saw was free to enter! So more money for some well earned drinks after a tiresome day of hiking and biking 😉
Like I said, we could have spent so much more time here to relax and see more of the beautiful countryside. But as we had already booked our flights to Vietnam we couldn’t!
Put it on your ‘places to see’ in Thailand, there is something for everyone!
Next Stop … HANOI!
Love Sarah xxx