There are so many small hippie places and one such is Pai in Thailand. Just a few hours away from Chiang Mai, and to be precise, 762 curves leads you to this lazy backpacking town. If you have been to Chiang Mai, everyone there will suggest that you should visit Pai and stay at least for a night. Last time when we visited Chiang Mai, we did not even know of its existence. Glad we got to go to Chiang Mai this year and we sure did make it to Pai, not for one night but three.
Pai to me is nothing short of a honeymoon destination, so romantic and warm.
We took Thai Airways and they have the best connecting flights as we did not have to waste any time on transit. The Prempracha bus from Chaing Mai to Pai and back can be booked here.
Chennai to Bangkok to Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai to Bangkok Chennai
Sim Card: We chose AIS and got the travellers’ 7 days sim card from Chiang Mai Airport.
Stay: Common Grounds, Pai
Expenses in Pai (Food, Travel, Stay, Entry Fees): INR 22,000
Things we did in three days in Pai
We reached at 3 pm on day one. While we could have explored the town, we chilled in our room for some time before heading out to Pai’s Walking Street for some bar hopping.
Rented a bike (never give passport, you can leave a cash deposit instead), visited Nam Hoo Temple, Yun Lai Viewpoint, Santichon Chinese Village, Mor-Pang Waterfall, Land Split, Bamboo Bridge aka Boon Koh Ku So, Pai Canyon aka Kong Lan, Memorial Bridge
White Buddha, Sai Ngam Hot Springs, Tham Lod Cave
Other things that can be explored: Coffee in Love, I Love you Pai, Pembok Waterfall, Love Strawberry, Bamboo rafting, Mud Bath, Tha Pai Hot Spring and more.
Day One In Pai
We boarded our Prempracha 12PM minivan from Chiang Mai Bus Station. The journey for most of us will not be as pleasant as hill drives are meant to be as the minivan will drive through 762 curves to reach Pai.
We had a donut and coffee to take our Avomine (to prevent nausea) tablet just to ensure we don’t feel dizzy and make the drive difficult. With one-stop midway, it took us three hours to reach the destination.
We had chosen Common Grounds Hostel (which is a 2-minute walk from Pai Bus Station) as our place of stay for three nights. Ideal location, great rooms, great vibes, one old pool table, an amazing bar, and warm people is Common Grounds in a nutshell. This place does not serve breakfast.
We checked into our hostel (private – duplex) and chilled in our room for some time before heading out for our late lunch. After a late lunch, we just walked wherever the road led us and soaked ourselves in the raw beauty of a small quaint town.
Walking Street, Pai
The shopping scene is pretty nice in Pai as is the case anywhere else in Thailand. The silent place came to light when many shops opened as we were walking along.
Aesthetically done shops, different things to buy unlike usual shopping markets and art was everywhere. We even had chai in a bamboo glass which was our first.
We also hopped from one bar to another just to see who has to offer what as it was almost LIVE music everywhere <3 The hostel also comes up with bar hopping so making new friends in Pai is a breeze.
Day Two In Pai
Though it was raining non-stop, we rented a two-wheeler from Kumi Pai Motorbike. They will ask for your Passport but you can deposit 2000 Baht instead. We chose a 200 Baht per day scooter and the rental fee was calculated per 24hrs instead of the usual morning to evening, which is common in many other cities. You can rent the bikes once you reach Pai as there are many shops.
Wat Nam Hoo Temple
Entrance Fee: None
We spotted the temple on our way to Yun Lai and made an impromptu stop. This is a sacred temple in Pai and the Buddha statue here is considered legendary. The story is that the head of the statue is hollow and always has water which is believed to be holy.
Yun Lai Viewpoint
Entrance Fee: THB 20 per person
From here, we visited the famous Yun Lai Viewpoint (must visit). You get to see green fields and the landscape is pretty from here. It was a foggy day so we spent some time waiting for a clear view of Pai.
On the way to Yun Lai, you will cross the Santichon Chinese Village. Honestly, nothing here to see but had a quick glance to see what’s instore while returning from Yun Lai.
Mor Paeng Waterfall
Entrance Fee: THB 20 per person
We spent about 30 minutes here. A nice little waterfall to relax and have fun in. Rainy day calls for no enjoyment in waterfalls and so we clicked a few pictures, walked around a bit and left.
On the way, we spotted a strawberry farm and so while returning, we ordered a cold yummy strawberry shake. After the refreshing drink, we headed towards Land Split.
Entrance Fee: None – please donate if possible.
Earthquakes in 2008 and 2013 caused the land to crack and split. This has made Land Split an interesting place to visit. The owner does not charge for one to see this place, however, donate some money as he runs this farm out of love and passion. His soybean farm is now a tourist place and this is the only way he makes money. There is enough place to relax while munching interesting food that he has to offer.
Bamboo Bridge, Pai
Entrance Fee: THB 30 per person
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I completely fell in love with this place. It was not love at first sight. But as we were walking on the bridge, the breeze and the entire landscape took me to a whole new dimension. This was nature at her purest form and there are small hangouts to enjoy this peaceful beaut.
Originally built for the monks those days to walk across the farm to get food from the village, a beautiful temple awaits at the other end of the bridge.
On the way back, we had a little fun here before heading to Pembok Waterfall.
It was a rainy day and the waterfall was all brown and so we did not really explore Pembok. We just saw the place from the outside and continued to Pai Canyon.
Entrance Fee: None
Multiple paths can be taken to explore this great landscape which was almost never-ending. Pai Canyon is a very famous point for sunset, also many tour operators end their trip with this place. We were careful as the paths were narrow and tiny. There were no safety measures and a small slip can lead to a 30-50 metre drop.
Memorial Bridge of WWII
Entrance Fee: None
The Japanese, with the help of locals, constructed a wooden bridge over the Pai river to facilitate movement during WWII to attack Burma (Myanmar). That bridge was later burnt by Japanese soldiers, however, the locals needed it for their daily commute. The original structure was therefore replaced (quite a few times over the years) with a steel structure. We went here after spending time at the Canyon.
Day Three in Pai
Locals and tourists visit this place so please be dressed appropriately. Not many steps to reach the top making this Buddha accessible 😉 The views from here are splendid as well. People tend to go here in the evening to catch the beautiful sunset from here.
Sai Ngam Hot Springs
Entrance Fee: THB 300 per person
We were ready to soak ourselves in Sai Ngam Hot Springs. Also called the secret hot spring, this was located quite far away from the city centre.
The water is crystal clear, a temperature that you will be absolutely happy and relaxed in and all this in a nicely enclosed forest. There was a place to change and plenty a place to chill after soaking in the hot water.
Tham Lod Cave
Entry Fee: There’s no entry fee for the caves as such, but you can’t enter without a guide, and guides charge THB 150 per person
Tour Operator: THB 100 per person (for to and fro transportation)
If you enjoy exploring or simply visiting caves, you will like this one. We explored three caves on this trip. While the first and second are walkable, the third one can be reached by taking a bamboo ride. Huge limestone stalactites and stalagmites formations can be seen here. There were even coffin-shaped remains which were interesting to see. The locals (women mostly) take you through the caves with their lantern as it’s pitch dark. Also, they show the lookalike formations, explain in the little English they know, etc.
We took the evening tour which began at 1430 hrs from Pai. The evening tour is more preferred as Swallow birds come in thousands as the sunsets which makes it interesting to experience. This was quite a distance from the centre. The entire trip was about under 5 hours. You can stay here and explore more if you wish. You can learn more about the tribe and explore the jungle.
Day Four In Pai
We did not plan anything and made the most of this lazy village by just chilling 😉 We booked our return bus to Chiang Mai at 12 in the afternoon. Had our breakfast by 10 am so we did not have to throw up while going back those 762 curves.
There are few more temples to see, great viewpoints to just sit and stare, amazing breakfast and eating/drinking joints and if time permits, more places can be visited around Pai in a two-wheeler.
We are thankful to have discovered this place and took a piece of it back with us 🙂