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Exploring Pai, Thailand May 19-25, 2016

Exploring Pai, Thailand

GPS waypoint: 19°21'26.6"N 98°26'24.7"E
Location: Amphoe Pai (District), Mae Hong Son (Province), Thailand

Hippie Town
From what I hear about Pai from the travelers I come across with, it's a small mountain town that serves as a backpacker destination when in Thailand. More specifically, it's a hippie town (and I'm attracted by anything hippie). It's cheap, people are nice, and the vibe is chill. With my Thailand sojourn coming to a close, it's a destination I had to experience

Going to Pai from Chiang Mai
Pai is a common 'next' destination from Chiang Mai and there are plenty of vans to take you there. At the Arcade Bus station in Chiang Mai, there are vans leaving for Pai through these transport companies - Prempracha and Aviabooking (3 hours of winding road, B150). You will be dropped-off at the Pai bus station located at the center of town. It's walking distance to the hotels from there.

Exploring Pai, Thailand
big country around Pai to bike around

I had no booking but was assured there'd be plenty of cheap rooms as it's the low season. True enough, I found Chill-Lom, a reggae-themed backpacker place for B100/night in a dorm room. There were about 7 mattresses on the floor - no bunk bed. Not bad.

Medio de Pai Boutique Hotel, Pai, ThailandMedio de Pai Boutique Hotel
The following day, I moved to the more luxurious boutique hotel, the Medio de Pai located in the heart of Pai - a/c, swimming pool, free bicycle use, in-house buffet breakfast and all the blings. I would do my morning yoga by the poolside to start my day right. Medio de Pai delivered all the comfy amenities in a hotel.

big, comfy bed with pool view window pool view from the 2nd floor balcony full amenities - flat screen tv, fridge, water kettle, safety  dep box, etc
decent choices for breakfast buffet yummy eats! morning poolside yoga

Pembok Waterfall
There are about 3 waterfalls in Pai, but some don't even have water due to the season. I went to Pembok Waterfall simply because it seem to be the closest one from the spot I was visiting - the Land Split. Still, it was a good 4.5 kms into the interior with rolling hills and winding roads - not too easy on a regular bike with tune-up issues. Not surprisingly, the waterfall wasn't more than a trickle. The plunge pool was dark and foreboding. Still, some foreigners took a dip. Along a way, I came upon a group of young tourists with a girl a little banged-up from a motorcycle spill. I'm glad I had my hydrogen peroxide with me. Why? I use it for mouthwash. It helped sanitized her road rash.

the misleading road sign....put 1km before the actual turn I took the false turn and ended up in  a dried up rice field the actual jump-off for the falls it took a little trekking with a wooden bridge crossing
climbing up and down a few shallow caves along the way this is it...the falls - with the dry season, it's nothing more than a trickle-down faucet the smug look on my face after seeing a pee-like waterfall

Elephant Camp
I'm not a big fan of animals in captivity. But still, I was enamoured to see live elephants that are half-free (as they are not completely caged-in like in a zoo). Along the bike route I took, I stumbled upon a few elephant camps...just by the roadside for tourists to see. I think you can save some money if you come here by yourself on a motorbike (or bicycle) and not go through a 'fixer' in town. The elephants are used to people so they allow you to touch them. They like being fed bananas, which you can buy from the camp itself.

a few elephant camps along the way the more white specks on an elephant, the more likely it is to be regarded a white elephant this guy was feeling me!
becoming fast friends meeting Thom of Thom's Pai Elephant Camp Tours - she is female more elephant camps along the way

WWII Memorial Bridge
I accidentally stumbled upon this historical relic as I was doing my epic bike ride. At first I thought it was the same bridge from the famous movie, "The Bridge at River Kwai", but I learned that that famous bridge is in Kanchanaburi (still in Thailand) close to the Myanmar border.

The bridge however is eclipsed by Pai's famous and popular Jack Sparrow (the character Johnny Depp played in Pirates of the Carribean), who makes a living taking pictures of tourists. He lives and breathes his role-play 24/7. He looks the part (including eye-liners), acts the part and believes the part. When I asked for his name, he looked at me snootily and dismissively remarked, "JACK!". Even the locals call him Jack and refer to him as Jack Sparrow.

accidentally stumbling upon the famous WWII Memorial Bridge it's a non-functional rickety bridge that's maintained for its historical significance. The new bridge is right beside it meet Thailand's Jack Sparrow
Jack lives and breathes his role-play true to form, he gives Johnny Depp a run for his money!  

Chinese Tourists
In my travels all over Southeast Asia, I notice the increasing presence of Chinese travelers. They are mostly young, well dressed, have the purchasing power and somehow keep to themselves. Unlike European backpackers who interact with people they meet in their travels, the Chinese I guess are bound by tradition to be more reserved. They add new flavour to the peoplescape. However, with obvious their purchasing power, I hope they don't add to the inflation.

Like most places I've been to, my peoplescape has been one of a revolving door. I meet new people everyday, from a passing "Hi" to a multi-day "hanging-out". I'm not sure if it's people-fatigue in a fast-turning revolving door, but I seem to long for old friends whom I can be with for a tad longer - someone who won't be gone before I could finish my sentence. I'm sure the feeling will wear-off.

Ending Thoughts
Pai is beautiful. It's chill, laid back, cheap and there are many things to do and see. The people who come here get along well. Everybody has a place in Pai.

--- TheLoneRider

Next stop: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

on the way to Pai from Phan, I boarded a blue songthaew...the first of a few rides the songthaew dropped me off some intersection in Mae Lao....where do I go now? Nobody spoke English after some struggle, I finally reached the bus pick-up point...but what bus? what time? the sign didn't help the Google Map app helped since I knew exactly where I was and how far I was from my destination
finally, I got on the bus from Mae Lao to Chiang Mai arriving in Chiang Mai, I boarded this van for Pai for the 3 hour ride in Pai, I got a cheap B100 dorm bed self service laundry is everywhere, otherwise, it's B30/kilo
dinner alone but in conversation with the next table hanging out with CC and Lee...I guess this makes us the Oriental Connection night life in Pai street lunch
in Thailand, the best meal is on the street - it's delicious, it's cheap and it's everywhere...and it's safe on the tummy too B50/day bicycle got me places Pai is picturesque the decorative details go a long way
an electic cafe the bridge at River Pai riverside can't beat that fresh market scene
hanging out with Louy and his leathercraft a cheaper version of beer by the river free public picnic tables by the river put a caption to this!
warm, cozy and lively cafe beer can art live acoustic music a refreshing coldie to cap the evening
on the outskirt of Pai, you see rustic houses rest stop on a charming resto shack tree house inspired resort Pai Hotspring Resort accepts outsiders at B100
outside Pai town, the resorts are more sprawling - Pai Hotspring Resort managing the 30km epic ride on a tune-up challenged bicycle rest stop at Open Mind Center, a meditation retreat center rest stop at Rabiang Tha Pai near the WWII Memorial Bridge
arriving back in Pai after the long bike ride boarding the van for Chiang Mai to catch my flight for Kuala Lumpur    

Google Maps Pai, Thailand

hotels in Pai - hotel
  • Medio de Pai Boutique Hotel - swimming pool, central location, gym, free bicycle use
    227 Moo 4, Wiang Tai, A.Pai, Pai City - 19°21'26.6"N 98°26'24.7"E

tourist attractions in Pai tourist attractions

location markers

Pai FYI / Tips

  • the tourist area where most of the hotels, restaurants, ticket offices, tour operators are, is clustered near the bus station. You're not too far away from anywhere in Pai
  • November through March is high season

How to Get to Pai from Chiang Mai

  1. Pai is one of the most common destination from Chiang Mai and they have developed a system around it. At the Arcade Bus station in Chiang Mai, there are vans leaving for Pai through these transport companies - Prempracha and Aviabooking (3 hours of winding road, B150). You will be dropped-off at the Pai bus station. It's walking distance to the hotels from there.

Things to do, Places to go in Pai

  1. Pai Canyon Pai Canyon (Kong Lan) - 8 km from Pai with nature walk and open lookout with panoramic view
  2. Wat Phra That Mae Yen White Buddha on the Hill (Wat Phra That Mae Yen) - 353 step leading up to the White Buddha on the hill, overlooking the valley below
  3. Land Split in Pai The Land Split - in 2008, the land cracked and opened 2 meters wide and 11 meter deep...the widening continues through the years. Donation-based to the farmer who makes hibiscus drinks. Along the way to Pembok Waterfall
  4. Pembok Waterfall - drive out to kilometer marker 93, you will find a sign that points you to Ban Pam Klang on your right. If you take that road & drive for 8 kilometers you’ll find Pam Bok Waterfall on you right hand side just before reaching Pam Bok village
  5. Tha Pai Hot Spring - 8 km from Pai in the Huai Nam Dang National Park, just 2 kilometers off Route 1095. Water temperature at 80° Celsius. B200 for foreigners. Best to use the private spas for B100
  6. Charn Chai Muay Thai Gym - located within the city, the place to learn Muay Thai, Thailand's national sport. 174 m.1 Chaisongkharm Road, Pai, Thailand 58130
  7. Mor Paeng Waterfall - 3-tier waterfall with chance to slide off rocks into the pool...but be very cautious as the 2 tiers are not doable
  8. Nam Yang Kung Fu - study Kung Fu and practise meditation in a retreat format

Pai Cost Index

(US$1 = Thai Baht 35.691 = Php 46.791 as of May 22, 2016)
  • B55 small bottle of Leo beer
  • B40 standard price for a soup noodle or rice topping dish
  • B40 hot coffee in a decent cafe
  • B200 one hour massage
  • B50 bicycle rental, 24 hours
  • B20-30 coin operated laundry
  • B150 van to Chiang Mai, 3 hours
  • B100 dorm room, shared toilet during low season
  • B10 one hour, internet cafe
  • B30 haircut
  • B14 1.5 liter drinking water
  1. Pad Thai at Thip Samai, Bangkok Oct 16, 2018
  2. Birthday Walkabout Oct 16, 2018
  3. Coming to Terms with Donations Oct 14, 2018
  4. Feelin' Da Blues at Adhere the 13th Blues Bar Oct 12, 2018
  5. Visiting the Grand Palace of Thailand Oct 12, 2018
  6. A Web Mandate in Bangkok Oct 8, 2018
  7. 29 Days in Bangkok: Thank You and Goodbye Aug 27 - Sep 24, 2018
  8. Calling the Bangkok Police Sep 23, 2018
  9. Movie Review: Mindfulness and Murder (2011) Sep 22, 2018
  10. Yoga Inversions at Now's Fitness Gym Sep 19, 2018
  11. Flow Yoga with Teacher Kea at Now's Fitness Sep 18, 2018
  12. Movie Review: Under Construction (2015) Sep 15, 2018
  13. Walking Tour of Little India Sep 15, 2018
  14. Vinyasa Yoga with Teacher That at Now's Fitness Sep 14, 2018
  15. Abs Workout with Teacher San at Now's Fitness Sep 13, 2018
  16. Exercise Ball Workout with Teacher Bie at Now's Fitness Sep 11, 2018
  17. Exploring the Amphawa Floating Market Sep 9, 2018
  18. Exploring the Tree-Engulfed Wat Bang Kung Temple Sep 9, 2018
  19. Parting of the Maeklong Railway Market with a Passing Train Sep 9, 2018
  20. Exploring Damnoen Saduak Floating Market Sep 9, 2018
  21. Horse Racing at the The Royal Bangkok Sports Club Sep 8, 2018
  22. Fight Class with Teacher San at Now's Fitness Sep 7, 2018
  23. Exploring the Bangkok Art Book Fair 2018 Sep 6, 2018
  24. Circuit Training with Mild at Now's Fitness Sep 5, 2018
  25. Gentle Flow Yoga with Nuch at Now's Fitness, Bangkok Sep 4, 2018
  26. A Yogi Lost in a Modern Gym - Now's Fitness Sep 3, 2018
  27. Abundance at On Nut, Bangkok Aug 30-Sep 1, 2018
  28. Outside Looking In Aug 29, 2018
  29. Back in Bangkok After 5 Weeks Aug 27, 2018
  30. 15 Days in Bangkok July 10-24, 2018
  31. Peoplescape: Bangkok July 10-24, 2018
  32. Hatha and Yantra Yoga Fusion July 10-24, 2018
  33. Revisiting Terminal 21 Mall, Bangkok July 23, 2018
  34. Rope Skipping, 4mins Full-on July 22, 2018
  35. Sunday Visit to Chatuchak Weekend Market July 17, 2018
  36. Fork on the Road: Abundance or Poverty by Choice? July 16, 2018
  37. Loving Bangkok All Over Again Feb 22-26, 2016
  38. Hotel Review: Adventure Hostel Bangkok July 11, 2018
  39. Hotel Review: Riva Surya Bangkok Oct 20, 2014
  40. Exploring the Shopping Malls of Bangkok Oct 6-20, 2014
  41. Bangkok's Street Food Delight Oct 6-20, 2014
  42. Bangkok Revisited 3 Oct 6-20, 2014
  43. A First Timer in Bangkok December 31, 2005 - January 3, 2006

  44. Chiang Khong
  45. Ten Days in Chiang Khong, Thailand Apr 30 - May 9, 2016

  46. Chiang Mai
  47. Mike Chong Aug 8, 2018
  48. An Intimate Conversation with my Universe in Chiang Mai Aug 8, 2018
  49. Kneaded and Pampered at Zira Spa Aug 4, 2018
  50. Savoring a Baht 3,500 Birds Nest Soup at Natural Bird Nest by Burapa Aug 3, 2018
  51. Yoga Exploration at The Yoga Tree with Gernot Aug 1, 2018
  52. Yoga In The Park - Chiang Mai July 31, 2018
  53. Yoga with Adam at Hidden House Yoga, Chiang Mai July 29, 2018
  54. 2 Weeks in Chiang Mai July 25 - Aug 7, 2018
  55. A First Timer in Chiang Mai Apr 9-23, 2016
  56. Dance Mandala in Chiang Mai at The Yoga Tree Apr 19, 2016
  57. Songkran Waterfight Festival in Chiang Mai Apr 13-15, 2016
  58. Border Crossing from Siem Reap (Cambodia) to Chiangmai (Thailand) April 9-10, 2016

  59. Chiang Rai
  60. Exploring Chiang Rai, Thailand May 11-16, 2016
  61. Visiting the White Temple of Chiang Rai (Wat Rong Khun) May 15, 2016

  62. Chiang Saen
  63. Exploring Chiang Saen, Thailand Apr 28-30, 2016

  64. Mae Sai
  65. 4 Days in Mae Sai, Thailand Apr 25-28, 2016
  66. Border Crossing - Mae Sai (Thailand) to Tachileik (Myanmar) Apr 23, 2016

  67. Pai
  68. Exploring Pai, Thailand May 19-24, 2016
  69. Visiting the Land Split in Pai, Thailand May 23, 2016
  70. Trekking the Ridges of Pai Canyon May 23, 2016
  71. Climbing up the White Buddha (Wat Phra That Mae Yen) May 21, 2016

  72. Pak Chong
  73. Pak Chong (Thailand) En Route to Siem Reap (Cambodia) Mar 20-21, 2016
  74. Goodbye Thai Plum Village Mar 20, 2016
  75. Yoga at Thai Plum Village Mar 19, 2016
  76. Pond Picnic with the Monastics Mar 14, 2016
  77. Sentence Expansion Mar 12, 2016
  78. Alms Round of the Thai Plum Village Monastics Mar 10, 2016
  79. First Day of Teaching English at Thai Plum Village Mar 8, 2016
  80. Cyber Monk Redefined Mar 6, 2016
  81. Thai Plum Village, Day 6: Plum Village and Vipassana Mar 2, 2016
  82. Thai Plum Village, Day 5: Visa Snag Mar 1, 2016
  83. Plum Village, Day 4: Picnic with the Monastics on Lazy Monday Feb 29, 2016
  84. Plum Village, Day 2-3: Getting Settled Feb 27-28, 2016
  85. Plum Village, Day 1: Arrival Feb 26, 2016

  86. Phan District, Chiang Rai Province
  87. Yoga with Amm Prajna Pitchaya and the Sivananda yoga community of Phan May 16-18, 2016
  88. Visiting the Nam Lot and the Pha Khong Caves of Phan District May 18, 2016

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