Have you ever returned from a trip and felt a strange emptiness inside you ? A feeling that you can never be completely home again?
Such is the price you pay for going to Pai ! Named after the river flowing through it, Pai is a small town tucked in a quiet valley amidst thai mountains and lies near Myanmar border. It is roughly a 3 hours drive and 762 bends away from Thailand’s cultural capital, Chiang Mai.
Sounds scary right ? But it is important to understand that we aren’t taking 762 curves on one mountain (that’s nerve wrecking !) instead crossing several mountains, hence the path goes up and down and is not as horrifying. The highlight of our trip was the journey from Chiang Mai to Pai which is pretty smooth and scenic if you can enjoy the numerous bends and curves by keeping your adventurous spirit high. One might feel sick though which can be battled by taking motion sickness tablets beforehand.
How to Reach : From the Chiang Mai airport, head straight to the Chiang Mai Arcade bus station(around 40 minutes drive away) where you can easily hop on to any of the Prempracha Transport minibuses (licensed vans) going to Pai. Tickets are available at the Avia booking counter for 150 baht each in a ten seater bus. Buses leave every hour from 7.30 am to 5.30 pm. For any further information regarding transport from Chiang Mai to Pai and back refer to this website https://allaboutpai.com/transport/
Cruising the adventurous mountain curves we finally reached this beautiful, hippy-like town which is also home to a colourful cafe culture. Here you can find people from the remotest corners of the world taking a life-changing break. This place is certainly a gem for solo travellers wanting to meet like minded people.
Meandering through the gullies of Pai we realised that their artists have a flair for creativity and design. We couldn’t stop ourselves from admiring their furniture made out of unconventional materials and graffiti on crumbling walls. It was a combination of weird and wonderful at the same time.
We stayed at the heart of the city in Pai Village and Boutique resort which was a 5 minute stroll from the Walking Street. Pai is a sleepy town in the mornings with many tattoo, massage parlours and salons to relax in while it’s a ‘party paradise’ in the night. We spent most of our daytime riding on our Candy Road Motorcycle sidecar going to the furthermost places in Pai. The Thai temples, rice paddies, hot springs, farms and fruit orchards kept us busy all day.
Our evenings were dedicated to Walking Street where we lazily strolled to treat our senses. There is enough to see, smell, shop, eat, hear and touch but not enough to keep you engaged all night.Some compare it with Bangkok night markets which I must say is a pretty ambitious claim. This street comes alive at 6 and closes down at 11. Restaurants and bars function till late.
We loved hanging out at the restaurants most of which served the best of the Thai and Italian food. My personal favourite was the ‘Witching Well’ cafe for their immensely soft and gooey chocolate cakes. Also loved their Guacamole bruschetta. Most of the restaurants served vegan/vegetarian food, so eating out was not a problem at all for plant-eaters like us.
The best time to visit this northern Thailand paradise is between November to January. We were there in the end of March which was hot but not unbearable. We were also lucky to experience a couple of rain showers during our time there. Before going there we did a fair bit of research and found about farmers burning their fields in March to prepare for regrowth but much to our delight there was nothing which meddled with tourist fun.
Just like us, if you are better off exploring lesser known places than Pai can be a super destination for you. No matter which month you choose to travel you shall fall in love with its infectious beauty !
—- Consolidated everything with the help of my parents. Much thanks for reading !