Long gone are the days when Pai was a secret hippie Paradise unknown to the tourist crowds. Nevertheless, this little town 3 hours north of Chiang Mai has managed to keep a relax and laid back atmosphere as soon as you leave the main tourist streets.
After the tourist turmoil of Chiang Mai, we decided to take it slow for a few days and get ourselves a nice hotel in Pai. Last time we tried something “nicer than a hostel” we ended up in place with 3 stars but two were shooting stars and the third one a ladyboy singing karaoke on top of the reception counter, so this time we got ourselves a really nice place, with a door, bedsheets, pillows, running water and even free toilet paper! OK let’s be serious: we picked a hotel a bit outside of the center, with an infinity pool, a nice garden and a nice breakfast. So we spent a lot of time at the hotel for two days!
Of course we still explored Pai and its surroundings. For this, we rented a scooter and first headed to a waterfall we had found on a map. Turns out it is still the dry season (somehow hasn’t changed since yesterday), so the “waterfall” looked more like a tiny toilet flush… To compensate for this little frustration we get ourselves something good to eat, and head to the “Pai Canyon” for sunset with a quick detour by the “WWII bridge” that looks just like… a bridge that was built around WWII.
We had zero expectations for Pai canyon, so we ended up very positively surprised! The geology of the place gives a cool look to some rock ridges weaving through the trees, sometimes plunging a few dozen meters down. We had to do a little climbing up and down to go through the rocks, so we felt we deserved our sunset!
Of course you can’t go to Pai without visiting it’s streetfood night market in the “Walking Street”, together with the Chinese tourists that come in masses (we had been warned by Thai tourist information centers). We got ourselves some typical snacks but also some more elaborate treats with a hipster touch, such as vegan wraps with rice leaf and grilled vegetables & fruits, or even a Thai-flavored chicken shawarma (to die for!!).
We also explored some of the hippie-bars with Simon & Garfunkel live music (apparently the only music they really know as we figured after some days, since it was playing everywhere) and lots of rastafaris (Thai and foreigner hippies actually).
Unfortunately, Quentin went a bit too far in his experiments and got food poisoning on the third day. He spent the last day laying in bed (or in the bathroom), and unfortunately still wasn’t feeling well the next day when we started the 22-hours journey to Laos. Did we mention that the road to/from Pai is famous for its (exactly) 762 curves?
Bonus: a picture of our night bus on the Laotian side of the border: bunk beds, for two people each. It looks cool like that, but the beds are very short and narrow, so you end up having to spoon with your bed-mate! The first 3 minutes were awesome, but we quickly realized there’s still no way this will be a comfortable ride. It directly started off with plenty of curves, where you always have to be careful either not to be too squeezed by your sleeping buddy or fall out of the box. If you actually manage to fall asleep in this tiny box, you’ll most probably wake up again after a couple of minutes either by a heavy curve, someone puking, or the company’s employee turning on all lights to check whether everyone is still there.
Happy to be traveling as a couple 😀