Pai is a small, very hippie, town up in the north of Thailand - it might be small but there's definitely a lot to do! We spent almost a week in Pai and while we were there we met people who we continued travelling around Thailand with and will hopefully remain friends with too!
We stayed in the bamboo huts above and it was awesome, this was our first experience of the bamboo bungalows in Thailand but they became more common as we headed south towards the island. To get to the little hut we had to cross this rickety bridge, made solely from bamboo and wood. It wobbled and creaked with every footstep and I honestly thought it wouldn't hold the weight of me and my giant backpack. The locals were laughing at me as I made my way across the first time, shouting 'it's safe, look...' then proceeding to stomp across to prove it wouldn't collapse! I was not so convinced, but eventually got used to it. We had a couple of guests in our hut on the first day, the first being a massive gecko just sitting on our little porch who was actually quite cute and didn't scare us. However during my first trip to the toilet in our little ensuite bathroom at the back of the hut (which was actually much nicer than you'd think for a hut!), I looked down and saw a weird pipe coming out from the plughole on the floor... I was watching it for a while then suddenly realised that the pattern was a bit unusual for a pipe... then finally realised it was a snake! I jumped off the loo and shouted for Josh, who came in and took a photo then went to ask the man who owned the huts what we should do. The man was genuinely excited as he said that this had never happened before, casually poked the snake with a broom handle then picked it up! That was pretty exciting for our first day in Pai!
While in Pai, we went on an awesome daytrip that I would recommend to anyone! It cost us about £6 each, lasted the majority of the day, we saw about 7 tourist attractions and had our own personal driver who waited outside! We booked this from a tour agent on the main street of Pai, you should be able to see the adverts for it easily. Some of the highlights of the day are above. Our first stop of the day was an early morning visit to the giant white Buddha on the mountain, we were able to get part of the way up the hill by car but had to walk the rest of the way up gravelly steps which soon disappeared into a very steep gravel slope! Once we got to the top it was lovely though, the sun was starting to come out behind the Buddha. In general Pai is quite cloudy and constantly smells like bonfire, this is because they burn the forests and fields around the town to increase the nutrition in the soil - I'm pretty sure this isn't good for people's lungs or the environment but there we go. So that's why most of the pictures of the sky here aren't the clear blue you'd expect from Thailand and why we couldn't see much from the viewpoint on the giant Buddha mountain!
The second highlight of the trip was Pai Canyon, I loved this! We climbed up to the top of the canyon then followed the hiking trail, I will warn you that this trail is not for the faint hearted! As you can see in the picture above, the trail will suddenly change into a very narrow ridge with sheer drops either side! There's also parts of the trail that basically require rock-climbing. Doing this in flipflops is not a good idea, as we found out, so went barefoot most of the way round... passing experienced hikers with their walking boots on, oops. And my final highlight was the hot springs! At first I wasn't too sure about this, why would I want to sit in a hotter than normal bath (about 36°C)... while it was over 30°C out anyway! But it was lovely and so relaxing, the grounds of the springs were beautiful too.
While we were out during the daytime, there was a massive powercut across the whole town. The power didn't come back until hours later, about 10pm and even then it was a bit flickery and dodgy. Seeing as we had no light, we went into the town in the evening and all the bars were lit up by candles and lanterns, there was no music in the bars as normal so people were bringing out guitars and ukeleles and everyone was singing along! It was so much fun and created a real campfire feel in the town and made it more hippy than it already was - the fireshow performers were in their element! The electricians couldn't permanently fix the electric, so it was down the following two daytimes while they tried to fix it - 3 whole days with intermittent power!
A few things to know about Pai:
- We visited in early March and it could get a bit chilly late in the evenings, so take a hoody.
- A lot of people have motorbike accidents here, so be careful if you hire a scooter.
- It's rumoured that there's 762 curves in the road to Pai, it's so bendy and even I got travel sick on the way (I never get travel sick).
- There's a nice public swimming pool a little way out of town called Fluid that is good to visit.
Pai is definitely somewhere I'd recommend visiting, even for a few days, if you can survive the journey there! :)