Two weeks ago I’d never even heard of Pai. Little did I know that four-hours and 762 turns North of Chiang Mai we would find ourselves in the backpackers heaven of northern Thailand.
Tiny in comparison to Chiang Mai the only way to see the real beauty of Pai is to get on a scooter.
Due to this and the fact the roads were deserted (compared to everywhere else we’d visited), I agreed to hiring scooters for the two days of our trip.
Still on my stupidly tight daily budget, we buddied up and shared a scooter. To be honest I was relieved, since I wasn’t that fussed on going on one in the first place, I happily played co-pilot.
Thanks to Pai’s scootering backpacker culture, you’ll see half of your fellow travellers bandaged and even in some cases stitched up. All thanks to zipping along on their scooters. Myself and chief pilot decided that as we favoured our bodies in one piece, we’d drive at a Nanna’s pace, much to the annoyance of the boys as they had to wait at every turn off.
It may have taken a bit longer but it worked! Our near-pristine bodies spent the whole first day meandering from one beautiful waterfall to the next. With the peaceful atmosphere only disturbed once by a lady who had totally misjudged a hill and ended up in a ditch down the bottom of the bank.
Our good deed done for the day we carried on exploring and made our way to the hot springs.
Please note: The hot springs are one of Pai’s highlights and although tourists are charged more than double in comparison to locals, it’s a must-see. With a number of pools ranging in temperature from 30 degrees to 80 degrees, you can even take an egg to boil up for your lunch.
After a second morning scootering around and promptly getting lost far from the beaten track. We decided to admit defeat and give the ‘secret’ waterfalls we’d heard about a miss, dragging our scooters to the public pool instead.
Costing only 60 Thai baht for the day (around £1.20), we found a spot and didn’t move for the rest of the day. Well apart from a refreshing dip in the pool. At last, we’d found the sunshine in Pai!
Our evenings were dedicated to savouring the local street food and admiring the hand-crafted souvenirs for sale, chatting to Pai’s very own Johnny Depp impersonator and marvelling at the host of unusual dogs…
Similarly to the rest of Asia, the streets of Pai are filled with dogs. But something was a little different here, the majority weren’t strays but appeared to have owners.
However, not to conform to the norm, many people of Pai don’t give their dogs collars or name tags, that’s much too boring. Instead they seem to decorate their animals.
During the three days we saw a host of almost cartoon-like dogs, including a pink spotty dog, a dog wearing a waistcoat and top hat and my favourite, eyebrow dog who was sporting two black marker pen’d brows. Poor thing.
On the plus side, at least they were symmetrical which is more than can be said for some people.
Stayed at: Common Grounds Place
A lovely back-to-basics hostel right in the centre of town. A great place to chill out, meet fellow backpackers and enjoy the regular acoustic jam sessions amongst a blanket of fairy lights.