Pai - the hippie village in northern Thailand is touted as an absolute must for your next vacation. But is that really true? Is the strenuous journey with countless bends really worth it? Or are the relaxed and pristine times in Pai already over? We can help you if you're still in doubt!
ARRIVAL CHIANG MAI - PAI
Pai really isn't making it easy for us at the moment. Normally we tend to plan and book everything well in advance, but after traveling for over 9 months, we are a little more relaxed about this issue. Unfortunately, all the buses from Chiang Mai to Pai offered by the accommodation providers are fully booked for the desired date. Good mood, no chance. Fortunately, we were able to get one of the last seats online. However, the subsequent journey on a winding road is not for the faint-hearted. After a good 2.5 hours, we reach the bus station right in the city center. It's best to book a bus online in advance so that you can start your vacation relaxed.
The streets are lined with a really wide range of clothing stores, restaurants, bars and tour operators. Only the scooter hirers sit quietly in their stores, grinning with satisfaction, because anyone who manages to get hold of a scooter is a lucky person. We ourselves tried our luck several times and only got a scooter on the last day. The same also applies to accommodation and laundries. The quiet and pristine times are definitely over. Despite all this, the surrounding landscape and nature is beautiful and well worth a trip and we reveal the most beautiful places in our Top 6 Pai. Including a real insider tip!
As the name suggests, a small bamboo bridge runs for around a kilometer across the rice fields of the nearby farmers. A fee of 30 baht (~ 80 cents) per person is collected at the entrance before you enter the wobbly structure and is used to maintain the facility. Even in the late morning, only a few visitors get lost here and you can relax and watch the farmers harvesting the rice plants. There are always small pavilions along the way that provide shade in the strong midday sun. The Bamboo Bridge is really worth a detour and not far from the Pembok waterfall. But with a hefty entrance fee of 200 baht (~ €5.50) per person, we opted for the lesser-known Mo Paeng waterfall!
MO PAENG WATERFALL
The Mo Paeng waterfall is the perfect place to cool off. The water flows down two steps and collects in small pools. Friendly Thais are already waiting for you at the entrance to collect the entrance fee of 100 baht (~ €2.60) per person. You descend via a small green tunnel and after a few meters you are already in front of the lower pool. Small footbridges and ladders lead up to the higher pool and some tourists were already lying on the warm rocks not far from the water. Some also have fun and slide down the wet rock face, but be careful, during our visit a young man injured himself and had to be picked up by paramedics.
HYUN LAI VIEW
Not far from the Mo Paeng waterfall is the Hyun Lai View vantage point. From here you can see the whole of Pai and the surrounding mountains. The approach leads through the Chinese quarter of Pai and the last few meters uphill demand everything from our scooters, as the road is really very steep. At the top, a small donation of 30 baht (~ 80 cents) is required for each visitor. In addition to a small food stall, ceramic hearts can also be purchased and hung on the already colorfully decorated tree in the center.
Pai Canyon is advertised everywhere on the roads and of course we make our way to the canyon just outside. After just a short walk and a few steps, you find yourself directly in the canyon, or rather on the back of the eroded rocks. In places, there is only a narrow path to follow, while chasms of around 70 meters open up to the left and right. Sturdy shoes are a must here, unless you stop at the very beginning in one of the little huts that provide shade in the blazing midday sun. By the way, admission is free here!
WAT PHRA THAT MAE YEN
You can't miss this temple, or rather the figure that goes with it. The huge white Buddha catches your eye as soon as you arrive in Pai. Built into the mountain, it towers over the town and is one of the most popular excursion destinations in Pai. There are a few steps to climb, but the effort is worth it as the view is fantastic. The temple is particularly worth a visit at sunset. But please remember to wear appropriate clothing, which can be borrowed free of charge from a small hut. Admission is also free, so we ended up visiting Wat Phra That Mae Yen twice!
WAT PA TAM WUA
Hold on tight, because if you are looking for a real experience, you should definitely visit Wat Pa Tam Wua Forest Monastery. Located around two hours' drive from Pai, this monastery welcomes visitors with open arms all year round. From two to 10 days, you can take part in the monastery's daily routine, including meditation. In a beautiful area with waters, forests and green meadows, participants are initiated into the Vipassana meditation technique every day. Curious, then find out more...