Without a doubt, the hippie town of Pai was my favorite destination in Northern Thailand. And I wasn’t the only one — the town is definitely no secret paradise. Luckily, it’s easy to escape the dreadlocked masses if you’re feeling a little claustrophobic.
For a mere 220 baht (around $7), you rent a scooter and dash off into the countryside. And that’s exactly what MM and his friend Drew and I all did one day when we finally woke up early enough to score some of the town’s limited wheels.
Our first destination was the Tha Pai Hotsprings. After one entertaining wrong turn where we accidentally bought admission to use a fancy resorts’ pools for the day (the signage was confusing, I swear!) we obtained a refund and finally found the real deal.
These pools reach a shocking 175 degrees Fahrenheit — enough to entire locals to boil eggs! Luckily, there are several more realistically-temperatured pools that we could stand to soak in. Just a note, if you plan on coming here — there were plenty of locals nearby bathing in sarongs or t-shirts and shorts, and so I felt pretty inappropriate in my bikini! Bring a sarong for modesty.
Back on the road, we passed by a World War II Bridge. It’s worth a stroll across and a read of the signs describing its historical significance — who would guess a world war relic would exist in this tiny corner of Thailand? — but we mostly enjoyed the views from the cafe across the street.
Our next stop was Pai Canyon. While I wouldn’t exactly say it was Thailand’s answer to The Grand Canyon, the narrow ridges were fun to clamor around, and the dramatic red dirt and pine forest made for a beautiful landscape.
Finally, we headed down the windy turn-off road for Pam Bok Waterfall. It was a great drive, filled with scenes of small town life and big sweeping views. The waterfall itself was way to cold for me to consider dipping into, but MM took one for the team.
What came next was the highlight of the day. Enticed by a sign for a fruit juice I didn’t recognize the name of (and unfortunately can’t recall now!), we pulled over at a roadside farm. Within minutes we were sat at a handmade table, and served a bounty of yummy local snacks and endless glasses of the delicious mystery juice.
The property was stunning, and a guestbook we were asked to sign explained that after a massive chasm appeared though the family’s farmland, they turned to hospitality to make a living. Rather than charge for access to the farm of the food and drinks they provided, they simply asked for donations.
My favorite feature of the farm, of course, were the sweet animals — some of whom I fought hard to resist stuffing in my bike basket and zooming away with.
Oh hey there, biggest chicken in the world. Yes, we would indeed like to hold you. And I hope this isn’t awkward, but it appears that Mohawk Man totally stole your haircut.
With the sunset looming, we set off for Wat Phra That Mae Yen Pai’s hillside temple.
It’s a fantastic wat — friendly monks, hidden nooks and crannies, and a sweeping view over the Pai countryside.
It was a great day exploring just a tiny bit of what the outskirts of Pai have to offer! When the time came to leave, I admit — I was heartbroken to say goodbye to Pai!
Fortunately, I’d be making my way to the next town in a fun and unconventional manner. Stay tuned to hear about my two days rafting through the jungle.