Hello there! Today I’m popping in with another recap of our amazing honeymoon in Thailand, this time with the details of our quick trip to Pai! If you missed my previous recaps, you might want to read those first.
After spending a few very fun days in Chiang Mai, Fabio and I checked out of our hotel (for now) and hopped on a van to Pai. Pai is a smaller town north of Chiang Mai and is known for its natural attractions like waterfalls and hot springs, and also for being a popular spot for backpacking tourists.
The ride from Chiang Mai took us only three hours, but unfortunately the winding roads were very hard on people who get car-sick easily, which is usually me. Luckily I bought some motion sickness medicine at a 7-11 in Chiang Mai and took some before we got into the van, but one passenger got sick on the way to Pai and then another (different) passenger got sick on our way back from Pai. One was outside the van after the driver pulled over, but one was…not. And she didn’t have a bag. Gross. But anyway, just a word of warning for anyone looking to travel to Pai!
Once we arrived, we saw cute little streets with lots of shops and restaurants.
We also saw lots of dogs in Pai, and most of them were really friendly. Fabio fell in love with this little lady, who followed us around during our whole time in Pai even though we never fed her any food. If she didn’t have a collar on we definitely would have looked into adopting her!
After getting our bearings, we walked over to our hotel, Pai River Corner. Although there are tons of incredibly cheap accommodations in Pai (you can find places for $6 per night), we decided to go with a nicer hotel option – it was our honeymoon, after all. We had the top floor of this bungalo all to ourselves!
(Please excuse the candidness of that one!)
The room was nice enough, with clean bathrooms and wifi. Plus it was still a steal compared to hotel prices in the U.S.!
And our balcony had a nice view of the lush greenery and the pool. Beautiful!
Pai River Corner is also located – you guessed it – right along the river. The restaurant and bar had a great view of the mountains and the river!
Once we dropped off our bags, Fabio and I decided to do a little exploring via scooter! We had read that Pai is a great place to rent scooters since it’s a lot smaller of a city than Bangkok or Chiang Mai, and the roads are pretty tourist-friendly. The scooters themselves are also really cheap, so you can rent them for 24 hours for just a few dollars.
Then again, I had also read about how dangerous the scooters could be, and we saw plenty of tourists walking around with bandages from scooter accidents. I do think most of these were from people driving the scooters after having too many drinks at the bar, but it made me nervous regardless. In fact, I was pretty much dreading climbing onto that thing, and was really regretting my decision at this point.
In the end, Fabio and I decided to take the scooter over to Pai Canyon, a cool lookout spot that was, most importantly, not too far away. I’m pretty sure I gripped Fabio and the scooter for dear life the entire way there, and I was so relieved when we arrived safely just about 15 minutes later.
Pai Canyon featured lots of narrow, winding peaks, and we could see other tourists who were climbing around on top of them. I walked to a relatively easy area of the canyon before realizing I’d have to get down on my hands and knees/crawl on my butt to go any farther, and I decided that was enough for me. There was a huge drop on the side of the peaks, and it seemed like one misstep could leave you very badly hurt. No thanks!
We did see some dare devils who rode motor bikes all along the cliffs, and Fabio and I agreed they were crazy. Again, no thanks!
Once we were done exploring Pai Canyon, Fabio and I scootered (safely) back to the hotel and then enjoyed some happy hour cocktails by the river. I think I earned it for facing my scooter fears!
There was also a cool bamboo bridge near the restaurant, so of course we had to check that out.
It was really rickety, but cool!
While we waited for our cocktails to arrive, it started drizzling and then we saw the most beautiful rainbow!
It was actually a double rainbow and if you look closely you can see the second one above the brighter one. It was so beautiful, and Fabio and I took it as a honeymoon gift from our grandparents who are no longer with us. 🙂
After happy hour, we walked into town for some dinner (we went to the Witching Well per some recommendations I had read online – it was pretty good but not amazing) and then waintod in to Boom Bar since it seemed like one of the more lively bars on the street.
Any place that serves up its cocktails with a slice of water melon is a-ok in my book!
Boom Bar had all kinds of lounge areas, a dance floor area, a pool table, and a couple of tables for beer pong! Fabio and I watched a couple of games of beer pong, but ultimately decided not to play. Instead, we hung out at the bar and made friends with some other travelers, two of whom were from Colombia!
They were so, so nice and we had a great time talking to them throughout the evening.
Oh and just a quick side note: When we got back from the trip I had a hard time explaining to my friends and family what the people in Pai were like, and would usually just say they were mostly Western hippies. Then I saw this drawing in the bathroom at the bar, and thought it described the average Westerner in Pai perfectly:
The next morning, Fabio and I set out for a full day of tours around the Pai area! We opted to do a private tour instead of one of the big group ones, mostly because we wanted to set our own schedule for the day. We had planned to see a water fall, a hot spring, and a cave, but we really wanted to go to the cave in the evening because I had read that’s when all the bats come out. None of the big tour groups went to the cave at that time of day, so we hired our own tour guide to take us. It was a little more expensive than the group tours, but still relatively cheap and definitely worth it.
Our first stop was Mo Paeng waterfall.
This was a really lovely waterfall for swimming in, and we slid down the wet rock next to the waterfall and splashed into the pool. We also met a couple of other nice tourists here, and spent some time talking to them while splashing in the chilly water.
Up next was Sai Ngam hot springs – aka Pai’s “secret” hot springs – which featured a couple of pools of warm water. It wasn’t as hot as hot tob water (and pretty different from the hot springs we swam in at Yellowstone) but it was the most perfect temperature for relaxing and I’m pretty sure we could have staying in the hot spring all day. Plus, our tourist friends from the waterfall joined us, so we got to talk to them some more!
Our last stop of the day was Lod Cave, which was probably the coolest thing we did in Pai.
When we arrived, we bought some food to feed the fish and were amazed at the swarm of them that jumped up to get the food. This water was teeming with them, and some of the fish were huge!
Then we wandered into the cave while following a woman who spoke no English and was carrying the cave’s only source of light, which came from a wind-up lantern. I’m pretty sure Fabio and I were sprinting to catch up with her at some points – if she walked away, we would have been completely in the dark.
We spent some time climbing up into the caves and observing all the interesting shapes in the stalactites and stalagmites.
Then when we had seen two of the caves, we climbed onto a narrow bamboo raft that would take us over to another cave.
It was so narrow and flimsy, and all I could think about was that all those giant fish that we had seen were swimming right below us. Eek!
While we were going down the stream, we kept noticing drops in the water. Fabio and I both assumed it was condensation dripping down until our guide shined her flashlight up to the huge ceiling of the cave, and we saw hundreds of thousands of bats above us. Ok then, those drops are clearly bat poop.
Soon we emerged near the mouth of the other cave, and we saw thousands and thousands of bats swarming around the entrance. It was just about sunset, so it was time for the bats to go eat their dinner, I suppose. It was really, really cool, and definitely worth hiring the private tour guide to see. It was incredible!
You can see our raft in the background here – it really was tiny!
All in all, it was a really fun day exploring the sites around Pai!
When we got back to our hotel, we cleaned ourselves up and then got some dinner from the street vendors. I started with a mango smoothie, and then got green curry and brown rice for my meal.
(Yes, I joined the crowds of tourists and bought myself a pair of elephant pants.)
This was probably my favorite Thai dish that I had during the whole trip, and it came from a food truck!
Fabio got stir fried noodles with hot basil and chicken, and his was equally delicious.
The street food in Pai did not disappoint!
After dinner we walked around for a while to do some shopping and then called it a night as we had to hop on the van back to Chiang Mai early the next morning.
All in all, I would recommend a visit to Pai for anyone who’s interested in seeing a smaller, unique Thai city with all the creature comforts that we tourists enjoy. It was wonderful!
Question(s) of the day: Have you ever been in a cave? Would you ride on a scooter?