#35 – Pai, Thailand


Pai is a picturesque little town found in the province of Mae Hon Son of North Thailand.   Pai has somewhat boomed with an influx of tourists (especially Chinese tourists, seriously it was like Chinatown there) in the last few years due to an increase in guesthouses and developments in the town centre catering to backpackers and tourists alike.  Despite this, I found day to day costs in Pai to be really cheap!  From the serene mountainous landscapes to western restaurants, to chilled out cafes, to tattoo parlours, you can find lots of reasons to go to Pai.  I went during low season when the atmosphere of the town didn’t seem overrun by tourists.   Approximately 135km by road from Chiang Mai (closest big city) in which it was one of the most winding roads I’ve ever experienced.   The journey from Chiang Mai city centre to Pai was 6 hours by minivan.  Keep in mind it was only 135km of mountain road for an actual distance of 50km (by measuring tape).  Gravol (anti-nasea medicine) was my savior… but still one of the most difficult rides in recent memory.

However, prior to arriving in Chiang Mai, I had taken the night sleeper train from Bangkok Hualamphong Station hoping to arrive with a full night’s rest.  I only had 1 night’s rest coming back from Ko Samui (12 hour bus ride) so I was already exhausted when I left for Pai.  At about 4-5 am I woke up due to several people shuffling around on my carriage and I poked my head out just to see what was up.  Someone walked by and said that they want us off the train because it got derailed and they couldn’t fix it.  DERAILED WUUUT?!

In that moment I was so tired I had difficulty processing what he meant.  As everyone gathered all their belongings, I did so as well.  Stepping off the train, we were only halfway to our destination and the entire train was notified that we would finish the remainder of the journey by bus.  I was pissed at this point knowing I wouldn’t get anymore sleep, and just wanted to get to Chiang Mai asap.  Little did I know that the derailment was more severe than I had thought.  When I left the train, from what I saw was that the train looked fine and ON the tracks, but after reading the news, I was a little shocked.

So several carriages were overturned and 41 people sent to the hospital where 11 had severe injuries such as broken arms and such.  In the news, it did say that the train derailed at about 3 am and I woke up over an hour later.  I had successfully slept through a train derailment.  Wow.  I figured that by the time I got off the train that it had backed up a bit preventing us to see any of the overturned carriages.  All injured passengers were likely to have left for the hospital too.  I only remember being half asleep/awake and wanting to go back to sleep.


Overnight upper sleeper from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, 791 baht.



Seat mode.


Sleep mode.


1st Generation iPod Touch was my source of music as always.  Everyone wants their hair like them right?


 The whole derailment and bus to Chiang Mai process I didn’t bother to take pictures, too tired.  But apparently it was like this…


Credits to http://www.nationmultimedia.com/


While waiting for my minivan to Pai.


Compelled to buy this snack because it said it was a good source of protein.  If I’ve learned anything while travelling is that you shouldn’t always trust labels or signs or advertisements, or even local advice.  But sometimes, this is the best you get.  So meh.


Counter to buy tickets to Pai.  150 baht (5 dolla!), 6 hours.


16 passenger (including driver) minivan.


6 hours of winding road fun begins.  The hairpin turns were so sharp you actually slide left and right in your seats.


Arriving in Pai, the bus station was more like a driveway that fits a few minivans.  That’s it.


Lived at Darling Viewpoint Bungalows.  Although the view was nice, it was a trek from town and the price was relatively expensive.



Fire pit.


Unused swimming pool.


Outdoor theatre.  I did watch something here, I don’t really remember what.  Some knigh’s templar movie.  Wasn’t very good!


View from where I lived.


To get into town.




Night time streets of Pai.


Tea served in bamboo.  But I was drawn in by the loud billboard music and this guy with the oddest uniform…


Twas good at least.


Khao Soy, a traditionally northern Thai noodle dish and Tom Yum Gung soup.  They say Thai food tastes different here, and they were right.


The next day I moved closer to town, my own private bungalow with washroom and hammock.  200 baht ($6 CAD) per night.  You heard me right.


Fan and mosquito net room.


Khao Soy (round 2).


Mango sticky rice.  The fruits here are even better than the city!


Love these.  In Pai, the cheapest so far, 100 baht for 24 hours.


Another motorbike with a broken speedometer.


Spoiled by lush green and mountainous landscapes all over Pai.  Made motorbiking around 100x more enjoyable.  Woo.




A Chinese Yunnanese village… in Thailand.


Traditional huts.


Foreigners having fun trying to get on this swing.


And then… I found a Chinese castle.  What the…


Clear confusion.


Villages around the random castle.


Mo Paeng Waterfalls.


Climbed up.


Pano of beautiful rolling hills going around.


It’s not the Grand Canyon, but it was still impressive with high drops.


Pictures are so difficult to show the perception of depth and height.  But the trails here were pretty dangerous but fun.





World War 2 Memorial Bridge.  Built during the Japanese occupation and used to transfer supplies, the bridge has since been renovated as a historical tourist attraction.





Pambok Waterfa.




Bumped into these 2 Chinese friends asking for directions while on motorbike.  Ended up chatting with them and having dinner as well.  Don’t be fooled, they’re both older than me… gosh… Asians.  Unfortunately, they have no English names and no Facebook, Whatsapp, Line, nothing.  So… I don’t remember their names but I wish them the best of luck!  It was nice talking to them.


Next destination, Chiang Rai.  The place I really wanted to check off my to visit list since 4 years ago.  This town has many famous temple and it will be my gateway into Laos.

To be continued.

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Posted in Tips, Travel
9 comments on “#35 – Pai, Thailand
  1. Jeff Wong says:

    i think i’d like pai.. one of the coolest places i’ve seen so far

  2. twu says:

    $6 CAD for a hammock and washroom in a private bungalow per night? amazingg

  3. […] Bangkok’s main train station of Hualamphong.  I’ve been here many times this year (to Pai, Chiang Rai, Penang, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore were all started from here), and all too […]

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