Just back from Luang Prabang, I’m getting ready to go to Pai for the weekend with JB. We would have liked to leave early in the morning, but as I missed my plane, we leave only in the afternoon around 3 pm. We have just enough time to make the trip by scooter before the sun sets at 6pm.
Note: Recently, I have had questions about the accessibility of a particular location for people with reduced mobility. As tourist guides don’t always talk about it, from now on, I will add details about the accessibility of places in the “Practical advice” section.
Part 1: Travel Diary
Part 2: Practical Tips
Part 1: Travel Diary
Day 1: Scooter from Chiang Mai to Pai
The trip Chiang Mai – Pai is scooter is very unpleasant and dangerous the first 1h30 because we take the highway and cars pass us mercilessly, creating drafts that can bring down inexperienced bikers. However, the remaining 1h30 offer us sumptuous landscapes. We are entitled to a road much less frequented but not less dangerous because of many curves.
The number of arms and feet with big bandages that we will see at Pai confirms that this trip isn’t reserved for the unwary. Moreover, the closer we get to Pai, the colder it is and despite our amateur bikers’ clothes (mask, long sleeves sweater), we can’t wait to arrive.
Our hotel(Phu Pai Art Resort, link Booking) is located outside the city, in the middle of the rice fields. Here, a bungalow = one room. The exterior is traditional, but the interior is very luxurious and made of natural materials. The bathroom is huge, and there is even a dressing room.
As it is already dark, we dine at the hotel and explore the city only the next day.
Day 2 :
We go to Yun Lai Viewpoint first to have a global view on the surroundings of Pai (here the toilets are too stylish)
The entrance costs 20 baht/person, and you can even rent a tent to sleep in front of these beautiful landscapes.
I fall for a 10 bahts bao (a kind of brioche), to be eaten with condensed milk.
You can buy small hearts to hang (Asian version of the padlocks to hang on bridges) and have your picture taken by a professional photographer.
The view is breathtaking :
Pai Land Split
One takes again the road to go to a waterfall. On the way, JB is intrigued by a sign “natural fruits”. Believing that it is to pick and eat strawberries directly in the garden (it is a very popular activity in Pai), we stop… to discover that it is just an old farm.
This farm has been very damaged due to many earthquakes, the owner can no longer get much out of it from an agricultural viewpoint, so he changed the business model, turning his farm into a tourist attraction: tourists can come and visit the mini-canyons.
Tourist interest: 0
But the tourists keep coming to support the farmer. In addition, he offers fruit from the garden and a delicious cold drink for a donation.
Type “Pai Land Split” on Google Maps, you will find it without any problem.
Ah yes, at one point we are stopped by the police. We expect to pay a fine because we don’t have a motorcycle license. But in fact, since Pai isn’t too far from the border, the police here only do routine checks for drugs. Of course, for us, it was settled very quickly, but it isn’t the case of another foreigner with dreadlocks, who would have been more discreet if he had a cannabis leaf tattooed on his forehead. Note: if drugs are found on you, it is surely a passage through the prison box that awaits you.
Pam Bok Waterfall
The Pam Bok Waterfall is a bit hidden but you only need to walk 2-3 minutes to get there.
To better see the waterfall, you have to soak your legs (the water reaches up to your thighs). The water is icy, which does not make anyone want to bathe.
It is a nice place where you can drink and eat strawberry products. On the other hand it doesn’t look very authentic, it’s like Disney Land.
Unfortunately, you can’t pick strawberries in the garden.
Tourists (Asians) come here mainly to have their pictures taken.
We return to the town of Pai to have a little bite to eat. There isn’thing extraordinary about the city. Fortunately we took a room in a hotel outside.
After a foot massage in one of the many massage parlors in Pai (not bad, but not fabulous), we hit the road again to see the White Buddha who dominates the whole city.
Chedi Phra That Mae Yen
It’s a hotel but it’s in the day tours in Pai so out of curiosity we went there. 20 bahts/person later, we discovered the only house built on the tree. We cannot go there obviously because there are customers who paid to sleep in it.
The other villas are normal and have only one floor.
The surroundings are very nice, but I must admit that I would get drunk to be in a hotel where every morning, buses unload hundreds of tourists in front of my villa to take pictures.
This bridge isn’t used for traffic anymore, people come here to take pictures or chill in the evening because the bridge is illuminated and it’s super beautiful.
It is the flagship attraction of Pai. The canyons are really impressive, you have to be careful where you put your feet, and don’t go there in flip-flops because every accident can be fatal (30m of free fall are waiting for you).
To take the picture above, JB simply stepped on it. However, it’s so impressive that a lot of people crawl on it 😀
The sunset here is correct. Sorry to look blasé like that but during our world tour, we saw some of the most beautiful ones.
We hurry back home. As soon as the sun sets, we freeze to death, especially on scooters. We dine in town, at Na’s Kitchen (delicious and cheap) then return to the hotel.
Day 3 :
We have to work all day long. Not wanting to stay all day in the room, we work in the hotel restaurant, an open place overlooking the swimming pool. We are surrounded by cats, I don’t know if they are wild cats or fed by the hotel. In any case, they are very cuddly, they purr all the time, it makes me feel good !
The Wifi connection is fast but not stable enough. I had to use the 3G of my phone for a call with my client.
If my client isn’t entitled to this beautiful landscape, he enjoyed the birdsong ahaha
In the evening, we have dinner at the Night Market downtown. This night market is open every day, it’s very nice because there aren’t as many people as in Chiang Mai and the street food is very varied.
Day 4 :
It is time to return to Chiang Mai. We leave in the morning to have the luxury to stop on the way as we wish, instead of hurrying as we did on the way. We stop at the Witch Café. And I am welcomed by the cat of the house that comes on me purring. Thank you thank you thank you thank you! I really needed a purring machine
Part 2: Practical Tips
- Scooter rental: from 100 baht/day. There are plenty of motorcycle rentals in the center of Pai. There are even electric bikes if you aren’t good with motorcycles.
- Essence : 200 bahts to make the round trip Chiang Mai – Pai
- If you go there by bus: between 150 and 250 baht by bus to Chiang Mai – Pai (and vice versa)
- Hotel Phu Pai Art Resort : link Booking, promotion 30€/night double room, breakfast included => I love this hotel, and highly recommend it
- Yun Lai Viewpoint: 20 baht/person
- Treehouse payment: 20 baht/person
- Free visits :
- the white Buddha
- Pai Canyon
- Pai Land Split
- the waterfall
- Memorial Bridge
- Love Strawberry
- Food :
- at Na’s Kitchen about 50 baht/dish, really delicious
- at the Night Market: between 20 bahts => 50 bahts. It takes at least 100 bahts/person not to be hungry anymore
- The points of interest are far from each other. Everyone rents scooters. If you are lazy, pay 500 baht/person for a daily tour offered by many tourist agencies (type Night Market on Google maps, that’s where most agencies are located)
- It is better to choose a hotel far from the city center as it isn’t very interesting.
- After Pai, the Thai people advised me to go to Pa Ung, near the Burmese border, it’s even more beautiful and romantic, but I didn’t have the time
- From Pai, you can go to Chiang Rai by bus or boat. And then, from Chiang Rai, go to Luang Prabang (Laos) by boat.
Small recap accessibility
- Hotel Phu Pai Art Resort: link Booking, villas on stilts => not wheelchair accessible
- the white Buddha: you can see it from below, but you can’t go all the way up
- Pai Canyon: not accessible, there are only steps to go up to the top
- Pai Land Split: you can see one end of the garden, the rest is inaccessible. Very difficult slippery ground
- the waterfall: not at all accessible
- Memorial Bridge: Accessible from the road
- Love Strawberry: you can see the whole garden, but it isn’t possible to go down to the bottom because there are only big steps
- Pai Tree house: accessible
- Yun Lai viewpoint: accessible even if there are 2-3 small steps in the beginning
- Na’s Kitchen : restaurant too small, not very accessible but there are tables outside