It seems the must go place after Chiang Mai is Pai. Pai is a popular destination on the backpacker route, most people who visit end up staying longer than expected and we were no exception, 2 nights very quickly became 4.
Getting to Pai is easy enough, a mini van from Chiang Mai bus station, although not the smoothest of rides by any means. Drug up, hold on and hope is sound advice to make it through the c.700 turn mountain road.
As soon as we arrived in Pai it was clear that this place was different, it was like a western party town in the beautiful surrounds of Northern Thailand. Settling into our hostel Paitopia was a shock to the system. Being in the jungle meant that the place was crawling, Andy had a slug on his pillow, (lucky we only booked two nights) the remaining two nights we spent at the Suandoi hostel, still in the jungle but a much more pleasant experience that I would recommend.
After spending a day wondering around the main town, it quickly became clear that the best way to explore Pai is by bike, we hired our pink mopeds and in true crazy frog style pinged our way around some of the sights.
First stop was the Land Split, I can not recommend this place enough. This site was a farmers field until an earthquake a few years ago caused a massive land split to open up. The farmer built a path and a few huts and it became one of the must see spots in Pai.
The geographical feature itself isn’t what makes this place so special – it is pretty much just a crack in the earth – it’s the hospitality of the farmer & his incredible organic farm grown snacks which he kept providing until we managed to pull ourselves away.
On from the Land Split down a bumpy track we went to the Pam Bok Waterfall to swim. On our way back to the bikes the police approached us, we had heard many stories of having to hand over 400 bhat (c.£10) to be left to go on your way. Strangely enough it wasn’t our money that they wanted it was a photo with us!
Onward next to Pai Canyon, this was one of my favourite parts of Pai and seemed really quiet. It is a maze of connecting ridges in the rock which make for a brilliant couple of hours of climbing and scrambling. Mountain goat Andy even got stuck at one point! (its okay I rescued him).
The next day we explored the Big Buddha on the hill (a big white Buddha that looks out over Pai), it was a beast of a climb in the heat but the views from the top made it worthwhile.
We then spent some time at the Hot Springs, the water at the source was a crazy 86 degrees Celsius, we found a cooler pool further down the hill and spent a calm couple of hours getting in and out.
The food was the main highlight in Pai. Early on we discovered Om Garden cafe, one of my favourite places. We went back more than a few times.