A Roadtrip to the Mountains of Pai.. | Northern Thailand

It seemed that in our hostel in Chiang Mai, almost everyone was either speaking about, had just returned from, or was heading to Pai – the small mountainous town hidden away in Northern Thailand.

And as it was the ‘talk of the town’, we booked our bus tickets for 300 baht, and Sham, Romy and I clambered into the mini van that would take us up the rickety, extremely high and very twisty road  to Pai. There are 726 turns in the road from Chiang Mai to Pai to be exact, and almost everyone was starting to feel the effects… Driving is eratic, to say the least, in Thailand and it’s pretty touch and go as to what sort of driver you’ll get. Thankfully, the first time round, our driver was pretty cautious and stuck to a slowish speed.. 

After the 3 hour drive, experiencing the very beautiful view, we were all very excited about finally arriving in Pai, and checked into the Purple Monkey Hostel. It’s a chilled, relaxed hostel, but very social too and a good location, at the top of the main market street! 


Pai consists mostly of market stalls, cute shops & cafés, and bars where you can try the infamous mushroom shakes, that its almost become famous for. It is also a great place for shopping – every night we were there, the streets became completely lined with fruits for sale, elephant trousers, postcards, jewellery stalls and the Nutella & banana rotees that seem to be a massive hit in Asia. And of course, we tried them! 


The food was also fantastic – we spent the evenings indulging in Pad Thais, Red Curries, Spring Rolls and drinking Chang or Signha beer and during the day, we enjoyed fruit smoothies and bananas! (Tip – be careful of yoghurt in Asia!) Of all the things that could possibly make your stomach ill, it was yoghurt that gave us three food poisoning and the day we returned from Pai and began our trip back to Bangkok, Sham and I felt pretty low. 

In terms of activities and what there is to see, the best thing to do in Pai is hire a moped and explore for yourself. Being too much of a wuss, having terrible coordination, and seeing a girl who’d been in an accident, Romy and I decided not to venture on to the bikes. But our Sham did us proud and took to it like a pro, exploring the hills and roadside cafés. They are very popular in Pai – most are themed, and some of the famous ones include the Strawberry Café and the Love Café! If you’re in Pai and brave enough, renting a moped for the day is as little as £2.50! 


For me, Pai was a perfect 3 day break to recuperate from our busy Chiang Mai schedule, chill out in the hammocks and read, and sunbathe til our hearts were content. It’s a very relaxed vibe, go with the flow, and take time out with a beer. We met beautiful people in Pai, and saw old friends from Chiang Mai – if any of you are reading this, I love ya! 


We spent 3 days there in total, before making the epic trek back down to Bangkok in central Thailand and our gateway to exploring the Southern Thai islands. Another 3 hours back down the mountain, this time with a much more crazy driver, resulting in a crash. Thankfully, not a serious one, but being stuck on the roadside, being eaten alive by red ants and sat in the midday sun, wasn’t that enjoyable.. 

But we trooped on, getting back into Chiang Mai in the mid afternoon, and booked our first 10 hour sleeper bus, that would take us to the capital, leaving at 8pm and arriving at 6am. Sparing the ugly details, it was on this bus that the food poisoning hit and I’ll just say it was arguably the worst 10 hours of my life 😦 


We staggered off the bus early the next morning, and unfortunately, when feeling ill and sleep deprived, muggy Bangkok is one of the last places you’d wish to be. We upgraded ourselves to a private room in our hostel and slept for two days straight, as our poor bodies fought hard and we survived off water, a loaf of bread and pringles. 

After a lot of sleep, a lot of Netflix and a lot of doing nothing but lying in bed, we finally felt well enough to face a 14 hour sleeper bus to Koh Samui. That was another journey I will never forget, but I’ll save it for the next post.. 

(Thank you Sham for the fabulous photos!) 

Thank you for reading! 

Charlotte J. X 


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