10 Reasons Why Pai Will Help You Find Yourself Again

The hippy town of Northern Thailand Pai is a must-see if you’re sick of the island life of Thailand. It’s a perfect spot to chill out and centre yourself again.

In this town you’ll be able to meditate with monks, do some yoga and as cheesy as it sounds find yourself again.

1. Walking street markets

The town of Pai is relatively small, but the walking night street in centre is really a wonderful treat. You’ll be able to try so many delicious foods for really cheap.

2. Running in the mountains

Pai is a pretty active city, locals get on their bikes and go jogging with the backdrop of the mountains. The scenery is very picturesque.

3. Canyons

Watching the sunset at the canyons is a favourite past-time for travellers. It’s free and you’ll be able to walk all around them. Just be careful and walk around at your own risk.

3. Caves

There are so many caves to explore in Pai, my favourite one was the Lod Cave. It as huge and you could also do the bamboo raft through it. The ride up to the caves is pretty magical too.

4. Hot springs

If you miss the water you can head to one of many hot springs that Pai has. Just be warned that it is hot! So try and go on a cooler day.

5. Scooter up to the mountains

Beginner scooter drivers will feel confident in Pai. The roads are bigger and there aren’t many cars on the road. Take a ride up the mountains and just sit there, clarity will come to you and your mind will thank you in the end I promise.

6. Meditate with monks

For those who are on the spiritual side there are several of classes, or days that you can do meditation with monks.

7. Brush up on your yoga

There are loads of yoga classes in Pai that you can attend. If you’re staying at Circus Hostel in Pai they hold free yoga in the mornings.

8. Waterfalls

There are many waterfalls in Pai and they are free. Bring your swimmers and take a dip in the falls. Don’t forget to bring a towel to dry off.

9. Enjoy the quiet

While Pai is touristy you’ll be happy to know that no-one really hassles you like the rest of Thailand. The locals are super sweet and friendly and they tend to keep to themselves. Thai people from other regions also come to Pai as a holiday destinations so there is a mix of travellers and locals bonding between each other.

10. Stunning views

The roads in Pai are pretty good, so if you can ride a bike/scooter than you should. The views on top of the mountains are stunning. Just remember to take a breath.

Where to stay?

I stayed at Baan Aomsin Resort in Pai, relatively cheap private rooms and only a 10 minutes walk from the markets.

How to get there?

Depending on what direction you are coming from you can fly straight into Pai. If you’re coming from Chiang Mai you can get a mini bus for 150-80 baht. Alternatively you can rent a soccer and driver up there yourself.

Why Chiang Mai, Thailand is a good city to save money whilst backpacking

Travelling can be exhausting if you’re constantly on the move. I didn’t fall in love with Chiang Mai, but I found myself tired and wanted to find a place that was cheap and a relatively fun place to be if you need to rest and most of all save your funds.

There are so many affordable hostels around Chiang Mai, it actually has a big population of expats. So it is very touristy friendly. When I was in Chiang Mai I budgeted myself to spend 200 baht a day including my accommodation, so 100 baht on food and it was completely doable.

Food

Food is very good and very cheap. Street food especially, as well as the markets. You can eat for 35 to 40 baht for a soup or a pad thai.

Accommodation

Dorms are only 100 baht a night, my favourite place was 18 Terrace Guest House which is in the old town. They are located by the markets so eating out there was very cheap. You could also get single rooms for 200 baht a night.

Activities

Walking around and exploring the city can be really nice as well. If you can ride a scooter, you can scoot up to the mountains, the waterfalls or the canyon. It’s a very active city, so people are running, jogging, doing yoga and hanging out at the parks. There is always something on. You can even cycle around the city. It’s also a great place if you miss western culture as there are many western restaurants. 

How to get to Chiang Mai to Luang Prabang on your own by bus or slow boat

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So I was in Chiang Mai and noticed that the tours and packages to get to Luang Prabang was pretty expensive. I miss the days where I crossed borders on my own, so I did a bit of research and set on own to cross the border into Laos.

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Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai

I opted to get the bus from CM to CR, I know you can go straight to Chiang Khong but I decided to take separate buses. I just rocked up to the Arcade bus station, went up to Green bus counter and bought a ticket to the next available bus. Get there early, I managed to get the last seat for 9:30am. This bus ride is comfortable and it should cost you 129 baht, the journey takes up to 3-4 hours.

Chiang Rai to Chiang Khong

Once you hop off your bus at CR, there will be a man yelling ‘Chiang Khong’ next to a red bus. This bus will take you closet to the border for 65 baht.

Chiang Khong into Laos

The red bus driver will assume you want to go to Laos, or he’ll ask you anyway as like me I was the last one on the bus. He’ll drop you off with the tuk tuks and they will drop you off at the border, it’s 4km so pretty far to walk on your own. It’s 60 baht, but I am sure you can barter it lower. Once you go through Thai immigration you get a bus on the other side for 20 baht and it will take you to the border of Laos. Again it’s too far to walk, so better to take this shuttle.

Getting to Luang Prabang from the border

Going through customs is relatively easy, if you arrive after 4pm as I did there is a $1 fee if you’re doing your visa on arrival. It was pretty simple, you just have to fill out some forms, make sure you have a passport photo and they’ll do the rest. It cost me 1240 baht for the visa. Go through customs as usual and then you’ll be greeted by an overpriced tuk tuk. We had to pay 100 baht each, but I am sure you could go lower if you wanted to. I asked to get dropped off at the bus station in Huay Xai, if you want to get the slow boat asked to be dropped off in the centre. When you’re at the bus stop you can ask for a bus that is leaving that night, unfortunately it was booked out for me so I had to get the bus the following morning. It cost me 682 baht. I ended up spending a night in the centre which was pretty beautiful and it breaks up the trip a bit. The bus the following morning was a mini-van and it took 12 hours to get to LP.

Slow boat to Luand Prabang

If you want to book a slow boat, my advice would be to stay a night in the centre and book it from there.   

Summary

Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai – 129 Baht

Chiang Rai to Chiang Khong – 65 Baht

Tuk tuk to border – 60 Baht

Shuttle to Laos border – 20 Baht

Tuk tuk to bus station – 100 Baht

Bus to Luang Prabang – 682 Baht

Total = 1056 Baht

Visiting the infamous Pinnacles Desert in Western Australia

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Nestled on the town’s of Cervantes, Jurien Bay and Leeman features the infamous Pinnacles Desert.

It will cost you $12 entry per vehicle and you’ll be able to drive through the desert and see the pinnacles in all of it’s glory. You can also walk around a 4km unsealed loop. We opted for driving through and pulled over to walk around the pinnacles and take some snaps.

How were the pinnacles formed?

Apparently a set of unique circumstances produced the pinnacles. According to the visit pinnacles website its started from huge sand dunes that were stabilised. And eventually the result was that under a surface covered with plants and soil the pinnacles developed.

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Why should you visit the pinnacles?

A part from being able to witness some historic pinnacles, when you visit these majestic pinnacles you’ll also be able to see beautiful sand dunes and at some vantage points you’ll be able to see the sea. Which is the most stunning thing to see considering you’ll feel like you’re in the desert.

How to get there: The Pinnacles Desert entrance is approximately 10km in the Indian Ocean Drive and 6km on Pinnacles road.

Cost: $12 entry per vehicle.

Things to do in Nusa Lembongan, Indonesia

If the hustle and bustle of Kuta and Seminyak gets too much for you then you should pack your bags and set off to Nusa Lembongan. It’s an island located southeast of Bali, and easily accessible by ferry from Pandang Bai or Sanur. If you get a fast boat it will take you half an hour, expect to pay around $25 one way.

Nusa Lembongan is part of three islands that make up the Nusa Penida district and is far more beautiful then Kuta. It’s a beautiful paradise and the island itself isn’t riddled with so much tourists. You can rent a scooter or ride a bike, I personally walked around myself but it did get a little hot at times. The roads are a bit bumpy so make sure you’re careful when you’re riding a bike.

Devil’s Tears

Devil’s Tears not far from Dream Beach in Mushroom Bay, actually you can walk there if from Dream Beach if you fancy it. It’s known to showcase mother nature at it’s best, thrashing waves hitting on the coastal limestone cliffs. If you go there around the afternoon it’s quite quiet, sunset is pretty beautiful as well.

Dream Beach

Dream Beach is in Mushroom Bay, quite a popular tourist attraction. The beach is nestled in a little cove. You can also use the pool above in the restaurant as well for a small fee.

Snorkelling with manta rays

If snorkelling with manta rays has always been your dream then you should definitely hit the snorkelling tour. I paid $15 and it takes you to three different snorkelling places. Manta bay is the first stop and really I would have stopped there as it was absolutely amazing.

Seaweed Farm

Checking out the seaweed farm is a must do when you’re on the island. It’s pretty incredible the system that they used.

Cross over the yellow bridge

The yellow bridge is one of the most infamous things to do in Nusa Lembongan. It connects you to the other island which is Nusa Penida. It’s definitely terrifying when you first cross over because it seems so fragile but it holds up pretty well.

Blue Lagoon and Cliff jumping

The Blue Lagoon in Nusa Penida is absolutely stunning, the crystal clear waters seem unbelievable. You really have to see it to be believe it. Just make sure you watch your step, some people have been known to fall down. You cannot swim in the water, but it really is a picturesque site. If you go further down you can see where they do cliff jumping. It’s actually connected to a restaurant and you pay about $2.50 to do it.

Mangrove tour

A local guide will take you on a boat through the mangroves. It’s a little bit of serenity if you get sick of the beaches.

5 reasons you should visit Darwin during Darwin Festival

For those who have never visited Darwin, the thought of travelling up their might not sound ideal. It is however, ideal if it’s winter. The dry season in Darwin is enough to get the crowd rolling in to escape the cold. And the best part to come is during Darwin festival as this is when the city comes to life.

1. Music galore

The best thing about the Darwin Festival is that it showcases a lot of local musicians. It may sound simple enough but these days loads of people attend festivals with a lot of international musicians which strays away from supporting our own industry. It’s a great way to see newcomers and even veterans in the music scene for less than $50.00.

2. Celebrating comedy and arts

If live music doesn’t tickle your fancy then maybe a theatre show or comedy show will. Many comedians flock to the town to showcase their talents, as well as theatre performances as well.

3. City comes to life

Darwin comes to life during the festival, yes people are always out on Mitchell street but the festival itself shows us there is more to Darwin then we think. Not only do they enjoy a pint or two at Shenanigans (shags) they also enjoy the arts.

4. Enjoy free events

There are many free events around the town as well, so you can go to art galleries or watch free performances. This ensure that you can plan your festival experience without having the break the budget.

5. Explore the Darwin

While it’s easy enough to get stuck on the strip, the festival is held all over Darwin so it allows you to explore the city. Sometimes they will be held in town and other events will be held at the botanic gardens. So whilst you’re enjoying the festival, enjoy a tour of the city as well.

The Darwin Festival is held during August, check the website for further details.

Travelling Japan without a JR Pass

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If the thought of purchasing a train weekly train ticket before your destination makes you feel uncomfortable like it did for me, then you’d be happy to know there are cheaper and better options to travel through Japan.

I decided against a JR pass because I guess I don’t like a time limit of how long I can use transportation for and I didn’t want to feel rushed. I am a free traveller damn it. Anyway there are several buses, metros and local buses/trains you can take instead of using the JR pass which you can see below.

Local Trains/ Suica Card

When travelling through Tokyo you can use what they call a Suica card which is quite similar to our Opal card or Oyster card for the Brits. It’s a 500 yen deposit and you can load it up as much as you want. We used this a lot through our travels if we needed to get the local train or rapid train to places. You can buy these at the train stations, we got ours from Harajuku station.

You can also use local trains a lot, just pop it on the googles and it will show up. Please note it will take longer but will give you a better experience of Japan.

Metro

The metro system is pretty good and easy to get around Tokyo. You can get one day passes which will cost you around 600 yen and you can use it as many times as you want for the day. They also have passes for a few days, so just suss out which one is best for you. You can purchase these at the station, the machines come with an english translation.

Buses

If you’re like me and love being a bus wanker then you’d be happy to know that getting the bus is so much cheaper than paying for the train. Buses to Mount Fuji will cost you around $20 bucks and you can also go to as far as Kyoto from Tokyo for around $40.00. I know it will be an overnight bus, but hey the way I think of it it’s almost like paying for accommodation and travel, how good is that! The best tip I can give you is that leaving from Tokyo will be super cheaper than leaving from say Mount Fuji to Kyoto. Most trains and buses make you go back to Tokyo to then go to Kyoto which is a wee bit annoying but can’t be helped. There is however a bus from Mount Fuji that goes direct to Kyoto, this you will have to book at the stations around the lakes.

Also, if you want to book buses in english than go to Willer Express. They let you book cheap, discounted bus tickets to Kyoto and Osaka etc.

It will take longer but that’s part of the journey folks.

Walk

Use your legs guys. We stayed in Ryogoku which was sumo city, seriously I saw a sumo wrestler ride a bicycle! My only regret in life is not taking that picture. Anyway once you get familiar with the town you can actually walk to a lot of places. Just have your map handy and you’ll find most destinations will be a half an hour walk.

Rent a bicycle

If you’re staying in a hostel they’ll be able to rent you out some bicycles. Which is a great way to see Tokyo, you’d notice that all the locals do it as well so why not try and blend in. They seem to ride on the pathways as well so be careful.

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5 tips on travelling to Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu really is one of the most stunning sights I have ever seen in my life. I still pinch myself when I think about it. I managed to tick this off my bucket list when I did my huge South America trip. If you’re not doing the Inca Trail then you will most likely join a tour or get the train there.

As I flew from Lima to Cusco I wasn’t sure what to expect. The high altitude hit me straight away and I was really in awe by the little town. With little to no plan, I knew that I had to get to Machu Picchu one way or another. So I thought I’d write down a few tips that would have helped me along the way of discovering this beautiful wonder of the world.

Do not drink on the first night

Your body won’t be used to the high altitude as yet, so they really recommend you not drink any beer on the first night, just so your body can get used to it. Your body will thank you later.

Decide if you want to pick a tour or do it yourself

If you are strapped for time you can book a tour. I ended up doing the 2 days, 1 night tour but there are other ones that go for longer. My biggest tip would be to shop around! The tour agencies have different prices and there are a load of scams going on. Compare prices and make sure you know exactly what is and what is not included in the tour. I paid $100 US, but this did not include the train ticket from Aguas Calientes. Please also ask the name of the accommodation, otherwise you’ll be stuck in the square waiting for someone to call your name just like I did.

If you want to do it yourself, then you’ll most likely ride the train to Machu Picchu. You can do it in one day. The train will take 3.5 hours and it will go from Cusco to Aguas Calientes (the town at the foot of Machu Picchu, now dubbed Machu Picchu Pueblo). If you’re traveling independently, you can buy tickets here.

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What to bring?

There are some essentials you will need when you travel there. Of course water, camera and a rain jacket. Even if it looks like it will be a beautiful day you will still need to bring the rain jacket just in case. It was raining when I got there for sunrise but it cleared not long after.

If you’re not fit there are other ways of seeing Machu Picchu

This was one of my concerns, I mean I know I am capable of doing the walks but I have to admit I am not a very fit person. But never fear, when you arrive at Machu Picchu town you can get the bus up to the wonder.

How to deal with high altitude

Most of us fly into Cusco which sits at 11,000 feet. If you want to ease yourself into it, go to Aguas Calientes and spend a few nights there as it’s only 8,000 feet. I felt fine in Cusco, but it does vary from person to person.

If you still have problems with breathing there are special coca teas and candy that you can take to make yourself feel better. The tea really helped me throughout my trip, although there is no proof it actually works.