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.

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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

5 acts of travelling kindness that will restore your faith in humanity

There is nothing more beautiful than a generosity of a complete stranger. I’ve travelled across the globe as a solo traveller and the sheer kindness of people have always kept me speechless. There are many people I know in my life now who live in the same city and don’t even take the time of the day to reply back to a message, let alone help you cross the Guatemalan border.

So I wanted to re-tell only a few of travel kindness that strangers have bestowed upon me, if only to make people think about how they treat strangers, or even how they treat their friends.

1. Dutch guy, travelling on a mini-bus from Cambodia to Thailand

When I was in Siem Reap, Cambodia I decided to catch an air-conditioned bus to Bangkok, Thailand. The lovely driver decided to put me in the back of the bus where 3 other gentlemen were sitting. So you can imagine that for a good 8 hours I was squished between some pretty big lads. Anyway, I must’ve been trying to sleep and the Dutch guy to my left told me that I could sleep on his shoulder. He even grab a t-shirt from his bag and told me it was clean as he placed in on his shoulder. I thought it was the sweetest offer, and when we were in Bangkok I decided to have pad thai with him for lunch. We couldn’t spend the day together because my sister was coming into town that night so that was the last I saw him. Until this day I do not remember his name, but I do remember his generosity.

2. Argentinean stranger at a bus stop in Buenos Aires

I travelled to Buenos Aires and happen to meet someone there, anyway he lived in Nunez which is quite a nice suburb in Buenos Aires, but you had to get 2 buses to get there. My Spanish was ok, but I still wasn’t very confident in speaking it. Anyway, I decided to try my luck and get the bus there. The first bus I hopped on the driver let me pass because I didn’t have any small change. I then hopped off to the next bus stop where I needed to catch another one. I asked a stranger if he had any small change. He said he didn’t but that it was ok. He then pulled the bus over to let me get on first, when I got on he told me that this is the one that would take me where I needed to go. He then jumped on after me and tapped his card into the reader and walked back out of the bus! Turns out he was paying for my trip and he was actually getting another bus. I couldn’t have been more grateful for his kindness. I tried to give him money but he refused it, I had a big smile for the rest of that night.

3. A kind man at the Nicaragua border to Costa Rica

I decided to catch chicken buses from Granada, Nicaragua to the Costa Rican border. Through out my whole journey of Central America I had always met other travellers that would then cross the border with me. This was the first time I had decided to get the chicken buses myself. As I got to the bus stop I had found my first bus that I needed to take, an older gentleman knew I was a tourist and he just looked at me and said “Costa Rica?” And I replied “Si.” Little did I know he would end up being my border crossing angel.

The same man ended up sitting behind me on the bus, guided me onto the next one, even shoeing away people trying to scam me. When we got to the Nicaraguan border he lined up with me and handed both our passports together at security, paid people to fill out my forms, and also told me how much I needed to pay to exit the country. We then would walk to the Costa Rican border and the guard had stop us. They asked if he was with me and he just said no, he just met me and I was his amiga. He couldn’t speak English so when I spoke to the guards he just looked at me and said “Problema?” and I just told him no. Anyway turns out I had to get an exit bus ticket out of Costa Rica before I was allowed to enter, so he lined up to cross the border and that’s where we lost each other. I didn’t get a chance to say goodbye or to even thank him, but I was so grateful for his help.

4. 2 English girls on the bus from Thailand to Cambodia, Siem Reap

I took a long bus journey from Koh Lanta back to Bangkok, straight after that I went to the bus stop so that I could get the bus to Cambodia. It was at that bus stop that I checked my money and had realised my US dollars had been stolen. Someone from the bus had taken my money, $200 US dollars in fact, and had kindly left me with $11.00. At this point I started to break down, it was a long journey and I was going to use that money to buy books for the school I was going to volunteer at. I had asked at the counter to see if there was a cash machine dispensing US dollars and they said there wasn’t any, but there was some at the border. I spotted 2 English girls, Jenna and Jennie who were also waiting for the bus if they knew of a cash machine near by. They said no, and had told me they were advised to take US dollars out before. I then told them my situation and hoped that the border had an ATM. To my surprise the girls offered to spot me the difference and pay for my visa. I was overwhelmed and still until this day I am still friends with these girls. After 2 years I saw them in London a few months ago. They have a beautiful baby and their hearts are still as beautiful as the day I met them.

5. Italian Hostel Manager, Buenos Aires

I frantically got a cab back to my hostel is Buenos Aires and I was running like crazy worried I was going to be late for my flight to Brazil. Matteo the hostel manager and I had been hanging out in Buenos Aires a few times and he was such a lovely lad. Anyway, I needed to book a cab to the airport, the hostel gets a certain discount and turns out I was short on money. Matteo saved my life and spotted me the difference, I told him I could Paypal him the money or bank deposit it as I was in such a rush to get to the airport. He said not to worry and that he’d cover it. I was actually so shocked, I thought I’d have to go to the ATM and possibly miss my flight, which I think that’s probably what he would have preferred to be honest. Luckily 1 year later he moved to London and we met up with each other, I got to repay him in pints and helped him move into his new apartment.