Sunday, April 30th 2017

Pai – Mae Hong Son – Mae Chaem loop, day 1/3

The master plan was to make a 3-4-day loop visiting Pai, Mapha Pang, Mae Hong Song, Sariang and surrounding areas and mountains. Probably one of the best ways of exploring the North of Thailand is by car or moto except probably of long term hiking or trekking. But in my case a scooter was chosen as a means of transportation.

 
View Travel Photo Report – Pai-Mea Hong Son loop – plan in a larger map

My restless friend Petr has chosen a bigger vehicle and was pushing me to rent a similar one. As I am still to learn how to operate a mechanic motorcycle I resorted to stick to my automatic scooter.

wheels

The way to Pai becomes hilly and windy once you leave road 107. Some parts are just steep uphill climbs and sharp turns though generally it is a pleasant ride on good road with beautiful views over surrounding hills.

roads & turns

Mountains in the Northern Thailand are not very high. The highest peak Doi Inthanon is only 2 655 meters. The green hills covered in lush vegetation are rolling away to the horizon. I could not stop thinking of deserts in Iran where brown and yellow are the only colors you can see for dozens of kilometers.

Hills

Although the ride is pleasant the turns and twists of the road may cause dizziness and vomit.

Road sickness signs

The only sight I visited till we reached Pai was the Memorial bridge about 10km before Pai. It is not much of a tourist sight, just an old bridge from times of WWII. The bridge was built for the Japanese Army to transport forces and weapons to Burma. It was abandoned as a new concrete bridge was built right next to it. Still was worth having a short break before finishing our ride to Pai.

Memorial bridge

The rest of the day after we reached Pai we spent talking to people who live long term in Pai and who travel through. Most of them were Petr’s friends and couchsurfers. In the evening we went to Pai walking street. It is several adjacent streets with stalls selling food and various products and souvenirs produced locally. It is a mini version of what is happening on Chiang Mai walking street on weekends.

I had read before that Pai is a hippie Mecca in the Northern Thailand. Here you can definitely see more people than in other places wearing baggy pants sometimes referred to as clown pants or shit pants, with dread locks and colorful tribal bags. I am not a big fan of hippies and hippy destinations. In Pai they (hippies) apparently took it to the next level, and authorities had to prohibit Smoking alcohol in public places.

Walking street Pai

Some reviews online referred to Pai as the paradise in the Northern Thailand, others – as the worst places to put your feet in. I cannot confirm or disapprove any of these. I spent too little time there. The nature around looks beautiful and I am sure there are a lot of cool hidden corners to discover. The village is small and quiet compared to Chiang Mai. So if you are looking for some calm atmosphere with nature round the corner this may be you choice.

I have not seen anything around Pai due to the party and its effect. I woke up late and decided to leave Petr in Pai (he was not ready to hit the road) and go further in the direction of Mae Hong Son.

Don’t make my mistake and check out the following places  around Pai:

        • Phra That Mae Yen temple
        • Wat Nam Hu
        • Wat Klang
        • Wat Luang Temple
        • Kongland or Pai Canyon
        • Tha Pai Hot Spring
        • Mor Pang & Mae Yen waterfalls
        • Chinese villae Ban Santichon
        • Ban Mae Ping White Karen village

 

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