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Without a doubt, the hippie town of Pai was my favorite destination in Northern Thailand. And I wasn’t the only one — the town is definitely no secret paradise. Luckily, it’s easy to escape the dreadlocked masses if you’re feeling a little claustrophobic.

For a mere 220 baht (around $7), you rent a scooter and dash off into the countryside. And that’s exactly what MM and his friend Drew and I all did one day when we finally woke up early enough to score some of the town’s limited wheels.

Pai By Motobike

Pai By Motobike

Our first destination was the Tha Pai Hotsprings. After one entertaining wrong turn where we accidentally bought admission to use a fancy resorts’ pools for the day (the signage was confusing, I swear!) we obtained a refund and finally found the real deal.

Pai By Motobike

These pools reach a shocking 175 degrees Fahrenheit — enough to entire locals to boil eggs! Luckily, there are several more realistically-temperatured pools that we could stand to soak in. Just a note, if you plan on coming here — there were plenty of locals nearby bathing in sarongs or t-shirts and shorts, and so I felt pretty inappropriate in my bikini! Bring a sarong for modesty.

Pai By Motobike

Back on the road, we passed by a World War II Bridge. It’s worth a stroll across and a read of the signs describing its historical significance — who would guess a world war relic would exist in this tiny corner of Thailand? — but we mostly enjoyed the views from the cafe across the street.

Pai By Motobike

Pai By Motobike

Pai By Motobike

Our next stop was Pai Canyon. While I wouldn’t exactly say it was Thailand’s answer to The Grand Canyon, the narrow ridges were fun to clamor around, and the dramatic red dirt and pine forest made for a beautiful landscape.

Bike Riding Pai
Bike-Riding-Pai

Pai By Motobike

Pai By Motobike

Finally, we headed down the windy turn-off road for Pam Bok Waterfall. It was a great drive, filled with scenes of small town life and big sweeping views. The waterfall itself was way to cold for me to consider dipping into, but MM took one for the team.

Bike-Riding-Pai
Bike-Riding-Pai

What came next was the highlight of the day. Enticed by a sign for a fruit juice I didn’t recognize the name of (and unfortunately can’t recall now!), we pulled over at a roadside farm. Within minutes we were sat at a handmade table, and served a bounty of yummy local snacks and endless glasses of the delicious mystery juice.

Pai By Motobike

Bike-Riding-Pai
Bike-Riding-Pai

The property was stunning, and a guestbook we were asked to sign explained that after a massive chasm appeared though the family’s farmland, they turned to hospitality to make a living. Rather than charge for access to the farm of the food and drinks they provided, they simply asked for donations.

Pai By Motobike

Pai By Motobike

My favorite feature of the farm, of course, were the sweet animals — some of whom I fought hard to resist stuffing in my bike basket and zooming away with.

Pai By Motobike

Bike-Riding-Pai
Bike-Riding-Pai

Pai By Motobike

Pai By Motobike

Oh hey there, biggest chicken in the world. Yes, we would indeed like to hold you. And I hope this isn’t awkward, but it appears that Mohawk Man totally stole your haircut.

Pai By Motobike

Bike-Riding-Pai
Bike-Riding-Pai

With the sunset looming, we set off for Wat Phra That Mae Yen Pai’s hillside temple.

Pai By Motobike

Pai By Motobike

It’s a fantastic wat — friendly monks, hidden nooks and crannies, and a sweeping view over the Pai countryside.

Pai By Motobike

Bike-Riding-Pai
Bike-Riding-Pai

Pai By Motobike

Bike-Riding-Pai
Bike-Riding-Pai

It was a great day exploring just a tiny bit of what the outskirts of Pai have to offer! When the time came to leave, I admit — I was heartbroken to say goodbye to Pai!

Fortunately, I’d be making my way to the next town in a fun and unconventional manner. Stay tuned to hear about my two days rafting through the jungle.

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36 Comments...
  • Laryssa
    March 21 2013

    Great pics! And you are brave for holding that gigantic chicken/rooster. I would’ve been scared of being pecked in the eye, or maimed. The thing is probably the mafia don amongst Pai chickens or something.
    Laryssa recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      March 24 2013

      Haha, love the idea of a rooster mafia don! I was definitely shrieking and emitting other high pitched noises when they handed him over… but how could I pass up the chance? Not every day you get the opportunity to hold a giant rooster!

  • Shaun
    March 21 2013

    What a great day! I love reading about these since I know they are also really fun to write about.

    Too awesome being invited in for juice and fruits!

    p.s.
    THAT DOG IS FREAKIN CUTE!

    • Meihoukai
      March 24 2013

      I know…. it was no easy feat to leave him behind! Though the family definitely got a kick out of it when I pretended to put him in my bike basket and drive away.

  • Melanie Fontaine
    March 21 2013

    I just love the first picture! And I really had no idea there were Hotsprings in Thailand – are they natural?
    xx
    Melanie Fontaine recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      March 24 2013

      Yup, they certainly are! I’ve been to hot springs in a couple places around the world — Iceland, Costa Rica, Vietnam — they are always a good time!

  • Zack
    March 21 2013

    Just came across your site and digging the pics. I’ve done a lot of traveling myself over the years and found a good knack for living cheaply day to day but I’m curious… how in the world do you manage to afford all the plane tickets/travel related costs? It’s mind blowing.

    • Meihoukai
      March 24 2013

      Hey Zack, you might find this post helpful — So, How Do You Afford This?. It’s been a while since I wrote that post, but these days I make about $2K a month selling ads and freelancing. Considering I travel in cheap countries and for long periods of time (one plane ticket from NYC to Bangkok and back is providing me with 5 months of travel!) it goes a very long way. Hope that helps!

  • Breanna
    March 21 2013

    Wow looks like my idea of a perfect day! Aren’t Hot Springs amazing? I live near the Rockies in Canada and every summer I try to get to them!

    • Meihoukai
      March 24 2013

      I’ve been in love with them ever since I first eased into one in Costa Rica. What a fun indulgence! I actually didn’t know they had any in Canada, will have to check them out if I’m ever in the area!

      • Breanna
        March 26 2013

        Yes, they are throughout the Rockies, there may be more but I haven’t been further west than that.

  • Audrey | That Backpacker
    March 21 2013

    I’d love to tour the countryside on a motorbike, but I tried driving one in Goa and I was a complete disaster! — Could be because I had someone sitting on the back. πŸ˜‰
    p.s. The scenery looks beautiful as always!
    Audrey | That Backpacker recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      March 24 2013

      Driving with someone on the back is SO much harder — it took me a long time before I was willing to put even a tiny person like my little sister on the back! Definitely try to get your confidence up solo before taking that challenge on πŸ™‚

  • Sam
    March 24 2013

    Standard giant rooster! Wow! Those local snacks look incredible I’m so jealous of all your adventures!
    Sam recently posted..

  • Steph (@ 20 Years Hence)
    March 24 2013

    That settles it! When we are back in Thailand, we are definitely hitting up Pai. We LOVE zooming around on motorbikes, especially in little places like this where there are so many hidden gems on the outskirts. For my money, there is no better way to get off the beaten track than on a motorbike!

    (Also, I am having the same issue with wanting to steal all the cute animals… Thank goodness I only have a 45L backpack…)
    Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      March 26 2013

      UM, I’m so impressed that you carry nothing but a 45L backpack. Mine’s 80L and stuffed. In my defense, I do have my dive gear in there this time!

  • Camels & Chocolate
    March 25 2013

    I want your life! And that puppy.
    Camels & Chocolate recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      March 26 2013

      Funny, I frequently think the same when reading your blog! (About both the life and the puppy, of course)

  • Jake
    March 25 2013

    Hey! I almost stopped by Pai a few weeks back. Ended up being too lazy for the trip, instead heading from Phnom Penh (the city of eternal dust), to beachier shores in Vietnam.

    Nice pictures, Meihoukai. Fancypants.
    Jake recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      March 26 2013

      Ah, I love Phnom Penh, one of my favorite cities in Asia. You can’t go wrong between the two!

  • Jade
    March 26 2013

    I love the freedom you get with hiring a bike!
    Even if you don’t have a destination or tourist site in mind, you always seem to find something interesting to stop at!
    Sadly I had a crash when I was in Koh Phangan and have been scared of driving ever since but will happily go on the back with someone…as long as the roads aren’t too bad!

    • Meihoukai
      March 27 2013

      Jade, I completely know how you feel. I had a scary crash when I first started learning to drive, and it took me ages to mentally overcome it. Take your time, you’ll get there eventually!

  • GiselleandCody
    March 29 2013

    We will have to make it back to Pai because last time we were there every single scooter there was rented out πŸ™ The country side looks amazing.
    GiselleandCody recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      March 29 2013

      Definitely worth a return trip… perfect excuse!

  • Simon
    January 18 2014

    Hi Meihoukai. I am heading out to Thailand and SEA in 2 weeks. I am guessing you have a full driving licence, I am not going to have time to renew my provisional before I go. Although everyone I have spoken to has said, They never got asked for a license. Any truth to this?

    Simon

    • Meihoukai
      January 18 2014

      I have never been asked for a license, not in the dozens of times I’ve rented a motorbike in Southeast Asia. No worries! Hope that helps πŸ™‚

  • Rashaad
    July 23 2014

    “Just a note, if you plan on coming here β€” there were plenty of locals nearby bathing in sarongs or t-shirts and shorts, and so I felt pretty inappropriate in my bikini!”

    Maybe it’s different for me being a guy but I’ve never felt like I was doing something inappropriate by bathing in swimming trunks in Thailand. Then again, I was in touristy areas.
    Rashaad recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      July 23 2014

      Also, I sometimes think the standards are different for men and women πŸ™‚ Pai is somewhat touristy, but I still think if there are plenty of locals present and all are covered up, it’s appropriate to do the same.

  • Martha
    September 8 2014

    I was just in Pai for the first time 2 weeks ago, planned on staying for 5 days and ended up there for almost 2 weeks. Loved it so much we are going back again next week. We also visited the Land Split on the way back from Pam Bok Waterfall. The hibiscus (or roselle) tea is so delicious.
    Martha recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      September 8 2014

      I am hoping to head back to Pai pretty soon myself… what a special place! Glad you loved it too!

  • Mackenzie
    January 3 2015

    Awesome! I have been searching for a post that talks about your first time driving a scooter or motorcycle. Is there one?

  • Gersom
    January 7 2015

    Heya! The WWII Memorial Bridge is not actually from WWII, just so you know. You can read about it on my blog post about Pai, Part I:

    Enjoyed reading about your adventure though!
    Gersom recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      January 8 2015

      Thanks for the background Gersom! I’m not much of a history buff but great resource for those who are.

  • Chris
    January 31 2016

    Currently in Pai and did a similar trip as yourself biking through the gorgeous countryside! And by the way, the juice at the stand near the land split is called roselle juice πŸ™‚

    • Meihoukai
      February 1 2016

      I’ve fallen in love with roselle juice and tea lately — funny it took me so long to learn the name after years of drinking the stuff πŸ˜‰