I’ve been exploring…
I left off last week’s post at my point of arrival in Chiang Mai, the biggest city in northern Thailand.
I stayed for 4 nights at Give Me 5 Hostel. It had a pretty good location (within the old town) and a nice room but the hostel was pretty quiet and unsociable. That’s the danger of booking 4 nights in advance — from now on I plan to book 1-2 nights and then extend if the place is great.
My time in Chiang Mai was spent trying out various places to eat, cycling around the old town and having some beers at the backpacker bars centred around Zoe in Yellow. Chiang Mai has a ton of great temples and I headed to a fair few of them.
Although Chiang Mai clearly has a lot to offer, I wasn’t blown away. It’s pretty hectic — the traffic seemed as bad as Bangkok — and past midnight there’s only one pretty awful bar (Spicy) to go to. I could see myself coming back for a longer stay as renting an apartment for a month is incredibly cheap. For a backpacking stop, however, 4 days felt like enough.
After our four nights were up, I headed with my friend Haldan to Pai. The three-hour journey was cheap (150 baht / <£4) and the roads felt safe but I can see how some people get sick on the way up there. It was bend after bend the whole way, snaking up into the mountains.
In Pai I spent 4 of my 5 nights at the Purple Monkey Hostel which was an awesome place to meet people. Ended up seeing a ton of people we’d met along the way — it seems like everyone was heading up north from Bangkok as the weather was bad down south.
Pai is a small village that’s kinda dominated by backpackers. Although this could be a bad thing, it actually had a really nice, chilled out feel to it. Highlights included:
- The awesome food — there’s a daily night market where you can pick up amazing Thai or western food at great prices. We went there every night
- The fun bars — lots of different bars catering for different tastes. Some favourites that will always be busy… everyone just having a good time. Only one bar open super late but it was significantly better than Spicy in Chiang Mai (less packed and better music)
- Day-tripping — I took a mountain bike to a local waterfall and despite a hiccup with my bike chain coming off and two American girls having to save me, that was great fun with some awesome views and a chance to jump into the cold water
- Tours — My first guided tour in Thailand was really fun — we visited Lod Cave (a bat-filled cave you can go through on bamboo rafts), a local hot-spring, another waterfall and the Pai Canyon for some awesome sunset views
All in all, Pai was great. We planned to stay for 2 nights and ended up struggling to pull ourselves away after 5 nights. Definitely recommend it.
Here are some photo highlights: