The journey from Chiang Mai to Pai is infamous for making people puke due to its merciless number of bends. Altogether there are 726 bends on this 3-hour journey. Upon arrival, t-shirts and certificates are available for sale as souvenirs for completing the vomit-inducing journey.
I have read on travel blogs that some travellers chose to drive up to Pai on their own cars and scooters so that they get to enjoy the views during the journey, however if you are unfamiliar with driving on uneven mountainous terrain, you can always choose to take the bus.
There is only one bus operator monopolizing the entire route from Chiang Mai to Pai. Tickets are priced at $6 per passenger for each way, which is already pretty steep for Thai standards. Prepare your vomit bags because out of the 12 people in my van, there were at least 3 who vomited at different instances during the journey.
Regardless of how you make your way to Pai, I would say that the journey is well worth it. Pai is a little village city on its own that has seen recent developments to accommodate the sudden influx of tourists. Various resorts and establishments have started running business, together with vehicle rentals because there is absolutely no public transport available in Pai.
I got us a reliable Yamaha Fino scooter because it was only $6 a day. I pumped a full tank of petrol for another $4.
I guess we were lucky that the weather was kind to us because you obviously won’t be able to explore much when it rains.
There were plenty of tour operators that are able to speak English and Mandarin, but if you would like to save a few hundred baht, just do your own research online and you can find a few reliable Thai operators.
Most tour agents charge between 1000 to 1600 baht for this bamboo rafting experience, however we managed to get it for 800 baht. The ride itself took about an hour or so.
I was pretty amazed at how the bamboo doesn’t sink. I am no genius about physics or density, but I think the hollow tubes of the bamboos play a part in keeping the raft afloat.
Scooting our way around Pai, we made our way to Coffee In Love. It was about a 15-min ride out of town. The cafe was a perfect spot to catch the sun rise, however we weren’t early birds so when we arrived, the sun was already waiting for us.
The morning breeze was really cold though. I guess we were both caught offguard so the morning rides to and fro were rather chilly.
We didn’t get to spend much time in Pai, but from my experience living in Thailand, Pai does seem like a nice and quaint little village to retire for now, but in years to come, the blooming tourism industry is going to change this town a lot.