If you grew up glued to the television when National Geographic was on, it’s likely you’ll have seen women and young girls with numerous gold rings piled high around their neck. I was one of those kids, fascinated by different cultures throughout the world and the way their traditions and beliefs had a direct impact on what they wore and what modifications they made to their body. From the moment I found out I was going to be traveling throughout Northern Thailand, I knew that I wanted to visit the Karen Long Neck Village in Mae Hong Son to be able to see these women from T.V up close and in person.
After arriving in Pai, you’ll quickly find that there’s not much to see within walking distance of Pai Walking Street. If you’re looking for other sights to see or things to do in Pai, which I would hope you are if you’ve made the treacherous journey up there, you’re going to need to rent a motorbike or hire a taxi for the day. We decided to hire a taxi, given my lack of enthusiasm for renting a motorbike and my inability to follow directions, to take us around the 22.5 km sightseeing loop. Because Pai is so small, you’re able to see pretty much all that the town has to offer within a day. With that being said, I leave you with a list of 10 things to do in Pai..
When I think about Northern Thailand, the two main cities that come to mind are Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai. Aside from those, I wasn’t really aware of any other places to visit while up north. Thankfully, as I was planning my trip, I heard from a friend about a place called Pai and how incredible it was. After doing a bit of research, and getting persuaded by all of the ranting and raving from my friend, I decided to put Pai on my itinerary. After all, it was only 3 hours from Chiang Mai (or, as locals like to say, ‘762 curves to Pai’) and I would be heading north to Chiang Rai anyway. After the long trip, we were dropped off in Pai just after lunch, so we hung around for the day and explored Pai Walking Street.
Thailand has increasingly become a tourist hot spot, with more and more people choosing to go there for their next vacation. And what’s not to love? Thailand is cheap (though prices have been steadily increasing over the past few years), tourist friendly (ease of access, language, etc.), and offers something for everyone (beaches, city life, exclusive getaways, elephant encounters, etc.). The food in Chiang Mai, in my ever-so humble opinion, is Thailand’s best for both the quality of food and the price. You’ll find food stalls, local restaurants, and everything in between as you walk down the streets, so you’re sure to find some tasty treats along the way.
If you’ve already seen as many temples as you can handle in Chiang Mai and you’ve spent a day at an elephant center or sanctuary, or have gone ziplining through the jungle, you might be looking for a less busy activity to fill up your day. If that’s the case and you’re looking for a relaxing day while still learning something new about Thailand’s local culture, you should book a cooking class. There are tonnes of cooking schools in Chiang Mai that offer either morning or afternoon cooking classes, which are engaging, informative, and (most of all) fun!
I have seen my share of beautiful temples when travelling South East Asia, so when I was in Chiang Mai I figured renting bicycles for the day and exploring the many temples found around the Old City would be a good day spent. I have always been fascinated by the intricate detail and effort that went into the construction of these temples. Chiang Mai offers its visitors an impressive array of Buddhist temples; some looking quite different than the temples I saw when I traveled to Bangkok a few years back. Grab a map, a bike, your camera, and you’re good to go and check out the temples in Chiang Mai!
One of many common tourist activities to do in Thailand is to ride an elephant. Unfortunately, many of these elephant camps found throughout the country treat the elephants very poorly – I had a horrible experience two years ago when I was in Bangkok and I swore I would never go to an “elephant camp” again. Thankfully, however, there are also many Mahout elephant training centers, mainly found in Northern Thailand, that provide a much better experience. I had heard about how great these elephant encounters were in Chiang Mai, so on my trip to the north, I figured I would splurge (because these proper camps and sanctuaries sure aren’t cheap) and spend the day with some elephants in a safe, friendly, and comfortable environment. Our guesthouse recommended Chiang Mai Mahout Elephant Training Center and it turned out to be a great day!
After you’ve done a 4 Island Tour on Koh Lanta and have spent a bizarre evening at the night market, you should take some time to explore the island and just relax. Koh Lanta has various beaches along its west side that are all unique from each other and worth at least a half-day trip. If you’re not in the mood to bask in the sun for the day, you can travel back up to the north of the island where the ferry pier is and have lunch or dinner at one of the local restaurants on the water. Just be sure you head to Long Beach to catch some killer views of the sunset before you leave the island!
Koh Lanta is a very relaxed island where you can spend your days island hopping, lounging on the beach, diving, volunteering at Lanta Animal Welfare, or slinging back a beer while watching the sunset. This island is the perfect getaway if you’ve just spent a few crazy nights on neighbouring Koh Phi Phi. You might be able to easily keep yourself busy during the day, but at night the island really winds down (unless, to your surprise, you stumble upon a “half moon” party on the beach!). When we were staying close to the ferry pier in the northern part of the island, we were wandering about the town one night after yet another delicious dinner of Pad Thai and we found a night market. Now, this wasn’t just any market – the Koh Lanta night market is going down in the books as one of the most bizarre markets I have ever come across during my travels..
This is the third island hopping tour I went on during this trip to Thailand and it was by far the best. The first island hopping tour I went on was in Aonang/Krabi and it was far too touristy. The next was in Koh Phi Phi, which was much better, but still not as great as it could have been. Thankfully, the best was saved for last, as the Koh Lanta 4 Island Tour was not only absolutely breathtaking and with far less tourists on the islands we stopped at, but it was a much higher quality tour than the previous ones we went on. This was largely due to the fact that we paid extra for us to go on a speedboat, but it was totally worth it.