I was SO pumped up about renting a scooter to explore Pai – I’d had so many recommendations that this was the best place to do it, the most safe given the low levels of traffic and as all the sights to explore are a little drive away from each other it just seemed the most practical option.
Mike already had a bike he had rented the day before so him and I went into town to find one for me. We visited three shops, the first wouldn’t rent to me because I hadn’t ridden before (confidence hit 1), the second wouldn’t because I didn’t have my passport as a deposit (mark 2) and finally we made it to the third shop. The guy took my passport copy, filled in the form with all my details and I was about to hand over my money, but NO, I couldn’t. I totally chickened out.
Tip – it usually costs up to 2000 baht to rent a scooter for the day, less if you negotiate for multiple days.
As my Mum kindly reminded me later that evening via WhatsApp I struggled with a Go Kart in Devon a couple of years ago. I’d ridden into a bush with my push bike in Bangkok and my lack of general road confidence (after years riding public transport in London) got the better of me.
Luckily Mike agreed to have me on the back of his, we grabbed a helmet and off we went (I actually trusted him more than myself).
The local sights in what I will refer to as the Pai loop, isn’t the same as the Mae Hong Son Loop which takes you through the mountains to Pai via 762 hairpin turns. Terrifying if you ask me (I took the bus). This day long adventure instead takes you around the the sights of the local area, to explore Pai via seven different scenic view points. I’ve popped the cost in there too which might help you decide which to visit if you need to pick.
Landsplit (donation) – following an earthquake back in 2008 this part of Thailand was hit hard and the land literally split in two. Destroying the crops and land completely the farmer in the area has had to create a new source of income. By sharing the local produce, some of which can only be found in that region, the Land Split has become a welcome break, which takes only donation, for bikers in the area exploring the local scenery. Grab a banana, some roselle juice and tiger striped peanuts to refuel for the next stop.
Pam Bok Waterfall (free) – just a few km up the road there’s a hidden waterfall right around the corner. It takes some clambering through the water (which I couldn’t do due to my knee), but Mike took a peek around the corner and showed me the photos. Climb to the top to see the start of it and check out the gorgeous colours of mini rainbows at the bottom as the light shines through.
Bamboo Bridge, Boon Kho Ku Su (30 baht) – here you can head through this incredible construction of 800m of bamboo bridge which snakes through the land of rice fields and at the end takes you right to a temple. It’s a peaceful spot which Mike and I explored for quite a while actually. Grab refreshments there and try your hand at archery too if you fancy.
Pai Canyon (free) – take the winding road back past your previous stops and head onto the main road for a further 15 mins to Pai Canyon. Be warned, this is an adventure and you could spend up to two hours here. Mike and I climbed down into the depths of the canyon and spent a good 45 mins exploring a winding path which resembled an old riverbed, snaking right through into the leafy jungle at the back fo the Canyon. Once we made our way back up the the rocks it was a tough climb grabbing onto the edges of rocks, trees and basically whatever we could get our hands on. It was really fun, but pretty scary at times. Totally recommend a visit though, there’s also toilets and food / drinks stalls at the front.
WW2 Memorial Bridge (free) – learn about the history of Pai in the second World War and admire the steel constructed bridge, right down the road from the Canyon.
Tha Thai Hot Springs (500 baht) – boil eggs, explore the rock pools of these hot springs and take a dip into all sorts of different temperatures. Make sure you pack a towel and your swim wear to hang out in these natural waters and ideally spend at least an hour relaxing there.
Big White Buddha (free) – our final stop was for the sunset at the big white buddha, overlooking views of the mountains an Pai. We chased down the sun as it drifted behind the mountain but worth it as we raced up the stairs and joined other sunsetters listening to some live bell like music and enjoying the view.
Top Tips:The whole day was probably a good 8/9 hours, depending on how long you stay at each stop. Be sure to pack suncream, bite spray, sun glasses and water. There’s food stops along the way so you won’t go hungry, and, be ready to explore Pai.