"Short stories and travel reports from my life adventures around the globe".

Life of Pai, Thailand.

Life of Pai Thailand.

Life of Pai, Thailand.

June 2015.

I have never been particularly happy doing long car journeys. I get carsick, you see. Especially when you start throwing in twists and turns on mountainous roads. One of the worst drives I’ve ever experienced was when I took the bus from Chiang Mai to Pai. I knew it was going to be twisty, but I reckon I may have underestimated just how twisty.

It was only later that I discovered that the 128 kilometre route contains no less than 792 bends! I think it was around the 100 mark that I began feeling queasy. Later, somewhere in the 350-400 bend part of the journey, I felt certain that I was about to part company with the contents of my stomach.

792 bends on the road from Chiang Mai to Pai.

Life of Pai, Thailand.

Somehow though I managed to pull through without embarrassing myself in the bus. Scanning my fellow passengers, I could see that I wasn’t the only one feeling a huge sense of relief as we arrived in one of Thailand’s most stunning mountain valley towns.

When the bus finally came to a stop on Pai’s main drag, I couldn’t get off fast enough. Resting on a bench and greedily gulping down the fresh air, I took a few minutes to compose myself before setting off for my guesthouse.

Life of Pai, Thailand.

The town centre in Pai Thailand.

Rungsiyanon Road.

Pai’s main street is stuffed full of restaurants, cafes, bars and stores. But it would be almost criminal to come here and stay on Rungsiyanon Road. Because the whole appeal of Pai is that it has some of the most beautiful scenery in northern Thailand.

So I chose a guesthouse a little outside of town called Pai Phu Fah. It was incredibly idyllic, a series of painted wooden chalets peppered around a meticulous garden.

Pai Phu Fah Guesthouse.

Life of Pai, Thailand.

My actual lodgings were basic at best. But I didn’t mind. Rather, I was willing to accept that this was rustic living at an economical price. After all, the toilet flushed and the bed was comfy, with a mosquito net that kept out unwanted visitors. Which was good enough for me.

Hut homes at Pai Phu Fah Guesthouse.

Life of Pai, Thailand.

That garden was such a peaceful place. Behind the final row of chalets, and the wooden fence that surrounded the complex, lay open rice fields and rolling hills as far as the eye could see.

Pai Phu Fah Guesthouse.

An overcast afternoon in Pai Thailand.

Views from Pai Phu Fah Guesthouse.

In the mornings, cradling my cup of coffee, I’d stand and stare out over the countryside inhaling the stillness. Don’t think I ever saw so much as a farmer tending to the land. Just the occasional bird gliding through the air, sometimes swooping down to claim some poor unseen creature.

Peaceful farmland in Pai Thailand.

Life of Pai, Thailand.

On that first afternoon I had no ambition for anything other than exploring the area around Pai Phu Fah. What I found was a series of country trails leading to and around some small villages. On one such path I followed a muddy river towards a tiny community. The views were just gorgeous, despite the murky colour of the water and the greyness of the day.

Exploring rural Pai in Thailand.

Life of Pai, Thailand.

The village I came upon showed few signs of life. From what I could gather it was a rice farmer’s commune. I caught just a glimpse or two of the actual farmers moving between the grand wooden houses they’d built for themselves. I was trying to find a name for the place on my phone, but map results failed to turn up anything concrete.

Rice farmer village Pai Thailand.

Rice farmers’ village, Pai.

That evening I walked into town for some food. Prior to coming I had read much about Pai’s flourishing food and drink scene. Dozens of new eateries had recently opened, with local business owners championed by tourists and expats alike for their culinary talent and experimentation. I took my first meal at Maya Burger Queen, a restaurant with a reputation for meaty burgers and playful toppings.

Life of Pai, Thailand.

Maya Burger Queen Restaurant in Pai.

Life of Pai, Thailand.

I went for a double cheeseburger with tomato, lettuce, mushrooms and pineapple smothered in barbecue sauce. As I recall, it was decent. While waiting for my order, I got chatting to a pair of British Indian brothers, Gagan and Ravi. Immediately we hit it off, bonding over our travel experiences and a communal wry sense of humour.

Beefburger with cheese pineapple and BBQ sauce Pai Thailand

Life of Pai, Thailand.

We had such a laugh, the three of us decided to see Pai’s famous White Buddha together the next day. Perched atop a lush green hill on the eastern outskirts of town, the White Buddha is part of a temple complex called Wat Phra That Mae Yen. It took us about twenty minutes to reach the entrance staircase to the hill from the centre of town.

Climbing the hill to the White Buddha in Pai

“We’re off to see the Buddha… the wonderful Buddha of Pai”.

As you can see there were a lot of steps, 353 to be precise. The climb was steep and in the unforgiving afternoon sun we soon found ourselves drenched in sweat. In fact, we quickly learned that the key to not collapsing was to take several breaks as we ascended. Just a one-minute timeout here and there to catch our breath and guzzle from our water bottles.

The 353 step climb to the White Buddha Pai Thailand

Life of Pai, Thailand.

Eventually, the top of the staircase came into view and we dragged ourselves up into the temple grounds. Our victory exclamations came in mixed forms: a relieved sigh, a wordless punch of the air and an exhausted “Thank **** for that”. I’ll leave you to speculate on which reaction was mine.

Life of Pai, Thailand.

Visiting the White Buddha in Pai.

Nearly there.

As misfortune would have it (and has so often had it over the years) I found the temple closed for restoration work. This was a pity, as according to numerous articles online the temple is ancient. So old, in fact, that historians don’t know precisely when it was built. “It has stood for a long time” suggests my favourite source, the Tourism Authority of Thailand.

In contrast, The White Buddha is a modern creation that came to completion in 2014 after a 12 year construction project.

The White Buddha Pai Thailand.

Life of Pai, Thailand.

Unveiled less than a year before my visit, it was sparkling white. So new that the wooden supportive framework had not yet been removed from its giant back. “Maybe next month they take it off”, explained a local man who spotted me photographing the monstrosity.

Wooden supportive frame White Buddha Pie

Life of Pai, Thailand.

From the platform on which the Buddha sits we enjoyed magnificent views of Pai’s sweeping countryside. Someone had even been kind enough to build a wooden throne for me so that I could look all important as I took a load off after the demanding climb.

Views from The White Buddha.

King of the Hill Pai Thailand.

Behold moi, the King of Pai.

That evening, back in town, Gagan, Ravi and I had dinner at Na’s Kitchen where we toasted our hike with a round of mango shakes. Yes, that’s how rock n’ roll we were.

Na's Kitchen Pai Thailand.

Life of Pai, Thailand.

Ordering a trio of creamy Chicken Panang Curries, we plotted another hike for the following day. This one would raise the stakes much higher than a 353-step staircase. The curry was amazing by the way, with an irresistible sauce comprised of chilli peppers, ginger, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves and coriander, to name just some of the ingredients.

Panang Curry Pai Thailand.

Panang Curry. Oh, yes.

The next morning we set off for Pai Canyon, a 3.5 mile stretch of dusty trails and rocky slopes that lead to a viewpoint. Located 8km out of town on Highway 1095, we had initially planned on grabbing a tuk tuk. But in the end the owner at my guesthouse offered to give us a lift. This was the second time in just a few weeks that I found myself climbing in the back of a pickup for a free ride following my sunset adventure in Ko Lanta.

Driving to Pai Canyon in Thailand.

Life of Pai, Thailand.

We arrived late morning to find the canyon perfectly empty. This was very much the plan, even though we understood that the ferocity of the afternoon sun was gonna be tough to deal with.

In order to avoid the heat, most visitors come either very early or at sunset. I have never been that great with early rises. Moreover, I had no desire to join the drooling masses that flock here for sundown. For me the payoff of getting all hot and bothered was worth it.

Pai Canyon.

Hiking Pai Canyon.

Bloody hot.

Hence we gritted our teeth and prepared for battle. The walkways were surprisingly narrow, and with no railings (or indeed any safety measures whatsoever) in place, we took the hike slowly and carefully.

Looking back, I should have worn some proper shoes, not my sandals. But overall it was fine, with no slips or mishaps to speak of. Here and there, it was necessary to get on all fours and pick our way up a few tricky inclines.

The rocky trails of Pai Canyon.

Life of Pai, Thailand.

Happily, there were plenty of large, flat platforms where we could stop and rest. To drink water, take a breather and reapply sunscreen.

An afternoon visit to Pai Canyon in Thailand

Life of Pai, Thailand.

As challenging as it was, we were rewarded with gorgeous views in all directions. Of green valleys, nearby forests and distant mountains. It was breathtaking, and all the more so to experience everything in near silence.

Views from Pai Canyon.

Views from Pai Canyon.

It took us just under an hour and a half to reach the main viewpoint. Some of the ledges towards the end were a touch hairy, but manageable enough when tackled single file with caution.

Scrambling up the trails of Pai Canyon.

Life of Pai, Thailand.

At the viewpoint we flopped out for a while, content but tired. And lamenting the fact that soon we’d have to turn around and make our way back to the entrance. “Ah, let’s give it another five minutes” said Ravi, lying on his back, staring up at the sky.

Life of Pai, Thailand.

Exploring Pai Canyon.

Pai Canyon.

All three of us were pretty knackered by the time we returned to the canyon entrance. I’d expected there to be some tuk tuk’s knocking around, but the entire area was deserted. As a result, we started walking back to town. I did not fancy walking all eight kilometres and felt sure that we could flag down a passing tuk tuk. Or maybe even hitch another lift.

8km walk from Pai Canyon to the city.

Life of Pai, Thailand.

Unfortunately, no such chariot appeared. So we walked… and walked… and walked. It was still stiflingly hot and after a few kilometres my legs were starting to complain. Far off in the distance, we caught sight of The White Buddha nestled in the hills, which lifted my spirits a little.

Pai's distinctive White Buddha.

Life of Pai, Thailand.

At some point we came across a roadside cafe. It was the perfect opportunity to sit, order some smoothies and curse our rotten luck with the strange lack of tuk tuks.

Adventures in Pai Thailand.

So over the walk back to Pai.

And then it was back on our feet for more damn walking. “3 Kilometres” called Ravi with a weary shake of the head as another car sped past, ignoring our raised hands and thumbs.

Adventures in Thailand.

A nostalgic look at Pai in Thailand.

Life of Pai, Thailand.

I have no regrets about that walk, you know. Especially as it led us to the fun sight of the retired Welcome to Pai bus. For nearly twenty years this distinctive red bus ferried people back and forth between Chiang Mai and Pai before being put out to pasture on the side of the highway. It now stands grounded as a tourist attraction of sorts.

Welcome to Pai red bus.

Life of Pai, Thailand.

For the final kilometre we were treated to some of Pai’s most picture perfect guesthouses. There were so many I made do with photographing just a handful, such as this idyllic cottage with ponies grazing on the front lawn.

Beautiful cottage guesthouse Pai Thailand

Life of Pai, Thailand.

Another of my favourites was this wonderfully crafted tree house hotel with a slate roof. Wooden balconies looked out over a spotless garden where two classic cars sat parked on the lawn.

Classic cars outside a guesthouse in Pai Thailand

Life of Pai, Thailand.

The most impressive though, arguably, was this massive country house barn. The kind of thing you might expect to see in the midwest of the United States instead of rural Thailand. It was an amazing structure, spoilt a little by the fact that there was scaffolding up on both sides and the sound of distant drilling.

Huge farmhouse B&B in Pai Thailand.

Life of Pai, Thailand.

That evening’s dinner came at my favourite Pai Restaurant, the charming Lemon Thyme Cafe. Looking at their recent reviews, I would imagine there has been a change of management. But back in the summer of 2015 two young local brothers ran the place.

Lemon Thyme Cafe.

The Lemon Thyme Cafe in Pai.

Life of Pai, Thailand.

When I say young, I’m not kidding, as they looked like teenagers. And yet, these two ambitious Thais launched the cafe themselves and did everything between them. Yup, from the ordering and the cooking to the serving, washing up and dealing with payments. Shy, smiley, modest and softly-spoken, it’s hard to imagine them being the subject of recent bad reviews where diners have complained of rude and arrogant staff. Things change I guess.

The Thai brothers behind Lemon Thyme Cafe in Pai

Lemon Thyme Cafe.

The cafe had a reputation for experimental dishes. Indeed, I couldn’t resist ordering a bowl of pork sausage and chicken pasta served with tomato and onion in peanut sauce. Topped with melted cheese, naturally. It was delicious.

Sausage and Chicken pasta Lemon Thyme Cafe

Life of Pai, Thailand.

Gagan and Ravi were about to head off on the next part of their Thai journey. I forget exactly where they were going, but on their last day we embarked on one final jaunt. Renting bikes, the three of us rode deep into the countryside looking for the jungle trail that leads to Mae Yen Waterfall.

Forest bike riding in Pai Thailand.

Life of Pai, Thailand.

In terms of finding the actual waterfall the project was a total failure. We lost over an hour trying to find the right trail, after which we realised there was a point where we could no longer proceed with our bikes. So we chained them up together against a tree and continued on foot, going deeper and deeper into the jungle.

Life of Pai, Thailand.

Jungle trekking Pai Thailand.

Failing to find the waterfall.

Eventually, the signs for the waterfall petered out and we had no idea where to go. We could have pressed on and made more of a fist of it, but there was a sense of apathy creeping in. Furthermore, I had to be back for a scheduled job interview on Skype for an English teaching post in the Spanish town of Castro Urdiales. Therefore we regretfully abandoned the search and made our way back home.

Forest hike Pai Thailand.

Life of Pai, Thailand.

The following day Gagan and Ravi departed and I spent the next few days resting in Pai. Then, it was time for me to move on too. Not only to my next destination, but to the last location of my two-month stay in Thailand. It’s always shit when you realise that a great adventure is coming to an end. Nevertheless, I was determined to make the most of my time in the fascinating city of Chiang Rai. Until then…

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  • Sangeeta Venkatesh

    This was an interesting piece. The White Buddha looked amazing from the top.

    March 19, 2023 - 12:06 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Hey Sangeeta, thanks for reading and for leaving a comment. The White Buddha is an impressive sight, even to a Buddha veteran such as myself. It’s cool how you can see it for miles around.

      March 19, 2023 - 12:38 pm Reply
  • Kelly MacKay

    I really enjoyed this post. The views are incredible. I loved the view from the bench at white buddha wow.

    March 19, 2023 - 12:55 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks Kelly! Pai is an exceptionally pretty place, even by Thai standards. It can get a little overcrowded at times with tourists but is still worth a visit, especially as you can always find quieter, more off-the-beaten-track parts of the countryside to explore. Appreciate your comment!

      March 19, 2023 - 1:00 pm Reply
      • Kelly MacKay

        I liked your A-frame accommodation they looked perfect

        March 19, 2023 - 1:04 pm
  • Stan

    briliantly written as usual leighton. i also like the title, very clever. seems like you struck up a great rapport with gagan and ravi, i do enjoy these tales of friendships forged on the road by chance. the countryside there looks lovely and you clearly chose well with that splendid guesthouse. i rather fancy the hotel with the ponies outside.

    March 19, 2023 - 1:30 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Cheers Stan, I had a blast writing up Pai and wading through my album of photos. Had barely looked at them in years, so there were many “ooooh yes” moments. I loved those guesthouses on the highway, but concede that I was probably better off in the place with the large garden that wasn’t on the highway. I’ve sadly lost touch with Gagan and Ravi, who have over the years disappeared from the usual social media channels. Hope all is well with you!

      March 19, 2023 - 1:42 pm Reply
  • Anna

    What a gorgeous spot! I’ve never heard of Pai, but it looks peaceful and relaxing. A bit of hiking too which is right up my alley!

    March 19, 2023 - 1:31 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks Anna, it’s great ti hear from you! Yes, I think Pai would tick all your travel boxes. I could’ve stayed longer and done more of the hikes, but alas it was time to move on again. Hope you and the family are doing well.

      March 19, 2023 - 1:44 pm Reply

    Gorgeous, wonderful place by the sound of it. It reads like exactly our kind of town. You clearly have very fond memories of Pai, I hear that loud and clear.

    March 19, 2023 - 1:31 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks for swinging “Pai” Phil. This pretty mountain valley town was yet anther another example of why I found northern Thailand much more enjoyable than the south.

      March 19, 2023 - 2:01 pm Reply

        I can certainly see why. As an aside, and remembering your wonderfully named “Sushi In The Sky With Diamonds”, I just thought I’d tell you there is a joint round the corner from us in Delhi called…..Burger Singh.

        March 19, 2023 - 2:22 pm
      • Leighton

        Love it!

        March 19, 2023 - 2:26 pm
  • travelling_han

    Pai looks AMAZING, and that Panang curry looks soooo good. I’d have definitely been vomiting on the bus though, those roads look crazy! I feel like having just booked south Thailand for later this year, I need to reassess and head north.

    March 19, 2023 - 2:05 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Hey Han, thanks for reading and contributing to the comment thread. The south definitely seems more popular with tourists because of its gorgeous beaches, stunning rock formations and spectacular islands. For me though the north has so much more. Wonderful historic towns and villages and the time and space in which to take a deep breath away from the masses. The food is better too I’d say and everything is a bit cheaper. If I think back to the absolute highlights of my two months in Thailand nearly everything (except perhaps Ko Lanta) is from the north. I’m talking Ayutthaya, Sukhothai, Pai, Kanchanaburi and Sangkhlaburi.

      March 19, 2023 - 2:16 pm Reply
  • bronlima

    I also suffer from travel sicknese. What works for me is to lean into the bends as if were on a motor-bike. That means your centre of balance in you brain doesn’t feel the movement.

    March 19, 2023 - 2:06 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Great tip Geoff, I’m pretty sure I’ve tried that over the years but nothing to great effect. Sometimes I’m absolutely fine on a long drive, other times I get horribly sick on a thirty minute journey. Thanks for your comment, hope you enjoyed reading about Pai.

      March 19, 2023 - 2:21 pm Reply
      • bronlima

        Certainly did, as always!

        March 19, 2023 - 7:48 pm
  • Memo

    Another grand adventure made even better by new friends. And great food pics as well. Those ridge top trails look intimidating – the kind that drop off into “not a good way down.” We did some of those in Peru but I always looked for an alternative route back. One way was usually enough. Looking forward to the final installment. I’m a little sad to see it end too.

    March 19, 2023 - 3:13 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Hey Memo, where in Peru were your ridge top trails? Glad you enjoyed Pai, I’m also a little sad that Thailand is coming to an end. But hey, I have a billion and one articles that need writing up. So overall I’m delighted that another country’s adventures are soon to be fully blogged.

      March 19, 2023 - 4:17 pm Reply
  • kagould17

    Ooooh, I could see how those windy roads would make you nauseous Leighton. It makes Japan’s Irohazaka Driveay almost look straight. I’m very lucky, I sledom seem to get motion sickness, except onboard a ship for more that 3 days. Pai looks idyllic with lots to see and do, but the heat and humidity would have killed me. The views from the White Buddha were worth the climb. Too bad the temple complex was closed. Always good to find some knidred spirits to hang and explore with when you are on holiday. Looks like a sweaty fun time. Thanks for sharing. Allan

    March 19, 2023 - 3:52 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Hey Allan, thanks for reading about my time in Pai! Sweaty fun is right on the nail I’d say. The canyon was really hard work and I was a bit naive I feel in my prep work (or lack thereof) for that hike. But all in all another huge win for northern Thailand and its varied sights.

      March 19, 2023 - 4:13 pm Reply
  • Monkey's Tale

    Love the title! For some reason the temple at the White Buddha was closed when we were there too. On our bus ride to Pai there were several people who were sick in the bus! The driver has a supply of plastic bags. We didn’t get sick, but the sounds from inside our bus almost made it happen for us too!! Maggie

    March 19, 2023 - 5:13 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks Maggie, somehow I assumed that you guys have also been to Pai. The White Buddha temple is one of those temples I guess that often has its doors locked. The staggering lack of history about the place was a head scratcher, maybe we didn’t miss all that much.

      March 19, 2023 - 5:49 pm Reply
  • Mallee Stanley

    Even though you never made it to the waterfall, look how beautiful the setting is in that last photo.

    March 19, 2023 - 5:51 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      You’re right Mallee. At the time it felt like failure, but looking back we still had an amazing hike with literally not one other human being encountered along the way. Thanks for reading about my time in Pai, I hope all is well with you in your part of the world.

      March 19, 2023 - 6:12 pm Reply
  • Mike and Kellye Hefner

    What a great time you must have had in Pai, Leighton. The town and its surroundings look so interesting and beautiful. I absolutely loved the views from the White Buddha, but I’m not sure I could’ve handled those stairs, especially in the heat. Pai Canyon would’ve been right up my alley, but not under a blistering sun. The great shot you got of the White Buddha in the trees gave me a sense of how big it really is! I don’t get car sick, but by the looks of those winding turns and switchbacks, I probably would have gotten off the bus feeling as bad as you did. I enjoyed the post and look forward to Chaing Rai.

    March 19, 2023 - 6:01 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks so much Kellye for joining me on this journey. Pai is a really handsome and fun place with very few disappointments, despite being a touch more touristy than I usually like. Pai Canyon in the unforgiving late morning/early afternoon sun is probably something I’d avoid doing these days.

      March 19, 2023 - 6:14 pm Reply
  • Lyssy In The City

    What a fun time in Pai! It’s great that you can meet new friends so easily. I can’t get over the wooden scaffolding on the White Buddha and that house, that would not fly in NYC haha.

    March 19, 2023 - 10:04 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Well, I ‘could’ make friends that easily, back in those days. Today I’m just a bit more reserved and introverted. It’s funny how things work out. They really should’ve taken that scaffolding down sooner. Cheers, Lyssy.

      March 19, 2023 - 10:15 pm Reply
  • anoush

    I’d never heard of Pai (love the title) before reading your post. It looks lovely, at times pastoral, not how I imagine Thailand at all. Your accommodation looks idyllic, particularly as it was surrounded by open fields and quietness. Your Pai visit has all the elements of an adventure, congenial companions, lush and long jungle treks, great food and magnificent monuments.

    March 19, 2023 - 10:17 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Hey Anoush, I’m glad this was an eye-opener. I don’t think anyone pictures Pai-like scenery when they think of Thailand. Which makes the place all the more of a delightful surprise, I feel. Thanks, as always, for your thoughtful comments.

      March 19, 2023 - 10:20 pm Reply
  • thomasstigwikman

    What an adventure. I don’t get car sick easily but I do get car sick if it’s bad enough. I think 792 bends would have done it. Switching topic, the food looks delicious and the white buddha is really brilliant white and beautiful.

    March 19, 2023 - 10:29 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Hey Thomas, it’s great to hear from you! Yes, I reckon 792 bends would test even the steeliest of stomachs. Thanks for reading my article about Pai and leaving a comment. Always appreciated!

      March 19, 2023 - 10:31 pm Reply
  • qprgary

    Sorry mate I got as far as the pineapple and barbecue sauce concoction before those bends caused a regurgitation

    March 19, 2023 - 11:26 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Oh dear, hope you got everything cleaned up ok!

      March 19, 2023 - 11:32 pm Reply
  • Little Miss Traveller

    What a great title for the post Leighton and your accommodation looked really pretty from the outside even if it was basic inside. The other cottages and barns looked beautiful too and I was surprised that the Buddha was so modern.

    March 19, 2023 - 11:58 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks Marion, Pai is such a pretty and distinctive place. I was lucky to see the White Buddha when it was still sparkling new. I guess it is already somewhat weathered after eight years of burning and sun and epic Thai rains.

      March 20, 2023 - 9:05 am Reply
  • Travels Through My Lens

    What a beautiful location, and the photo of the white Buddha nestled in the trees is stunning. I enjoyed reading about your adventures, new friends, nail-biting hikes, and delicious looking food in this entertaining post.

    March 20, 2023 - 5:50 am Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks so much Tricia. Pai had a bit of everything, if only we could have found that waterfall. Now there’s a reason to go back 😉

      March 20, 2023 - 9:06 am Reply
  • WanderingCanadians

    The drive to Pai sounds like quite the adventure with all those twists, turns and bends in the road. I totally get that you were feeling a bit queasy! It sounds like it was worth it though as Pai looks so beautiful and lush. I love the views from the White Buddha. It’s too bad the temple was closed though. The trail to Pai Canyon looks a bit dodgy. I probably would have preferred hiking in the heat to dealing with the crowds too, especially given the narrow path without any guardrails.

    March 20, 2023 - 1:13 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Ha, I had a feeling you would also be on the “gimme the heat” side of things. Not that many would agree with us, I reckon. Thanks for reading about my days exploring in Pai!

      March 20, 2023 - 8:24 pm Reply
  • grandmisadventures

    Well I think you vastly rewarded from enduring such a long and twisty drive. I don’t usually get car sick, but that many turns in the heat would have me making a gross spectacle of myself within minutes. But once you got there- WOW! The White Buddha is incredible and the views from your hike are lovely. And the food looks amazing. My favorite place would have been with the teenage boys and their entrepreneurial spirit. Fantastic post of this beautiful corner of Thailand! 🙂

    March 20, 2023 - 5:47 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Cheers Meg, in the end Pai was definitely worth the rough bus journey. I wonder what happened to those guys that ran Lemon Thyme Cafe. There’s a story there I’d say, between the passing of the years, COVID, and recent patchy reviews.

      March 20, 2023 - 8:30 pm Reply
  • Little Old World

    I hadn’t heard of Pai before reading your post, but what a delightfully beautiful part of the world. I especially love the views from Pai Canyon. Idyllic seems to be the perfect word to describe your guesthouse, it’s so charming. The food all looks incredible, too.

    March 20, 2023 - 9:37 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks for checking out Pai! Much of the town and its surrounds are indeed idyllic, cheers for the read and comment.

      March 21, 2023 - 9:36 am Reply
  • NortheastAllie

    This seems like such a peaceful place in Thailand. The White Buddha is stunning, and it is magnificent on that landscape as well!

    March 21, 2023 - 12:52 am Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks for reading about Pai Allie!

      March 21, 2023 - 9:37 am Reply
  • Laura

    I loved this post. The mention of the windy road reminded me of the Road to Hana in Maui- easy to lose your lunch on that one too! I had mentioned before that northern Thailand calls to me and these experiences you have shared further solidify why- the peacefulness, vast and lush countryside and idyllic views are so appealing. The white Buddha in the hills photo taken during your walk back to town is absolutely incredible!

    March 22, 2023 - 1:25 am Reply
    • Leighton

      Hey Laura, that long, hard walk back to town was worth it just for the Buddha photo. I’m glad you enjoyed my look at Pai, thanks for reading and commenting!

      March 22, 2023 - 8:58 am Reply
  • Juliette

    Wow, your adventures in Pai definitely had their ups and downs! I don’t get car sick usually, but I’m pretty sure I would have felt a bit queasy by the end of that first car journey! The canyon hike seems beautiful too, though the way back didn’t seem that fun, except for that beautiful sight of the white buddha and the pretty houses ahah! So sad to read that your adventures in that part of the world are coming to an end, and looking forward for the last part of the journey!

    March 22, 2023 - 8:24 am Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks Juliette, for following me throughout this Thai series. Pai is a jewel in northern Thailand, despite being up against some stiff competition. Appreciate the comment!

      March 22, 2023 - 9:12 am Reply
  • wetanddustyroads

    I also get carsick (but only if I sit in the back), so I always make sure I sit in the front (or am the driver) … but in a bus it can be a problem! It’s a beautiful setting – from your accommodation, the 353 steps to the Buddha of Pai and your walk in sweltering heat at the canyon (where’s your hat?). But wow, having to walk all the way back to Pai was quite a heavy ask … where is a tuk-tuk if you need one (or a bike) 😁. Great story Leighton, I loved your humor in this post!

    March 22, 2023 - 6:47 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      I’m surprised to hear that you also get carsick Corna, not sure why. Maybe just that it feels like you and Berto are always on the road. I think it doesn’t help that I am rarely in cars, only when I have to be. This particular drive was hellish to me, I can still feel the awfulness ha ha. But oh my how Pai was worth the journey. I was so blasé about the Pai Canyon trek. Sandals… no hat… silly really, but I got away with it. Thanks for the kind words, glad I gave you a few laughs.

      March 22, 2023 - 7:19 pm Reply
      • wetanddustyroads

        Luckily it’s always just the two of us in the car, so at least I can always sit in the front … it definitely helps!

        March 22, 2023 - 7:48 pm
  • Eberhart Edition

    Your photography is incredible. Enjoyed this a lot.

    March 23, 2023 - 8:36 am Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks for your comment!

      March 23, 2023 - 8:54 am Reply
  • Nic

    Hard to imagine that wood structure is doing much to support the Buddha, it seems so flimsy to me! I suppose better safe than sorry haha

    March 26, 2023 - 10:13 am Reply
    • Leighton

      Ha, maybe it’s still there as a miscalculated decoration. Thanks for reading about my visit to Pai, Nic.

      March 26, 2023 - 10:55 am Reply
  • rkrontheroad

    I was feeling dizzy just looking at that winding road to Pai… But it seems that it was well worth it. A lesser known place to explore. The curry looked so good! And the gleaming white Buddha in the forest.

    March 31, 2023 - 8:54 pm Reply
  • Leighton

    The long and Winding Road. Pai was a real treat, heck I’d even do that bus journey again. Thanks for stopping by, Ruth.

    March 31, 2023 - 9:41 pm Reply
  • Nora

    Loved reading your article. The pictures are awesome. And everything very well described.

    May 4, 2023 - 3:07 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Thank you so much Nora, I’m glad you enjoyed the article 🙂

      May 4, 2023 - 3:28 pm Reply
  • Nic's Adventures

    Thanks for sharing, I would get very travel sick for those winding roads! The white Buddha looks great trip to see it 🙂

    June 6, 2023 - 11:12 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Hey Nic, I’m glad you enjoyed reading about Pai. That drive into the region is pretty hairy but worth ever second.

      June 7, 2023 - 11:33 am Reply

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