Relax in Pai – the chill out stoner town of Thailand
– After a few days in Chiang Mai we figured out that Sam (the dude I was travelling with would have to leave for Cambodia fairly soon after Loi Katong (Festival of the Laterns). So for us to fit a trip into Pai (pronounced Bai) we would have to leave the next day. We took a shared minivan which was around 200 baht. The driver was not very fast and we eat up two hours picking up various travellers from around the old city. The journey itself was a crazy winding road and the total time to get there was 5 hours with one stop at a nice friendly road side cafe with toilets.
We arrived and they dropped us in the centre of Pai where we asked where the guest houses were and got pointed to the direction of the river. Here they ranged from plush 2000 baht a night cottages to basic bamboo tents with outside toilets for 200 baht. We managed to find a nice little place just before the river on the road which had en-suite and hot showers in the cottages for 300 baht a night. This was a very decent price and we met 3 other Swiss guys (which was good for Sam as he had not met very many on his travels so far and he was of course Swiss).
After eating a nice evening meal we found out that there was local elections happening and for the two nights that we were in Pai there was a ban on Alcohol!
This was a bit of a thorn in our plan and mend that we had to sneak around the smaller back alley shops in order to buy our alcohol and it felt like we were in some wierd prohibition-style era.
We got some booze and took it back to the hostel where we preeceded to swap stories with the Swiss guys and drink and smoke a bit of weed. A nice quiet night trying to find some place to ressolve our munchies was rather difficult and it ended in Toasties from 7 / 11 – not exactly what we came to Pai for but still hit the spot.
The second day we hired scooters for 100 baht and went to the Canyon and the waterfalls around pie. We also found a nice place to eat on the main road which did a real nice veggie omelette breakfast.
The second night we bumped into some fellow travellers who told us of a big campfire party at a hostel on the other side of the river that had bought in a special supply of extra alcohol to service the various western tourists who wanted to get boozey. After-all it was a Saturday night.
We went and joined in the fun and there was a huge mix of different nationalities here and we all played cards and set off lanterns as a pre Loi Katong warmup.
After a big late night we got the minvan back to Chaing Mai the next day which gave us one day to get ready for the Loi Katong festival which was starting around the 27th of November.
Unbeknownst to us, there was an opening ceremony called Mai Chou which our friends Chris & Shira from DC attended and found the perfect space where they got engaged!
Here everyone crammed into a really small area and all set off lanterns at the same time and this I believe is where you get the most beautiful photos for the festival and probably the night which is responsible for most of the beautiful photos you see of the festival online.
Although I missed this I saw Chris’s amazing photos and it looked like a real special occasion.
We had 2 days of chilling in Chiang Mai before the 28th which was the main day of the festival and the parade.