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Where to go in Northern Thailand – Chiang Mai and Pai.

So here’s the thing.

Northern Thailand is the best Thailand.

Walking around Chiang Mai was amazing, I felt so free even though my shoes gave me blisters, I took so many pictures, met super cool people, petted some super cute cats and dogs and had some pretty delicious food.

Culturally speaking, I thought that this city had the most to offer with great old city vibes, schools everywhere, beautiful temples and gorgeous colorful miscellaneous things in every shop. Much smaller than Bangkok, but crossing the street still requires caution.

I tried great vegan food (even though I’m not vegan) from a few different places, the people were friendly and gave me directions to everywhere, some Thai guy even wanted to marry me. I was flattered.

And don’t get me started on Pai. If you’re going to Chiang Mai, do yourself a favor and go to Pai as well. The journey there is absolutely horrific, especially if you have motion sickness… I’d recommend taking a pill for that 30min before the bus leaves. It takes about 3,5h from Chiang Mai and you’re gonna hate the driver for being so reckless, but there’s a bathroom stop on the way and you’re eventually going to make it to Pai and lord is Pai nice.

I stayed there with Avalon, a girl I met in Chiang Mai (who later became my permanent travel buddy) and stumbled upon Tony as well. We stayed at two hostels, but I’m not going to bother you with the second one, because this is where you should be going – SpicyPai Hostel.

It is an open concept hostel, we were taken aback by how chilled out it was. You get to sleep in these wooden beds on different levels, about 20 beds per “house” and you only have a roof made of hay on top, so air flows freely in the dorm…so no doors. Hence the mosquito nets. And don’t worry, there are lockers for your valuables… Just bring a padlock with you!

While it lacks privacy, it is rich in other things – company, drinks, views and amazing vibes.

I could have sat on the hammocks for days at a time enjoying the freedom and this view. It’s about 1km away from the center, so if you don’t feel like walking just rent a scooter for 150baht per day, you’ll be alright.

If that seems too far for you, another really social hostel is Common Grounds located right in the center of Pai. Heard the best Solomon Burke cover over there. Sorry for the side video, but it shows the vibes.

Hearing this almost brings tears to my eyes, Pai is still the best place I’ve been to so far. Things to do include seeing elephants, going to a waterfall, 2 hot springs, a canyon, white Buddha statue, night food Market, plenty of bars and food places and great juice from the main street. Go, go, go!

Sidenote about the elephants. I didn’t pay 1500baht to go to a sanctuary. I drove with a scooter towards one of the attractions (take the road to the right from Spicypai, away from the city) and within 10 minutes you will see them on the side of the road just chilling. The care givers speak english and are more than happy to tell you everything you want to know about the elephants… For free. I only paid 20baht for the bananas I fed them. And they don’t get abused and seemed happy and playful. Go check them out instead of paying a ton of money, if you’re on a budget.

The night life in Pai was alright, places close early but there’s always an afterparty somewhere else. So that’s sorted. And if you need some hangover food, there is this guy on the main street who sells tofu phad thai for 50baht and it was the best food I had in Thailand. He had long hair, which he kept in a bun and he usually always has a line for his food (for good reason). If you happen to go there and find him, let me know what you thought of his food!

That’s it for this blog post! More travel destinations in the next one.

//Stef

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