Category Archives: Living in Pai Thailand
Fluid Swimming Pool – Famous chillout spot and meeting place in Pai. 25m pool, large grass sunbathing area, shaded salas, gym, steam room, table tennis, great bar, music and super tasty freshly prepared food.
|Fluid Swimming PoolHome
Sroi (The Boss)
“Smokey” the friendly Fluid Kitten
The Fun Fluid Team
(From Left to Right: Baz, Sroi, Udd, Paul, Nang)
|Fluid Swimming PoolBar / Restaurant
25 metre Pool
Gym, Steam Room
The Shangrila Guest House Complex / Golden Huts Guest House.
Situated on the edge of the jungle on a organic fruit plantation, has nine Teakwood Bungalows, each with bathroom and WC. This pristine piece of land (2400 square meters) is set in a lush tropical garden surrounded by age-old trees with running stream.Shangrila has been designed to reflect a feeling of the Tai-Yai Culture of the Pai Valley. Shangrila includes a restaurant, Staff rooms and spacious Parking lot. Just 7 Minutes walk into Pai’s town center. The terraces of the Bungalows overlook a range of mountains and the jungle slopes of the stunning Pai Valley.
Having made multiple runs across the globe, round-the-world adventurer Dr. Frazier imparts some of his motorcycle traveling wisdom in his monthly Dr. Frazier Rides column.
Elephants, snakes, jungle footpaths, millions of motorcycles and golden Buddhist temples. Those were some of my first impressions when passing through Thailand on a world tour several years ago. While white snowflakes were swirling and the temperature below freezing at my home in Montana, I was riding a motorcycle through the jungles of Thailand along the border of Burma, thinking to myself, “I like this part of the globe.”
My goal, while crossing Thailand, was to hunt two specific destinations and determine which offered the best motorcycling. The first was the Mae Hong Son Loop, often touted as one of the “ten best motorcycling routes in the world,” with over 4,000 bends and curves through mountains and along the border with Burma. The other was the famed Highway 1148, 160 kilometers of up and down curves through the mountains of North Thailand, often called the “ultimate motorcycling highway.” These two roads in one country slightly larger than California but smaller than Texas seemed to be too much good motorcycling in one spot on the planet, especially when compared to places like the Alps of Europe or some of the roads in New Zealand.
Thailand was twelve time zones away, or half a world away from the cold winter of Montana, where my motorcycling would have been with me dressed like a Michelin Man. Instead I was wearing summer riding gear and enjoying nearly 90-degree weather. Occasionally I would see an elephant, once or twice a snake and everywhere motorcycles, millions of motorcycles, although most in the 100-125cc range. It was a wild contrast and one that I decided to return to for winter adventure riding over the following years.
When first arriving in Thailand I carried some of my Americanized adventure motorcycling mentality that seemingly required big displacement motorcycles to meet adventure riding requirements. After several days in the sweltering heat of Bangkok manhandling a 1000cc BMW, I returned it to the source. Between the heat, traffic congestion and expanse of this part of Thailand I decided it was not a form of adventure riding I enjoyed. I jettisoned my need for big displacement motorcycles and opted for air-conditioned taxi cabs to see Bangkok. It was a much more comfortable way of getting to the sights and tasting the environment than sweating in riding gear and a helmet in the 100-degree heat humped over a hot engine.
I stepped down in motorcycle size to a 250cc Honda XR, divested myself of some foolishly thought-to-be-needed adventure gear (like a camera tripod, sleeping bag, tent, and heavy riding boots), and left for Chiang Mai, six hours north for Bangkok, to hunt roads and trails.
Once away from the city I found riding generally quite sedate and temperate. Often I could take unpaved roads or trails off the main roads into small mountain villages where villagers proved to be friendly and helpful if I needed anything from a flat tire repaired to a room to sleep in at night.
The first route I hunted was the Mae Hong Son Loop. I spent three nights along the way in the towns of Pai, Mae Hong Son and Mae Sariang, spending less than $20 each night for a clean, comfortable, and safe and air-conditioned room. The 250cc Honda was ideal for the technical riding and I was happy not to have been muscling the 1000cc BMW through the numerous curves. The Honda was even more appreciated when I got off the pavement and onto some of the jungle tracks up to and along the Burmese border.
While making this tour I noted that although I saw thousands of small displacement motorcycles, it was rare when I saw anything over 250cc. After speaking with several foreigners who owned big motorcycles I soon learned that nearly any type and size motorcycle could be had in Thailand, it was merely a matter of money: how much money the local either wanted to pay in the form of import taxes or customs or how much the traveler wanted to pay in the form of shipping to get their motorcycle into the
country for use as they passed through. It was not unusual to hear of a large displacement motorcycle costing twice as much in Thailand as it would have cost in the USA or Europe where it had originated.
My adventures with authorities were usually simple enough for me to manage not to have the motorcycle I was using impounded or myself ticketed. I was on “loaner” motorcycles, both in Bangkok and North Thailand, neither rented to me or in my name. The few times I was stopped at check points I was first asked for my passport, then to see the original ownership papers. When I proffered an International Driving Permit it was politely returned as not needed. I was lucky to have been stopped by officers interested in my travels and not for some infraction.
An acquaintance from Australia was not so lucky the day he drove his Kawasaki KLR 650into the front end of an oncoming police car. After stopping to take a photograph he had forgotten he was riding in Thailand, where driving is done on the left side of the road. As he crested a hill, on the wrong side of the road, the police car coming from the opposite direction brought him quickly back to reality and he swerved left towards his proper lane. Unfortunately the driver of the police car had gone into accident avoidance mode and swerved into the same lane to avoid hitting him. The result was while both vehicles were able to slow, the motorcycle immersed itself into the plastic front grill of the police car and the motorcyclist flew off, slid across the hood and ended up staring through the windshield of the police car at the two wide-eyed policemen.
Fortunately the Australian was a veteran world traveler and had been wearing full body armor, helmet and gloves, albeit hot riding gear. No bones were broken and no skin had been left on the police car. However, the front end of the car was severely damaged. The slightly bent front wheel of the KLR surprisingly was the only damaged part on the 650cc Kawasaki, as the motorcycle had taken most of the hit on the side panniers and engine guards.
After paperwork was inspected and found to be in order, the police insisted the Australian go with them to a local car body repair shop to get an estimate of the cost of the damage to their police car. The amount came to nearly $750, more cash than the Australian was carrying. He first pleaded his financial shortcoming in English, which neither officer understood. Then he tried for a little Christmas spirit, as this happened on Christmas Day. This pleading too fell on deaf ears, his having forgotten that nearly 95% of Thai people are Buddhist, thus as far as the two officers were concerned Christmas Day was the same as any other day, in this case a day the foreigner must make good for his damage. They politely escorted him to two ATM machines where he was able to make-up his financial shortfall. He later told me that the officers were very polite at all times, did not issue him a ticket for driving on the wrong side of the road, and as they parted wearing the famed Thai smile, wished him, in Thai, a “Merry Christmas.”
Rather than go to the expense of shipping or flying their own motorcycles into Thailand for some adventuring while winter rages in their home countries, thousands of foreigners fly into Thailand carrying their riding gear and rent a motorcycle. This widely used technique became so easy that some adventurers returned year after year, renting a wide variety of motorcycles from the myriad of rental agencies that cater to foreigners, especially in Chiang Mai, Pattaya and Phuket. While there were some variances on the rental requirements, most often the foreigner was required to leave their passport with the rental agency as a form of insurance that they will make good on the loss or damage to the rental motorcycle while they are using it. Most often formal rental agreements were filled out and signed, but other rental agencies or agents required only the passport and cash payment for the daily rental up front.
I had seen nearly any kind of motorcycle rented, ranging from 1200cc BMWs to Ultra Classic Harley-Davidsons, with the odd KTM, Ducatiand Royal Enfield in between. While most common were rentals of smaller motorcycles, a 250cc KLX for $20 to $30 per day got an adventurer on a fuel injected motorcycle able to do on- and off-pavement riding.
One group of Harley-Davidson loyalists decided to attempt the Mae Hong Son Loop on rented Harley-Davidsons circling out of Chiang Mai. The called themselves the Freight Hawgs, all having the common base of flying air cargo for FedEx and being Harley-Davidson enthusiasts. Their adventure was custom designed by a Chiang Mai-based tour and rental company, www.harley-tours-thailand.com. As the group roared out of Chiang Mai, their smiles and expectant faces showed their determination of explore Thailand on their favored motorcycle, the Harley-Davidson.
Some soon found the days of hundreds of tight, challenging curves of the Mae Hong Son Loop were more of a technical challenge than they had experienced in similar adventures to Sturgis or Daytona. At the end all expressed that they had filled their expectations in terms of adventure. The stress of the technical and foreign riding was overcome by their being able to experience their adventures on Harley-Davidson motorcycles. When one of the Hawgs was asked if he would have taken the tour had he been told only a Honda Goldwing was available versus the promised Harley-Davidson, loyal to the end he said he would have passed on the adventure.
The second road on my radar screen was the famed 1148. It was a short road, only 160 kilometers. After first riding it on a loaner 250cc Honda, I returned on a rented Yamaha250cc, and then again on a Yamaha 600cc. Once I drove it two-up on a 1200cc BMW while a cameraman filmed from the back. The road still intrigued me, part because of the quality of the pavement, part due to the design of the curves and their apexes, and part the up and down over the mountains through the lush countryside. Having been a road racer in my earlier life, I still found some tire sliding and hard braking a test of my personal riding envelope, something I did on Highway 1148. Other times I enjoyed the scenery at a slower pace. Whether on my own motorcycle or a rental, this small stretch of pavement did seem to deserve the attention of the avid motorcycle adventurist, but those keen on curves and technique and less on the need to ride dirt or gravel.
Thailand had long been a comfortable riding experience for overland motorcycle travelers transitioning Asia on world tours. Those travelers who had learned that the best source for information on traveling through Thailand was found at Horizons Unlimited often attended Horizons Unlimited Travelers Meetings in North Thailand, usually held in January. There I found numerous adventure models of motorcycles seldom seen in Thailand like the Kawasaki KLR650 or a BMW R100GSPD.
My adventures in Thailand have continued over the years. Since the first taste of what is known as “Amazing Thailand” and the two targets on my personal riding radar screen I still remained undecided if the Mae Hong Son Loop was one of the ten best rides in the world, or Highway 1148 the ultimate motorcycling highway. That uncertainty gave me a reason to return and give each further testing.
Marty and Woraphat
Chiang Rai, Thailand
David, at GT-Rider, invites you all to sign up, post, read and ask questions at- http://www.gt-rider.com/thailand-motorcycle-forum/forum.php
Marty and Woraphat
9:03 PM (1 hour ago)
to avoid the holiday on the 1st. We hope that suits everyone and better to ride on a non-holiday day.
Meeting place; Amazon coffee shop at the PTT petrol station on highway 1 in Chiang Rai, just south of the Kawasaki dealer.
Meeting time; 08:30
Departure time; 09:00
boring, down main road 1211, but then after Charin Resort, you get into some
great twisties. Up and over the Lum Nam Kok National Park on the 3037. There
is a coffee shop at the top of Doi Chang (of course) that I think does food
too, or there is a resort in Wawi that has a restaurant. Then the 1089 back
to Mae Chan is always fun. The last run back to Chiang Rai is highway 1.
Marty and Woraphat
: On The Road Thailand
: Independent Guide for Bikers and Travelers Touring Thailand.
As an independent travel guide and website for bikers living in Thailand.
Focusing on all areas including the Golden Triangle, Bangkok, Isaan and surrounding provinces. The North of Thailand is the best in all of Asia for motorbike touring and famous for it’s mountain trails. In this guide popular routes are covered and locations revealed. Using this resource you can access bike routes, information, images and insider info from across Thailand to aid you in your travels and living.
Thailand is a large country featuring highlands in the North of the country where the borders with Laos and Burma (Myanmar) meet at a place known as the point of the ‘Golden Triangle.’ Chang Mai is the second largest city in Thailand and was formerly a capital in her own right.
Journeying south towards Phitsanulok the fertile rice plains that stretch in all directions become more apparent. Kamphaeng Pet and Nakhon Sawan are predominant areas in this agricultural powerhouse of Thailand.
To the East lies what is considered by many to be north-eastern region of Thailand; Isaan. There are no less than eight provincial cities that make up this region. Khon Kaen, Udon Thani and the border town of Nong Khai to name but a few.
Just south of the former capital Ayuthya is Bangkok; The Capital City of Thailand.
Away to the west is Kanchanaburi, a popular spot for visitors to the Bridge over the River Kwai.
Pai is a small town in Mae Hong Son Province, Northern Thailand. It is part of the Mae Hong Son Loop, which is 135km on route 1095 from Chiang Mai to Mae Hong Son. The city is named after the Pai river.
Pai Set in a particularly picturesque valley north of Chiang Mai, Pai is a predominantly tourism-oriented town, offering a relaxed atmosphere with a broad traveller and backpacker scene. The town’s permanent residents are a seemingly harmonious mix of Western hippies and Thai rastas which gives the place a unique vibe which is appealing even if it isn’t authentic.
A sudden boom in guest house and bar construction from 2006 onwards has resulted in a great deal of spare capacity in the off season.— There has been a large increase in Thai people visiting after Pai was featured in a romantic Thai film.  It can be hard to find a room during the busy season (Oct-Feb). There are now around 350 guest houses and hotels in Pai, and the city center has transformed into containing western style restaurants, souvenir shops, and bars that cater largely to the now significant influx of tourists and package tours.
Whilst the growth of Pai has been rapid and more or less every farm in the valley seems to offer bungalows, development so far has been largely tasteful and the town remains relatively serene during low season.
Pai town itself is compact and best explored on foot.
For exploring further afield, bicycles (40-100 baht/day) and motorbikes (from as little as 80 baht/day) can be rented from many agents along the main street. As the roads around Pai are steep and obtaining a decent mountain bike with fully functioning gears is surprisingly difficult, motorbike is definitely the better option if you can ride one. Suggestions in guidebooks that Ban Santhichorn and Lisu Village might be reached on foot are optimistic.
Motorbike and 4wd taxis are also readily available.
You’ll also want a motorbike if you’re planning on staying in some of the outlying bungalows in the valley around the town.
aYa Services offer an hour’s free motorbike rental to those arriving on their minivans to help them look for accommodation.
The town itself has no special sights; most people come simply for the relaxed atmosphere. Nearby attractions include hot springs and waterfalls, villages and a hilltop temple.
Chinese village (Santichon). Village settled by Yunnanese hill-tribes who crossed the border in the middle of the 20th century to escape Communist rule. Shops selling different Chinese teas with varying health properties, and other interesting oddities include a human-powered Ferris wheel. Well worth a look, even as a brief stop on the way to Mo Paeng waterfall.
Getting in By road
Route 1095 which connects Pai with Mae Hong Son (50km as the crow flies, but approx. 110km by road) and Chiang Mai (135km) is a very scenic route through the mountains which takes several hours (but worth it). It’s a steep and windy drive, with lots of curves, so take a plastic bag and some motion-sickness pills if you need them.
Route 1095 isn’t as bad as people make it out to be. There isn’t much traffic and you can hear the cars and trucks coming. If you’re a little adventurous, rent a motorcycle in Chiang Mai and make the ride up to Pai. You can stop at the waterfalls and small towns along the way, and you’ll really enjoy the trip, as opposed to being motion sick in a bus for hours, and being forced to stop at the driver’s friends restaurants. The scenery is absolutely gorgeous and being on a bike makes you feel like part of the mountains. The locals will think you’re crazy, and the construction crews get really excited when you come through. Make sure to take some warmer clothing on your bike, as it tends to get a bit chilly in the higher portions of the ride. As a novice rider, expect the trip to take around 5 or 6 hours, including stops at sites and restaurants along the way. aYa Service  offers one way rentals from Chiang Mai to Pai (or vice versa) with luggage delivery for free (as of May 2010). They will keep your passport and send it along with any baggage to aYa in Pai.
Buses and minibuses go to Chiang Mai (Arcade terminal) and Mae Hong Son. Regular public buses take around 4 hours and charge about 80 baht; minibuses take around 3 hours and tickets (sold by travel agencies) cost about 160 baht. One strategy is to get to Pai using the public bus so that you can get an idea as to how winding the road is and then you can decide if you want to splash out and get the mini bus back to Chiang Mai.
To feel less travel sick and save some money take the regular public bus. The scenery is lovely and the winding roads are much easier on one’s stomach if you take things slowly.
From Chiangmai: Local Bus from Chiang Mai to Pai leaves the Arcade Bus Station, five trips during a day (07:00, 08:30, 10:30, 12:30, 16:00). The trip takes some 3 hours and there is a comfort stop at the small half way village of Mae Sae (very good Northern sausages and traditional chicken curry noodle soup available as well as other necessities food water toilets (B3 to use them, as at all bus stations in Thailand!) et cetera). Bus trip costs as at Nov 2010 B150.
Minibuses and Small passenger trucks (song taew) carrying a dozen people also leaves from the bus station as often as there are sufficient passengers or full paying passenger. (cost of private hire is approximately 1200 or share for approximately 150 Baht). The rear seats approximately 10 people and is open air. The view and wind in your face is pleasant, but not the occasional exhaust fumes.
The nearest domestic airport is in Pai. Kan Airlines  operate one or more daily flights between Chiang Mai and Pai, depending on the season. Flying time is 25 minutes. Passengers can make reservations and purchase tickets through the airlines’ websites, their call centres or with a travel agent.
Pai Canyon (Kong Lan), (signposted from the Chiang Mai road; approx 6km from Pai). Somewhat optimistically described as Pai’s answer to the Grand Canyon, it could more accurately be described as a narrow red ridges with steep-sides valleys either side filled with pine and dipterocarp forests. The steep 50m drop either side and stunning views over the surrounding countryside are impressive, but you’ll need to be careful here – the path is extremely narrow in some places and requires a scramble in others. A set of steps up to a viewing platform provides the safest way to admire the scenery and the canyon makes the perfect spot for a sunset.
WWII Memorial Bridge, (on the road to Chiang Mai, approx 8km from Pai). The original bridge here was built by the occupying Japanese. The current steel truss bridge which sits alongside the present main road was assembled in its current position rather more recently, but as with Pai’s “canyon”, the bridge invites very loose comparisons with the infamous Bridge over the River Kwai.
Mo Paeng, (west of Chiang Mai past Santichon). A little more accessible than most of Pai’s waterfalls, this multi-tiered waterfall flows through a verdant green valley and is popular for its pools to swim in. The upper section of this waterfall is a natural water slide during the dry season. The rocks are smooth, just find a small section and slide on down like the locals do!
Pam Bok – on the road to Chiang Mai before Pai Canyon. Nice secluded waterfall with high cliffs surrounding it, making this a very cool place to escape the heat. Go for a relaxing bathe in the shade during the dry season.
Adventure Motorbike Tours
Whether it is your first time biking off road or you are already an experienced offroad biker then you have to check out these boys.
They are local to Pai and know the back tracks like the back of their hands offering you a unique range of road and dirt bike tours throughout the spectacular mountain provinces of Northern Thailand, a true biker’s paradise.
They are a jointly run English and Thai company whose English guides have a combined 20 years of riding experience all over Mae Hong Son province including the famous Mae Hong Son loop. They have an intimate knowledge of the roads, trails, landscapes and culture that will make the difference between an average and a great biking holiday!
Adventure Motorbike Tours
Their routes are carefully selected to provide the most exciting journey through the most magnificent scenery Northern Thailand has to offer.
Explore this hugely rich and expansive natural environment with its soaring mountains, deep valleys, perfectly terraced rice fields and cascading waterfalls that are guaranteed to take your breath away. CLICK HERE to check out their Website.
Pai Zip Line Adventure, tessaban 1, 58130 Pai, ☎ +66895596267 (firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: +66895596267), . Taking glamorous adventure in an extensive forest and fog tri-season. The exiting flight with the 14 station canopy 2-2,5 hours is ending at the beautiful Pam Bok waterfall 8 km out of Pai where you can cool down. 850 THB.
Elephant Trek. For several years now, travellers have enjoyed riding an elephant and concluding the trip with a romp in the Pai River. For this ‘adventure’, take as little as possible – you’ll be enjoyably wet as the elephant is encouraged to shower you. Some operators – and there are several – are willing to take photos of you while you enjoy the elephant antics in the river.