Backpacker haven Pai is an absolute dream for SE Asia travelers but, if ever there was a long and winding road that leads to your dorm, this is it.
With a total of 762 winds, twists and turns you are guaranteed to be in for a bumpy ride. If you want to visit this beautiful place and don’t fancy throwing up before you’ve had your slice of Pai, I have created a handy little hack and need to knows for the Chiang Mai – Pai journey.
You can get your ticket directly from the bus station but we decided to book ours in advance. This is a crucial part of the whole process because it determines where you’re going to sit for the long, winding journey! We booked through 12Go Asia and got our mini-van tickets for 195 THB each. We had to choose our time then it let us pick which seats we wanted.
If you’re travelling solo or don’t mind sitting away from your travel buddie then opt for the front seat, 1A, which is next to the driver. I sat in 2A on the way there and thought that I was going to throw up half way through, so on the way back I picked 1A and felt so much better for it. I came to the conclusion that the closer you are to the front, the easier the ride.
The journey took a total of about 5 hours with one rest stop. There were toilets that you could use and we managed to hunt down the raised toilet so no squatting for us that day! The services also sell a range of food, although this was where I became unstuck. I’d felt fine the whole of the first leg and pretty much slept my way through the mountain ride so got a small bag of crisps and an apple as a snack. But, after the services the winds got worse (or at least they felt worse to me) my stomach started to cramp and I went through the panic in my head of what was going to happen if I was actually sick on this bus. Seconds to spare I riffled through my bag to find and mint, popped it in my mouth and prayed to feel better. Somehow it worked because the queasiness passed and I managed to fall back to sleep for the rest of the journey. Phew… disaster averted!
Obviously, it goes without saying that you should pack your normal bags up ready to go. If you have a big backpack then the driver will strap it to the roof. When I first saw this I nearly had a heart atttack as I’d already heard about the twists and turns and had visions of my life inside a bag flying off into the mountains to be investigated by a heard of unsuspecting cows… but, don’t worry, ours was pretty secure and then wrapped up with a cover! I took my small back pack in the mini-van with me and set it on the floor.
As well as your general luggage make sure you also have:
- Mints– these little saviours definitely helped me avoid being sick and even if that does happen at least you can take one to calm your stomach and give some freshness back to your breath
- Plastic bags – even if you aren’t sick, the little boy next to you might be. So this didn’t happen on my Chiang Mai – Pai journey, but on a less windy bus ride, so it’s always good to come prepared for yourself and for others!
- Water – it’s a long ot journey on a bus. You’re gonna need some water!
- Travel sickness tablets – I got on the bus knowing that I rarely get car sick and thought that I’d be totally fine so didn’t even bring travel sickness tablets with me. Unfortunately, my supposedly strong stomach found this road altogether too much and I did not feel great on the way there. Luckily, I managed to pick up some travel sickness tablets in the local 7 Eleven in Pai that I took for the return journey. That, coupled with the front seat factor made the journey much more comfortable.
#Arriving in Pai
The bus station in Pai is tiny, it’s pretty much a car park with a small informaton desk at the front. If you haven’t booked your accommodation then not to worry because most of the little cafes near the bus station have wifi so you can search up somewhere close or just take a little stroll and you’re sure to find somewhere.
We had already booked our place online and were so happy to hear that we got a free transfer to the hotel. We were lucky that the manager in the cafe we chose agreed to phone the hotel and within 5 minutes our ride had arrived.
When we arrived at the hotel our bags were taken to our room for us and we were told that breakfast was included which we didn’t realise so all in all it was a good trip to Pai! If you fancy checking out the place we stayed in, it’s Pai Vintage Garden Resort. You can find it on booking.com and if you go through via my link then you’ll bag yourself £15 off your booking*, whether it’s Pai Vintage Garden resort or somewhere completely different. Happy booking!
I hope my tips have given you some food for thought for your trip to Pai and I wish you luck on your journey!
Please like and comment if you’ve found this helpful or share with someone you know who is heading to Pai.