I’ve really become a fan of the all day tours when I get to a new city!  It’s great because they pick you up, drop you off, drive you to all the destinations, offer you fun facts and most of the time feed you lunch!  When I first arrived in Pai I didn’t want to do much at all.  I had just gotten back from my 3 day trek in the jungle and I was pretty sore and exhausted from that.  Not to mention I had been full throttle for the 3 plus weeks since arriving in Thailand and I needed time to chill and catch up on the Blog.  After a few days of relaxing I was ready to get out there and see all that Pai has to offer.

My friend Carole, who I had met in Chiang Mai, was also in Pai and we decided to put together a little group of people to do an all day tour of some of the top attractions outside of Pai.  We were able to round up 4 others to join us from the hostel we were staying in.  It’s a great way to make new friends!  We found a really good price for the tour in town.  There’s tons of little shops offering tours everywhere, we just picked the cheapest one.  It was $16 USD with everything included: transportation, ticket fees into destinations, drinking water, lunch and pick up/ drop off.  So cheap, I love Thailand!

We got up early and had a good breakfast in town before they came to pick us up.  Besides us 6, there were 7 other people on our tour.  Sadly, I didn’t really get to know many of them except a very sweet young guy from Paris who sat in the back with our group so we just added him to our little circle.  Our first stop was at a viewpoint way up in the mountains.  The drive up was pretty traitorous because its all turns and switchbacks, as are all the roads around Pai.   We all felt pretty sick by the time we got there so it was really nice to get out of the van.

 

The viewpoint was pretty dull.  You couldn’t see much because the pollution is really bad at this time of year because Thai’s burn their post harvest rice and corn fields in order to clear the land and fertilize before rainy season.  The only thing that saved this stop from being completely a waste of time was a very interesting four person swing.  Of course I couldn’t turn down the opportunity to try this bad boy out.  First it was just one other girl and I but quickly we had two more volunteers.  We had no idea what we were doing and didn’t distribute our weight properly so me being the heaviest ended up on the bottom.   With the help of many on lookers, we had quite the crowd at this point, we were propelled around a few times.  Getting everyone off was a fun trick, trying hard not to catapult the lightweight riders into the jungle.

We then headed to the Tham Lot cave system with a length of 1,666 meters.  The Nam Lang river runs through the caves that are filled with stalactites (formation that hangs from the ceiling) and stalagmites (rock formation rising from the floor).  The caves are home to many bats and swifts.  There are three caves within the giant cave.  In order to tour the caves you are required to have a guide and have to go in groups of three.  This was included in our tour price as well as a bamboo raft ride to the third cave. We split into groups of three and followed our guide into the abyss.

The caves were amazing.  It’s really dark inside so thank god for our cute little guide and her lantern to show us the way.   She led us through the maze of rock formation and pointed out different shapes and figures in the stalactites.  She was patient and stopped to allow us to gawk and take photos (which really didn’t turn out).  Two of the caves you had to climb seriously sketchy, steep little stairs to get to.  I was only slightly freaked out by this in the complete dark, but I survived.  The second cave was really high up and it was so hot and humid.  You could hardly breathe and we were all completely soaked in sweat.   The third and final cave is reached by taking a short bamboo raft through a dark channel.  Where the channel ends is a wide opening in the cave and many of the bats and swifts hang out here, there was seriously so much bat poop caked on everything and it smelt really bad.  I felt like I was being suffocated by bat poop.  Not my favorite part.  Besides that the caves were hands down the best part of this day tour!

Next stop was lunch.  We had been given a choice of food earlier in the day and we stopped at a little road side restaurant.  We were served plates of fresh watermelon, pineapple and bottled water while we waited for our entrees. I had noodle soup and it was delicious!  Everyone chatted and laughed over lunch and then we headed out for our final two stops.

The white Buddha, also known as Wat Phra That Mae Yen, sits high up on a hill and can be seen from miles away.  Its a long trek up several stairs to reach the top.  Typically, its a beautiful panoramic view of Pai, but for us it was pretty hazy from the pollution and they were doing construction on the Buddha so there were bamboo planks all around it.  So not really a great spot for pictures.  I bet typically at sunrise and sunset this spot is breathtaking!

Our last and final stop was Pai canyon.  I guess you could say it’s a really mini grand canyon.  Again, an awesome spot for sunrise and sunset.  There are several very skinny paths you can walk along the top from side to side of the canyon, I wasn’t feeling adventurous for that.  I kept imagining myself losing my stop and falling into the valley below.  I know, I know what a coward.  I decided to not live on the edge (no pun intended) and stayed on the main landing.  Maybe next time I’ll be more adventurous!