Our travels in northern Thailand have continued from our favorite spot, Chiang Rai, to the bohemian, hippy village of Pai and the sleepy, wilderness outpost of Mae Hong Son (“the city of three mists”) which is about 35 miles from the Myanmar border. Our travel companions have been young backpackers from all nations settling in for long terms stays in Pai, motorcyclists and local Thai tourists following the Mae Hong Son loop. Both towns are in valleys among the mountain ranges of the Thai highlands. The weather has been cool, especially in Mae Hong Son. We have broken out our fleeces and wool socks, but the shorts and sandals remain (it has been 10 weeks in them). It has been a nice break from the heat and humidity and good way to prepare for our exit from Asia in a few days (to Madrid where it will be much cooler).
Pai is a beautiful spot in a stunning valley. It is a super popular spot for young backpackers. It is scenic, cheap, and close to waterfalls, canyons, hot springs, and other attractions just short scooter rides away. Renting a scooter is the thing to do. Droves of western youth zip around the village center and the outskirts on scooters of all makes and models. It is unclear if it is the cheap beer and scooters or lack of skills, but the rate of accidents are staggering. Without exaggeration, we have seen 10’s of bandaged souls each day that we have been here.
The town has a wonderful collection of restaurants and bars, and the main street closes every night to cars for an outdoor market. There is street food, music, friendly dogs, street art everywhere. Indeed, music and art are more prevalent here than in most recent stops.
The beauty of the valley is amazing. The biking and trekking, both done on our own to avoid touristy stops, have been wonderful. One day, we rented a couple of bicycles for the day for a couple bucks from a shop downtown and went out for a few hours ride. Another day, we headed right out of town on foot for a few hours of hiking to the Mae Yen waterfall.
We found another great place to stay, Family House Zen. The owners, Jonathan from Italy, and his family are amazing hosts. He was super helpful with local recommendations and a lift to the bus station. We hope to see him in Italy next year!
Stayed tuned for details and photos of Mae Hong Son.