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Why I Chose Chiang Mai as My First Digital Nomad Trip

Chiang Mai, Thailand is easily one of the most popular cities in the world for Digital Nomads to call home, or at least spend a few months in. For some, Chiang Mai is the total package. It certainly is a unique town, busting at the seems with culture and a thriving nomad scene.

So what makes Chiang Mai for Digital Nomads and remote workers the best? Check it out!

Excellent Wifi

Cafe views on Nimman Rd. Loving the people watching and bustling vibe in Chiang Mai!

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Chiang Mai is a cafe capitol of the world, that’s for sure. I lived in the trendy Nimman area of town near Doi Suthep and there was no shortage of cozy spots to work for creatives like myself. StrongĀ coffee paired with strong internet connection is just one of the reasons why I had such a successful and productive couple months in Thailand.

I had internet access my entire time I was in Chiang Mai, although that changed dramatically when I spent a weekend in rural Pai.

 

A Strong Nomad Community

One of the perks that drew me to Chiang Mai was the already established group of Digital Nomads that inhabit the city. Especially in the neighborhood of Nimman, where I resided. Because of the strong ties between Chiang Mai and remote workers, you can easily make friends from all over the globe and bounce your business ideas off people who understand and “get it.”

To meet fellow nomads and get work done in a productive environment, definitely think about joining a Coworking Office. A few of the most popular and recommended include:

Punspace (Tha Pae Gate)

Punspace Nimman

CAMP (in the MAYA Mall)

MANA

For weekly organized presentations on a variety of different business, nomad, skillshares themes, joinĀ the Digital Nomad Coffee Club.

Digital Nomad Coffee Club in Chiang Mai
Digital Nomad Coffee Club in Chiang Mai

Access to Western Culture

Chiang Mai for Digital Nomads is the best of both worlds. I was surprised at how modern parts of the city are and the western influences you can find throughout the city. KFC is huge in Thailand, and there’s also your typical fast food restaurants like Pizza Hut and McDonalds – both of which deliver šŸ˜‰

The cafes are also modern and luxe, featuring brews from all over the world and tea served in glass decanters.Ā And if you’d rather get your fast wifi and coffee in a more familiar setting, Starbucks is conveniently located throughout the city as well. But be warned, the Thai Starbucks locations are western priced. Meaning, you’re still going to pay about $5-$6 USD for a coffee, instead of the more typical $1.50 – $2.50 brew at a local cafe.

Successful afternoon at the #NomadCoffeeClub networking and hearing stories from entrepreneurs. See you all next week! ā˜•ļø

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If you live in Nimman orĀ Huay Kae, the MAYA Mall is a particular treat. You can walk to the mall and find 5 floors of tech, shopping, a food court, grocery store with western foods… basically anything you could ever need! My typical day included eating Pad See Ew in the “basement” of the mall at one of the food stalls, heading up a floor to Starbucks and working for several hours, then heading up another floor and getting a massage for about $5 USD. Ahhh, the life.

PS. If you tell your songtaew or Uber drive you want to go to MAYA, it’s pronounced “May-YAH” with an emphasis on that second syllable. You’d be surprised how often a driver didn’t know where the heck I wanted to go if I pronounced it like “May-a” or “My-ah”

MAYA Mall Chiang Mai
MAYA Mall in Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai is Hella Affordable

OMG you guys. If you ever need a reason to pack up and move to Chiang Mai, this is it:

I SAVED money by living abroad.

Yep. MHMM. And I didn’t even penny-pinch. Actually, I lived like a damn Queen. Weekly massages, nice meals, lots of lattes, you name it – I did it. I liiiiiiived in Chiang Mai, and I was still able to put a few dollars in my savings account thanks to the low cost of living.

I lived in 2Ā adorable studio apartments that I rented on Airbnb that were about $400/month, however, if you don’t rent on Airbnb and just walk into apartment complexes in town, you can easily find studios for $250 to $300 USD. I did have to pay an electric bill at the second apartment I stayed at that was 600 baht which is a grand total of… $18.

In one sentece: Chiang Mai for Digital Nomads is an affordable alternative to paying rent and bills in your hometown.

One of my studio apartments
One of my studio apartments in Chiang Mai

Some of the most common expenditures in Chiang Mai and their prices include:

Massage: 250 Baht / $7 USD

Local Specialty Coffee: 50 baht / $1.40 USD

Songtaew Ride from Nimman to Tha Pae Gate: 30 baht / 0.86 cents

Street Cart Dinner:Ā 40 baht / $1.15 USD

Large bottle of water at 7-11: 14 baht / 40 cents USD

Chang or Leo pint of beer at a restaurant: 60 baht / Ā $1.70

Reputation for Friendliess Towards Expats

For the overwhemingly most part, Chiang Mai locals were extremely friendly and helpful to myself and my friends. There’s a reason Thailand is called the “Land of Smiles.” The Thai that I interacted with were always warm and inviting. I made friends with the schoolgirl baristas at my local Starbucks, sat in the front seat of a Songtaew and helped the driver practice his English, and practiced myĀ Thai with anyone who was willing to listen.

I don’t know if I had a unique experience or not, but all I can say is that I always felt nothing but inclusiveness from those around me. I always felt safe, I never felt like I had to guard my personal belongings or walk faster in dark alleys.

Chiang Mai was the perfect home away from home and I can’t wait to return <3

 

Hi, I’m Chelse! I am a Digital Nomad obsessed with traveling the world and seeking adventure beyond the 9-5 office life. When I turned 25 I decided that I was going to stop making excuses and do what I’ve always dreamed. I went from having 0 stamps in my passport to 7 countries in 7 months. I encourage anyone who wants to live a Digital Nomad lifestyle to just buy the ticket first, and figure out the rest later!

How to Spend 3 Days in Pai, Thailand

3-days-in-pai-thailandIf you’re backpacking through Thailand or living in Chiang Mai as a Digital Nomad, be sure to spend a weekend in the hippie town of Pai, just 3 hours to the north of Chiang Mai.

Pai is a small town that packs a lot of action. Be sure to visit some of these spots while passing through or spending a long weekend of 3 days in Pai!

Visit the Pai Waterfalls

There are many waterfalls to visit when you are in Pai, Thailand. My favorite was the Pam Bok waterfall outside of the city. You can rent a motorbike from just about anywhere in the city center – rent one and visit all of Pai’s waterfalls in one day!

 

The Pam Bok waterfall was the easiest climb to get to the actual falls. A simple trail and wooden bridge brought me to the falls.

The Pam Bok waterfall was my favorite because it involved only small amounts of climbing and sketchy foot bridges to get there šŸ˜Ž

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Bring your water shoes (to protect your feet from the rocks at the bottom of the water), a dry towel, and a couple beers to sit down and relax with friends. This waterfall is much more chill and less of a party spot than other waterfalls in the surrounding area.

Mor PaengĀ waterfall is the most crowded waterfall in Pai and is a hotspot for sweaty backpackers to cool off in the water and catch some breeze coming off the mountains.

How to beat the heat in Thailand. Step 1: find nearest waterfall šŸ¤—

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Beware. Of. The. Slippery. Rocks.

I faceplanted once and saw many others take a nosedive. Which is especially scary because the waterfall has some height to it. If you slipped off the wrong rock, it’s a several feetĀ drop that could seriously injure you. I wouldn’t recommend taking fancy cameras or anything not necessary with you for the climb, you could damage your property and you’ll need full functionality of all your limbs to navigate to the top safely.

Relax atĀ the Land Split

The Land Split, or land crack, is on the way to the Pam Bok waterfall, so make an afternoon out of it and do both activities at the same time.

The owner used to be a farmer, but when the earth split his property in half, this savvy businessman decided to turn it into a small tourist destination.

He will provide free fruit, banana chips, nuts, hibiscus tea, and jelly in exchange for a donation. He also gave us a bottle of homemade wine, pour small glasses because it was more like saki or moonshine as far as taste.

I donated 100 baht because the owners were so welcoming and friendly. It was a perfect place to rehydrate and relax in the hammocks after motorbiking in the sun all day.

Swim at the Secret Hot Springs *Shhh*

Well, I can mark off "take a swim in the natural hot springs of Thailand" off my bucket list šŸ“

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There are 2 natural hot springs we had heard of during our weekend in Pai. The Sai Ngam Hot SpringsĀ and the Pai Hot Springs.

We went to the Sai Ngam hot springs, which is a national park, and fairly hidden compared to other more touristy springs closer to the city. It was further away by motorbikeĀ and much less expensive. We pulled up to the park ranger and paid him 60 baht per person for entry. It was a lovely little spot with bath water temperature springs and crystle clear water.

Although BE CAREFUL – the final leg of the way there on motorbike was very tricky. Steep downsloping curves and long stretches going up hill made me think our little motorbike wasn’t up to the challenge, but thank goodness we made it. Also, thank goodness I was on the back so I could close my eyes and not look at the winding roads.

Pai Canyon

This weekend involved lots of climbing and I only complained a little šŸ˜

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An Instagrammers paradise! Get tons of cool action shots after a short climb up the mountains (using stairs, a luxury!). Two different paths. I’m terrified of heights so I avoided one path and hung out under the gazebo taking in the views while waiting on my friends to return.

Once they got back, we trekked the regular path and took in the views, the breeze, and of course tons of photos! The heat is a major factor at the canyon and combined with climbing, you’ll want to bring a water bottle along. If you forget water, no worries, there are street vendors selling bottle for 10-20 baht a pop.

Nightlife in Pai

Nightlife in Pai isn’t what you’d find in Bangkok, hell or even in Chiang Mai. There’s a few bars dotting the streets, but don’t expect a club scene. We had a drink at Sunset Bar, and while the view was great if you don’t have a scooter, it’s a fairly long walking distance from the center of town. It was actually a little overrated from all the amazing things we’d heard about it.

We also passed Don’t Cry Bar and it looked like a good time, if you’re intoxicated enough to handle all the blacklights and neon 420 signs. Of course, you can find Mushy Shakes, Shroom shakes, just about anywhere in Pai so be careful and make sure you have a safe way to get home if you choose to partake šŸ™‚

Did I miss anything that’s a must-do while spending 3 days inĀ Pai? Let me know in the comments!

Hi, I’m Chelse! I am a Digital Nomad obsessed with traveling the world and seeking adventure beyond the 9-5 office life. When I turned 25 I decided that I was going to stop making excuses and do what I’ve always dreamed. I went from having 0 stamps in my passport to 7 countries in 7 months. I encourage anyone who wants to live a Digital Nomad lifestyle to just buy the ticket first, and figure out the rest later!

Surprise! Things Nobody Tells You When You Move to Thailand

Traveling to any new country is sure to bring culture shock, and it was no different when I spent 2 months in Chiang Mai, Thailand as a female Digital Nomad.

Living in Thailand is most certainly a life-changing experience, but if you’re thinking of buying that plane ticket, you should know these things before you go:

 

Things Nobody Tells You AboutĀ Thailand

Electricity Sparks

My first night in Thailand, IĀ spent about 8 collective hours Googling this problem and wondering what the heck I was doing wrong with my chargers and adaptor. I was staying in a comfortable Airbnb and was surprised to see blue sparks coming out of the socket when I plugged in my Mac charger. Petrified that I was going to somehow break my computer, or worse – set the place on fire, I frantically searched every article and message board to find out what the deal is.

Apparently,Ā it’s completely normal and some say it’s actually a good thing because it means electricity is running fervently. Ha, I tried telling my Dad that the sparks were a “good thing” and I could hear his eyes rolling from 8,000 miles away. This is definitely one of the thingsĀ nobody tells you about Thailand beforehand, that I wish I knew sooner. It would have saved me countless hours researching online.Ā I’ve now become one with the sparks and welcome them with open arms. When I’m wearing shoes with rubber soles šŸ˜‰

 

You Can’t Buy Buddha Souveniers

buddha thailand

This was the first thing I learned in Thailand because there are signs printed everywhere throughout the airport warning travelers not to even think about bring back a Buddha decoration back to your friends at home. There’s several rules and regulations about this like only Non-Buddhists are forbidden from taking Buddha statues, to requiring a permit, to being allowed to take Buddha statues as long as they are not antiques.

Advice? Save yourself the headache and buy an elephant keychain for your friends instead.

You Want Takeaway? You Get a Plastic Bag.takeaway bag thailand

There is no such thing as a “to-go box” in Thailand. A Doggy Bag is a better description for it because if you want to grab food and go home, it’s coming with you in a bag. Even condiments like soy sauce or salad dressing are poured into a plastic bag and given to you. I’ve even seen people walking around the streets casually sipping soda from a bag of ice and a straw.

Soup is also no exception – I learned this the hard way. One evening when I had a deadline, I tried to save time by ordering a bowl of Tom Yun Goong soup to-go and ended up walking 3 blocks back to my apartment carrying a very hotĀ bag of soup.

Spicy Food, Man

street food thailand

I’m not an amateur when it comes to fiery flavors. I carried a bottle of Texas Pete with me wherever I went all throughout collegeĀ and was beyond ready to embrace the Thai spices.Ā What I was NOT preparedĀ for, was my mouth to be set on fire by even the most unassumingĀ food options. Even theĀ 7-11 ramenĀ noodles and fried rice played tricks on me. IĀ couldn’t even handle the cup of noodles! And nowhere on the label did it mention heat index or use the universal sign for spicy food, the chili symbol. Lesson learned.

And this is why I have trust issues.

The Ladyboys

I thought the “ladyboys” Ā were mostly/only in the metropolitan city of Bangkok, so I was surprised my first time strolling the night markets in Chiang Mai to spot several Lady Boys all decked out like they were going to a beauty pageant. I was also pleasantly surprised to learn Thailand is very welcoming and accepting towards homosexuals. I’ve seen several in my everyday life working as servers or at coffee shops, but at the night markets you’ll see the particularly fabulous Ladyboys all dressed up in glittery dresses and stage makeup taking pictures with tourists for a fee.

Diabetes is Imminent

female digital nomad blog

They love sugar here so much, if you order Pad Thai or any typical Thai noodle dish, they’ll set out a cup of white cane sugar to pour on your… noodles. Ah yes, because crunchy granules of sugar is exactly what I wanted with my dinner.

Or if you order one of the popular Fruit Shakes from basically any street vendor in Chiang Mai, you have to specify *no sugar* because even though you’ve just ordered a mango, strawberry, coconut smoothie with yogurt, the woman making it is still going to try and add sugar syrup to yourĀ drink.

And don’t get me started on the insane amount of sugar syrup in the coffee drinks…

Basically, learn the phrase “mai waan” which is “no sweet” roughly translated in Thai.

Diabetes, I’m coming for you if I stay in Thailand much longer.

“Same Same”

Hahahaha this phrase is hilariously popular in Thailand and you’ll find shirts adorning “Same Same, but different” on any street vendor in the markets. I even own a tank top with this phrase inĀ teal that I bought in Pai. The Thai’s use this to explain two things are… similar but different. Of course.

same same thailand
Wearing my fave “Same Same” tank top bought in Pai, Thailand

The Thais Love Their Cover Songs

They’re everywhere. I genuinely don’t think the Thai’s even know what the real Taylor Swift of Katy Perry actually sound likeĀ because all you hear are saccharine sweet versions of their hits sung by Thai singers in cover versions. On the radio, playing in the malls,Ā in the bathrooms. I thinkĀ it’s a strict copyright issue that prevents the originals from playing at large over the airwaves but it’s definitely something you get used to, and even begin to enjoy, after a few weeks in Thailand.

You Can’t Flush the TP

Trust me, there are worse things about the Thailand plumbing system than not being able to flush toilet paper. In fact, if you’re in rural parts of Thailand, toilets don’t even flush at all. How’s that an introduction to Southeast Asia?

If this is a hard issue for you, be sure to book your hotel or accomodation at more expensive places and confirm with reception the bathroom’s amenities.Ā But I promise, it’s not a huge deal. Especially if you travel to the rural countryside and have made nature your own private bathroom. After that, non-flushing toilets is a luxury.

Sidenote about traveling to Thailand:

Please please do not patronize businesses who use animal cruelty onĀ elephants for tourist destinations. Do your research. I can’t even post any photos because it breaks my heart so much. PLEASE think twice before riding an elephant or spending money at one of these destinations.

Were youĀ surprised about these things nobody tells you about Thailand? What was the biggest culture you experienced in the Land of Smiles? Let me know in the comments!

Hi, I’m Chelse! I am a Digital Nomad obsessed with traveling the world and seeking adventure beyond the 9-5 office life. When I turned 25 I decided that I was going to stop making excuses and do what I’ve always dreamed. I went from having 0 stamps in my passport to 7 countries in 7 months. I encourage anyone who wants to live a Digital Nomad lifestyle to just buy the ticket first, and figure out the rest later!

Goodbye Thailand: What I’ll Miss the Most about Chiang Mai

what i miss most about thailand

I have little butterflies in my stomach right now as I’m writing this. I can’t decide if it’s from the Grande “Brewed Coffee” from Starbucks, the excitement for my next adventure, or the anxiety of leaving Chiang Mai after living here for 2 months. I’m gonna go with all 3.

It’s funny, I had this exact feeling while on the plane to Thailand (well, to China then Thailand) but those butterflies felt differently. They were a mix of oh god what the heck did I just do???Ā and similar variations of that. And now… I’m sad to be leaving! That trepidation of my headingĀ to my first long-term solo trip as a Digital Nomad is gone and replaced with feelings of gratitude for landing in such an amazing town and meeting so many incredibleĀ strangers and getting to experience once-in-a-lifetime opportunities.

And with that, there are so many things I’ll miss about Thailand and Chiang Mai. These are just a few, although I could probably go on forever.

200 Baht Massages

This, I think I will miss the most. Ah, the ‘ol 200 baht (appx. $6 USD) hour long massages in Thailand. I’ve never known a world so pure, so generous. I’m now officially spoiled in that I’ve been averaging a massage a week. I’ve had 2 already this week and will probably get another before flying out to Kuala Lumpur. Don’t hate the player.

I’ve found a new love for the Traditional Thai Massage, which is a little different than what I am used to in the U.S. The Thai massage manually manipulates your muscles and there’s various stretching elements involved and usually ends with a fabulous back crack. Damn, if I’ve never felt so zen than here in Thailand.

The Smiling Thais

lanna-thai-woman

I’ve met friendly locals from many places, but I’m 100% serious when I say the Thai people are the friendliest and most welcoming group of people I’ve ever interacted with. I know it varies from person to person based on their experience, but for my 2 months here, I’ve never seen more smiling faces who go out of their way to accomodate someone, even with the language barrier.

I love it when a Songthaew driver or cafe barista wants to practice their English so they strike up a conversation. My favorite was a driver who wanted me to sit in his front seat so he could practice his English skills. It was the most adorable thing in my life. We talked in basic english about the weather (Hot, Cold, Rainy), where I am from (Oh, America! New York!?), and navigational phrases that would help him as a driver (street, highway, traffic light). I had such a great time that I gave him the last 100 baht in my wallet just ’cause. Worth it.

Meeting Rad People

chiang-mai-nomad-ladies

I am confident when I say I wouldn’t have had such an incredible time in Thailand if I didn’t fall into such a strong nomad community in Chiang Mai. My first week, I joined about 7 women for a Nomad Ladies lunch and by the next week it doubled, and the next week after that, we had 2 full tables of nomad women who were sharing stories and delicious Shan Burmese food at Free Bird Cafe.

If you’re traveling to Chiang Mai and want to meet new peeps, definitely join these Facebook groups and try to go to as many meet-ups as you can:

Chiang Mai Nomad Girls

Chiang Mai Digital Nomads

Street Sounds and Smells

chiangmai-street

If you’ve been to Thailand, you know there is absolutely no way to describe the smells of Thailand. It’s not bad at all, just unique.Ā I would say it’s a mix of: spices, meat, motorbike exhaust fumes, and a hint of lemongrass. It’s distinct.

Walking down Nimman Street or the Old City, the sounds are alsoĀ roaring with life. Close your eyes and you’ll hear unmistakably a few thing every time. Cars honking, motorbike engines, street food stands, tourists negotiating with vendors over souveniers, and for some reason, bells. Seriously, where are all these bells coming from? Am I the only one who hears them?

Ancient Temples

chiangmai-temples-wats

How crazy is it that you’re just a Songthaew away from ancient temples and structures that are hundreds of years old? You don’t need to travel more than a few miles or meters to stumble upon a beautiful, intricately designed wat. The thing that’s most incredible to me is that many of these wats are still active and in use for housing and teaching monks.

I still want to have a Monk Chat before I leave – this is a session at many temples where you donate money and can sit down with a monk and ask them questions and they can practice their English language. Having a conversation with a Monk is definitely something I never thought I’d be able to say I’ve done.Ā If you’re a woman, just do your research beforehand. There are different rules for different areas of Thailand and temples, women usually cannot interact in public with Monks so doublecheck the rules of the particular temple you want to visit.

The Hilarious Translations

thailand-signs

Man, I am going to miss the quirky English translations and methods of communcation. For example, my friend was talking to a maintanence man for her apartment when the plumbing wasn’t working. She was exasperated trying to explain what was wrong over the phone, she resorted to “Toilet! Ping ping! No work!” and he understood perfectly. I laughed for a solid 10 minutes after hearing that one.

I thinkĀ after a certain amount of time beingĀ in Thailand you learn speak how you think a Thai person would most understand. This leads to a lot of conversations like this: “Hello, coffee, big, YES!” orĀ other broken versions of regular sentences.

7-11

7-11-thailand

Okay, I know we have 7-11 in the United States but it’s just. not. the. same. Convenience culture is at a premium in Thailand and I swear it’s a social gathering everytime you step inside. The density of 7/11 is insane here. Think of itĀ like StarbucksĀ being on every corner in New York City, then maybe add a bunch of additional 7/11’s and there you go.

Once you’ve had the cream filled bread or toastie sandwiches, you’ll never be the same. The Ham & Cheese toasties are a staple and I’m embarrassed to admit how many I ate here.

7/11, more likeĀ 7th heaven amirite?

Goodbye Thailand

With that, goodbye Thailand. I will miss you, but I will not miss the ants and geckos who want to live in my apartment with me, the street food squid, or the fact there is no damn cheese in this country, but other than that, you were awesome. Thanks for making my first big solo trip unforgettable <3

Hi, I’m Chelse! I am a Digital Nomad obsessed with traveling the world and seeking adventure beyond the 9-5 office life. When I turned 25 I decided that I was going to stop making excuses and do what I’ve always dreamed. I went from having 0 stamps in my passport to 7 countries in 7 months. I encourage anyone who wants to live a Digital Nomad lifestyle to just buy the ticket first, and figure out the rest later!

That Time I Took a Vomit Smelling Bus from Chiang Mai to Pai

Bus from Chiang Mai to Pai Cost: 150 Baht

Getting to the Bus Station in Chiang Mai

arcade-bus-station-chiang-mai

Most likely your bus or van from Chiang Mai to Pai will be leaving from the Arcade Bus Station in the upper right hand corner of the city if you’re looking at a map. This is the older bus terminal, not the updated Terminal 3. So if you think the station looks really clean and modern, this is not the place you’re supposed to be at.

Yes, You Need Dramamine

Whether you get motion sickness or just want to pass out to avoid hearing the Thai man snoring next to you, you’re gonna wanna pop some pills either way Ā on the bus from Chiang Mai to Pai

I had heard rumors about the drive to Pai from Chiang Mai. I was also warned to take the big bus instead of the smaller passenger vans. A friend was in charge of getting the tickets and I thought we were luckily riding on the charter bus until 10 minutes before departure Ā when we learned we were in fact in the smaller passenger vans – which are notorious for speeding, accidents, and overall little regard for basic traffic laws.

OK, Dramamine was needed. I headed to the nearest little shop at the bus station and asked for what I needed, but the language barrier made it difficult to communicate what I neededĀ so I started swaying my shoulders back and forth and articulating “motion sickness” the best that I could.

Suddently the woman knew exactly what I needed and handed me 2 pills and said “5 Baht” — wow, that’s a small price to pay to prevent the massacre of my insides. Ring me up!

Thank goodness I snagged those before we loaded up the van because I would not be able to handle the…

762 Hairpin Curves from Chiang Mai to Pai

bus-chiang-mai-to-pai
Notice the “sick bag” ahead. There’s 4 of us cramped in the back row.

Seven hundred and sixty two. Ugh, I’m getting dizzy just thinking about it. Being knocked out for the majority of the drive was a godsend. But honestly, I’m not sure what was more uncomfortable: the bends or the severe lack of personal spaceĀ between me and my fellow travelers in this van – which coincidentally smelled like vomit. I guess not everybody before our trip had the forethought to pack motion sickness medicine.

Aside from the drive itself, what was also super fascinating to me was the military checkpoints we had to pass through. Apparently this isĀ common throughout Northern Thailand. The drivers pull over and wait for a Policeman? Military Personnel? to open the van and check inside. I’m not sure what they’re looking for, maybe drugs, but luckily we had no problems and it was a very efficient process.

bus-to-pai-checkpoint
Checkpoint from Pai back to Chiang Mai

 

Don’t want to take a van?

Other options to get from Chiang Mai to Pai:

Motorbike

Cost: Between 200 and 300 Baht per day

Taking a motorbike or scooter to Pai from Chiang Mai is a popular option for many travelers who have either lived in Chiang Mai for longer than just a “vacation” or have experience on scooters. The first half of the drive to Pai is reasonable for a novice, but be prepared for those 762 curves on a motorbike. Busses and vans are notorious for recklessly speeding past motorbikes around these curves and if you get motion sickness, you’ll feel the affects of every curve down to the pit of your stomach.

This may be why you’ll see AT LEAST one tourist a day walking around Pai in a cast, crutches, or some sort of large bandages. These are called “Pai Tattoos” … very fitting.

BUT, for pros who love this method of transportation, I’ve heard it’s an amazing way to see the countryside first hand and at your own pace. You’re likely to use 2 tanks of petrol on your journey so refuel whenever you have the chance to avoid being stranded on the side of the road.

Plane

Cost: 3800 Baht

If saving time is important and you’re not on a limited budget, flying to Pai might be your best bet. Served by Kan Airlines, these small prop planes will have you there in about 30 minutes. These flights book up fast so be sure to book well in advance or coordinate with a travel agent.

Private Taxi

Cost: 3,000 to 4,500 Baht

If you’re staying in a hotel or guest house, ask your host to recommend a private driver who can take you to Pai. This is usually more economical when you are traveling with 3+ people. A private driver will usually drive slower (aka more safely than busses) and provide a more pleasant experience.

You will most likely be charged at an “all day rate” and therefore, feel free to ask to stop at certain tourist destinations or temples along the way and make the roadtrip part of the experience!

Bonus points: Your car will most likely not smell like vomit, unlike my bus from Chiang Mai to Pai… šŸ˜‰

Anyway you get to Pai, you’re going to love it once you get there

– I sure did!

bus-to-pai

 

pai-thailand-canyon

 

pai-thailand-waterfall

 

pai-cat-hostel

Hi, I’m Chelse! I am a Digital Nomad obsessed with traveling the world and seeking adventure beyond the 9-5 office life. When I turned 25 I decided that I was going to stop making excuses and do what I’ve always dreamed. I went from having 0 stamps in my passport to 7 countries in 7 months. I encourage anyone who wants to live a Digital Nomad lifestyle to just buy the ticket first, and figure out the rest later!