My plans have been changed and now I’ve two more weeks to spare in between Myanmar and Malaysia. I decided to go to Thailand purely because of Pai. A lot of people I met while traveling recommended me to go to Pai for different reasons. Each one of them had one thing in common, they all said; “you’ll find out why Pai is special when you are there”. I couldn’t agree more soon after I get to Pai. Pai is such a lovely place and I totally get it, why people get stuck here for a while.
From Yangon I took a night bus to Myawaddy city right next to Thailand border. I crossed the border via Thailand-Myanmar friendship bridge. It’s not an usual way for Backpackers to cross the border from Myanmar to Thailand or the other way around, but it was pretty simple at the checkpoint.
After crossing the border to Thailand, I catch a tuk tuk to Mae Sot bus station where I jumped onto a bus to Chiang Mai. I was lucky to arrive in Chiang Mai on time to catch the last mini van leaving to Pai. So at the end everything worked out and I didn’t miss the connection bus.
I spend a couple of days in Pai and I loved it. Stayed at the Famous Circus Hostel, it was amazing and I got an upgrade to my own bungalow for the same price from a bed in the dorm. I couldn’t have asked for a better start.
There are quiet a lot of things to do besides enjoying the food and vibes. We hiked to the Mae Yen waterfall (4,66 miles one way) and it took us 3 hours forth and back. I would call it an interesting jungle hike having to cross a water stream 35 times (yup, I counted them on the way back). Actually there is an interesting story happened on our trip to the waterfall. We were a group of 6 and on the way back we got separated due to the bad weather. It was pouring down heavy rain continuously for hours and two of us got stuck in the jungle unable to cross the river. Small stream with 35 crossings became a strong and dangerous river! Long story short, a rescue team had to come to rescue my two German friends. And they got back to the hostel around 11pm.
Other days we rented a scooter to explore Pai and it’s surroundings. Visited the famous Pai Canyon and exploring this area was quiet a lot of fun. It is such a lovely place that you can easily spend a few hours and enjoy the beauty of nature. I would also recommend Pai Canyon for sunset. Other places we stopped by are the Land Split, Pembok Waterfall, the bamboo bridge, White Buddha etc. You can do it all in one day and don’t have to rush it at all.
If you want to find a good place to eat, there are so many of them. I personally loved the street food market. Just walk along the main street and you can enjoy really great food. My favorite place to eat was the homemade falafel pita. Its not a big restaurant, but a little street fool stall owned by a local family. Located on the opposite side of Barista Corazon Cafe.
There are two other things you should pay a visit. On the one hand is the Earth Tone Cafe & Health Shop, which is famous for their awesome healthy food (sorry but I love smoothie bowls) and on the other hand the Pai Backpackers Paradise hostel. Couple of times during the week there are fire show and an open mock thing where people can show up and do whatever they like and whatever they’re talented in.
Hell of a long journey (more than 24hrs in 4 busses and a ferry ride) finally arrived in Koh Tao. Right away I met Max (Dutch guy) at my hostel. Same evening we climbed up the hill to an abandoned hostel and fragile rock for sunset. After sunset we went out to grab some food and on the way back to the hostel we passed the Choppers Bar. Spontaneously we decided to participate a pub crawl (it was my first pub crawl ever). I loved it and I am sure it wont be the last. Apart from that I met Tichna again, same girl I met in Bagan, Myanmar. Was really good to see you again Tichna.
On my last day we went out for a walk to the Freedom beach and the John-Suwan Mountain viewpoint. It was definitely worth the walk. A friend of mine told me, that there is another really good place, but it’s hard to get there. It is called Laem Thian beach and there is a possibility to see sharks while snorkelling around this area.
To start off with, I liked Koh Phangan way more than Koh Tao. But that is just my personal opinion. This island has so much to offer that I love. At this point, thanks Nisha for making me go there.
I think this island is so special to me because of different things. However one main reason was the Echo Beach Backpackers Hostel, which is one of my favorite Hostels in South East Asia. Thank you so much for making my stay so comfortable.
To be honest, I don’t know where to start. I guess the best way to start is to mention the best thing – I met great people here who made my stay even more wonderful and enjoyable. Big shootout goes to Anne, Alice, Nisha and Tiger! Also a big thanks to Jamie and Hanna for being such a great diving instructors. Yes, I finally did my Advanced Open Water Diving License in Koh Phangan at Sail Rock Divers. As mentioned earlier, Jamie is the best instructor and the owners of sail rock divers are really kind and helpful.
There are a lot of things to see and to do in Koh Phangan. The best way to explore the island is to rent a scooter and drive around. It gives you the freedom and flexibility to do whatever you like and whenever you wish. One day I drove to the Phaeng and Paradise Waterfall. Later the day I hiked from Haad Chaloklum to the Bottle Beach. On the way from Chaloklum to Bottle Beach I followed the right tracks on maps.me. That was an easy one. On the way back I followed path back to Chaloklum to make it a round trip. It was challenging, sometimes it was hard to even find the direction. The trek is named after the Bottle Beach, but also the track is marked with empty plastic bottles. The only downside is that sometimes is looks like there is more than one way, because you’ll find the bottles in different places. So don’t underestimate the time you would need to complete the round trip. We almost ended up coming back in the darkness.
Another day I climbed up the highest point in Koh Phangan, Khao Ra (2083ft). There is a small entrance fee, but you get a bottle of water with the ticket (you definitely need water) and it’s totally worth it. There are two ways to climb up and down. If you like an adventure, take the right once you crossed the bridge (is a little path) but make sure you wear closed shoes. If you feel like an easy hike up follow the normal way (go straight). Of course, I decided to go with the right! The more adventurous path (if you use maps.me, follow the left path for the easier way). If I’m not completely wrong, it took me around 1 1/2 hours to climb up and almost the same time to go down.
One more highlight was my first half moon party. To be honest, it was a cool experience and especially I loved the planning part at our hostel upfront, but I wouldn’t say it was worth the price (the ticket is quiet expensive). At this point, big thanks to Mieke & Nikki for your creativity and the awesome painting.
On the next day we ride to the famous full moon beach, so called Haad Rin Nok. The beach wasn’t crowded at all. Water was sooo blue and the beach was really clean. It’s a good place to relax for a day.
I have to mention this other place. It’s the suburb Baan Sri Thanu. There are so many good places for yoga classes (Agama Yoga Srithanu Campus) and places to grab healthy and vegan food (e.g. Eat.co, Pure Vegan Heaven and Taboon). Simply go there and enjoy the vibes.
How to go there? Rent a scooter and drive from Thong Sala a long the coast. On the way stop by the Amsterdam Bar (one of my highlights for sunset) and the horizontal coconut tree. If you love ridding a scooter, you can also drive all the way to Chaloklum a long the coast – you’ll love it as I did.
I could have stayed here even longer, but after a week it was time to say good bye and to move on to Malaysia.
Everyone recommended me to go to Pai and now I know why. And I guess now I’m one of them! If you are traveling through Thailand, please don’t miss Pai.
If you have limited time, I would recommend to visit Koh Phangan instead of Koh Tao or at least spend more time there.
And besides all these healthy food, Thailand is one of the best places in South East Asia when it comes to food!