We left Phitsanulok on a 6 hour train to Chiang Mai. When we arrived it was dark as we left around 1:30pm but there were lanterns filling the sky, it looked so beautiful! We were hassled by the local red buses as soon as we got off the train. They put the price up a considerable amount and after a while we managed to barter them down. Due to the lantern festival most accommodation was booked. Luckily we booked the evening before into the ‘Bird Hub Hostel’. It was really clean and newly decorated but slightly out-of-the-way. We got into a taxi to ‘Ploen Ruedee Night Market’. This reminded us so much of Shoreditch in London. With great food, cocktails and live music, it had a great ambience. We didn’t stay out too late though as we were shattered!
The next morning we had a recommendation to stay at ‘Glur Hostel’ so had booked there for a couple of nights! The rooms were comfy and really clean. The hostel had a lovely pool too! It was really close to the centre of town. We just had to walk across a bridge and we was there! We went for a short walk around and then relaxed by the pool. That evening we decided to go out to enjoy the lantern festival.
We got ready and across the road from our hostel people were releasing lanterns. We decided to buy one and join in. Getting the right technique of releasing the lantern is harder than it looks. Without it landing in a tree or the river but we managed successfully. We had a walk through town and then headed to Zoe’s Bar. It was packed and had great music. We ordered a bucket (a must in Thailand) and enjoyed the evening.
The next morning we spent around Chiang Mai, had a great burger for lunch at ‘Rock Me’ and organised how we was going to be getting to Pai the next day. We wanted to rent a scooter from Aya services so when we arrived we was told to just come back tomorrow as you can not book the scooters in advance. We enjoyed the night market then headed back to the hostel.
The next morning we woke up had breakfast, packed up our things and headed to Aya services. We arrived around mid day to be told there was no scooters left and the lady just shrugged her shoulders at us not interested in helping.
Explaining that a colleague has told us the day before we would be fine arriving at this time. We asked if anyone was returning the scooters soon as we didn’t want to be stuck in Chiang Mai another day. She just shrugged her shoulders and didn’t want to help us at all. To our luck three guys on scooters arrived after we sat in there for half hour deciding on what our plan was. Luckily we could rent one! The lady seemed angry this had happened. Unsure why we had upset her so much we was told to be served by someone else who filled out the forms and took our deposit, so we was on our way. One of the good things about Aya is they take your bags up to Pai for you so you don’t have to worry about them on the way up which from our experience seems to be the only good thing.
Tip: Make sure you get the red bus to destinations around town. This is the cheapest way to get around and you can barter the price! Roughly around 30 baht a ride.