A tip from a friend of ours led us north of Chiang Mai to the little town of Pai. It’s tucked away in the mountains along a very winding road, one with about 762 switchbacks! Pai is a peaceful haven of cute cafes, stunning scenery and boutique shops. It’s a place full of expats and hippies, but with enough soul that makes you want to stay and never leave. There is so much to do around Pai, from visiting huge statues in the mountains, to soaking in hot springs and hiking to waterfalls. We stayed just outside the town centre, relaxing after the hectic city life of Bangkok and Chiang Mai. I have some vlogs from our stay in Chiang Mai, which you can see here and here.
The jungle trek to Mae Yen waterfall is one of the most popular around here. We set off in the early morning mist with the sun shining over the mountains. There wasn’t another soul in sight, just the sound of the rushing river and the dawn chorus of birdsong. We waded through a stream to reach the trail head, giving us a taste of what was to come. This trek is a wet one! Through 80 water crossings we walked, beneath banana groves and giant ferns. The footpath is well marked, but disappears into countless streams and reappears on the opposite bank. Some parts are like woodland back home, with tall straight trees and a canopy of golden leaves. Other parts are dark and green and dripping, with vines hanging like snakes.
Two and a half hours later, we reached the waterfall. Tumbling down three layers of rock, it’s beautiful and well worth the hike. The scenery on the trek is breathtaking, and you really are in the depths of the Thai jungle. If you love exploring, feeling like you’re on an adventure and channeling your inner Indiana Jones, this trek is the one for you.