How to: Enjoy North-Western Thailand


Bryanna Ulrick is a student at St. Mary’s College of Maryland and an ISA Photo Blogger. She is currently studying abroad with ISA in Bangkok, Thailand.

A Memorial Paying Tribute to Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej, Pai.

After living in Salaya (the suburbs that stretch west of Bangkok near Mahidol University) for quite some time, nature has been a pretty foreign concept. On our travels, my roommate and I heard of a remote destination called Cave Lod with caving, hiking, and village tours. It is close to a small tourist yuppie town called Pai, a few hours from Chiang Mai of Northern Thailand. After a ten hour ride from Bangkok to Chiang Mai and three hour bus ride from to Chiang Mai to Pai, we stayed in Pai for a night. Vegan cafes, long motorbike roads, waterfalls, and lots of through-hikers made up the cute place.

Our Airbnb in Pai, owned by Milk who also runs a jewelry shop and makes homemade soap!

Our Airbnb in Pai was serene; run by sisters who also have a jewelry shop and showed us around the marketplace. I rented a motorbike for only one hundred baht (only about $3!) and took myself on a tour of the rolling hills.

A Pai motorbike adventure.

Not only were the views spectacular, but I made some friends on the way. The rolling hills reminded me so much of Munnar and Kumily in Kerala, India, complete with rice and banana plantations, as well as temples nestled in the mountains.

Kisses from some friends.

After enjoying some serenity and meeting people who had been living near me in California this past spring (funny coincidence), the next day we continued our van journey. We finally arrived at our destination after an hour ride from Pai to Sappong, and thirty minute motor bike ride to Cave Lod.

One of the many farmer huts in the countryside near Cave Lod.

It is still the slow season; more tourists will come in the next few months, but it is also quiet because of the King’s recent death, putting all of Thailand in a period of mourning and decreasing the amount of tourists wanting to come here because of restrictions on partying and such. Thus, it was tranquil at Cave Lod, making our stay nice and relaxing, once again meeting lots of travelers from all over the world. Most of them planned to travel to Laos, Cambodia, or Vietnam next.

Monks strolling by the river.

We decided to take one of the day cave and adventure hiking tours for our full day at Cave Lod, and ended up trekking, crawling in about a foot of space in between the cave wall and water, seeing cave formations that looked like they were from another planet, and immersing ourselves in largely untouched nature.

An entrance to one of the caves.

Two of the caves were dry, while one had a waterfall that dropped forty kilometers!

A rock formation resembling coral.

In between the caves, we hiked and made friends with our guide, Tan.

Tan leading the way.

I wish that I had traveled here sooner! I felt great peace and prosperity here, and it made me grateful for the chance to experience such a beautiful place. Between beaches, the mountains, and a thriving city life, Thailand has such immense diversity and abundance to offer, that is rare to find in just one country!

The world awaits…discover it.

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