Going to Pai during smoky season
As I’m writing this post, I’m in Pai, the famous town in the northern Thailand where you can go swim in waterfalls, visit underground caves and perhaps the most important thing – eat tons of delicious street food. It’s difficult to not be charmed by Pai, especially because the nature here is so mesmerizing.
However, I did very little research before going to Pai and I figured that I would have luck on my side. That wasn’t the case. March is the so-called “smoky/burning” season, when the locals burn the fields to prepare for a new season of crops. There are days when you can actually see the sky, but there’s also days when the fog gets overwhelming and you can barely see to the next building. Not to mention that this is also the dry season, so you should just skip going to the waterfalls – there’s basically no waterfalls because it’s all dried up. However, there’s still plenty to do in Pai, and even though the smoke does bothers at times, it’s still worth going to Pai if it’s the only chance you’ll get.
The first day I got to Pai, the weather was quite lovely. The sky was blue, the weather was hot(!) and I could see how the town is nestled in the mountains. It reminded me of a postcard. When the weather is good, make sure to rent a motorbike and go to the viewpoints or the bamboo bridge. During smoky season, you’ll want to go do activities when the weather is good, otherwise, you might get stuck with smog and there won’t be a reason for you to visit the viewpoints.
Pai is a lovely little town nestled in the mountains and it’s not hard to see why so many people fall in love with it. The ambiance is very relaxed, time seems to have stopped here, and it’s hard not to feel relaxed when you’re in Pai. You have plenty of yoga spots around the town and meditation classes, if you want to unwind both your mind and your body. You can also go on hikes, but it might not be the most pleasant thing during burning season because the air does get hard to breathe. When you feel lightheaded, remember to drink a lot of water, buy a mask to cover your nose and mouth, and try to stay inside if you can.
Although I really wished that it wasn’t burning season when I was there, since the famous bamboo bridge was all dried up and I didn’t get to see any waterfalls, I still don’t regret going there. I see this as an opportunity to come back one day. But if you have a choice, try to skip going to Pai and Chiang Mai during burning season. Not only is it bad for your lungs, it’s also bad for the views.