Run day Monday: Pai Canyon

From Pai to Pai Canyon: 7.3km (one way)

Pai Canyon 7.3km

Pai Canyon 7.3km

Pai to Pai Canyon, 7.3km (map courtesy of Google maps)

To finish the year with a real run-venture, here is the first leg of what I had envisioned as a glorious jogging daytrip around the hillside hippie idyll of Pai.

Pai Buddha

Pai Buddha

People do not brave the notorious ‘762 curves’ of the journey from Chiang Mai to Pai for the action and adventure. There is some to be had; ziplining and rafting are advertised, and exploring the cave system under the mountains is a popular daytrip, but mostly Pai seems to be one of those holiday-from-your-holiday type places. A place to relax, enjoy the scenery and the vibe, and eat organic food. Having spent so much time recently cooped up and not enjoying scenery or getting enough exercise, the perfect way to enjoy the natural bounty of Pai seemed to me to be on foot and running.

Three of the attractions close to the town: Pai Canyon, the Land Split, and Pam Bok waterfall, are in the same direction and within a few kilometers of the town and of each other. The Canyon is the furthest at 7.5km from town, so I plotted a route there, with a provisional plan to return to town via the other sites if I was still feeling energetic.

The route is gorgeous. Starting from the main intersection at the centre of the town, run south past the post office to route 1095 (the Chiang Mai road). After about a kilometre, there’s a difficult to spot left turn down towards the river. This back route is not only quiet and scenic; it also knocks 2km off the route, so unless you’re seeking a 20km round trip it’s a shortcut worth taking. Cattle graze, grass grows. There’s some shade and an impressively sized wat on the journey.

The last half kilometre or so rejoins route 1095 and takes a sharp vertical turn, but push through to the end and there is a lovely vista to reward your hard work. There are also snack and water vendors if you need to refuel.

The canyon is clearly marked from the road and impossible to miss. It is small but you can easily spend an hour exploring. Like the other sites, it is currently free to visit being just some oddly formed land which no one has [yet] decided to monetise. There’s a circuit down to a bridge and back up. Make the journey at your own risk; in parts it is highly precipitous and as it is no one’s property, it’s also no one’s responsibility. You can genuinely live on the edge. Or the many edges.

On the day I found 7.5km and an hour’s hike round the canyon enough exercise and headed back to town via the nearby strawberry farm where red trucks and taxis abound. To head to the Land Split and the Pam Bok waterfall, you would head back to the north towards Pai but stay on 1095 and take a left out to those sites.

Do you have a favourite holiday run-venture?

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