The Yun Lai Viewpoint is located about 6 km west of Pai town. This makes it reachable by bicycle, though I would advise you to rent one with more than one gear AND for your own sake, please ensure that your brakes are working properly! If not, the road up can be a pretty tough endeavor and the road down…well, let’s just say that even though Pai has a hospital, spending x amount of your time there in observation for concussion or having stitches done, probably isn’t half as fun as a lot of other things you could be doing in the region. Just sayin’…
Bike rentals are about 50THB/day (usually 24h) and there are several around town, you’ll find a couple on the walking street for instance. Helmets aren’t a thing here and neither are kids seats. Personally I find that hugely freeing and it brings me lovely memories of my own childhood back in the eighties, when we’d be riding around town carrying each other on the back of one bicycle. I don’t remember ever being told off by law enforcement for this, not like nowadays where I recently discovered that unless it’s a kid in an approved kid seat, transporting another person on the back of your bicycle is actually against the law in my home country.
Luckily, they don’t bother so much with that here in Thailand, where frankly ONE person on the back of a bike is about the minimum carriage you’ll see. Usually, it will be an entire family, or baskets full of herbs, oignons or other goods, maybe a dog, why not. But I digress. So, bicycle rentals. Be prepared to leave a deposit of 500 or even 1000 THB, or if you don’t have this amount with you, your passport. Taking photocopies of this is actually a really good idea in general, just to have on hand instead of carrying the real deal around. Copies might not be accepted everywhere though, but still.
Once you have your bike(s), leave town by the main road going west. It’s pretty much straight ahead all the way. There will be signs along the road too, so you really can’t miss it. The road is pretty, lots of rice fields, small villages and mountain views in the background. Plenty of opportunities to stock up on water, snacks or other on the way. The road is calm-ish, it’s not a high traffic one, but not deserted either. About three quarters of the way in, you reach the Santichon Village, another well known tourist attraction (which is also on the program of many local tours). Personally, I find it overrated, I think. I’ll be honest and say that we didn’t stop to spend time there, but from what I could see, it’s mainly shops that are available. There’s a temple, but hey, it’s not like you have to come here to find that, right 😉
Anyway, the road to Yun Lai goes through here. Up until this point, your fitness level doesn’t have to be olympic and you’ll reach the top at any rate, but from here, it only gets steeper. Bring lots of water, or remember to stock up underway. The sun is unforgiving and reaching the top is a HOT enterprise. But the effort is worth it, you’ll be rewarded with amazing views underway, and from the top, of course. Once up, you can leave your bikes at the parking lot. A short walk up and you’re at the top. Now this is where it gets too touristy for my taste. In order to enter the top ‘plateau’ they charge you 20THB/pp. Don’t get me wrong, I know it’s nothing, but there’s something about paying to be allowed to stand at a natural viewpoint and use my eyes that just irritates me. Especially when prices at the attached souvenir stall and cafe are your standard bumped-to-the-max-tourist-level.
They also make you pay for using the sort of special swing which is there. Surely a fun and different experience, but I’m sorry, I’m just not buying into this pay-for-every-little-thing. I don’t know if it was because I looked horrified or because the guy at the entrance could hear from my tone discussing with the kids what to do, that I was less than impressed by the entrance fee feature…but at any rate, after a couple of minutes he made me understand that the two younger kids wouldn’t pay, just me and the 13yo. So, I ended up paying the 40THB and we gained access to the plateau and the obligatory souvenir picture in front of the Chinese heart 🙂
After a few minutes of enjoying the view, everyone was done with that, and we went back down to the entrance level. This, on the other hand, is an awesome place to sit (for free!) and revel in the beauty of the landscape. It’s also a fantastic spot to train some freerunning stuff, which of course we did – like practice our handstands, back flips and other. Mister S was quite happy with the below trick which he attempted just once – and landed!
We spent a good hour there, just training and chilling and treating ourselves to a yummy non-dairy ice cream (they have a line of awesome ones here in Thailand). Riding back to town we caught the sunset, and that was truly an amazing end to the day.