Life in Pai
Life in Pai is laid back and relaxed, almost so that you will find backpackers who’ve came, never left and now try their best to blend in with the locals, dreads to their knees selling their hippy handicrafts in the local night markets. It certainly has the hippy vibe with an array of vegetarian restaurants, colourful beanbag cafes, reggie music playing in the bars and bare footed travellers wandering the streets.
Located in Northern Thailand, a 4 hour winding journey from the popular city of Chiangmai (costing around 150BHT for an air conditioned minivan) and popular with tourists, backpackers and wannabe hippies, Pai is a sleepy town with lots of charm. Surrounded by rolling hills and breathtaking mountain views you will find cute coffee shops, bustling markets, delicious food and friendly locals.
Most come to Pai to enjoy the laid back atmosphere and take in the sights of the surrounding area. The best way to see the sights is to hire a motorbike and get lost in the country roads while taking in the scenery at your own pace. It’s impossible to get lost in Pai, as they say “All roads lead to Pai”. There is one main road in and out of the town with smaller winding roads zig zagging around the town.
~ Life in Pai ~
Things to See
Since we only had three days in total we decided to rent a scooter for two full days. There are a number of vendors on the popular ‘Walking Street” that runs centrally through the town, that you can hire from. With map in tow and a list of sights to see we set off on the open road.
There are a number of waterfall to see around Pai and all can be reached a short moped drive away. Unfortunately in dry season the water was not high enough for us to enjoy the swimming and plug pools.
This is a strange little colourful village located a 10 minute drive from walking street. Over priced food and beverages support the local Chinese immigrants who have taken up roots here. Best for walking around and pretending like you are in rural china for a day.
Coffee In Love Cafe
You will see this cute little cafe on the drive in, referenced by a huge signboard outside. But with beautiful view of the surrounding valley and reasonably prices coffee & cakes, this little coffee house is worth the visit.
You cannot miss this cafe on your way into Pai, with it’s giant strawberry statue and everything red themed. Offering all sorts of strawberry treats from cakes, smoothies, and even alcoholic drinks you could easily spend an afternoon lazing around their gardens. Just be careful not to drink too much or you might be hitchhiking your way back home.
The Land Split is certainly worth the visit for the “donation” food and beverage alone offered upon arrival. Once a farming land owned by a local family is now a popular tourist attraction. Due to the split in the land in 2008 it’s now not possible for the family to farm on. Giving a donation and enjoying the friendly nature of the owner will help out a family in need. If you are brave enough to swim in the local lake nearby, you can rent tubes directly facing the Land Split.
Pai canyon is certainly an impression one! Best explored just before sunset to enjoy the views over the landscape. You could easily spend a few hours walking the canyon trails but be careful when walking the narrow trails as some looked mighty dangerous and it’s a long way down if you fall!!!
WWII Memorial Bridge
A small bridge no longer in use situated just at the entrance to Pai, this attraction is worth the visit to learn some history about the town. Once owned by Chiangmai, the bridge was deconstructed and transported to Pai after the Japanese left and burnt down the original. If you fancy some swimming or bamboo rafting down the river this is the place to start.
Things to do
There are a number of things to do in Pai depending on your interests and they can either be booked through a number of tour operators on walking street or tackled by yourself. With a limited amount of days and some activities already tried and tested in a few places around Asia we didn’t take part in any of these. They are simply listed her to let you in on what you can do before arriving in Pai.
White Water Rafting
Where to Stay
There are plenty of budget hostels/guest houses, bamboo huts on the river or luxury villas to suit any budget in Pai. Since we only had two full days to spend here we wanted to be right in the heart of the action. We decided to take a short walk about five minutes to the riverfront asking a few places for prices before we settled for a simple bamboo hut with river views. At a bargain price of 250BHT per night we struck lucky.
You might want to book ahead in high season as it does get quite crowded and rooms book up fast. In low season you can barter a bit for a room you would other wise pay up to 700-800BHT per night for in high season. Most places will start at a high price, but depending on your negotiation skills you can almost always get a discount, especially when staying for longer.
Here are a few of the places we noticed that had reasonable prices for decent rooms:
(prices vary depending on season & room choice)
A bit of a trek past walking street and not exactly centrally located, this hostel is popular with backpackers.
(prices vary depending on season & room choice)
Another hostel located just off walking street and close to the night markets, again is a popular one with backpackers and happy hippies.
250-300BHT per night
Reasonably priced bamboo huts most with river views, this was our humble home for three nights in Pai. Free tea/coffee and wifi all included in the price.
(located across the river) 300BHT per night
Hidden just a short walk from the river this friendly guest house offers a number of clean, spacious bamboo huts, nicely organised around a communal campfire.
1400BHT per night
Located a short walk from walking street and next to Golden Hut, this luxury accommodation offers clean, spacious rooms with air con, hot showers and a restaurant on site.
Top Tips for enjoying Life in Pai
- Do get a massage while in Pai ~ they are extremely cheap and totally relaxing.
- Do try the eggs and avocado breakfasts from any number of the cute little eateries on walking street.
- Do eat diner from the night market vendors that pop up around 5pm on Walking Street.
- Do get a wheatgrass shot from a street stall on walking street.
- Don’t try to make the journey to Pai on a hangover ~ the roads zig zag and wind that much that it would be impossible not to need your sick bag for the trip.
- Don’t bother visiting the waterfalls in dry season, they simply do not exist despite what the locals will tell you. We spent an entire day visiting one waterfall after another only to be disappointed by each trickling fountain.
There you have it, Life in Pai came be what you make of it ~ Lazy, Sleepy, Enlightening, Relaxing or Adventurous. Whatever you choose I’m sure you will love it as much as we did!
November 17, 2016
April 09, 2016