You’re going to Chiang Mai? You must go to Pai! Said everyone. Best advice I took- besides the advice of coming to Thailand of course.
Pai is a little chill town in the north of Thailand. A four hour bus ride from Chiang Mai through windy hair pin roads known to jolt stomachs (if you are at all sensitive to motion sickness- do yourself and everyone a favor and take the tablets beforehand). Don’t opt out on this trip though because of the horror stories- the views are worth it!
This hippy retreat in the mountains is the perfect place to slow down the pace and appreciate the incredible landscape. What did I do in Pai? Honestly a whole lot of nothing which was so nice for a change. Rather than having plans lined up I allowed myself these three days for exploring and living in the moment.
The best way to do this- rent a motorbike- this way you can come and go as you please and ride through the mountains from sunrise to sunset if you desire. I rented my bike at Happy Pai Rentals for 150 THB a day.
I spent my days puttering from cafe to cafe, up mountain look outs and through rice paddies. It’s so easy to just drive aimlessly and soak in the hippie vibes. There’s a saying that “all roads lead to Pai” which is very much the truth. I barely needed to glance down at my map- always ending up back in town somehow.
Pam Bok Falls was a nice stop along the way. Definitely not the most spectacular waterfall (especially after Laos) but this is a great place to cool off and chill as you make your rounds. We also went to the hot springs which were a bit too crowded for my liking- and the ride there was what made the experience. Another sight to see is the canyon which supposedly is best at sunset- I was too chilled out the even make the ride there though- maybe next time 🙂
The night markets were my favorite in all of SEA. There is something authentic and organic about the experience. You feel like you are really buying from the source and the artist. I also bought the best organic soap here! And the food…. is amazing. From pad thai, to curries, indian, even mexican. It’s all so good.
The Container Cafe
This view is hard to beat. You literally hang in a birds cage chair floating over the mountain valley sipping an iced latte. I could have sat here all day.
Cafe whose name I forget but is worth the stop
This zen cafe and garden is right before the Container Cafe also on the left if you are heading out of the main town of Pai. The seating is comfy floor style, the breakfast is delicious, and the garden is magical. And there are cute dogs!
Art in Chai
The name says it all. This hidden cafe in an alleyway is dynamic. Perfect for morning coffee or tea, late afternoon treats, or even better evening dessert with entertainment of talented live music or Thursday night Spoken Word.
Perfect for lunch while out on a ride through the scenery. I could have eaten here every day, every meal. This vegetarian and vegan friendly cafe has a variety of mouth watering options. From smoothies bowls, tempeh salad, sandwiches, hummus, etc. There’s also a little health shop which has a variety of earthy supplements and cosmetics.
Okay so maybe I just love anywhere I can find a falafel but this was so delicious after spending a whole day on the road in the sun. And the french fries were crisp 🙂
We stayed at Pai Laguna. A bit out of the town and definitely only a good location if you are going to rent the motorbike which you should! It’s super chill and closer to the mountain views. The owner is really sweet and even gave us a ride to the bus station. It’s not luxury but has a nice vibe and the way the dorms are set up it has more of an apartment feel. We were in a female dorm- two floors with two bathrooms and only three beds per floor. Also with a cool balcony!
Another place we ran into was The Moon at Pai. The staff here seemed really friendly, more than reasonable prices for these bungalows, and one of the best views in all of Pai in my opinion.
But really even the dogs are hippies… This pal hopped on my bike looking to hitch a ride.