Pai, a small village, high up in the mountains of Northern Thailand. It was the moment we arrived, we immediately fell in love with this special place. It's the nature, the people, the creative energy and the good vibes. A planned visit of 2 weeks, turned out in a stay of 6 weeks.
1. Find Yourself A Bamboo Hut
When you arrive in Pai, you will see many great hostels, hotels and guesthouses. There are great options in every price range, from a dorm bed of 100 baht a night, to exclusive boutique resorts of 5000 baht a night. You can stay in town, close by all bars and shops or find a place a bit more out of town in nature.
We found ourselves a super nice bamboo hut via AirBnB. It was located a bit out of town, quietly, in a beautiful lush garden. A simple and basic hut, but having all we needed. A big king-size bed, our own bathroom and a nice porch, which was a perfect outside office to us. In the garden was an awesome yogadeck, with hammocks and a view over the rice fields. There was a communal kitchen which could use. The price of this hut was 500 baht a night. Because we decided to stay for quite a while, the owner of the guesthouse give us a special 'longterm' price. We stayed in period of high season and payed 8000 baht a month (which is around €210), this was including weekly cleaning, electricity, water, wifi, kitchen use etc.)
Check out the guesthouse Pai Porpeang.
2. Cruise Around Town
Once your settled and found yourself a nice stay, tune in with the relaxed Pai vibes. Rent a bicycle and start cruising. Just randomly biking can do no harm, as it's almost impossible to get lost in Pai. There's a big round way and all side roads are connected to that, so just go with the flow. Enjoy the beautiful greens, bump up into hippies chilling at the riverside, see some monks passing, watch out for the 'more than 2 people packed motorbikes' and enjoy a fresh made smoothie at one of the road side restaurants.
3. Rent A Motorbike
If you're tired of biking and ready for some more adventure, rent a motorbike. It's the ultimate feeling of freedom for sure. In town, you'll found many rentals, where you can rent a motorbike for just one day, or for a longer period of time. Prices are extremely cheap, as you pay only 100 baht a day. We rented our motorbike at Aya Service, this is a more established company which we felt we could trust. Make sure to check the motorbike well before you take off. Make pictures of the damage that's already there, avoid afterwards misconceptions. We had a reasonable doubt for quite a while about renting a motorbike. In the end we really enjoyed riding our motorbike. It was the ultimate way to see more of Pai.
Spoiler Alert: In all this excitement, don't forget to be careful. As we saw many injured tourist walking around. It's so easy to lose concentration for only a sec and slide down the road. Don't get yourself the well known 'Pai Tattoo' which is a huge graze on the elbows, knees or face. Don't drive to fast, take care and enjoy!
4. Visit The Waterfalls
Pai has several waterfalls around. Walk around, have a swim or slide down the rocks. A perfect afternoon activity. We visited Mor Peang Waterfalls and the Pambok Waterfalls. Our favorite was Mor Peang, which was surrounded in tropical greens. It had some great pools to cool down in. And the best was the slide down the rocks! A nice mix of locals and tourist were enjoying the water.
5. Enjoy The Amazing Views
When biking around town, it's about every 5 minutes you feel the urge to stop and take a picture of the view. Overlooking the rice fields, mountains, greens and bamboo huts in the middle of nature. It's all so photogenic, so bring your camera with you. We visited the viewpoint in the Chinese Village, which is about 10 minutes from town by motorbike. On our way to the Lod Cave, we passed our favorite viewpoint. The view over the mountains and valley was amazing. It had a huge swing, which took all tourist to gather to make it swing. We had lots of fun with that. It was about an 1 hour drive by motorbike out of town. The road that lead us up there, was beautiful to. Make sure you'll have a powerful motorbike, as the road gets quite steep sometimes.
6. Visit A Cave
About 50 kilometers from Pai, there are some great caves to visit. We visited the Lod Caves which were quite spectaculair. It takes you about a 2 hour drive by motorbike to get there. But as we just mentioned in the point 5, the road up there is beautiful.
Once you arrive, make sure you'll enter the cave with a guide. It's super dark out there, easy to get lost, so when you don't want to spend the rest of your holiday in a cave, spend the money on a guide which is carrying a lamp and makes sure you are oke. (Entering without a guide is forbidden) The guide walked through the cave with us in about 1 hour and explained some more about the stalactites and stalagmites. We even had a 10 minute bamboo raft in the total dark, to another part of the cave. Many bats and fishes were surrounding us. Great visit!
7. Relax At The Pool
The perfect way to relax and cool down. Our favorite was the Spa Hotspring Resort, around the corner of the touristic Pai Hotsprings. The entrance fee of this resort is 100 baht, instead of the 300 baht to enter the touristic Pai Hotsprings. It's beautiful, clean and not crowdy. They have a few hot spring baths, filled with nicely hot water. There's also a swimming pool with a beautiful view on the river. Bring your towel and a book, your set for the rest of the day.
Another pool we also enjoyed much is the Fluid Pool, near town. A pool where backpackers and other tourist chill out, lounge music is playing and where you can enjoy a beer.
8. Watch The Sunset
When driving, cruising, swimming and relaxing all day. Make sure you'll be at the Pai Grand Canyon at sunset time. Sit down and enjoy the view. See the sun sinks into the mountain and watch the stars.
9. Grab Some Street Food At Walking Street
When getting hungry, the spot to be is Walking Street. Around 6 p.m the locals install there food stands and fill them with the best foods! You'll find Asian foods as curry massaman, pad thai and green curry. Western Food as pizza, lasagna and french fries. Or even fresh made sushi. All very well priced! Grab a plastic chair and enjoy your food!
When finished your dinner, walk around some more and shop your hippie harem pants or handmade goodies.
10. Enjoy An Open Mic
Save the best for last. The open mic nights in Pai are great. This village has an attraction to free minded, creative hippie folks. So when visiting an open mic night, you'll see and hear for sure some good stuff. From poetry and spoken words, to acoustic sets and hangdrums. Some surprisingly and experimental, some good oldie sing alongs. Our favorite were:
Art In Chai, every thursday, start around 8 p.m
Spirit Bar, every friday, start around 8 p.m
Edible Jazz, every sunday, start around 8 p.m
We fell in love with this wonderful village. It's hard to describe the exact feeling and for sure something you have to feel and find out yourself. Do you like an open mindset, reggae music, nature and hippies? We can ensure you, you gonna love this place as much as we did.