Pai is situated in mountains north of Chiang Mai. I took a minivan to Pai from Chiang Mai, which takes about four hours and only cost me $8. It is quite a hair-raising, stomach turning ride! With 726 bends for 3 hours, it is quite an experience. You can’t read or watch anything, so charge your phone listen to some tunes and enjoy the view.
Some choose to rent a motorbike from Chiang Mai and ride the way to Pai. It does seem adventurous and romantic, and if you know how to ride a bike go for it! If you do not, consider if you can last for 3 hours on 726 bends – steep ones? I saw a few casualties along the road, minor ones thankfully, and a good 60% of foreigners in Pai are accessorized in a bandage or two.
Everybody Falls in Love with Pai
Not every backpacker I had met to-date in Thailand had been to, or even heard of Pai. I thought it would be more known being a stop along the Banana Pancake Trail, but maybe that’s why Pai still maintains a bit of a small town feel?
I stayed at the Baan Kon Pai hostel, which was super close to the bus terminal and Pai Walking Street, but, it took me a while to figure that out. Pai is small village, with no street signs but, once you get oriented its hard to get lost. Coincidentally this is why I am unable to tell you where anything is.
Not only was it centrally located but, the best part of Baan Kon Pai hostel was that it offered a complimentary breakfast – a real breakfast of eggs and vegetables and such! Not your regular continental breakfast of toast.
The door rooms were at the back of the restaurant buildings, large, clean and comfortable beds. The bathroom was a separate set of buildings with an outdoor sinks. The custom of not wearing shoes “in doors” was strictly followed here, and I should point out that the tiled, closed patios are considered indoor space. This hostel doesn’t offer uni-sex dorm rooms so unless a couple would need to book a full room which might be slightly pricier but, Pai would be a great place to do a proper couples stay in my opinion.
I was definitely sick and after the long bus ride I just wanted a spicy, curry, soupy thing to help fight the germs. After checking in and a shower I wandered around the main streets and decided upon Pai Siam Bistro, a bistro / shop located on the main street and had a comfortably looking patio – perfect for people watching. I ordered a red curry which was delicious and spicy. I didn’t realize it came with rice, which I didn’t really eat, but it made for a lovely photo.
After hanging out at the Pai Siam Bistro I wandered around town for a few hours. The curry gave me a few hours of energy, just enough to wander and explore a bit. Pai has a nightly market but by the time it started I was too tiered to do much and decided to head to bed early. I had a full day to explore the town, relax and book some day trips to the see the local sights.