Pai is a beach town in the mountains. It attracts travellers looking to experience the lazy mountain beauty of Thailand and are of a Bohemian, Hippie, Health conscious and Cannabis friendly type.
Some consider Pai too touristy, too full of Westerns looking for a party. Ignoring the fact that Thai’s also like to party ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. I found Pai had far less of the obnoxious North American tourists that drunkenly loiter Khao San Road in Bangkok. Instead it is the domain of Wealthy Asian tourists and the deadlocked, bohemian European backpackers.
I loved Pai for its mix of traditional conservatism and open-mindedness, its compactness, its surrounding natural beauty and friendliness.
A Map of Pai
Pai does have all of the amenities that make a traveller’s life easier expect for streets with names and GPS. So until you figure out where you are in relation to key landmarks in Pai – the Pai River, the 7-11 or the High School – Pai is a place you need a map for. This map I found on Mark Arinsberg blog about Pai, is the best illustration of what Pai is like that I could find.
Now I can tell you that I have no idea where most of the places I liked to visit are actually located. So if you happen to find yourself in Pai and are wondering where to find that tea shop or that bar .. you’ll just have to wander around like I did.
I spent a few days in Pai (in hindsight I should have stayed at least a week!) and one of them was dedicated to just hanging out in Pai. Because that is the best thing about Pai, you can just hang out in the town and enjoy its vibe. You don’t have to visit 10 temples or rush around. So here is how you can spend lazy day in Pai.
Step 1: Wake Up & Have Breakfast
Wake up and go for a leisurely and delicious breakfast. Eat at a relaxed pace and enjoy the view of a waking town. I had mine at my hostel, which offered an absolutely fabulous complimentary breakfast of a choice of eggs, protein, toast and salad. The options were so good that I did not go to any breakfast spots in Pai.
Step 2 : Explore and Walk to the Pai River
After you’ve feed yourself it is time to explore Pai. Wander the streets, stop at whatever strikes you as interesting and just be. Eventually your wandering will take you to the Pai River, with its Bamboo bridge and jungle.
Step 3 : Stop for Tea
Stop at a tea house to re-hydrate, eat or just read a book or smoke a joint*. Pai has many to choose to from, all of them are wonderfully coky and weird.
I had a flower tea at World Tea which had a lovely shaded outdoor patio on a quieter street. Perfect for people watching!
*Cannabis is illegal in Thailand and you can actually get in trouble for possession. I have no experience in getting any in Pai, but, it was fairly freely smoked by backpackers and no one minded.
Step 4: Shop and Grab Dinner at the Night Market
Pai’s Night Market is a nightly affair. It is the best place to get a cheap meal. The selection of food vendors is solid – whatever you want you will find. I ended up picking one spot that I felt was the best and went there.
After eating a fairly earlier dinner you have time to do some shopping at Pai’s artisanal shops and art vendors. Since Pai attracts artists and free-spirited souls, it is full of unique finds at what can be considered bargain prices. I found some beautiful Summer dressed at Rang Mantra!
Step 5: Get a Late Night Drink at Why Not Bar?
Finish off your day in Pai at a late-night bar. You didn’t come to Thailand to go bed early every night. You came to experience backpacker culture and bar included of late beers on the streets of Thailand.
Try something new, something that will make you uncomfortable. As you pass by a bar called Why Not Bar? heed the question and sit down at a table with strangers. Introduce yourself and strike up a conversation. You’ll be surprised at how easily you’ll make companions for the night or for your trip. You will be happy that you did it. Trust me.