Tucked away in Northern Thailand is a small,hippie town called Pai. This town is 147 kms from Chiang Mai, which is connected to couple of the Indian cities via air. If you like to visit less crowded and peaceful places on your holiday, this remote town with its laid back vibe, is absolutely worth visiting. Though this town is becoming more touristy now a days, I believe it is still unexplored by most of the Indian travellers visiting Thailand.
Along with a friend, I went on a road trip to this beautiful town in December,2017. The route(Route 1095) from Chiang Mai to Pai is very notorious for its 762 turns. We started at around 2 in the afternoon and reached Pai only after nightfall(around 9 pm) with a 20 mins rest stop in between. The last 2 hrs stretch was a very slow and risky ride with only 4 wheelers wheezing past us.
Things to do in Pai:
For such a small town the list of to do things here is large.
1. Definitely, go on a road trip. It is dangerous (but trilling at the same time) at night, you will move at only 20 kms/hr but it would be worth it. The number of stars that I have seen on this highway while riding tops the most number of starts I have witnessed at a place.(You can start early to experience a calmer ride!).
You can also fly to Pai from Chiang Mai.
Day 1 stay: Darling View Point Bungalow ( It's a bit far from the town but a lot quieter)
After checking in, we went out on a walk to have dinner. The streets near the walking streets are filled with restaurants, cafes and massage parlours.
2. Stroll through the night market
Pai walking street offers everything from clothing to food with all kinds of street food and desserts at very cheap prices. The market is open until around 11 in the night.
Here, we tried dimsums,pad thai and sticky rice with mango which has become one of my favourite desserts now!
3. Explore the cafes & restaurants
There are several cafes & restaurants spread throughout the town with most of them offering vegan and gluten free options as well.
So,choose your pick!
Also, do not forget to try the cocktails.
4. Explore the waterfalls located around the town
There are about 4 waterfalls of which we went to the Mo Paeng waterfall. It is located about 8 kms from the town. One can enjoy a good swim here as you will not find much crowd here. Just before heading towards the waterfalls you will also see a strawberry farm which is modified to look a bit touristy!
There are hiking trails too in order to reach the other waterfalls.
5. Visit the Santichon(Chinese) Village
5 kms from Mo Paeng waterfalls, you will find one of the most popular attractions of Pai. There are several clay houses located here along with restaurants and souvenir shops.One can even rent traditional chinese costumes and click pictures against the fort background.
A kilometer walk from this town will bring you to Yun Lai Viewpoint, which will give you a 360 degree view of the province. Here, we relaxed for a while having chinese tea with hot buns.
6. Pai Hot Spring
Entry Fee: 300 Baht/Person 0r 600 rupees approx.
As you hike through the park, you will see that the temperature of the water starts to increase as you go up. Here,swimming is allowed in certain zones. One can even bring eggs and boil here!(see pictures below)
It's a World War II memorial bridge, offering river view. There's not much to see around here but one can go for bamboo rafting in the river water. Instead we chose to go to a cafe located a few meters away in order to get ourselves some refreshments.
8. Sunset at Pai Canyon
This is the most sought out place in Pai so naturally you will see lot of tourists just before sunset. There are a few trails that one can explore or it's a great option to stretch your legs at the end of a path and enjoy the sunset view along with some snacks and drinks.(S0, make sure to pack a light picnic!)
Note: Be mindful of getting back before nightfall
Stay 2: Villa De Pai(We choose a stay closer to the walking street on our 2nd night in Pai)
Very cosy and comfortable stay
Cost: 800 Baht
After an eventful day of exploring and sightseeing,we checked in at Villa De Pai and spent the night bar hopping and buying t-shirts and souvenirs at the night market.
The next morning we drove back to Chiang Mai.Around noon we stopped at a roadside restaurant for a bowl of soupy noodles and rice with chicken and basil.
Other things to do in Pai
1.Visit Tham Lod Cave
2.Party!!(Even though the town is famous for its tranquility,it's nightlife is also quite famous).
3.Hike to Mae Yen waterfalls
Pai is one such place I would love to go back, but next time I visit this place I know I would be spending more time here rather than just 2 days. I hope you find the place as amazing as we did!