A Slice of Pai-Adise; Pai, Northern Thailand
First off sorry for the incredibly tacky title of is post – just couldn’t help myself and it took a lot of drunken thought to concoct it!
Last time is was in Thailand I heard so many people rant and rave above the little town of Pai whilst I was in Chang Mai. Unfortunately my time scale on my last trip meant I simply couldn’t fit it in – so this time around I made the effort to pencil it in.
The Winding Road
Joined by Matt and our newly acquired travel buddy Rory we opted against the motorcycle journey Rory was planning (mainly due to cost and also due to my massive fear of riding on motorbikes – my dads a paramedic and refer to them as donor bikes!) and booked a mini bus for around £3.
Once we hit the road we were stoked with our decision, as for the next 3-4hours our bus negotiated winding mountainsides, peppered with heavy rain showers. Even with 4 wheels and an experienced driver a lot of the journey was pretty sketchy!
The open paddy fields we drove through and rolling mountainsides were a world away from the cities we’d spent the last week in and the country air was welcome in my Devonshire lungs!
The weather perked up too, and the sweaty heat of northern Thailand in early wet season coupled with our heavy backpacks soon demolished all levels of comfort that the a/c bus had built up!
Pai from the off was absolutely beautiful. Our hostel – Spicy Pai – sat on the outskirts, about 15minutes walk from the centre, and provided views across the farm hatched landscape.
The vibe of the place was one of tranquility and relaxation, the hustle and bustle far behind us.
The days carried on this vibe – the small town was quaint and sleepy, full of wonderful food, dread locked backpackers, bare feet and people far too relaxed for their own good.
Whilst the sun was still up you had three main options – wander around by foot, chill by the local swimming pool, or hire a moped and hit the surrounding countryside. Mix these up well and Pai life is sweet and rewarding.
The swimming pool is a welcome retreat from the scorching sun – and backpackers flock to it for an ice cold beer and a dip. At only 60baht (just over £1) it’s a cheap way to spend the day.
Mopeds on the other hand open up a whole different experience. As I’ve already divulged mopeds are not my friend, but peer pressure always gets the better of me and I soon found myself on the back of one – gripping on for dear life and shouting at Matt to slow down.
With this is mind we opted not to drive out to any of the big waterfalls outside of town (which apparently are awesome – but to be honest Peru waterfalled me out!) and stick to some closer mini treks through the jungle.
Hiring a moped in Pai is a cheap experience – around 150baht/£3 per day including insurance – but can prove costly if you’re not careful, with people paying for accidents in both currency and skin!
With days as relaxing and tranquil as Pai offers its pretty inevitable that when the sun sets the tone will turn – and lets face it backpackers will be backpackers!
Pai lacks a club scene though, so social communal drinking is the order of the nights – with people gathering at various hostels to pre drink, chill out and ultimately lay the foundations for some drunken debauchery!
There are a couple of main drinking holes in the town – The Yellow Sun and Ting Tongs being the major players with a mix of reggae and dub step tunes and almost pub like vibes.
As these places wrap up shop for the night though everyone piles into Bamboo Bar being the penultimate venue of the night – an awesome venue on stilts, which unsurprisingly is built from bamboo! Late night munchies, cheap buckets, good tunes and bad decisions are all on the menu!
Pencil It In
Overall Pai definitely fits its reputation for being a beautiful place to visit and explore and is definitely something you should squeeze into your itinerary if you’re up that end of the world.
For me it’s what you make it, and the crowd you meet/come here with will definitely have a major impact on your experience.
3 nights was enough for me though – long enough to get to know the place and explore, yet short enough to not find it boring.