A piece of Pai
Pai is a town in the Mae Hong Soon province of Northern Thailand. It is a popular backpacker destination and has been for some years.
Pai is known for its waterfalls, hotsprings, gorges and of course stunning scenery. The town has many market streets with stalls selling many types of food and hand crafted items.
Of course there are many temples and monuments to visit too.
Getting to Pai
Most people access Pai from Chiangmai, a major city in the northern area of Thailand. Regular buses go between Chiang Mai and Pai daily, taking approximately 3-4 hours.
Tickets can be arranged easily at most guest houses and hostels in Chiang Mai or alternatively at one of the many tourist centres in the city.
Prices can vary between operators and type of bus, but we got a minibus for 200 baht per person. They picked us up from our guest house and the bus had plenty of room as well as air conditioning.
We stayed in Common Grounds hostel, it is just off the main road in Pai which houses lots of street food stalls, restaurants and bars.
The hostel rooms were 8 bed dorms and the showers and toilets in a separate block. The cleanliness of the bathroom was slightly questionable with ants making a regular appearance but it really wasn’t that bad.
The hostel is super social, there is a large area with bean bags, pools tables and a bar. Every evening people gather and socialise, play games, take part in quizzes and just generally have a good time.
The hostel operates a 10:30 cut off, so at this point you either head out with the hostel workers and other travellers or have to return to your dorm.
I think this is ideal, it means that if you want an early night you can, but also that everyone ends up going out in a group.
Eating in Pai
There is an abundance of choice for food and drinks in Pai. From street food, to cafes and restaurants there is literally something for everyone.
The Main Street food market happens at night, meaning it’s an ideal place to grab dinner.
There is so much variety:
Avocado, tomato and pesto bruschetta
BBQ chicken pizza
Chicken on a stick (lots of flavours)
Crepes and pancakes
Grilled meat and fish
& so much more!
It was all so cheap to, ideal for budget travellers and people who like to try a bit of everything (me!).
Bearing little similarly to Burger King, Burger Queen was as you would assume a burger bar.
However, it wasn’t your typical greasy take away burger. The meat was fresh, the salad not sloppy and the chips chunky and homemade.
Definitely a great place to grab a quick dinner.
This cute pizza place was just down the road from our hostel, and if you went between 4:30-6:30pm you got buy one get one free on pizzas.
They also have these massive 18 inch pizzas if you are feeling up for a challenge!
It wasn’t exactly the cheapest option in Pai if you didn’t get involved in the happy hour, but the food was definitely worth it.
Barista cafe was a great place to grab breakfast. Avocado, eggs, bacon, shakes and iced coffee all on the menu. So naturally I was a fan, but it also catered for the full English and Asian style food.
Also Conveniently located near the hostel on the main road too for when you were feeling slightly ropey for the night before.
Earth cafe is located on the road at the bottom of the entrance to the White Buddha.
It has a hippy vibe with vegan and gluten free foods available. As well as various vegan friendly beauty products.
We stopped here after the climb up the hundreds of steps to the white Buddha, a great spot for a drink and an ice cream.
Sunset bar has a pool with bean bags and loungers and as the name suggests is a place where people go to watch sunset.
Or is it? I mean I actually think it’s a place people go to do mushrooms.
There is the normal menu and the special menu. Both pretty expensive, 500 baht for a ‘special shake’.
The place was a little shabby looking and actually when we went the sunset view was pretty crap. But it is one of few places to have a pool so that’s a plus!
What makes this place popular is the availability of special drinks, not the quality of the setting or food offering.
If you are wanting to do mushrooms, then a great place to visit. If not, give it a miss.
Exploring the beauty of Pai
I really loved Pai, the countryside is stunning. Rice fields, mountains, greenery and long open roads.
The only cost effective way to get around Pai is the hire a moped. All of the attractions are pretty far apart so getting a can would cost a lot, plus you would miss out on all the beautiful detours!
There are lots of waterfalls around the Pai area but the most popular are Mo Paeng and Pam Bok waterfall.
Pam Bok Waterfall
Involves a bit of climbing and scrambling about on slippy rocks to get to the bottom of the waterfall but definitely worth it.
The power from the force of the water is pretty frightening, I couldn’t manage to swim all the way up to it it was that strong.
Only annoying thing is there isn’t really anywhere to chill, your either in the water or your scrambling about.
There is however a really cute cafe a short distance up the hill from the waterfall, they sell yummy fruit shakes and there are views over the countryside. They also have a pet dog with eyebrows drawn on which was funny to see!
Mo Paeng waterfall
This waterfall has a few layers, and you are able to climb and explore them all fairly easily. It also has stunning views over the hilly countryside.
This waterfall felt more secluded and there was less people here when we visited than the other waterfall which was nice.
There are lots of natural hot springs in Pai some better than others. We visited two during our time in Pai.
One we just stumbled on which I now can’t find on a map. Useless I know, but I think it highlights that it’s good to just take a ride and see what you find.
The water was so hot you couldn’t possibly get in it, but it was really surreal to just see the steam pouring off and locals cooking food over the water.
Thai Pai hot springs
This is a more popular spring, geared towards tourists. There is a pretty steep entrance fee of 300 baht but it was a cool place to spend an hour enjoying the warm water.
There are various ‘pools’ of differing temperatures that you are able to bathe in, but beware of the spiders!
This is basically a split in the land that extends for miles, from the top you get stunningviews over the countryside and go for a climb along the canyon. But just be careful, you could fall to your death.
There is a pretty cool treehouse resort which we stopped off in to get a drink. Unfortunately you aren’t able to go in the tree house, but there are plenty of photo opportunities and a little restaurant too.
There is a massive white Buddha temple in Pai that is worth a visit. There are a lot of steps so be warned, but once at the top the views are pretty spectacular. You can see for miles, we didn’t go at sunset but we heard it’s an amazing place to watch the sunset over the hills.
One of my favourite things about Pai was the beautiful countryside and just stumbling about stunning spots.
I loved the fact we could just ride around exploring off the beaten track and being away from tourist spots.
Pai has a backpacker vibe, which I guess could be a good and a bag thing for travellers. But I really enjoyed it!
We met some amazing people, and had so many fun nights out!
Pai is one of my highlights so far, it has stunning countryside and beautiful mountains.
There are so many things to explore, the waterfalls, hot springs and canyon.
The food is amazing and reasonably priced.
The social aspect of Pai made it so much fun and the common grounds hostel is a really friendly lively place.