Pai has long been known as hippie central in Thailand with it mountainous views, numerous coffee shops, chilled out bars, a prevalence of weed and mushroom shakes (500 B apparently for those interested). We thought that this would be a great place to relax for a week as there is not too much to do in the town itself so we could get on with starting to write blog posts and read. All the things we had planned to do in Chiang Mai.
We booked a place called Tony’s guesthouse as it was cheap for a double room on booking.com (350B per night). It was about a 20-minute walk from the bus station/ middle of town which was hard work with our bags on (especially when we came to the hill off the main road we needed to go up to get there). It was all made worth it though when we got to Tony’s and saw the amazing views of the valley, lake and mountains, with the White Buddha in the distance. Tony’s place was made up of a number of little bungalows some with private bathrooms others with shared bathrooms that you had to go outside to get to (I wouldn’t advise these as it is cold to leave at night).
We had a room in the main building there which had four rooms altogether two on the bottom and two on the top, we had a lower room. This was definitely nothing to write home about- it was a large empty room with a wooden floor which just had a bed in it and windows that wouldn’t close fully, but there were bug screens at least. We had a small private bathroom which let in creatures through the vent holes and a hole in the wall which let out the water from the shower. However, it was still a private room and bathroom so we were happy. As well as this the water from the shower was also quite warm which is a bonus in Asia, especially as the whole site was very minimal. The bed we found out was extremely uncomfortable with it being very hard and us being able to feel all the springs in the mattress. In the evenings it got quite cold in Pai itself but it got very cold up at Tony’s especially as it was such as a stark room. We managed to get a blanket from Tony which we ended up laying on to sort out the bed being uncomfortable and we slept under the duvet in clothes, our soft shell jackets and our silk liners to keep ourselves warm by the end of the week. As well as this Tony also kept chickens that liked to come around and make loud high-pitched clucking noises at each other often from outside of our room. This started from about 12 am and often went on for about half an hour, before having an hour break and starting the whole cycle again! We continued to stay at Tony’s place for the whole week though as he was great- a very chilled Thai guy who made good eggs for breakfast and coffee. Plus we had a balcony which we had such a great view from it just instantly made up for the cold, lack of comfort and noise. From this balcony, we were able to spend a few days and afternoons reading and catching up on blog posts.
There is not too much to Pai town itself as mentioned above there are lots of coffee shops that provide western style breakfasts, bars and massage parlours. Every night there is a walking street market though and this is where to get the majority of cheap food in Pai. There are lots of great bits to snack on like curry puffs (10B), meat on sticks, fried sandwiches, pork buns (10B) or there are full dishes you can get from stalls. We had a great Indian curry meal one evening but there was everything from noodles to Burritos. It is also great for desert things to such as Roti’s (fried pancakes), brownies and there are also other cakes stalls as well as stalls selling fresh fruit- particularly strawberries which are grown locally.
On our first evening in Pai, we ended up going to a burger place that had been recommended to us as we thought we would treat ourselves. Burger Queen did really tasty burgers and it was not too badly priced at 100B. They also did proper chips instead of french fries which were really good. We then met up with Jamie, Michiel, Sandra and Alex (that we had met at Thailand Wow 2) and explored the walking market with them eating as we went. After this, we went to a PM Spirit Bar. This is a really cool, cosy bar down an alleyway on the main walking street between a hair salon and another shop. The only indication that it is there is a slightly faded sign. The outside bar had a small fire pit that we gathered around whilst having a beer and listening to acoustic music being played.
After our first night (cold, uncomfortable and with no sleep due to the chickens) we decided to have a relaxed morning at Tony’s place. We wandered to the communal area where we sipped coffee whilst looking out at the sun rising over the view. Tony cooked us eggs and we began talking to a very hungover English guy (Josh). It turned out that he was from Lincolnshire and had been working at the Hilton as the bar manager…it is a very small world. His friend joined us (Ollie) and we wiled away a few hours talking to them. We ended up inviting Jamie up to join us and all five of us played cards and then wandered to look at the lake until late afternoon. In the afternoon we went exploring Pai walking over the other side of the river and finding out where things were such as Spicy Backpackers (where we had initially tried to stay), Fluid (a swimming pool we wanted to check out) and Sunset Bar which we thought some of the guys from Thailand Wow 2 might be as they were going to try mushroom shakes. Sunset bar is a right off of the road when you cross over the river and go around the corner. You then walk down a dirt path for about 15 mins (by this point we were just intrigued if there was a bar down here). Sure enough, it was there with lots of high or stoned backpackers chilling out in hammocks, including the guys we had hoped to find. You also can’t see the sunset from it! We left pretty soon afterwards and went for a Cabrinha in town instead of at Almost Famous (60B all day!) before munching our way through the street food on the walking street. In the evening we relaxed at Edible Jazz Bar, although the music wasn’t really jazzed it was a nice atmosphere.
We spent a couple of days out of Pai exploring surrounding highlights, but I will go into more detail about these in a further blog. We found a really cheap place to eat good Thai food called Green Restaurant just down from the bus station) on those evenings where good Thai dishes were about 40B. Service was slow and looked effortful but you can’t complain about the price. We spent another night in PM Spirit Bar for open mic night and then we spent the following two nights in Pai Pub so that we could watch the 6 nations rugby matches. Unfortunately, we missed England as it was on too late (bars shut at midnight in Thailand).
On the day after we had gone exploring we treated ourselves for breakfast. We found a really highly rated Mexican restaurant just a bit out of town, almost behind the Purple Monkey Backpackers hostel. We arrived there before they opened so we had a really good coffee at Khaotha cafe next to it. When Cafecito opened we were excited to see authentic Mexican food on the menu. I had an amazing breakfast burrito and Dave had huevos rancheros. It was expensive at 180- 200B per meal but totally worth it! In the afternoon we went to Fluid swimming pool with Alice, Dan, Garry and Sue (From Thailand Wow 2). It was really nice place to swim and chill out by the pool for 60B.
Whilst watching the Wales vs Italy match we made plans with Alice and Dan to watch the Superbowl as Pai Pub which was opening at 6 am to show it. So at half 5, we woke up and still in the clothes we slept in we ventured to the pub to watch the Superbowl. Straight into the Superbowl spirit, we all ordered Chang’s, which I think is definitely the earliest I have ever started to drink. It was a fantastic atmosphere in the Pub with more and more people joining as the morning went on as well as drinking more. By the end, we were all slightly tipsy and we all ventured back to our balcony to have a few more Changs and play cards. We ended up talking instead and systematically all falling asleep in the sun for about an hour each before heading to Burger Queen again to help with the early onset hangovers. The next day was a very lazy and quiet one spent reading and chilling out at Tony’s.
We went to the Curry Shack for dinner on our last night which is a small restaurant with one guy taking orders and making amazing curries. I finally got a proper massaman curry as I had not seen it that much throughout our time in Thailand. We also got authentic old Thai coffee which was really nice but smelt a bit of rice. After saying goodbye to Alice, Dan, Jamie and others at Why Not? The bar we had an early night. We had an underwhelming breakfast the next day before boarding the minibus back to Chiang Mai (You have to go back to Chiang Mai to go anywhere else).