What is it about Pai, the tiny Thai mountain town, that makes it so hard to leave? I fell for Pai in a way that I didn’t think it was possible to love a place without an ocean — I found myself fantasizing about renting a little bungalow for a month and holing up in this landlocked paradise.
Mostly, what I loved about Pai was intangible — the bohemian atmosphere, the laid-back feel, the artistic community. But what else did I love about Pai? Let me count the ways…
1. Amazing Accommodation
I checked out several different bungalows in Pai, and I was mega impressed by the value in what is a fairly touristy town. For 400 baht a night (about $13.50), we scored a riverside bungalow with a massive wrap around porch, and a massive king sized bed. For an 800 baht splurge (about $27) at Breeze of Pai we had ourselves a darling A-frame with tile floors and unlimited free bananas — score!
2. Crazy Characters
The people watching in Pai was top notch. Outside of the Vespa Market in Bangkok, I’ve never seen so many painfully hip Thais in one place — they could just as easily be walking the streets of Brooklyn or Berlin. And then there were the characters. I’m a pretty reluctant street photographer — I don’t like to take photos of people without their permission and am usually too shy to ask, but this bamboo tea warrior was basically asking for it.
3. Top Notch Eateries
After just a few days in Pai, I felt like a regular at my new favorite snacking spots. Witching Well made a bell pepper pasta that I thought was going to make my mouth explode (in a good way), Boomalicious made organic fresh breakfasts that would make an localganic vegan weep with happiness, and this one street cart lady made banana nutella waffles that made me rethink my path in life. I. Was. So. Happy.
Oh and um, I totally ate some Thai food too. I swear.
4. Fun Ways to Move
When you aren’t stuffing your face in Pai, there are some interesting ways to distract yourself. The local Muay Thai gym had a fantastic head trainer and a great community of fighters from around the world — after just one session, we were invited to a poker game at the ring and out for drinks with the crew.
Also on the activities menu? A swimming pool called Fluid, lots of yoga, and, in case you were hoping to learn to juggle on your trip to Thailand, a circus school. Seriously.
5. Bohemian Boutiques
Let me start with the caveat that I am not much of a shopper any longer — any purchase means another thing I have to carry around the world, plus less baht in my wallet. But even I was having a hard time resisting the charming shops and stands that lined the main street at night. On the outskirts, laid-back local artists would lay out beautiful prints and sculptures. It was very special and unique to be able to buy a piece of original art and have a chat with the creator.
6. A Sense of Whimsy
From pink VW bugs tearing down the road to anonymous art on the sides of the street, Pai has a sense of undeniable whimsy about it.
7. Getting Out!
The most popular activity in Pai is actually renting a motorbike and getting out of town! You’ll have to wait until tomorrow to hear about my two-wheel adventure, but think waterfalls, hot springs and more.
Have you ever been to Pai? Did you love it as much as I did?