As you hitchhike along highway 107 followed by the 1905 – Chiang Mai’s busy city is replaced by lush hillsides and fresh mountain air as the sun warms your skin in the back of a pickup truck on your way to Pai Thailand.
Although this once relativity unknown hippie haven has turned into a touristic hotspot; its inner essence still exists and the second you arrive – whether it was your first or 10th time; this town will hold a piece of you heart forever.
Below is a local guide to experiencing the best of Pai Thailand.
Most travellers stay within the city at overpriced hostels and guesthouses but the magic of Pai is found a mere 10 minute walk out of town at Sabai Garden.
With laid-back travellers and friendly staff, bamboo huts overlooking rice paddies and the white Buddha in the distance; nightly bonfires with talented musicians, natural tie-dye classes and even a kitchen to cook; you have everything and then some at this hidden hippie guesthouse.
What To Eat: Jackfruit Curry or Eggplant Curry
Next to Earth Tone Cafe is the best local restaurant in Pai that we haven’t stopped talking about since the first time we stumbled across this little gem three years ago.
Everything on the menu is delicious but her claim to fame is her famous (vegan) jackfruit curry and (vegetarian) eggplant curry made from the freshest ingredients we daydream about after leaving Pai.
This hidden gem is hands down our #1 recommendation on our top eats in Pai. Not only is everything on their rotating menu homegrown and picked from their garden but also simulates all your senses.
Each dish is crafted beautifully with flavors that ignite all your taste buds at Isara Garden.
What to Eat: We will openly admit we’ve ordered everything on their menu over the last two years but our favorites include “lemongrass delight” and their homemade tropical fruit sorbet.
If you need a western fix, all you need is Boomalicious’ smoked salmon eggs benedict. (For those gluten intolerant, ask for hash browns instead of a bun!)
If heaven came in the form of a dessert, it would be Om Garden’s carrot cake and Mango Pavlova and we will openly admit guilt free; we ate these for breakfast.
(For those of you who don’t know what Pavlova is; it’s a meringue dessert with a crisp crust and soft, light inside, topped with fresh mango and vanilla cream.)
Not only is the Bom Bowls owner Om the cutest woman ever but also her passion for healthy, tasty and visually appealing meals is on point! All bowls are made of local and organic ingredients, have no added sugar or ice and are served with freshly baked granola and bananas.
What to Eat: Everything. (But our favorite is the Acai Bom Bowl – Pai’s first original smoothie bowl)
After 3yrs of trying every stand available on walking street; below are the MUST-EATS you won’t want to miss.
ROYCE Truffle – both vegan and non-vegan.
Near the end of walking street, you will come across a second bruschetta stand with a sign reading “fresh homemade bread” and a long que.
A tiny stand near 7-Eleven on the main walking street serves up delicious Vegetable Japanese Gyoza’s with a sweet-chili dipping sauce. What’s even better? You get 5 for 20 baht!
Sounds odd to order lasagna dish in Thailand but let us tell you – this lady probably makes it better than your mom. Try the spinach lasagna or all-cheese!
Mojo, one of the best new live music venues to open in Pai is found in the bar district and packed to the brim every night. If you love good ol’ fashioned blues; this is the place for you.
Just off of walking street is Jazz House a chilled out music venue comprised of hammocks, cozy floor seating and relaxing live music to listen too amongst all your newfound friends ranging from acoustic to Jazz and more.
For all you punks; this thimble sizes bar will become your watering hole and is one of our favorite places to hide away from the slews of tourists in elephant pants.
Had enough of water flavored beer? The only place you need to go for quality craft Belgium beers is Jikko.
Three words: Quality versus Quantity.
For a full days access to a beautiful pool walking distance from town; its worth paying 80 Baht to soak up the sun, take a dip or rest and relax with a piña colada in hand. Fluid Pool is equipped with umbrellas, mats to lay on, free wifi, quality bar snacks and drinks.
An 8k drive to the canyon will reward you with one of the most captivating viewpoints in all of Pai. By day, follow the dirt trails for a scenic walk and be sure to come for sunset and stand in awe as the day comes to a close.
Another great sunset point is Pai’s renowned White Buddha statue located a mere 1km away from the center of town. Be prepared to climb 353 stairs to reach the top but we promise you, its worth it for the spectacular view.
Note: If crowds aren’t your thing and you love to stargaze; come here late in the evening to have the experience all to yourself.
On the way to Pai Canyon, the best waterfall to visit is Pam Bok. Here you can indulge in an icy swim to beat the heat or for adrenaline enthusiasts – a little cliff jumping (although be forwarded – the rocks are very slippery).
Forego paying 300 baht for an overpriced and overcrowded hot spring and head to our favorite local spot called Sai Ngam. The total fee is a mere 50 baht, which includes entrance into the national park, parking pass and entry fee into the hot springs.
“It’s about the journey; not the destination” is the perfect way to sum up your adventure to Mae Yen Waterfall.
Pack your day bag full of snacks, water, beers and leave behind your trekking shoes (unless waterproof) because you’ll be crossing a river for the majority of your trek.
If you’re looking for a traditional bamboo tattoo or an artist capable of any style; look no further than Mink at Cross Tattoo.
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