Going on a quest to Pai, the Heart of Thailand
May 11, 2019
by Alfredo C Barnes
How about taking that much deserved trip to a place filled with beauty and awe, somewhere in the glorious home of the peaceful Buddha statue? Imagine yourself in Pai, a small beautiful city located in the heart of Thailand, and it comes with all the great scenery and ambience there is to offer. As a tourist, you’re lying in a hammock and enjoying some sweet cheap cafe cocktails all the while, and having a view over the jungle surrounded by beautiful hills and a giant white Buddha statue decorating those hills. Life does not get much better than Pai. But be cautioned! I’ve heard people call it the “Venus Pai Trap” with some good reasons too. There are many people intending to travel to this city as tourists for just a couple of days but ended up staying for weeks, month or even years. I became a victim of this trap as well. I had planned to stay for 4 nights but eventually stayed for more than 4 weeks.
Top Things to look out for
The Pai Locals
A city known as a place where hippies come to relax, but this small amazing city has grown to be much more than that. A number of great resorts, restaurants, cafes and hostels have been popping up in and around Pai, making enough room for the high season in which Pai gets overrun by tourists from across the world. Pai and its inhabitants appear quite unassuming, but very accommodating. Even though you will get to see more tourists than locals, Pai has not lost the relaxed vibe it is known for. When you arrive Pai, you will be amazed by the amount of cheap night-food, cafe and bars advertising their “all night happy hour, plus a thing or two for those who desire a healthy lifestyle.
Pai boasts of Mountains, waterfalls, paddy fields, calming hot springs, caves and beautiful hike trails. The tourist sites are located half an hour drive from Pai. One of the highlights for me was the hike to the Mae Yen and Pambok waterfalls. This hike takes about 3 hours to walk up to the waterfall, and another 3 hours back down to the entrance. It is a walk down a small trail that goes right through the jungle while following the flowing river. The rivers I visited were as clear as crystal and it gives the surrounding areas some aesthetic beauty and ambience. To top it off, the waterfall found at the end of the journey is extraordinarily beautiful and offers visitors an amazing place to have a picnic, work-out (if you desire a healthy lifestyle), meditate or just chill and relax under the afternoon sun.
Transportation in Pai is well planned especially when you have a tour guide who has made preparations for your movement during your stay. However, to make it easy and stress-free, you have to make use of scooters and bikes or mini tour buses. You can afford to rent a scooter for a little above 3 euros a day and visit some of the most refreshing tourist sites in Pai. In case you like to ride motorcycles, you are probably going to love the breezy ride to the tourist attractions as well. The road alternates between sharp turns in the Jungle and the straight road higher up, bringing you beautiful sceneries the area is known for.
Pai Local Food
The food variety in Pai is almost second to none. The delicacies are extremely tasty and deliciously prepared with the best of local spices and ingredients, plus I guarantee it will help spur that healthy lifestyle you so crave for. Food in Pai is relatively affordable, while some are on the high side especially if it appears on the continental menu list. Tourists will enjoy these varieties as dishes prepared at night are more easily appreciated in most food cafe. At least that’s what I thought over the course of my visit to Pai. If you are a tourist, make sure to drink a lot of that Hot Thai soup, as I discovered it’s one of the best locally made soups in Thailand. Pai also boasts of some of the best Banana Blossom Salads, Fruit Shakes & Juice drinks within and outside of Pai. I was also tempted to try out their Spring rolls and Tofu fries which became regular meals for me for the duration of my stay.
Nightlife in Pai
Let me be the first to tell you this, Pai is an amazing place to celebrate your New Years. The streets are always filled up with dancing locals in the most colorful attires and every one sporting big smiles on their faces. When you mix these activities with the flying lanterns and fireworks above the city of Pai, you are bound to have some of the most awesome nightlife experiences life has to offer. At the first instance, I discovered that this city is filled with all types of visitors, ranging from the old school hippies to the party hardy tourists with a defined nightlife from around the world. I can also attest to the fact that Pai offers so many opportunities for first-time travelers or tourists to Thailand to meet new foreigners and amazing locals.
Whenever the awesome nightlife in Pai becomes overwhelming, it’s really easy to escape into nature.
Top Hotels in Pai
If you like to relax and meet lots of new people, I would recommend some top hotels in and around Pai. They come with their own awesome nightlife across bars and restaurants and you can always find interesting new people to chat with. They come as great places littered with little corners occupying hammocks, comfortable cushions and antiques all around. It boasts of plenty of nice and exquisite rooms to stay in and read a book or meditate in peace. I chose to stay at Suandoi Resort which is located around 1 kilometer outside of Pai city. Though there are relatively cheaper hostels in Pai and In Thailand as a whole. The huge garden, free breakfast, cafe and free yoga sessions I received during my stay at this resort were totally worth it. As a tourist, you can choose to stay in any of the below top resorts in the city.
- B2 Pai Premier Resort
- Belle Villa Resort Pai
- Pai Island Resort
- Pai Village Resort
- Paivimaan Resort Pai
Best Places to Eat in Pai
There are very cool and affordable restaurants in Pai that I can recommend just in case you desire varieties or some of the best places to eat in Thailand. You will need to feel and experience their uniqueness; don’t just take my word for it. The city is a tourist’s delight and you need to make it your next travel destination. You can find both local and continental dishes at the below places:
- Boomelicious Café
- Na’s Kitchen
- The Jazz House
- Earth Tone
- Om Garden Café
Some of them are vegetarian-friendly restaurants. They also offer free Wi-Fi to visitors and have ample parking space and security.
Overall, the city of Pai is located just 4 hours to the North of Chiang Mai Thailand and it is absolutely worth visiting. It would be nice to suggest you pay attention to the nightlife, its local food and simple transportation while touring Pai. I would recommend Pai to every travel enthusiast or tourist. Even if you are not into the night party lifestyle and fun, the natural ambience and serenity you’ll experience around Pai, coupled with its unique vibe is enough reason to add this city to your travel list.