“You will love Pai!”
“Pai is the little place you’ll never want to leave!”
“I went to Pai for two days and stayed for two months.”
“Pai is like a little island in the mountains.”
Everyone has a love affair with Pai
This is what apparently everyone says about Pai. Seems like everyone has some sort of a love affair with Pai. Every time there’s a conversation about Thailand, the first question that comes around is: ‘Oh, have you been to Pai?’
So, I came to check out what the deal was with this so-called ‘a little piece of paradise.’
I’ve been listening to these odes about Pai for ages now, so I had to find out myself.
To be honest, I didn’t use to be a big fan of Thailand. First time I got to Thailand I went straight to the south, got very disappointed and left. I didn’t like that every local was looking at me just as a ‘big walking wallet’ and not a real human being.
I got ripped off probably every time I tried to buy something. I didn’t like the pollution, the sweaty hot weather, everything westernized, the language, and the Europeans who found out there’s cheap booze and shrooms in Thailand.
Okay, truth to be said, I hated it.
“Thailand and I just don’t get along.”
After this experience, I used to say that Thailand and I just don’t get along. People who traveled around understood my experience but kept saying that the north is very different.
So here I am.
Two years after my not very happy Thai experience, I’m giving it a second chance! Exploring the north.
And yes, I’m glad I did it. Pai while still having tons tourists it’s definitely not the true Thailand, yet it has its own culture. The ‘Pai culture’.
The Pai culture
By ‘Pai culture’ I mean a place where everyone comes from a different corner of the world and lives together in harmony with nature. In peace. Mostly. It surely is very westernized but in a better way than usual.
Here, westerners have sustainable businesses helping to save the environment, paying a fair salary to their local staff, and respect the local culture. Most of them.
Land of hippies, vegan sustainable cafes and yoga
You will find beautiful hippies (some real, some fake), vegan sustainable cafes and tons of vegan restaurants, everything bamboo, shops with hard not to buy ‘gypsy’ clothes, yoga classes, meditation classes, all things ‘new age’ such as holotropic breathing classes, chakra healing, and circusy staff…
On the other hand, if you want to stay away from this yogic community you absolutely can. You can just see the mind-blowing scenery around, eat also the ‘carnivore food’, and party or just chill.
It’s got something for everyone.
Now, what are the coolest things to in Pai?
Have a look through my favorites:
1. Go vegan cafes hopping
I wrote a full guide with photos so you can check out and decide for yourself which cafe to try out. I tried them all of course. If you know me, you know how much I love to try out all the coffee shops with their vegan delights in different countries.
In Pai, you won’t find the extra fancy hipster stuff, but mostly just the earthy, bamboo wooden, natural style coffee shops which I’m obsessed with.
2. Pai land split
Imagine it’s 2008 and there’s a strong earthquake that creates a big long whole splitting the ground on your farm. Then you as the farmer decide to turn the big whole on your farm into a free tourist attraction and let people come and get amazed by the big land split. Well, and this is what actually happened and it’s fun to visit.
3. Get a free fresh organic juice from the Roselle organic farm
Oh, I haven’t mentioned that this farmer from the Land split is probably the sweetest Thai person I’ve ever met. His farm is right there and it’s called Roselle’s organic farm.
He offers to everyone his fresh tamarind juice, that is delicious with no added sugars (which you can taste!) and all other snacks from his farm. He gave me probably everything. Bananas, banana chips, pumpkin chips, fresh tamarind marmalade and all of these were just donation based.
You can either give him a little donation or buy a jam or whatever you like from him.
3. Go for a yoga class and a smoothie bowl
Bom bowls’s the place to yoga out. You go for yoga and get one of their delicious smoothie bowls for only 280 baht. Yes, yesss!! Wish I could do that every day.
4. Free meditation class
You can’t say no to a free meditation class. Of course.
3. Pai canyon
This is where everyone goes to watch the sunset. They say it’s a bit like the Grand Canyon in the US but I highly doubt that. If it looks similar to something, then it’s the Grampians national park in Vic, Australia. When I first got here I thought I teleported myself back to Australia. Hah. It’s beautiful though and worth to visit.
4. Learn to drive a scooter
I was so afraid to drive that I spent 5 months in Vietnam (the motorbike capital of the world perhaps) without driving. There the roads were busy and scary. Yet, as I got here I wasn’t scared anymore.
In Pai, the roads are peaceful and empty. It’s the perfect place to learn and build up your confidence. Scooter costs usually around 100 baht/day and the locals are nice so they’ll happily teach you.
Before I rented my scooter the seller made sure I knew how to drive. He went with me on an empty road, showed me how everything works and let me drive by myself for 10 mins. Once he saw I was good to go, he rented me the scooter.
5. Drive around and get lost
Also, without a scooter, you would miss out on so much. The scenery outside is so beautiful that I ended up just driving around for amazing views. Then you can just park somewhere, find a mysterious path into the forest and get lost with having no one but nature around you.
7. Enjoy the time in slow motion
I got to Pai from crazy, busy Hanoi. It was almost uncomfortable how slow and peaceful suddenly everything felt. At first, it felt like I was at the end of the world where the time has entirely stopped. Though eventually, I started to love it. Just went slow with it.
However, if you’re the kind of person who doesn’t like having his environment way too much relaxed, don’t plan on staying there for more than a couple of days. Otherwise, you might get a bit bored (in low season).
8. Stay in a bamboo bungalow
This was probably the highlight of my Pai trip. Usually, I’m not very much of a morning person but in my bamboo hut I usually woke up around 6-7 am. I blame it to the loud birds, frogs, and all the lovely forest sounds. The same, falling asleep with these sounds have never been easier.