There is something about Pai that sucks you in and keeps you there. I came for 3 nights. I stayed for 6. It’s a backpacker’s haven, just so easy to exist here, very chilled out. I started in a hostel in the middle of town for 4 nights then moved’ across the river for 2 more, where up the hill a bit there is Darling Viewpoint Hostel which lives up to it’s name.
The route there from Chiang Mai has 762 curves, which all the t-shirts you find on the stands in Pai will remind you of. I went via mini van, me and 6 dutch people…..unfortunately I no better understand dutch now then I did before but hey, they were all really nice.
Arriving in Pai I immediately thought oh no, everyone is on a motorbike! There is no way I was going to attempt to ride one, my sense of balance when it comes to vehicle’s is pretty shocking. Plus I met plenty of people with bandages from bike accidents! But it all worked out, plenty of tours available and people willing to take you on the back of theirs (just make sure they can drive one first!).
Pai is essentially a few street, the main one being ‘ Walking Street’ which has lots of street food in the evenings as well as the bus stations, bike rental, tour companies and a couple bars. In the evening pretty much every backpacker in Pai (and there is a lot) will wander up and down this street eating and chatting.
Across the river you can also find bungalows and more guest houses, and it’s much more relaxed (which is saying a lot as Pai is very chilled out).
My first night my friend Goody from Chiang Mai was in Pai and we met up and along with my dorm mate Nicolas went a long to a couple bars, then me and Goody ended up at Don’t Cry which is a rasta bar on the outskirts of town, it was awesome there was a fire pit and a whole bunch of people, really fun.
All the bars in Pai close at 12 in the center, so that’s when people head out to Don’t Cry and further onto Sunset bar.
There are also tonnes of dogs around and they can get a bit grrrrr at each other, kinda crazy seeing them scrap in the main street when everyone is walking around them munching street food!
Next day I met 2 English folk and 2 Canadian girls, and headed off on a taxi tour with them, where we went to a hot springs for a couple of hours and then to Pai canyon, where we had a walk/scramble and then watched the sunset.
Next day I ended up at the pool with a couple Scottish girls and an American dude, and then we walked up to the giant White Buddha and watched the sunset from there. I also saw Aaron who I’d met in Bangkok there, with another English guy named Alex.
That evening me and Nicolas headed out. He’s German and we met a bunch of other Germans too, and ended up having a great night, first up at Circus hostel where there was techno being blasted out (until the police shut it down!!) and people doing fire poi. Then to Sunset bar, getting back at 4am I think.
Me and Nicholas headed off on a tour the next day, with a great mixed group including 2 Spaniards, a Portuguese, a Dutch and 2 Danes along with us 2. It was quite a fast tour but we did see a lot and were all tired by the end!
First up was a waterfall with some amazing views.
Then we went to a natural hot springs.
Then a viewpoint, but we were more interested in the giant swing! We completely unbalanced it and trying to get it going (my job was mainly to try and help the 4 on it swing!) was one of those hilarious times that helps make traveling so awesome!
We finished up in Lod Cave which was so much fun! You are guided by 2 local women (can’t remember if they were Thai or from one of the local hill tribes) through the cave and are taken on bamboo rafts for a few minutes to another entrance where at dusk there are so many swallow’s going crazy!!
In the cave you also see a cave painting of a dog and old coffins. And Bats! So many bats!!
When I moved to the next hostel it worked great as I was in a room next to Aaron and Alex. Alex is vegetarian and we were also hanging out with Eddy (vegan) and Amy. So me Alex and Eddy figured a great restaurant for our dietary requirements and the 6 of us went out and had great food, before heading out to the bars. We met Becky who blogs at www.jetsetterjones.com so go check her blog out 🙂
The next day me and Becky jumped on the back of motor bikes Aaron and Alex had rented and we went and checked out another waterfall which was cool and then had a chilled evening. A particular highlight was watching the moon disappear beneath the mountains around Pai at around 1:30am. That was very cool.
So Pai I love you, but it was time to drag myself away back to Chiang Mai for a night then onto Chiang Rai!