When travelers say they’re headed to North Thailand, perhaps after hopping around the magnificent islands down south, people automatically think of Chiang Mai. Although the City of 789,456 temples (numbers may not be factually correct) is beautiful in it’s own way Pai, further North, holds something more special to me.
I’ve had the pleasure of spending 1 week in each City but this little gem in the mountains will stay in my mind and here’s why…
1/ Walking Street
By day hippy travelers wander the main street of Pai and lounge in sun drenched vegan cafes wearing the largely popular tie dye attire you can pick up at any store. Grab yourself a muesli bowl and banana smoothie ~ you’ll fit right in.
By night Walking Street is lined with the fabulous night market stalls selling quirky jewellery and delicious food, plus Avocado EVERYTHING! Don’t worry you’ve escaped the infamous beach parties of the south, in Pai they chill during the evenings and most bars close before 12 with the one exception of the popular bar ‘Don’t Cry’ ~ expect to get emotional after a few buckets or ‘mushroom shakes’ here.
2/ The Food
Pai is all about the hippy life and to live like a free spirit you gotta eat like one too! This was music to my ears being a dairy free, plant eating health freak, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on as many banana shakes, raw brownies and sweet potato dishes as possible! Pai certainly delivered. I recommend grabbing a smoothie for a mere 20 baht (about 50p) for breakfast, there are a million flavours from strawberry to avocado. Then always patrol Walking Street for delicious night market food, the BBQ’s and crepes are to die for.
I was obsessed with an all raw cafe at the bottom of the White Buddha in the mountains of Pai – called Earth Tone Cafe. I highly advise you grab a dessert whilst you’re here.
3/ The People
When you thought Thai people couldn’t get more laid back or happy, you entered the ‘island in the mountains’ – a new meaning was bought to the land of smiles here and it was the first time I’ve actually partied with the owners and staff of where I’ve stayed. They joined us for the Pai Reggae Festival and I don’t need to go into detail about how crazy that night got…
4/ The Views
One of the many reasons Thailand is my favourite country of my travels to date is due to it’s diversity. When describing it’s beauty to people from the flawless beaches in the south to the green rice fields of the North, Pai will now bring a new landscape to mind. Rolling green mountains as far as the eye can see, parted by locals fishing in the small river and yogis enjoying the perfect sunsets.
5/ The Adventures
Pai isn’t boring for a second. Rent a motorbike and you’re likely to come across a jungle hike, amazing waterfall or beautiful temple within 10 minutes. Do the traditional activity or watching the sunset at Pai canyon, just don’t slip from it’s narrow walkways! Also get off the beaten track and pay a visit to The Land Split – a very underrated activity in my eyes. The owner had his farm split by an earthquake but hasn’t let it deter him – he now allows people to walk the farm and try all the produce he grows there for whatever donation price you like.
A group of us dived into his homemade jam, banana chips, sweet potato, fresh papaya and shots of rice wine. It was unforgettable.
Next time you’re planning to visit this corner of the world consider more than the craziness of the South or the bustle or the cities and venture to this haven which holds a piece of everything – including yummy cake!
Watch the Pai vlog now…
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