On Top of Pai, 8 Musts


Pretty much everyone who visits Pai, Thailand extends their stay. This chill little town has been making it onto every backpacker's itinerary if time allows (the only downside being the aggressively windy 3 hour bus ride from Chiang Mai - there are 762 hairpin bends). I logged over a month here and would have extended except the wifi was pretty lackluster and my Visa expired!

  1. Cozy Pai: Only 150-200 thb per night, this spot is a 5 minute walk into downtown Pai and 1 minute up the hill to the famous Circus Hostel. You'll find great little bungalows, shared bathrooms and HOT water. There is a nice social atmosphere here but it's very chill and relaxed - a nice alternative to...
  2. Pai Circus School and Hostel:  Private bungalows are around 300 thb per night, slightly more pricey and the beds are hard as a rock (unless you upgrade to the newly built Presidential dorms) - or 100 thb for a day pass to the pool. What you're paying for here is the EPIC social atmosphere. This hostel has a capacity for 170 guests and has endless activities. This is the only hostel in Pai with an infiniti pool (known to staff as the Beverly Hills of Pai based on the hot topless chicks + shameless flirtation), circus act trainers from 4-6pm every day, a full bar and a small restaurant. And don't forget the Pagoda, this "smoke" friendly portion of the hostel is 4-20, 24-7. Read also: 
  3. Chedi Phra That Mae Yen: White Buddha overlooking Pai. Amazing place of worship and stunning craftsmanship. Recommendation: do not pay for a group tour, rent a motorbike, bicycle or get some exercise and walk. It's only 3.2 km outside of the city.
  4. Om Garden Cafe:  This tiny cafe has a robust healthy menu and is vegan friendly. The vibe is very chill and relaxed along with the prices. Note: They were closed for over 7 months in 2015 for "renovations" and have now reopened, let me know what you think!
  5. Pai Canyon: A preferred spot for sunsets just outside the city. Do not get a tour or van, they're too expensive and limit the fun with time constraints. Make sure to bring your shoes as this place is not very sandal friendly if you want to explore past the first hilltop (or do as I did and go barefoot!).
  6. Doi Mieng Lookout: This is an entire day adventure which requires good motorbike riding ability. Note, your passenger on the back will be walking from time to time as the hill gets steep and typical bikes won't be able to handle 2 people. Do not attempt in rainy season or just after a rain. Also of note, it isn't on most maps and most motorbike companies forbid riding to the Lookout (LOL OOPS). To get here, locate The Land Split and Pom Bak Waterfall, then keep driving straight and up. Some of the road is paved but most is not. There are big ruts and rocks in the road and in some parts expect to get muddy, BUT the view is quite worth it. At the top you can purchase petrol, snacks and beer, but they close up early and the prices are not cheap. Give yourself plenty of time and start early, as it would be a nightmare going down in the dark. P.S. SOMEONE was trying a yoga pose and kicked off the top of the #1 at the top... See photo evidence below! #guilty
  7. Saeng Thong Aram Markets: Local food market with local prices. Walking Street in Pai is great but caters to western tourists with higher prices. This market is local and there are rarely westerners, in the morning you can find fresh fruits and vegetables along with meat + fish. At night many local street food vendors show up. There isn't anywhere to sit and eat (aside from on the curb, which we did), but it's worth it! Of special note: Bags of curry and basil dishes, the pork (beef?) jerky, and the chicken vendor across the street.
  8. Piranha Fishing Park: A very chill + relaxed place to fish and drink cheap gin & tonics.  If you like to fish or just hangout in the shade during the day this is a great place. They have over 25 different fish stocked in the pond and a board listing the biggest of each species caught. Cost: 100 thb for 3hrs to rent 1 pole.

Of special note, The Promised Land is an up and coming party venture in Pai that a Circus friend is launching, looks PROMISING and epic!