Pai is one of those places that I had read and heard so much about I just had to visit. I had heard a mix of reviews, some people couldn’t stop singing the praises of Pai and others were determined that it was “too western”.
I decided I had to visit and make the decision myself and what I would say is, Pai is incredibly beautiful and there is no shortage of stunning sights and unique experiences up for grabs. We traveled to Pai from Chiang Mai by bus, we opted to go for the private mini bus with aircon and it was 100% worth it. The journey is twisty and the bus drivers like to live dangerously so best option is to buckle up and embrace the madness (a car sickness tablet is also recommended)!
After arriving in Pai we rented a scooter and went to our hotel (we splashed out a little here). The next morning we started exploring Pai, and there was so much to see – waterfalls, Chinatown, temples, markets, coffee shops… the list is endless.
I can see the issues people have with Pai, it isn’t at all “traditional Thai” – the food is so westernised, you can get any food you desire in Pai but traditional Thai isn’t too easy to find. The food up for grabs is delicious and the coffee is excellent.
Chinatown is the most unusual sight, the residents are Chinese and they speak Chinese and it is like a tiny slice of China was picked up and moved to Pai. We used our scooter to get to the top and the views were spectacular – there is a small fee to the viewing point but in return you get a pot of tea and a snack.
The markets in Pai were totally different to the rest of Thailand, the food is street food from all over the world but not so much Thai food. The artists and vendors sell really unique and beautiful crafts, I really couldn’t compare them to anything else I have ever seen!
There are so many waterfalls to see in Pai, Mhor Phaeng is the only waterfall I made it to as I slipped on the rocks and broke my tail bone, this put a dampener on the remaining time in Pai and in Thailand as I had to be very careful with what I did and Conor had to carry my bad a lot of the time as it was really uncomfortable. I still made the most of my remaining time I had!
Overall, I would definitely recommend Pai, it was so beautiful and scenic but don’t go with ideas of a traditional Thai experience. Enjoy it for what it is and you will absolutely fall in love as so many people already have.