Thailand, we love your white sand beaches and fruit smoothies but that’s not all there is to see here — I mean with a name like Pai (pronounced just like pie), it’s gotta be good right? This little Thai city is a-dorable. If you go up to Chang Mai during your trip to Thailand (by the way that shouldn’t be an “if” — we put Chiang Mai as our #1 experience in our Thailand Destination Guide) make a stop at the nearby town of Pai for a weekend of artsy cafes, rolling green mountains, awesome Mexican food and kayaking through caves. Um, yes please! It makes for a perfect weekend getaway, or plan on doing both Pai and Chang Mai in 4-5 days.
Don't miss out on some beach time, but for a cute weekend exploring cafes, caves, mountains and Mexican food — I’m serious about the awesome Mexican food here — come to Pai. Volunteers, come see what this artsy and quirky city has in store for you:
- The Food!
- See Some Nature
- Sunrise At The Chinese Village
- How To Get There
- Where Should I Stay?
There is good Mexican food in Thailand. I repeat, there is good Mexican food in Thailand! You really miss things like salsa and tacos when you travel abroad but not if you visit Pai. This small city is bursting full of chill and artsy cafes with great food.
Check out Cafecito for big old burritos and fabulous vegan shredded pork tacos. Vegan pork tacos are actually made from delicious and magically marinated mushrooms. Don’t be skeptical, I'm not kidding - it’s yum. And you can sort of eat pie in Pai which is just too much fun if you order the Key Lime pie/cheesecake. The carrot cake is also top notch.
Here's the address: Pai, Pai District, Mae Hong Son 58130, Thailand
See Some Nature
I know you know Thailand is beautiful and breathtaking, but this is a whole other kind of pretty. Pai is up in the mountains which means you have green rolling hills all around you, where there aren’t waterfalls, hot springs and ancient caves, that is. Think soaking in the hot springs, or hiking the waterfalls…or even kayaking through the caves. You can even do some rafting or float down in tubes. Sounds dreamy.
Your hostel could be able to help you book up a few day trips to explore those rolling green hills. The Pai Wiki-Travel page also has some good info on what there is to do.
Sunrise At The Chinese Village
I said this already, but Pai is up north in the mountains so it does get a bit chilly, especially in the mornings. Wear a light jacket before scooting up to the Chinese village to see the sunrise over the green rolling hills. Though you will have to get up pretty early and it will be chilly, you will beat the crowds that come later in the morning and afternoon.
Head up to Santichon by telling cab driver (or plugging this address into your map and riding a bike there):
How To Get There?
A lot of volunteers talk to their Local Coordinator about hiring a car to take them to Pai from their ILP home city, but you can also book a bus that can take you to Pai from the popular city of Chiang Mai.
It'll cost about 150 baht each way to get to Pai from Chiang Mai — just head to the old Arcade Bus Station and book your ticket. You ca
Head's up — If you get car sick load up on motion sickness medication (there's a very curvy road with around 700 curves that you'll need to take to get there ... but it's worth it!)
Where Should I Stay?
There are lots and lots of hostels to choose from, but if you want recommendations from past ILP volunteers, here they are:
"We stayed at Deejai Backpackers. The staff was very friendly, accommodations were decent, and the view was insanely beautiful".
"Jikko Harem is the place to stay (it's cross between a hotel and a hostel and we booked it on Booking.com). The owner usually does a BBQ every other night and he has a tuk tuk he will take you into town on. Also, if you book a tour through his hostel it will take you to the Lod caves, waterfalls, hot springs, and the canyon for 500 baht a person".
Head's up — both of these pictures were taken at the Jikko Harem — so cute!
And that’s just the highlight reel. Plan in some time to walk the main road and poke your head into the little shops (and we won’t judge if you go back for another burrito) and see where Pai takes you!
Think you need a little more Thailand in your life? Come check out our blog about places to visit and other travel tips. Learn more about this country by clicking that green button right there: