Best in Pai
I am back in Pai and every day I love this town more and more.
I came here originally for 1 week. It was way too short so I had to come back and now I am staying for a month, yay!
Pai is a cute little town with so much to offer you won’t get bored!!
The reason I love Pai is because, even though it is small, there is a lot you can do around if you rent a motorbike. And even if you don’t want to, the centre of town has some of the best places I have found in Thailand. It’s a great mixture of Thai culture and “westernised” businesses. You can find a wide variety of western food, vegetarian restaurants, trendy cafes and even blues/ jazzy bars.
Another reason I love Pai is the sense of community. Being so small, you bump into people all the time. You find familiar faces everywhere so you stop and chat and it’s great!!! Feels like they are your neighbours. And even if you haven’t met before, because you see some faces so regularly, you start to feel like you know them and it’s only natural to start talking. LOVE IT!
I could go on about it in terms of atmosphere but you have to live it and feel it!!! No words can describe it!! So in the meantime, here are my recommendations for the best places to eat/visit:
Our lady - Ahah there is no other way to describe it! Some of the guys at training call her 'mama', I just called her 'Chinese lady' or 'our lady'. This place is not on the map and doesn't seem to have a name. Definitely not a western name. YOU KNOW YOU'RE IN FOR A TREAT RIGHT?? This place at the opposite end of Walking Street, on the way to the hospital. The best way to identify it is the 2 big rooster statues at the door. Next to it there's a lady selling fruits and flowers. She sells rice with steamed chicken, fried chicken, steamed pork or crispy pork. You can ask half chicken, half pork or whatever you want. You can ask for a smaller or bigger portion. I started joining the guys everyday, after the morning training, for a glorious and huge plate of rice and chicken, (AND THE BEST PART!!!) for only 40B!!!! (It's £1!!!!)
Moonshine – OMG try their Power Bowl – It has rice and black beans at the bottom, 2 fried eggs on top (yes, runny yolk!!!), topped up with a tomato salsa and lettuce. I stayed away from Pai for 2 weeks and craved it all the time! Also try their banana, mango and strawberry smoothie! It’s the best in town! Their drip coffee is my favourite in town and OH MY GOOOOOOD, THEIR COOKIES!!!!!! The place also has a pool table and the atmosphere is great. The owners are genuinely nice and kind, and always make you feel at home. I can’t rave enough about this place. Go see it for yourself! (The only bad thing about this is place is that it closes Wednesday and Thursday ahha).
Om Garden - Okay I feel like a western sucker at this point because this is really a place for the foreigners to spend their money. Don't get me wrong the place is great, the food is UNREAL, but yeah.. it is totally designed for us foreigners that love our posh meals and beautiful sounding menu options. Comparing to Thai places (like 'our lady') this is expensive. But when you compare to prices back at home, it's definitely worth it! It's one of those places where you want to come back every day just to be able to try all their options on the menu.
Espresso Bar - BEST COFFEE IN TOWN FULL STOP. I don't need to say anything else really. It is the best coffee in town! Also has a great sitting area, super relaxing. It's a shame they don't have a wider food offer but I guess, when you're that good at coffee, that's all you need.
Pen’s Kitchen – Cheap and always good food. I go here almost every day! You can always count on a big plate of delicious cheap food so… what else could you need? Plus they always receive you with a smile! They have a Thai and a western menu but I always have the Thai options. I liked everything I had so far but my current favourite is their Stir Fried Green Curry with tofu.
Café de Pai – The biggest breakfast bowl I have ever seen! I always have muesli with yogurt and fruits! That is pretty much a lunch!! Delicious and very generous on the fruit portions. 10min into it, I kept finding new fruits in there… Their pancakes look great too! Haven't tried them but when somebody has them next to me I can't help but to drool. I like this place because it has a top floor and it is usually very quiet up there so you get to be in the middle of all the action, but away from people. The only ‘problem’ with this place for me is, it doesn’t have wi-fi. If it did, I would be there every single day!
Boomlicious – I had their breakfast – scrambled eggs on toast and pesto sauce. Just what you need when you want a bit of home on your plate (and not necessarily the Thai rice for breakfast…). Also tried their Chicken Pesto sandwich and my top favourite is their Mango, Papaya and Passion fruit smoothie. Definitely good food, but again… a bit on the expensive side when you compare it to some local Thai places. I would just say, it lacks a bit of a human touch and more atmosphere.
Charlie and Lek – Good Thai food and cheap. Just not the best for atmosphere and staff are not that enthusiastic. Try their sautéed mushrooms... YUM!
Earth Tone Vegetarian – A bit on the expensive side but worth it! I had their rice bowl with a bunch of different herbs and edible flowers. Super healthy option ( and definitely a new experience) but it was a bit too sweet for me. Total explosion of flavours. Will definitely go back to try their Buddha Bowl though! Also tried their Vietnamese coffee and vegan ice cream. Oh yes!!!! The ice cream is only 30B per scoop and they have different flavours!
Mojo Bar – I don’t even need to mention it. Once you’re in Pai, you will notice it, because during the week, even in low season, it’s the only bar that is always full. They always have good bands playing, either blues or jazzy songs. Really good if you’re into to this type of thing and you’ve past the years of crazy clubbing beats.
Open Mind Centre - Relaxing and the view is just WOW! Not commonly talked about for a good sunset view but look at this picture and tell me what you think....
The sky kept on changing and it turned into a beautiful pick and purple maze, which by then I couldn't capture because I was driving. It is quiet and relaxing, and if you're interested, they have different retreats and meditation sessions.
Sunset View Restaurant – I’m only mentioning this place because it is a good view for sunset. I had read that the food is expensive and not so great here so I decided to just go for a drink. There are 2 places with a very similar name – Sunset Bar and Sunset View Restaurant. The latter is the one you want to be at because it’s higher up in the mountain. When you’re driving there, you will see a sign saying Sunset. Continue going up, on the way to the White Buddha, until you see a sign saying Sunset View. Pretty cool view. Check a quick time-lapse I did, here. (Now… I don’t do the whole drugs thing so I won’t recommend places to do it but, apparently Sunset Bar is where you can get mushrooms. Don’t quote me on that though).
I wasn’t going to mention places to sleep and rest your beautiful face but I have to mention my favourite hostel in town: Pai Cat Hut. Now… I haven’t obviously slept in all hostels and hotels in Pai, but I love this one and, from sharing my opinion with other people, I feel like it deserves a mention.
Pai Cat Hut is right in the centre of town but tucked away enough from the noise. Their dorm beds must be new because it’s the best bed I’ve had in Thailand in 3 months. The dorms are literally 5 beds in a row and there’s no curtains in between but I don’t mind it at all. They give you a towel, soap and shampoo. Coffee and amazing pineapple cookies in the morning, and unlimited bananas the whole day. The place has private bungalows (I think they are 350B for a couple) and a nice garden. You can just sunbathe in their garden, or do some work in their communal area. It’s nice accommodation and saves you from having to go to a coffee shop and spend money. Plus the owners are great too!!! Very genuine! I followed their facebook page and when I checked in the second time I was in town, the lady called me by the name! Isn’t that great!!!?? ALL OF THIS for only 100B a night. It’s the cheapest you can get and… normally the cheapest you can get is a bit crappy but not this one!!
I should also mention one of the nicest places I have ever stayed in!!! Luxury for me is not a super fancy bed and posh appliances. Luxury for me is a nice view and Pai Porpeang Guesthouse stole my heart.
This place is worth every penny (400B). It was one of those places that you look at and you think “If I was a writer, this is where I would settle to write my next novel”. I feel like the pictures don’t make it any justice, so if you can, go and check it for yourself. Our bungalow had a balcony (great for some late afternoon acoustic guitar sessions, with a sunset view), a table and seating area on the other side of the house, and the actual complex had a big platform overlooking the mountains, with tables, seats and hammocks. So quiet during the day, you feel like you’re on your own in the world. And one night we did a picnic with a few friends over some wine and cheese. It was absolutely perfect.
If you are looking for a posh place though, I think I found a pretty good one: Pai Village Boutique Resort & Farm. All for the purpose of research (ahhah), I stayed here 1 night. Yes the bed was great, the linen was top quality, the bathroom was super cute and modern and the outdoor area was super relaxing. But the price for this is 1500B a night. Now, this is a very affordable price back home and would actually be on the cheap side, so If you have budget and want to spoil yourself, then perfect! For my type of travel this is too expensive and to be honest, I rather have the view from Pai Porpeang Guesthouse than all the luxuries in the world. Still, a good stay though!
If you go a little bit further out, there are some amazing places with a great view over Pai. Check out The Container too. There are quite a few other places I want to see and try in Pai, so I will be posting soon about those. I think this post is long enough already.
What about you fellow traveller? Have you been in Pai? What are your favourite places?
Are you visiting Pai soon? Let me know and let’s grab one of those cookies at Moonshine :D