Known for its laid-back, hippy vibe, Pai is a 3-hour drive from Chiang Mai, Thailand. Most hostels in Chiang Mai can get you set up with a ticket for a mini-bus; some travelers brave the many, many hills, twists, and turns by renting a scooter as well. I was in Pai for 3 days which proved the perfect amount to fit in everything I wanted to see, but there are a lot of people who fall in love with Pai and never leave. I can’t say I was that enamored, though I did enjoy the relaxed feel and yummy street food.
While I did have a nightmare hostel for one night, I moved accommodation and can fully endorse Carrot on the Moon hostel. The service was great and the free breakfast was amazing.
Scooters scare me, so I rented a bicycle for a day. It’s a little hilly in Pai, so be sure your speeds are up-to-speed before paying anyone. Most people rent scooters to get to the outskirts of town, but Pai is small enough that you can walk to almost everything (besides the day trips below) and don’t need a motorized bike.
Bike – whether with pedals or a motor – your way out to the White Buddha. There are a LOT of steps, but the views are pretty great.
Step into any tour agency and they’ll set you up with a Day Tour of the nearby sights that aren’t walkable. There are a lot of options that you can pick and you choose what you’re most interested in – from the weird like a fake strawberry field to the caves where you explore with a local guide by foot and bamboo raft. Definitely choose a day trip with the caves and sunset at Pai Canyon.
Thailand = elephants. But, it’s 2017 and we’re all aware: do NOT ride the elephants. In most places, they’re treated terribly, so instead choose to help conserve them! Conserve Natural Forests is a start-up NGO that works to plant trees and protect elephants. This half-day trip includes time feeding and bathing the elephants, as well as planting a tree. Win win!
While there are a lot of restaurants in Pai, the only place you really need to know about is the night market. There’s are two whole walking streets full of amazing, cheap food every night! Carrot on the Moon also has a bakery that’s open each night for the night market as well.