We LOVED Pai. We loved it for its breath-taking scenery, it’s incredible food, the fantastic place we stayed at, but most of all for the huge white Buddha at the top of a huge hill (Wat Phra That Mae Yen), who looks out onto the whole of Pai. Very few monuments have evoked such a feeling of serenity as this one did.
As with most thing in Thailand, it was very easy to get from Chiang Mai to Pai. A bus dropped us off in the town centre and then we hopped in a taxi to our accommodation, Baan Kati Sod, which was nestled away in the trees. We were greeted by lovely cheery staff and a beautiful cat. Our room was beautifully decorated and we had a little terrace area which looked out onto the property’s big garden area. There were various handmade signs around which had obviously been left over from a small music festival which the owners had put on.
Oh and hammocks. There were hammocks. Bliss.
Baan Kati Sod is a little way out of town (about 5/10 minutes by bike) in a much less built up area, just the way we like it. It was so peaceful and once we’d hired a moped, it was so easy to get anywhere.
OH and we were just down the road from Earth Tone, where we ate like kings.
We stayed in Pai for 4 nights and every day we were there, we made our mini pilgrimage up about three hundred stairs to Wat Phra That Mae Yen, (Temple on the hill) where we came face to face with Buddha and with complete stillness. It’s hard to describe how peaceful and humbling it was to sit and meditate at the top of that hill and to look out at the view below. I can imagine that during peak tourist season, excessive noise and hoards of visitors could have an effect on the general atmosphere, but I have no doubt that this temple will evoke a feeling of awe in anyone who takes a few moments to really be present.
We spent one of our afternoons visiting Pai’s hot springs, where as well as bathing in naturally hot water, you can also boil eggs.
Since visiting, we’ve read quite a few reviews saying that people didn’t enjoy themselves at the place was too crowded. I think being there during off-season months meant that that we didn’t have this trouble. We also arrived quite late in the day. The downside to this outing is that, at 300 baht per foreigner, it’s quite pricey. That said, it was all nice and clean and was pretty luxurious to submerge our sweaty bods in incredibly hot water, surrounded by nature. We did however get completely drenched on the way back as the heavens decided to open just as we were leaving, so yea, peaks and troughs.
On what happened to be our 7 year anniversary, we headed to the Chinese village viewpoint, a well known spot amongst travellers. It was a lovely drive through a rural village to get there and once we had parked up, to get to the actual viewpoint, we had to walk through a heart-shaped hole in a fence, which was a nice surprise, considering it was a special day for us. It was at the very moment that we walked through the heart that the red thread I (Amy) had ceremonially had wrapped around my wrist on our wedding day dropped off after eight months. Symbolic?
We each had to pay an entry fee of just 20 baht, which was an absolute steal as we got free green tea to sip as we gazed out at the mesmerising view.
Another of our outings was to Pai Canyon, or Kong Lan as it is known in Thai. It’s an outstanding natural attraction that we thoroughly enjoyed. There are various routes you can take to explore the canyons, some of them are a little easier to navigate than others. We did a fair bit of climbing and there was a bit of hoisting involved too. The view was just amazing.
Pai’s night market was full of cute and quirky stuff. As well as typical touristy souvenirs, there were all sorts of lovely crafts, beautiful handmade jewellery and some seriously impressive artwork.
We spent quite a bit of time just riding around Pai on our bike, getting off the beaten track and exploring the local villages, rolling hills and lush rice fields. There are loads of beautiful temples to see.
We thoroughly enjoyed our time in Pai. Although a lot of the restaurants and shops were there for tourists, we found it very easy to get off the beaten track and explore the real life that was happening around us. We’ve been told that the place gets extremely busy during peak season which I think we would struggle with as we already found the town centre to be pretty busy. That said, a lot of places were closed and various classes and workshops were on hold for the rainy season, so it would be nice to be able to check some of them out.
As usual, we did a lot of eating in Pai, so have saved all the tantalizing foodie photos for a separate blog. Coming soon…