North Thailand - The Hippie town of Pai

Mae Hong Son to Pai (Highway 1095)

We caught sight of a village with Chinese styled architecture.  Just outside the entrance, a sign board showed Community Based Tourism. A quick google check on what it means.
"Community based tourism is tourism in which local residents (often rural, poor and economically marginalised) invite tourists to visit their communities with the provision of overnight accommodation. The residents earn income as land managers, entrepreneurs, service and produce providers, and employees."
Intriguing, we made a small detour and realised it also leads the way to Susa waterfall. A suicidal chicken almost became a road kill when it jumped into my path.

The road to the waterfall did not look easy and we had to pay. We decided to give it a miss. So much for supporting community based tourism.

The place looked quite forlorn, I am not sure if any travellers stays there, or even if any travellers know the existence of this place. If any of you stayed there, do drop me a comment on your experience.


At this season, guesthouse are always full or overpriced. We were very fortunate to find available rooms in this cutesy guest house called Oor-U-Pai. Probably due to the guest house being relatively new, it may not have much reception from Pai visitors yet.

The garden was adorned with vibrantly coloured flowers and windmills. Seeing more pretty flowers and plants in the interior and corridors could uplift any guest's mood. Considering the price, the mint state, the prime location and further bargain discount of 3 nights' stay, 500baht per pax a night was very worthwhile.

If you are lazy to lug your big tourer bike along to explore Pai, Oor U Pai also provides bicycles free for guest to use.

What drew our hearts even more to this guest house was the hospitality of the owners - a husband and wife couple. Hot tea, some snacks and fruits were served to us every time we return from a day of venturing. While we were having breakfast in the garden, the owner and his young son wiped the morning condensations off our bike seats.

His young son helped out in the chores of running the Guest House. I think he will grow up to be a fine man after observing how his dad took so much pride in his job.
Chatted with two Ducati biker from Malaysia. They later switched to the bicycles for breakfast hunt.
7am and 6 degrees celsius.
Cutesy buns for sale next door.
Oor U Pai Guest House 
77 Moo.1, T.Wiang Tai, A.Pai, Pai City Center, Pai, Thailand 58130
Tel: 092-2683168
*The owners do not speak much english, the lady boss speaks mandarin.

Pai Night Market

A stone's throw away from Oor U Pai is the Pai Night Market. In the day, the road is just like any other quaint streets, lined with souvenirs shops and restaurants. In the evening, the street sprung to life, bustling with mobile street stalls, buskers and Captain Jack Sparrow doppelganger. The streets are pleasantly thronged with people, filling in the atmosphere but never to the extent of claustrophobia.

The police officer who busked here every night to raise funds helping kids to get through the cold winter.
When we were in his shop, he asked, "Are you from Singapore?" Thailand's Jack Sparrow sells postcards of himself in the different backdrops of Thailand. Some are really funny. There is also a donation box in front of his shop for children's homes. Do drop a donation when you take a photo with him.
One of his postcards. Check out his Facebook page for more photos.
Help the orphaned puppies.
After feeding yourself, you could feed the baby goats as well.
There are myriads of food, local, Chinese and Western, to satisfy your gastronomical desires. The best part is they often come in morsel sizes so you can sample as a wide variety of delicacies.

I was very pleased that vegetarians and vegans are not lacking in food choices there. I sampled spinach lasagna, grilled mushrooms, grilled rice cakes. My favourite of all - the Avocado Mushroom Burger, freshly prepared right in front of you which also means having to wait.

For Muslims visitor, good news that the Halal logo is also a common sight in Pai.

Pai is not a town for the impatient or the unappreciative. It is impossible to enjoy this town rushing through it.
Grilled Mushrooms
More variety of mushrooms.
Yunan grilled glutinous rice cakes

Avocado Mushroom Burger- the mushrooms were sauteed with onions, sandwiched with Avocado, fresh lettuce and mayonnaise.
Pots of different tea to choose from.
His brother.
Seeking warmth from the pots of hot tea.
Purchase the exquisite bamboo cups and subsequent refills for the bamboo cups cost only 10baht (40cents)!
Breathe of condensation enamating out of our mouth. It was really cold.
Halal cakes and pastries.
Surprisingly, Pai's souvenir shops never bores me. Walk to different shops there and you will find that the souvenirs are not filled with the same mass produced items. Each shop expresses their unique artistic style in their postcard, keychains, shirts or even handmade products. A few shops even had tables, chairs and funky stationeries for customer to sit down and decorate the postcards. You can even print postcards from photos in your phones, because capturing a picturesque moment is not difficult in Pai.

Here you can sit outside to doodle on your postcards before dropping them in the red post box.

We met another group of Singaporean bikers and had dinner with them. When we walked passed a stall selling lanterns and fireworks, one of them, Alan, asked if I have played with fireworks before. No, I said. He grabbed and paid for a bunch of fireworks and a paper lantern. We set off the lantern for blessings for our trip and Christmas.

Never did I expect the fireworks coming from that coke bottle sized tube to reach so high up in the sky and explode into a spectacular display of sparkles.

Thank you so much Alan for the fireworks. I was marvelling at them like an excited kid as it was my first time setting off fireworks.

Ninja of Pai.

Pai Yunnan Village

Yunnan people settled in this part of Thailand to escape the communist rule during the Chinese Communist Revolution.

I was struggling to communicate with the tea shop owner in broken Thai and English until she asked me where I am from.

Upon knowing I am from Singapore, she spoke Mandarin. So the locals here speak it. Phew, it made purchasing tea leaves so much easier.

Thai-Chinese, 14% of Thailand population, are one of the the most well assimilated Chinese diaspora in the world - taking up Thai names and most speak Thai. Many had lost their mother tongue. I was surprised that in this part of Thailand, the Chinese diaspora still maintains their ability to speak fluent Mandarin.

We found this cute puppy basking in the sun not giving a hoot to the caress of many human hands.

Human-powered Ferris Wheel.
The village looks and feels like China. The only giveaways are the signboards.

Tham Lot Cave

We took a floating bamboo raft to enter the cave system where the shapes of stalactites and stalagmites are interpreted based on your imagination - animals, foods and ehem, human parts. You can purchase fish food to lure the catfishes to your raft, have them splashing around for a dramatic entrance and experience in the dark.

Alien spawning ground?
Prehistoric painting that is too old to be seen. 

Prehistoric coffin believed to be from Lawa Tribes from thousands of years ago.

Sunset at King Lom Check Point

On the way back to Pai from Lot Cave, we stopped at King Lom Checkpoint to see sunset. Be prepared to pay to take photos with adorable girls in traditional costumes. I was chased around by them playfully because I refused.

Pai Canyon

Pai Canyon 
Any slips, you will be falling 50m.
Somewhere in the middle height of the canyon. Had to cautiously cross this fallen tree trunk.
My balancing skills came to play when walking through this beam like path.
Exploring the bottom of the Canyon alone. You may wish to trek here.

Pai Memorial Bridge

This steel bridge was built by the Japanese during World War II to transport weapons and provisions to Myanmar. There are many also guest houses in this more scenic and tranquil part of Pai.

Overlooking the Pai River.

Pai River.
One of the residents near the river.

Other places in Pai

After spending 4 days 3 nights in Pai, I understand what the rave about Pai is about. Pace of life momentarily slowed down there and constantly being surrounded by pretty things, even doing nothing in Pai is enjoyable itself.
I will just let the photos speak for itself.

Cutesy place with pricey strawberries.

Coffee in Love


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