Love Strawberry Pai, Thailand

A Slice of Pai

While we relished the chance to stop moving for a month and settle down in our Chiang Mai apartment, a couple of weeks into our stay we were starting to get itchy feet again. So, we decided it was time to get back on the road and take an overnight trip to a much-hyped destination: the hippy mountain town of Pai to eat, relax and explore the northern Thai scenery.

Love Strawberry Pai, Thailand

Journey into the Mountains

We’d heard a lot about the windy, vomit-inducing road from Chiang Mai to Pai and prepared ourselves to be nauseated as we climbed aboard the crowded mini-bus for the three-hour journey. Surprisingly, no-one on the bus had to use the free sick bags and we drove in peace, eyes glued to the windows as we left the smoke-choked streets of Chiang Mai and headed out onto narrower, less congested roads. We watched the landscape turn ever greener as we began ascending the spiralling paths, misty-topped mountains unfolding out into the distance.

Pai, Thailand

Eventually we pulled into the tiny bus station in Pai and set off down the main street. Although we weren’t visiting in high season there was still a very definite tourist presence in the town; everywhere you looked travellers strolled around or lounged in cafes, many sporting dreadlocks, wearing hippy trousers (me included!) or holding a bottle of Chang beer. After finding an incredibly cheap room for just 200B (£4), we grabbed a sandwich and delicious smoothie at one of the many cute cafés and tried to figure out just how we were going to explore the surrounding sites.

Travel Sign in Thailand

Touring Pai

Although we avoid renting scooters in Asia, after asking around and finding out how expensive tours and private cars were, we found that renting a bike was the only reasonable way to get around Pai. It appears that pretty much everyone who visits Pai comes to the same conclusion because there were plenty of motorbikes to choose from; after nervously pulling on our helmets I climbed on behind Andrew and we began, very slowly and carefully, to head out and explore.

Us on a Scooter in Thailand

Coffee in Love, Pai

Almost immediately we were on the road out of town, cutting through the cool air alongside fields set against a backdrop of mountains. Although I love cities, I found myself glad to be out of Chiang Mai breathing the clean air and watching the countryside roll past in a blur of yellows and greens. It wasn’t long before we made our first stop at a place I’d read all about – Coffee in Love, a tiny café perched on the hillside. It wasn’t difficult to see why it was such a popular venue once you pulled over and took in the incredible view beyond, which looked almost like a fake cardboard cut-out it was so perfect.

View of Pai, Thailand

Andrew at Pai Canyon

Our next stop was another well-placed eatery; Love Strawberry Pai. This time we had fun posing amongst all the cheesy statues and strolling among the love trees before heading on to the memorial bridge, built during world war II as part of the infamous Death Railway. We made a short stop at Pai Canyon, a waterfall and a hillside temple before heading back to town for an evening of indulgence.

Transport in Pai

Love Strawberry Pai Statue, Thailand

That night we treated ourselves to an incredible meal at the famous Witching Well which included some tasty apple pie and carrot cake before settling in for what was for me, a relaxing oil massage – Andrew unfortunately had a more painful Thai massage that left him with more aches than he started off with.

The Witching Well in Pai

The Witching Well Desserts, Pai

Despite that, a slice of Pai was just what we needed to refresh ourselves before heading back to Chiang Mai.

Coffee in Love, Pai

  • Simon Lee
    Posted at 09:58h, 25 December Reply

    I think Pai is known for its serenity, Did you guys paid a visit to Pai Canyon? I heard the summit offers some spectacular views over the countryside. But the path to the summit is a good challenge:)


    • Andrew
      Posted at 10:05h, 25 December Reply

      We did stop off at the canyon but we didn’t try the path, it looked a bit too challenging considering we were in flip flops. There were pretty amazing views from where we were though. And you’re right, it was very serene.

  • Steph (@ 20 Years Hence)
    Posted at 07:42h, 27 December Reply

    I’m so glad you guys made it to Pai! It’s honestly been one of our favorite places we’ve been on the trip to date (we stayed there for 2 weeks!), which was a complete surprise as I thought I would hate it there. Instead, I just found the town so charming and relaxing and the surrounding countryside so beautiful… if I could have spent a month there, I probably would have!

    I’m glad you guys took it slow when you headed out on the motorcycle. The roads around Pai are REALLY dangerous—we saw more than our fair share of tourists wandering around with bandages and other injuries, clearly from having tumbled from bikes. It’s true that you really need a bike to really get the most out of Pai, but unfortunately many people don’t have the skills to ride safely and wind up paying the price.

    • Amy
      Posted at 10:48h, 27 December Reply

      We were very nervous (Andrew less so) about riding the bike as we also heard that the roads were dodgy in Pai. If there had been another affordable way to get around we would have taken that instead but we were incredibly careful and it was pretty quiet while we were there. I agree, Pai is beautiful and I hope we get a chance to go back there in April – two weeks there must have been so relaxing.

  • Carmel
    Posted at 06:41h, 29 December Reply

    It’s funny that we’ve been to Pai, but have done almost nothing IN Pai. We went to the waterfalls…I guess that counts. But I agree, it was such a nice retreat from Chiang Mai. The scenery was breathtaking. Every time we turned a corner, there was another vista that felt too good to be real.

    • Amy
      Posted at 13:44h, 30 December Reply

      Yes, Pai is definitely a place to do almost nothing and relax; we didn’t get to the waterfalls in the end, next time maybe. The scenery was so beautiful.

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