During the 3 hour drive from Chiang Mai to Pai there are 762 turns… It’s actually a thing printed on t-shirts and “Over the Hills and Far Away” can really seem to ring through your mind on the way there. When you go to google maps the trip looks like a straight line more or less. That is until you zoom in and see that the snake seems to have taken a certain kind of hallucinogen.
Flying down the long runway though into that valley far away, you’ll find Pai. Once just a checkpoint for people doing trekking or rafting trips, Pai has now become a fun little town especially for the hippy-esk traveler. Imagine a 4 intersection village in the middle of friken nowhere where you are free to experience nature in it’s “true and magical” form. It really does feel like its own little planet however in being so secluded from everything else. Travellers who come here try to stay longer than expected and end up buying new wardrobes to adapt to the colder climate from the altitude. Here, we’re talking about a week or even a month commitment sometimes. The most exciting way I saw how people stayed was to become a juggler of flaming pins or hoolahoops in order to keep a free bed at “The Circus Hostel”.
Besides the show and the rustic strip of bars, there is also the typical night market in Pai which seems difficult to contain given the size of the town. Outside there are also some waterfalls, a pretty good sized canyon, some hot springs, and of course a buddha sitting on top of a hill overlooking it all. You can go on a trekking or rafting tour or organize your own I assume, however I came across a vegan cooking class and so that is what my main expense went to. It felt good to not only experience and incorporate the local culture, but to also know that all the way out here veganism is becoming a regular and accepted thing.
In any case, that’s Pai ; a party village surrounded by otherwise very quiet nature for many miles. It’s its own little planet and if you want to stay longer make sure you buy a poncho!
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