A hipster’s paradise with a small town vibe.
So much to do, so much to see.
An abundance of natural beauty EVERYWHERE.
Something for everyone.
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If you were to ask me to write up a tourist pamphlet for Pai, Thailand, I’d most likely write something akin to the above.
Yeah, it’s corny. But it’s kind of a little bit 100% accurate.
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When my TESOL class found out we had a three day weekend in the third week of the course, we immediately started making plans (ha, well some of us started making plans and the rest tagged along. I must admit, I am NOT a planner…something I want to get better at while living abroad).
We wanted to get out of Chiang Mai for a little bit and the obvious choice for many of us was to head to Pai–a small resort town in the Northern mountains of Thailand.
Pai is this expats haven in the middle of Thailand. I saw more Farangs (the Thai word for “Westerner”) during my one and a half day stay in Pai than I have since leaving the United States. It was a little weird, to be quite honest. It didn’t feel quite like Thailand. But that’s absolutely okay…because Pai is it’s own little world. It’s own little oasis to get away to…and everyone needs to get away at some point.
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Honestly, I didn’t realize how stressed out I was from my TESOL course until I got to Pai.
Highlights from our trip included chilling by the sweet pool at our accommodation. Speaking of our accommodation, it was probably the most beautiful place I have ever stayed at overnight.
We ate LOTS of food. Oh man, I love Thailand, but a large Western breakfast in foreign to the people here. The concept of brunch is unheard of. I absolutely LOVE breakfast food and miss it dearly. Never fear, though, Pai–known as it is as a haven for Western expats and travelers–is absolutely filled to the brim with restaurants serving multiple different large breakfast options…and BOY did I take advantage of that–especially since I was aware that they were probably the last large western breakfasts that I’d have in a while.
After getting in Friday and spending the WHOLE DAY with people, I took Saturday for some much needed introvert time. I walked all around the town and the surrounding area and it was absolutely breathtaking…and so relaxing. One of my primary stops along the way was The White Buddha at Wat Phra That Mae Yen. The trek up the stairs was EXHAUSTING and I had to ration my water carefully, but once up there, it was incredible. The White Buddha itself AND the breathtaking view.
While up at the top, the White Buddha towering over me, I took some time to really just appreciate where I am in life and how grateful I am to have this opportunity to teach in Thailand. As tourists came and went, I stayed up there, looking out onto the beauty of Pai, just thinking. I’m not sure how much time passed. Maybe fifteen to twenty minutes. Maybe longer. It doesn’t really matter, though, because I had such a wonderful time taking in everything and just being.
Upon descending, I bought another water at a nearby vendor’s stall–as I had run out of my current bottle while at the top; dehydration was a serious problem by this point (Thailand pro-tip–CARRY WATER WITH YOU WHEREVER YOU GO BECAUSE IT IS FREAKING HOT HERE 98% OF THE TIME! This tip is probably actually applicable to most of Southeast Asia. Seriously. Water. Important. Necessary). I then ventured to the actual Wat of Wat Phra That Mae Yen. It was quiet and quaint and utterly beautiful.
Upon descending the staircase down from the Wat to get back onto the main road, I noticed another staircase directly across the road from the beginning of the steps up to the Wat. Curious, I decided to take them. It was a wooded, secluded area–quite nice, really. At the bottom, I found myself on a road that ultimately led back to the main road up to Wat Phra That Mae Yen.
Back on the main road, I got chased by a (probably) feral stray dog, though managed to escape in one piece; visited a coffee shop that was closing for the day, though the owner graciously stayed open later so she could serve me; and headed back to Pairadise to pack up my things and prepare to head out for the bus ride back to Chiang Mai and orientation with my school’s agent the next day.
My time in Pai was short but sweet. And absolutely 100% needed.
I will be back there one day.
When you fall in love with Pai, there’s no other option but to return.