If you become a part of the backpacking network in Thailand, you will definitely hear about Pai. I haven't met a backpacker yet who hasn't raved about this small Northern Thailand town. Chances are, if you're following the typical backpacker route, you will more than likely head north to Chiang Mai, but don't stop there. Hop on a 3 hour minibus (along a windy road - so be prepared if you get travel sick!) and you'll arrive at the cute little hippy town of Pai.

So, why Pai? I'll split it into three: 

1) The nature 
When you pull up in the bus, you'll just see a little town ... but venture five minutes down the road (any road) and you'll see the mountains. Hire a scooter in town or from your hostel for as little as 140 baht for 24 hours (some of the slower ones are 100) and get exploring! There is absolutely no better feeling than riding along a quiet country road on a beautiful day, with absolutely no end to the Instagram-worthy scenery around you. Plus, when your destination is Pai Canyon, or one of the many waterfalls and natural springs, you'll be pinching yourself to make sure you're not dreaming. 

My recommendation: take your scooter and check out the Land Split, located on the road towards Pam Bok Waterfall. The guy who owns it used to be a farmer, but when his land split due to seismic activity in 2011, he could no longer farm. The entrepreneur in him decided to make it a tourist attraction (which only runs on donations). When you arrive he welcomes you with the biggest smile and plys you with homegrown produce and juice (plus a small bottle of wine) before/after you go and take a look at the split. It's a great place to stop and refuel (you, not your scooter).

2) The food 
Walk into town around 7pm and you'll notice the streets are significantly more crowded than they were in the daytime, but all for a reason we can appreciate: great street food. You can find all kinds of cuisine here, from Thai to Indian to Mexican, the list goes on. And the best news is you don't need to break the bank to enjoy it; food starts from as little as 20 baht. It's foodie heaven! 

My recommendation: the peanut butter, nutella and banana waffles are TO DIE FOR. 

3) The nightlife 
Now, it's not Khao San Road; the nightlife scene in Pai is a lot more understated. You'll find that the majority of bars will close around 12pm, and backpackers tend to end their night at Don't Cry Bar: a place covered in UV graffiti (including on the punters faces) and ran by rastafarians. 

My recommendation: Spirit Bar was my favourite. I would actually go as far to say it's one of my favourite bars, period. This is a 'secret' garden bar, which you will find if you walk down the alleyway next to the shop of the lady that braids/dreadlocks hair (there's only one). You'll enter into what I can only describe as a magical-looking woodland area, complete with UV decor, cute little cushions to sit on, 100 baht mojitos, a handmade jewellery store, and an acoustic musician. What more could you want from a hippy bar? 

So there we have it, three main reasons to add Pai to your itinerary. I dare you not to like it.

Published by Rachael Porter