Pai is a popular northern resort town that attracts Thais from all over the country, especially during holiday periods which we had just missed. As a result the half mile wide village is primarily made up of guesthouses, restaurants and bars. Each night a smaller version of the walking street sets up along the main drag and stalls line the street selling handy crafts and food, which makes for a very pleasant evening stroll.
Although the village itself is rather small walk in any direction outside of town, and you are bound to bump into more remote resorts in guesthouses set among rice fields, ranging anywhere from boutique accommodation with a pool to very basic bungalows with shared bathrooms.
After a very windy and hilly three hours in a minivan, Erik and I passed through one of three stoplights in Pai and disembarked, shouldered our packs and wandered off to inquire at the Giant Hostel of Pai. We soon learned that that night a massive Thai rock festival was taking place out in the hills and there were some serious congestion problems at the 300 guest houses of Pai. Luckily we had just come from the Giant Hostel in Chiang Mai, and that connection somehow spurred the staff to move some things around and create an open bungalow for us.
Our riverside retreat was simple enough with nothing more than a queen bed on the floor and a mosquito net, but we found it heavenly with its rustic appeal and wonderful porch covered in colorful mats perfect for a relaxing breakfast as the landscape warms around us.
We also had a great view of the colorful bar, fire pit and stream of reggae music that flows constantly either from a dj or a musically talented guest. This laid back hostel village is everything you would expect: people sitting in circles making friendship bracelets, joints being passed around at the breakfast table and fire dancers.
Despite the laid back vibe that makes any activity seem a task, we did manage to go for a short hike to climb the 300ish stairs to the temple on the hill.
From the top we were rewarded with great views of the village as well as the surrounding mountains. After a few days rest we hope to be roused enough to explore some of the surrounding natural attractions.