Where To Eat In Pai
“Even the bad food in Thailand is still worth eating”. We made up this saying, to describe our culinary experience, after a meal in northern Thailand.
While driving in Chiang Mai, we decided to pull over one night for a bowl of soup from one of the typical street vendors one sees throughout the country. Although being deserted, which is usually our signal for “don’t risk it”, it was the first one we saw while particularly famished. About three spoonfuls into it, we noticed small flying ants, which we dubbed “flants”, floating around in our bowls. Turning the noodles over we confirmed that these were not recent casualties – there were several more underneath. Despite the unwanted guests, the soup was actually delicious and extremely flavourful but whether or not we continued to eat it is a story for another time.
Thailand has an overwhelming number of places to eat, there is no arguing that, and Pai is no exception.
Finding good restaurants and food is a large part of what we do when we are travelling and Pai had some great places worth mentioning. Whether you are looking for traditional Thai, other ethnic foods or a little taste of home, chances are you’ll be able to find something delicious while you’re there.
Here are our top picks for a variety of different types of meals and restaurants in Pai
Cheap Thai Food
We often like to go out of the main tourist areas, or at least a little off the beaten path, and find some hidden gems on our own. We found a great little restaurant just off the walking street with some pretty good Thai food at amazing prices. While we couldn’t find a name, we have the directions so finding it may be a bit like a treasure hunt – but who doesn’t like those? If you are on the walking street, head east and turn right at the intersection before the Pai Mae Hong Son Bus Station. Take the second left and then the first right. On the southeast corner of that intersection you’ll find the restaurant, of no distinguishable name. If you just want some tasty and cheap Thai food without the search, Dang Thai Food also serves great dishes and, even though it’s on a busy strip, it maintains an authentic feel. At around 40THB a dish, it’s definitely a restaurant to visit.
For Burger Lovers
It’s true we write a lot about burgers, but when you find a place that can make a great burger, it’s hard not to talk about it! We passed Burger Queen a few times while walking around Pai. We were talking to an expat who happened to mention the property in an offhand comment, and it stuck. Looking at TripAdvisor reviews had us thinking about it even more. We had just driven back from the outskirts of Pai in the pouring rain, had dried off as best we could and were getting pretty hungry when we decided we wouldn’t bother hunting down a restaurant, we’d see how good the burgers at Burger Queen were. They were amazing. Between us we had a classic burger and the Hawaiin burger and a side of homemade fries and ate pretty much in silence after the grunts of enjoyment with our first bites. This place definitely satisfied our burger craving and we highly recommend it to anyone looking for a bit of Western fare in between all the amazing Thai food you’ll find in Pai.
Breakfast, Coffee, and A Great Vibe
While socializing on the walking street, Om Garden Café was recommended to us for a breakfast spot. We found it cozy and tranquil and quite unique with it’s tropical garden hideaway feel. The service was impeccable, the coffee was a perfect start to the day and there was a great selection of meals on the menu. Delicious food with reasonable prices, this is also a great place to do some work (they have free WiFi) or read a book and relax.
Want A Full Guide To Pai And How To Get There?
Walking Street, Street Food
No, we’re not suggesting that fried insects are the best option in Pai – although we can’t say as we haven’t tried them – but you can definitely find a wide range of food on the walking street. We’ve already raved a bit about Grandma’s Pancakes, but we thought it was deserving of another mention. You’ll find many food vendors along the walking street with a wide variety of food. Meat skewers, pad Thai, fried insects – you’ll find it all but the one we thought was the most enticing and delicious was this little stand, with a little woman, serving little pancakes that were big in taste.
You can get 10 regular pancakes with syrup for 30THB (around $1) or enjoy a variety of different flavours for slightly more. She’ll make chocolate, chocolate banana, Nutella pancakes and even savory ones like sausage and egg pancakes. We stopped several times during our time in Pai to grab an order of pancakes from the friendly, little woman serving them from behind a small stand.
Desserts And Some Coffee
We’ve also mentioned Pai Siam as it was one of our favourite places to stop for a coffee on the walking street and was also the place that led us to find our little oasis in Pai, Soi One Bedrooms. If you’re looking for some good café style beverages and some homemade desserts, Pai Siam Bistro is a great place in a good location with reasonable prices. Located in the middle of the walking street, beside a handmade lampshade business of the same name, Pai Siam, this bistro is tucked behind their gellati stand and is definitely worth the visit.
Stay tuned for our third, and last, part of “How We Slice It – A Guide To Pai” where we will provide information on some of the attractions in Pai.
Travelling to Pai? You can read part one of “How We Slice It – A Guide to Pai” and discover a few great accommodations in Pai for a variety of budgets and preferences.
You can also find our tips on how to get to Pai, and about our drive from Chiang Mai to Pai
Comment below and tell us if you would finish a delicious bowl of soup seasoned with “flants”!