Pai, Thailand. Tucked away in the mountain valleys of Thailand’s northern countryside. A place where tranquil views of rice paddy fields and waterfalls attract tourists looking for a peaceful retreat, and perhaps some meditation, from more hectic cities. After we decided to travel to Pai ourselves, we understand the appeal it has for tourists and expats in the country: lazy morning walks, motorbike rides through lush jungle and stunning landscapes, afternoon indulgences in good coffee and food and evenings spent browsing the nightly walking street.

What To Know When You Travel To Pai, Thailand

The desire to visit Pai while in Thailand has been steadily growing, but there are a few things to know before you venture all the way to this more secluded area. We’ve made our way on our own by scooter from Chiang Mai to Pai, we’ve scoured for the best accommodations to suit our needs, we’ve explored Pai and the surrounding area for things to do and we’ve dined at some amazing restaurants while there… and through all of it we’ve come away with some tips we think are important for anyone who wants to travel to Pai.

1. Choose Your Method of Transportation Wisely

drive to pai, road to pai, chiang mai to pai, how to get to pai, thailand mountain roads

The majority of people who visit this mountain valley town, head from Chiang Mai to Pai and there are several ways to do so. If you’re looking to visit Pai, you’ll want to take a look at your options and judge which makes the most sense to you.

The most popular method of transportation is by minibus or larger air-conditioned bus. The minibus is the quickest way to get there but with 762 turns to navigate, motion sickness is incredibly common and driving on a tight schedule, you’ll not be making many stops. Though it’s only around a 3 hour drive, we recommend taking this only if you’ve got a pretty strong stomach and need to get there in a hurry! At approximately 150-200 THB each way, it is also one of the cheaper options for getting yourself to Pai

If motion sickness is sure to be a problem, the air conditioned bus offers a bit less sway, though those 762 turns will still be felt. This method will take longer but will be more comfortable and will ring in a slightly cheaper tab at 100-150 THB. If you can afford to take more time to get there, we’d recommend this as it offers some more comforts.

If you’re looking for adventure, you can always rent a motorbike and drive the exhilarating route from Chiang Mai to Pai. Be forewarned: This is not a method to be taken lightly and should only be attempted by those who have experience riding motorbikes and who are comfortable with long drives on uneasy terrain. It is a route known to be prone to motorbike accidents as drivers take corners at unsafe speeds not anticipating the difficulty of the road.

Having said that, we drove from Chiang Mai to Pai and back again on motorbike and had one of the most amazing times! We took it at a comfortable pace, made sure to gas up when we could and kept hydrated. If this is something you’re looking to do, we have even more tips on getting from Chiang Mai to Pai by motorbike, including where we rented our motorbike. This method will also cost you about 200THB minimum per day but will give you the freedom to come and go as you please and eliminate having to pay for transportation once in Pai.

You can also rent a car to travel to Pai and make the ride more comfortable all around but it will increase your expenses, so price this out beforehand and explore your options!

The last main method of getting to Pai is by plane and it is also the most expensive. You’ll save time on the actual trip (only about 30 mins from Chiang Mai) but will add on time getting to and from the airport as well as time spent in the airports themselves.

Whichever method you choose, think wisely whether it is the right one for you. There are pros and cons to all options and as Pai is not the most easily accessible of places, you’ll want to be sure you’ve picked a method of transportation that offers you the safest and most comfortable option that fits within your budget.

2. Rent A Motorbike In Pai If You Didn’t Drive Up On One… But Don’t Learn There!

If riding a motorbike to Pai is not your idea of a good time, you’ll be getting to Pai with only your own two feet to get you around. For the most part, this is all you need, but if you have an urge to explore, you’ll need to either hop on a tour, hire someone to take you around or rent a motorbike once you get there. Bike rentals will be a little more expensive here than in the larger city of Chiang Mai, but they’ll still be decently priced. There are however, some key details to consider before, and while, renting a scooter in Pai.

  1. The same rule applies here as anywhere else when renting a bike: do a full check of the bike before hopping on, you may want to take photo and/or video documentation of any scratches or dents before you leave the rental place with images of it in the background
  2. Ensure you have insurance or are insured by the rental company, and
  3. Make sure you have a proper and fitted helmet

Most importantly, when talking about Pai, is do not use this opportunity to actually learn how to drive a motorbike. We can’t tell you how many patched and bandaged people we saw walking around Pai when we were there. It is a popular place for people to rent their first motorbike and the combination of new drivers, small streets, hilly terrain and many, many people can create a less-than-optimal place to ride, especially if you’ve never done so before.

3. Book Your Accommodations Strategically

While this mainly applies to those who are driving a scooter or car to Pai, or those who plan to rent a scooter once there, it is a good idea for anyone heading to Pai. Though there is a main stretch of road with accommodations throughout, there are also outlying hotels and hostels. If you’re planning on having a motorbike with you, you’ll want to make sure the place you book has parking available as it is not always simple or easy to park along the walking street overnight. Since you will have a bike, you are obviously able to make your way to and from the main areas and have a bit more room to negotiate where you’ll be staying. If you have a car, you’ll definitely need to find an accommodation in Pai that has the space available.

If you’re not looking to rent and are relying on your own two feet or hiring transportation once in Pai, you’ll probably want to make sure you are located somewhat centrally to the walking street or the activities you are looking to do once there. We’ve put together some of the best accommodations in Pai and have also reviewed one of our favourites, right on the walking street, Soi One Bedrooms.

4. Explore Outside The Main Strip

Pai Mountain View THailand

Though it’s tempting to keep things easy and stay within the main area of Pai, you’ll be missing out on a ton of beautiful scenery and great things to do.

Head out and visit Pai Canyon, drive through rice paddy fields and beautiful mountain landscapes, explore the various waterfalls nearby and find marked, and unmarked, viewpoints that will leave you speechless.

There are various things to do and see like the War Memorial Bridge on the outskirts of Pai, Wat Phra That Mae Yen – the temple on the mountain, Pai Piranha Fishing Park, The Chinese Village and yoga classes or retreats.

Pai can be as eventful or as relaxing as you make it but getting out of the main area and walking street will give you a wide range of things to do in Pai, no matter your purpose for your trip there!

5. Visit Mae Hong Son

This is one thing we didn’t get to do on our visit to Pai, but really wish we did. Heading even further north, you’ll reach Mae Hong Son and if all the talk in Thailand was true, it’s a beautiful area not to be missed. If you can add this stop to your trip, you might want to do so! Though growing in popularity, it is still less tourist-packed as many other areas in Thailand and offers some of that classic Northern Thailand scenery and tranquility.

Mae Hong Son also borders Myanmar, so depending on the current Thai tourism laws (please check these before you travel to Thailand) you may be able to do a border run if needed or use this as an entry way on to visit another country! It’s only 2-3 hours drive from Pai and you can drive your rental car or scooter or take a bus straight from Pai. If you do go, let us know what you think and show us photos – we’re anxious to get back to northern Thailand and find out for ourselves!

6. Visit The Walking Street More Than Oncegrandmas pancakes pai vendor on walking street

If you can, depending on how long you are there and what your itinerary entails, heading to the walking street more than once is a definite must. Now, you may get there and think that you’ve seen all you can see with one walk up and down it… but you’d be wrong. We found that we saw new things, paid attention to different vendors and watched new stands pop up each night we ventured out.

Taking another walk along the street also allows you to try new food vendors that you may not have had a chance to try previously – whether you were just too full from the other food you bought, or you missed seeing them altogether! In fact, it wasn’t until our second night strolling the walking street that we stopped and bought something from, what is now, our favourite Pai Walking Street vendor – Grandma’s Pancakes! We liked it so much, we went back the next day to try a different flavour (because you just can’t resist some Nutella on your pancakes!)

7. Meet People

Whether you’re sitting in a coffee shop, in a common area of your accommodations, dining at a restaurant or walking the walking street, be open to talking to others – you’ll find locals and tourists alike are extra friendly and open to meeting new people! Of course, you’ll want to take regular stranger-danger precautions like you would anywhere (be smart!) but you’ll also learn quickly that the people who live and visit Pai are by large a pretty friendly and talkative bunch.

We met some travellers in a coffee shop looking for help with WiFi who we passed by several times while in Pai and said ‘hello’. We met a couple on the walking street one night who gave some amazing restaurant recommendations and we met two backpackers at our hostel with whom we became fast friends and still stay in touch with!

Pai is really no different than anywhere else – if you put yourself out there, you’re bound to meet good people and make friends – but because of the close proximity to, well, everything and the small space most people are occupying, it’s easier to keep bumping into the same people and getting to know the familiar faces!

8. Find Time to Relax!

This is a place for relaxation, meditation, yoga, etc and even if you’re not into that it’s not a bad idea to take some time to live in the moment and appreciate the beauty of your surroundings. Chances are you’re visiting Pai from Chiang Mai or Bangkok, or are headed to one of the busier cities at some point. Though we love the activity of the large cities and can often be found in them, it is nice to take some time away from it all.

If you travel to Pai you’ll also get a good glimpse into life in the northern, and remote, areas of Thailand. That includes a more tranquil landscape and it’s nice to be able to tap into that and appreciate the beauty of the country.

9. Try The Coffee

Coffee Hill Rest on drive to pai

Northern Thailand does coffee good! So good, we’ve even listed 5 top cafes in Northern Thailand to find good coffee while you’re there. One of them just happens to be on the way to Pai, but even if you’re not navigating your own way there, there’s plenty of good coffee once you get there. We tried different cafes and coffees while in Pai and you’ll probably be hard pressed to find a bad cup of joe!

If you’re a coffee lover, this will be a paradise for you and if you’re not, there are plenty of fresh fruit juices and teas to satisfy whatever beverage craving you have!

10. Do Your Research Before You Take A Tour!

While walking the streets of Pai, you’ll probably see signs or be approached by someone for a tour to the outlying areas, particularly tours that include a visit to the “Longneck” people of the Karen Hill Tribe. Before you make a decision to go, we’d recommend doing some research into this industry. Much of the “tribe life” you’ll see, including the neck rings, are maintained for tourism reasons only and many people feel it is exploitation and harmful to the people of the tribe. Whatever you decide, it would be beneficial to look into the issue and decide whether it’s something you’re still interested in, and comfortable, doing or not.


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As coffee shops are often our go-to places to get some work done, we’ve spent our fair share of time in cafes, sitting in front of our laptops with a hot (usually iced for Macrae) cup of coffee in our hands. Thailand, like many countries we’ve visited, has a ridiculous number of coffee shops. It often leaves you wondering how they all manage to stay in business.

We’ve come across some interesting cafes throughout the whole of Thailand but none that serve a coffee as delicate and smooth as those of the North. There is something magical about the mountain coffee bean in that region. While touring up there we had the pleasure of visiting some great places that not only serve up a mean cup of coffee but usually ended up surprising us with the quality of their food and baked goods. We found a few cafes in Northern Thailand that we just had to tell everyone about!

Losing Yourself In a Cup of Thai Coffee – Best Cafes in Northern Thailand

There are many cafes that we stumbled upon, and many more to be found, but we’ve listed the top 5 cafes in northern Thailand that stood out for us, starting with number 5 and working our way to, what we think, is the best. All of these can be found in the north of Thailand, be it Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai and, let’s not forget, Pai.

#5 Café Amazon

Cafe Amazon Thailand Coffee, one of the best Cafes In Northern Thailand

Amazon Cafe is a great spot to go for a quick morning coffee or a stop during a long scooter ride when nothing else is around. Cafe Amazon has a convenient number of locations across Thailand, usually as standalone shops around gas stations along major roads and highways. Fill up on gas and get your coffee fix at the same time. The coffee is pretty good but we didn’t end up trying any of their attractive looking baked goods.

#4 Pai Siam Bistro, Pai

pai siam bistro thailand, one of the best Cafes In Northern Thailand

It’s as though there is some kind of force from the gods that brings people to visit, and fall in love with, Pai. It may be because it is a quiet town surrounded by mountains and gorgeous rice paddy fields, or that the journey to this place, from Chiang Mai to Pai, is a treacherous drive through the mountains that makes it seem like all other forms of civilization are beyond physical reach.

Pai Siam Cafe Pai Thailand, one of the best Cafes In Northern Thailand

Finding Pai Siam in this sleepy town was a godsend. With its delicious cakes and cookies, it brewed, in our mind, some of the best coffee around. We even found out about the affiliated beautiful boutique hotel, Soi One Bedrooms, while we were there and enjoyed a blissful last night in town. You could truly lose yourself in the peace and serenity of Pai and like many that have traveled here, you may find yourself staying for a very long time.

#332 Coffee Hill, Off Hwy 1095 to Pai

Coffee Hill Rest on drive to Pai, one of the best Cafes In Northern Thailand

During our 762 hair-raising turns through the mountains to Pai we chose to stop at 32 Coffee Hill for a break. This place offers some amazing local coffee, fruit shakes and some truly incredible views of the mountains.

The only way of ensuring a visit to this café is by navigating your own way to Pai – either by renting a car or a motorbike. Keep in mind that f you take a minibus from Chiang Mai to Pai your chances of stopping here are slim-to-none as they stop infrequently. This is a great place to take a break from the drive and grab some coffee, made from those delicious mountain coffee beans, before continuing on your way.

#2 Namton’s House Bar, Chiang Mai

Namtons House Bar Coffee, one of the best Cafes In Northern Thailand

While staying at the chic Swiss Lanna Lodge in Chiang Mai, Namton’s House Bar was recommended as a great place to eat. It was clear upon entering, that Namton’s has mastered the trendy-meets-comfort feel. Patrons are warmly welcomed even if just stopping for a coffee (iced of course) or a drink after a long day behind a computer. We would recommend it for more than just that – the food at Namtons is exquisite.

Teat in Namtons Chiang Mai, one of the best Cafes In Northern Thailand

The chef, “M”, is self-taught, loves his job and has a passion for food that shows through his culinary work. The menu is inspired by Japanese cuisine and each dish is a flavourful, delicious plate of perfection. If you’re looking for great coffee in Chiang Mai, you’ve found the place, but if you venture to order something off the menu, you won’t be staying for just one cup.

#1 Polar Boulangerie and Patisserie, Chiang Rai

Polar Cafe Chiang Rai Thailand, one of the best Cafes In Northern Thailand

After a long day of riding to Chiang Rai from Chiang Mai on our trusty steed (150cc SkyDrive Scooter) we opened up the TripAdvisor app (like every other time we didn’t feel like venturing out and finding a place on our own to eat) and right at the top, rated #1 for breakfast restaurants, was Polar Boulangerie and Patisserie, we found it intriguing that a cafe was ranked #1 and we just had to check it out.

Walking in it looked similar to every other cafe we have ever been to: cookies and cake in their baked goods counter display, a chalkboard menu and some smartly placed decor. We ordered some breakfast, tea and iced coffee. The breakfast was great – it was a western style spread – and the tea and coffee was exceptional.

Polar BOulangerie and patisserie Chiang Rai Thailand

What stood out was the coffee, just like everything else here, is reasonably priced and you get more than what you would expect. The iced coffee comes in a mason jar – yes like the one your grandmother used to jar her homemade jam. Now that’s enough coffee to get you through the whole day! There is no fluke that this is #1 on TripAdvisor.

Our Continuing Quest For Great Coffee

pai siam coffee art

We continue our search for good coffee in every town and city we visit and love when we find a cafe that not only satisfies our craving for a great cup of java but is also a place we feel we need to recommend to others. You can definitely expect to find more suggestions on cafes and who knows, you may even bump into us!


You Can Do It Too!

Ours is considered a digital nomad life. We move from place to place bringing our work with us as we go. We generally don’t know what it will be like when we head to a new place and usually rely on coffee shops as good places to do work and connect to WiFi – our mobile offices around the world. Sometimes, when we step inside a coffee shop, set up our computers and take a sip from our mugs we feel like we’ve stepped outside the often crazy world of travel and the unknown and we feel a bit like we are home.

Travelling in northern Thailand and looking for a great cup of coffee? You can find the above mentioned cafes at the following locations:

Amazon Cafe – All over northern Thailand, usually at rest-stops and gas stations

Pai Siam Bistro – located along the Pai Walking Street, you can find this Bistro beside and behind the Pai Siam Shop which sells beautiful handmade lampshades

32 Coffee Hill – You’ll find 32 Coffee Hill on your way to Pai from Chiang Mai along highway 1095.  For GPS coordinates use: 195 Moo 4 T.Papae, Chiang Mai Ban Pa Pae 50150

Namton’s House Bar – this great coffee shop and restaurant can be found at 196/2, Chiangmai-Lumpuhn Road, Muang, Chiang Mai East of the Ping River.

Polar Boulangerie and Patisserie – While in Chiang Rai, you can locate our, and TripAdvisor’s, number 1 place to find coffee at: 366-366/1 Trairath Rd. T. Viang A. Muang Chiangrai, Chiang Rai 


Have you found a different cafe in northern Thailand that you think should make a ‘top cafe’ list? Let us know by commenting below!!


What To Do In Pai

The thing we noticed about Pai is that it is all about doing, or not doing, whatever you want. Whether it’s going on a paid tour, exploring around Pai on your own, or just staying close for the day, it all works. Pai’s casual vibe was a welcome respite from the faster-paced Chiang Mai where we stayed for the majority of our time in the north of Thailand. Aside from finding great food in Pai, there are several other attractions we think are worth seeing while in Pai.

Pai Mountain View THailand

Since we had driven our scooter from Chiang Mai to Pai we already had transportation covered. If you took a bus, or another method for getting to Pai, not to worry, there are scooter rentals, bicycle rentals, taxis and tour options available. Just be conscious of the going rate and competitive pricing and bargain if possible.


Natural Attractions in Pai

Oftentimes, when travelling the tourist traps and attractions overshadow the natural beauty of a place. Sometimes, natural attractions are all but eliminated in order to make way for tourism. Pai, while being a popular and well-travelled tourist destination, amazingly still retains much of its natural state. Bright green rice fields, waterfalls, hot springs, picturesque mountain-scapes and even a canyon, Pai is a perfect place to escape and enjoy some of the most incredible natural attractions Northern Thailand has to offer.


Pai Canyon

Pai Canyon Thailand

While we were unable to spend a great deal of time at the canyon due to a fast-approaching thunderstorm, we managed to take a brief walk along the canyon’s treacherous looking paths after climbing the cement stairs to the top. Although it didn’t look like what one would think a typical canyon should look like, it was just as much of a heart-stopping view. Narrow paths winding through the tree tops with thousands of years of erosion causing some fairly dangerous looking areas with 100 ft drops on either side. With no rails or handholds at all, this is definitely not for the faint of heart and most certainly should only be attempted by the most sure-footed. We ended up taking a short walk along a less dangerous looking path with several feet of space between us and the edges. Carolann’s innate sense of survival (which she adamantly denies as being fear) prevented any attempt at the narrow paths, especially with the incoming storm.

things to do in Pai thailand canyon

It is definitely worth a visit, to take in the view from the canyon and even to check out the paths that are clearly still utilized. It’s only a short scooter drive from the walking street and the drive takes you through some beautiful scenery. With no admission fee, and only a short staircase to the top, it’s an interesting attraction and another one of the amazing natural views of Pai.

Drive Amongst the Rice Paddy Fields and Mountains
Pai Rice paddy fields Thailand

With scooter and bicycle rentals readily available, and at a decent price, one of the best things to do in Pai is simply explore the natural beauty surrounding the town. A bike ride will take you past rice paddy fields where you can see people working the fields of lush green vegetation. The mountainous backdrop adds to the beauty of the view and we enjoyed taking drives amongst the rice fields and through the mountainous roads around the center of Pai.


things to do in pai waterfall

On one drive we decided to make our way to one of the waterfalls known to be in the area. We drove Northwest and found our way to Mor Peang Waterfall. The drive was a bit rocky and winding but we passed through several small village areas with locals as well as some beautiful natural scenery. It was mid-afternoon and pretty busy but it was still an interesting place to walk and visit. Though we didn’t go in the water, there were many people swimming and climbing the rocks of the waterfall. Additionally, there is Hua Chang Waterfall just east of Mor Peang, Pam Bok Waterfall near the canyon and the Pai Hot Springs to the Southeast of the town. For those looking for more of an adventure, Mae Yen Waterfall, located within the forested jungles of Pai, can be accessed only by foot. About 2km outside the centre of Pai (by scooter), the trek takes approximately 3 ½ hours and takes you to a rarely visited, pristine looking waterfall.


pai lookour thailand

There are various marked trails to viewpoints accessible via motorbike. Some, like the viewpoint near the Chinese Village, require an entry fee around 20Baht. Others, also well-marked, are free. We decided to go on one of our adventures and find our own viewpoint. We climbed a rather steep hill a short ways away from the Mor Peang Waterfall and looked out. The over 180 degree view was stunning. A panorama of mountains, fields, vegetation and skyline. We highly suggest making your way to a viewpoint, marked or unmarked.

Other Attractions in Pai

Wat Phra That Mae Yen

Although we didnt’ get a chance to visit Wat Phra That Mae Yen, the temple on the mountain, it was difficult not to see the giant Buddha statue marking it’s location. From nearly any place in Pai the Buddha is visible on the distant mountain and we were fortunate to be able to learn more about it and see photos through our friends, the Wagoner’s blog post “Perfectly Pai Photo Essay”.

Pai Walking street

We mentioned the walking street when we discussed where to stay in Pai. Set up daily around 6pm, vendors line the man street in Pai with stands of food, souvenirs and goods. The smells of the food cooking wafts through the streets enticing those passing through and although the same vendors appear to pop up night after night, there seems to always be something new to see. While this is the main highlight of the night, you’ll definitely be far from bored exploring the stands each night and popping into different restaurants, cafes and bars as you go.

WWII Memorial Bridge

WWII Memorial bridge Pai thailand

We decided to visit the memorial bridge on our way out of Pai. Located off Highway 1095, the route into and out of Pai from Chiang Mai, the memorial bridge serves as a reminder of the Japanese occupation in World War II where it was used by soldiers to transport goods across the border to Burma/Myanmar. The iron and wood bridge is now only for foot traffic for tourists visiting and provides an interesting historical landmark worth a quick visit while in Pai.

Enjoy & Relax

Like we mentioned, Pai makes you feel as though you should be doing, or not doing, whatever you want. On one of the days we were in Pai, we found ourselves relaxing. We strolled along the streets in the day time, stopping into a coffee shop for a quick break, continuing on for meals and exploring the centre of town. We relaxed on an outdoor patio for dinner and then headed to the walking street for another leisurely stroll amidst the vendors. It isn’t fast paced in Pai, despite the growing tourist economy there, and one of the benefits of this is the ability to just enjoy your surroundings and relax.

After reading our three part series on where to stay, where to eat and what to do in Pai, would this be a place you’d consider visiting? Comment below and let us know what you think!

Check out Part One of “How We Slice It” to read about where to stay in Pai and Part Two about where to eat in Pai.

If you are planning to make the trip to Pai, be sure to check out our past posts including our Tips on Getting to Pai, our drive from Chiang Mai to Pai.



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

Cheap Thai food in Pai

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

burger queen pai, thailand

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

om garden pai food

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

fried insects on walking street in pai

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.

grandmas pancakes pai

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


Pai Siam Bistro in Pai Thailand

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”!


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We stayed in Pai for about 5 days. After the drive up (you can read about our drive to Pai here and our tips on getting to Pai here), we didn’t want to leave right away but we also didn’t want to stay too long as we had plans to meet, for the first time, our now friends the Wagoner’s, a travel blog family, and go on a Scorpion Tail River Cruise. Our time, while seemingly short, was pretty perfect. We hadn’t read too much about Pai and all we knew by way of others was that we had to go, so we kept our plans open.

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The centre of town is a pretty small area of grid-like roads with shops, restaurants and accommodations almost completely directed towards tourists. And there were lots of tourists. We didn’t notice them so much during the day. The center of town really picks up at night when the walking street begins and the bars and night-time restaurants open. During the day, we presume everyone was out exploring the various sites around Pai. When the walking street does open, which is nightly around 5:30-6pm, the main stretch of road and several offshoots are brimming with street vendors selling what any good walking street in Thailand sells: food, souvenirs, clothes, handmade products, and more food. We found that, while every night seemed to be the same vendors in the same spot, we always noticed and found something different.


While the walking street is probably one of the more well-known aspects of Pai, we found there were quite a few things that made Pai a fun and interesting place to visit. We’ve put together our list of what we enjoyed in Pai including where to stay, where to eat, and what to do and will be releasing our suggestions in a 3 part series. Our list is based on our visit of only 5 days and while we had some pretty great experiences, we’re sure there is much more about Pai that would have made it on our list had we had the time.


Where to Stay in Pai

In all honesty, we only stayed at two places ourselves and both were right on the walking street. But we also heard some great reviews of a few other places from friends we made. We’ve provided a different suggestion depending on budget, preference in location and preference in style of accommodation.

On a Budget

If you are a backpacking couple or travelling on a budget we would recommend Walking Street Guesthouse. If you’ve been backpacking, this place is pretty typical of what you’d find in a hostel or backpacker’s guesthouse. We were able to book one night in a private room with a king-size bed and private bathroom for 200THB ($7.40CDN/$6.67USD). Now we’re talking barebones here. It was a concrete room, with a fan, a king-sized bed and that’s it. But it was clean, a good price and right in the middle of the walking street. Reception was also incredibly friendly and helpful and they have a restaurant which we did not try but was later told was amazing but another traveler we met in Chiang Mai.

Click here for more information and the latest prices.

Want A Full Guide To Pai And How To Get There? 

Affordable Luxury

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Click here for more information on Soi One and their latest prices.

We stayed our last night at Soi One Bedrooms. We would highly recommend this boutique hotel should you have the opportunity. As there are only 4 rooms, it books up fast, it is a little pricier than a budget hotel or accommodations off the walking street. However, if they have room available the walk-in price is half. Either way, they are located on the corner of one end of the walking street and one of the main stretches of bars, have gorgeous rooms and still comes at an affordable price for the comfort, cleanliness and luxury of the property. Check out our post on Soi One Bedrooms – Best Place To Stay In Pai, you’ll get a more in depth look at why this is one of the best accommodations in Pai.


Outside of the Centre of Pai

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We did not stay at the Pai Vintage Garden Resort, however our friend’s the Wagoners did (photo above courtesy of them). About a kilometer out of central Pai, Pai Vintage Garden Resort is a peaceful and quiet getaway. If you are looking for accommodations in Pai that is a little off the main area, quieter and with an amazing view, this might just be the place for you.

Click here for more information on Pai Vintage Garden Resort and the latest prices.

Private Bungalows, Close to the Walking Street

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We attempted to get a bungalow at Pai Chan but they were sold out by the time we found out about this place. Friends we made managed to snag the last room, for a discounted walk-in price, and were not disappointed. Private, traditional bungalows made of teak wood, a large swimming pool and a restaurant that overlooks the rice fields and mountains are what we were told were some of the amazing features of Pai Chan. Since they are not too far of a walk from the walking street, this gives a great alternative to being right in the middle of the action. It’s good to note that since these are traditional style, your stay will be a little more rustic, with concrete bathrooms, open windows (wood shutters when you want to close them), mosquito nets and no air conditioning.

Click here for more information about Pai Chan and their latest prices.

Stay tuned for part two of our How We Slice It – A Guide To Pai when we list some of our top picks for where to eat in Pai.

Have you been to Pai? If so, comment below and tell us where you would recommend as a great place to stay. If you haven’t, comment and let us know which of these you would choose.



Making our way from Chiang Mai to Pai on a 125cc scooter was not an easy drive, but it was one of our favourite road trips of all time. You can read about how we conquered all 762 turns up highway 1095 from Chiang Mai to Pai, but if you’re looking to get to Pai yourself, there’s probably a few additional details you’ll need in order to decide on how to best make your way from Chiang Mai to the valley town of Pai.

During our decision process, we did a lot of research on our options and our own drive gave us quite a few insights into the route. The following are some tips for making your way from Chiang Mai to Pai, including the different methods possible and costs associated with each one.

3 Different Ways of Getting From Chaing Mai To Pai

Chiang Mai to Pai On a Bus:

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Minibus: You can take either a minibus or a standard bus to Pai. The minibus will run only about 150-200THB each way and will only take 3+ hours but it’s the one where you’ll probably feel the most motion sickness as they drive fast even on the turns (There’s even a “vomit here” sign on the road to Pai)

Air-conditioned Bus: These buses take a little longer to navigate through the bends but you’ll save a little money compared to the minibus (100-150THB). If you’re prone to motion sickness and not up for making the drive yourself, this is a slightly better option to the minibus.

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While you don’t need to rent a scooter to get around, there are many things to see outside the main area. If you’ve taken a bus into Pai and aren’t going to hire a tour, you’ll probably need to rent a scooter once in Pai. The cheapest scooter we saw in Pai is roughly 100THB per day plus gas and we are pretty certain that is without insurance. The total for a week would be 1200+THB (700 for a 7-day scooter rental, 100+ in gas depending on how much you drive, and 300+ for the transportation to and from Pai)

Chiang Mai to Pai On Your Own:

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Renting a scooter, bike or car offers you the ability to take an amazing drive through the mountains. It was certainly one of our most memorable road trips.

Scooter/bike: A 125cc scooter will cost you minimum 200THB per day and that cost increases as you look at bigger bikes. We recommend Tony’s Big Bikes in Chiang Mai as insurance was included, the entire staff was friendly and helpful and we received great service the entire time we had the bike. A full tank cost around 100-110THB and we spent less than 200THB in gas to get there. If we had stayed a week, we would have paid 1400 in rental fees, and about 500 in gas total.

Disclaimer: Don’t forget to get your international driver’s license before renting a scooter to avoid tickets or fines. We got ours before leaving for Thailand and were stopped several times while riding our scooter throughout Thailand at checkpoints where they asked to see it.

Car: A car rental, from a company such as AVIS Thailand, for one week will cost about 6400THB plus gas. It is also difficult to find parking, especially for cars, in the main strip of the walking street and the immediate surrounding areas. If you choose to rent a car, be sure you have a place that offers parking or have confirmed an area to use.

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If you choose to make your own way to Pai, either by car or scooter, there are a few tips that will help make your journey a little easier. While most of these directly apply to driving a scooter or bike, they are definitely good to keep in mnd if you are planning to rent a car.

  1. Gas. Depending on the size of your tank, you may need to fill up more than once. Since there are long stretches of road without any available areas to purchase gas, we suggest you make note of the meter, and start looking when your tank hits the half-way mark. This is especially useful if you are driving a rental as the gauge may not be correct. Roadside gas pumps and even bottles of fuel can be purchased at almost every small village you drive through. If you’ve forgotten to check and are desperately low on gas, don’t hesitate to stop in a local area and ask for fuel/gas/petrol. Chances are they’ll be able to help, even if it’s at a premium price.                                                        Gas on the way to Pai, from Chiang rai to pai, driving to pai, how to get to pai
  2. Vehicle. We drove a 125cc scooter and while we made it to Pai and back without any real problems, there were a few moments we weren’t too sure we had made the right decision. The tank is small, the bike is small, and there’s not much power. If you’re budget can afford it, you may want to consider a larger bike or a car that can handle the inclines and also ease the drive over the potholes.
  3. Potholes. There are many and they are unavoidable. It can be a bit tiresome and straining to be on constant lookout for the obstacles on the road: traffic coming both ways, potholes, sharp curves, steep hills, and sometimes gas slicks from the trucks. Of all of these, potholes are the most frequent and can be pretty dangerous, especially when driving a vehicle with fairly narrow tires.Drive to pai, how to get to pai, from chiang mai to pai, potholes on the road to pai
  4. Hydration. It can get pretty hot driving through the mountains in the middle of the day. Unless you end up leaving early, or it rains, chances are you’re going to get quite a bit of sun and having ample water on hand is important. We have two hydration packs (water bladders) and ended up filling one up as emergency water and bringing two bottles with us in the scooter’s cup holders. Even if you go early, we still suggest having extra water on hand as you never know what the day will bring. We also brought some snacks just to be on the safe side and they ended up being incredibly handy to have, especially when we lengthened our trip by stopping at the geyser.
  5. Take your time. Like we mentioned, we left late, stopped for a total of 3 hours and then again when it rained once we entered Pai and still made it to our accommodations for 7pm. There’s no need to rush the ride. Take it slow, gas up when you can and make sure you’re prepared and make stops when you need. Not only is a smart thing to do with the length of the drive, there are also some pretty great views to take in on the way!                                                                             Drive to pai, view on the road to pai, chiang mai to pai, how to get to pai, tips on getting to pai
  6. Gauge your experience level. Macrae had ridden a scooter before this trip to Thailand and had been driving this particular one for a little while before we headed out to Pai. Make sure you are comfortable, not only with driving a scooter, but with driving in Thailand. It’s a completely different experience and it can take time to get used to.
  7. The route. The route is fairly simple. Once you get to the 1095 there’s really no where to go until you hit Pai. The complicated part is in the road itself. As we discussed, there are tons of potholes, fast drivers, and incredibly winding, narrow roads. Weather conditions are also variable as you are heading up into the mountains and then down into the valley so they can change at any moment. While we didn’t find the route nearly as difficult as we had read, we were also expecting the absolute worst. The route is tricky and has it’s dangers but caution and preparation goes a long to pai, wildlife pai, how to get to pai, tips on getting to pai, from pai to chiang mai on a scooter

Chiang Mai to Pai On A Plane:

Taking a plane straight to Pai is also an option. The airport is located Northwest of the central part of town and flights can be taken direct from Chiang Mai. The flight is only about a half hour and while prices vary depending on airline and time of year, we found a cheap flight through Kan Airlines for around 1900THB at the start of their high season. Other airlines to look at within Thailand are AirAsia, Thai Smile Airways, Nok Air and Tiger Air.

Comment below and tell us which way you’d choose to travel to Pai!

Making our way by scooter to Pai, Thailand


We started out later than we had planned, as is our usual custom, and had our bags packed, our scooter fueled and our kickstand lifted by 11:01am. We were going to make the long drive from Chiang Mai to Pai and conquer all 762 winding, hairpin, narrow turns through the mountains… on a 125cc scooter.

Now, if you haven’t yet read anything about the drive to Pai let us tell you that most of the stories we read had us second guessing our decision to drive there ourselves several times before we actually left. Most of what we read suggested taking a bus or minibus but warned that due to the winding nature of the road, motion sickness is common, and the drivers will not stop if you feel the need to vomit (Check out our Daily Digital of a sign we saw after a particularly curvy stretch of road).

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We read comments about doing the trek yourself via motorbike stating it was “dangerous but beautiful”, “littered with potholes”, “watch out for oil slicks left by the trucks”, amongst others. We also read that travelling via motorbike is possible, allows you to stop and enjoy the scenery at your own pace and while requiring some caution, a confident motorbike driver should be okay. These all had us debating for quite some time about how we wanted to approach our trip to Pai.

Before we left for Thailand, everyone we met who had been already told us that we absolutely had to see Pai. This small mountain town was apparently THE place to go. So we knew we had to get there somehow and we figured if we were going to make the harrowing journey through the mountains, we might as well do it on our own time and our own way. So, on a scooter we went.

We were fortunate to have made friends with the host at the Airbnb we stayed at in Chiang Mai and he told us he would store some of our stuff at his place so we wouldn’t have to carry all of our belongings with us on the drive. As it was, he was concerned about the weight we were carrying on the scooter.

We were able to make our way with just one of our 45L backpacks with our belongings and our small carry-on backpack with our computer and camera equipment. Loaded up, we set off to find highway 1095 and the route through the mountains to Pai with Macrae driving, the equipment at his feet, and Carolann behind with the backpack strapped to her back.

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Since we were coming from South of the city, we first had to make it through the traffic and construction bordering the Chiang Mai. It was a bit hectic and busy, but it wasn’t too bad and we kept moving at a pretty good pace. We were only driving for about 30-45 minutes before we decided to finally grab some breakfast and stopped at a rest stop just shy of the 1095.

Not far down the road we also gassed up in preparation for the drive and in anticipation of limited opportunities to do so along the way. We were excited but also a bit anxious to tackle this daunting route. Highway 1095 started off fairly easy. Long, smooth turns through small villages with little incline.

At some point we started to climb. Steeper now, the bends got sharper, the lanes more narrow and the potholes were more prevalent. We enjoyed the fresh air and being able to chat with each other when we weren’t both silently enjoying the scenery.

We made sure to take breaks every once in a while to drink some water and give our backsides a rest and usually found spots with a viewpoint where we could snap a few photos or just take in the view.

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Want A Full Guide To Pai And How To Get There?


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It was less than half way into the drive when the road began to really get tricky. The turns were 90 degree or more, often hairpin and usually on an incline, either up or down. The traffic around us also presented another obstacle. The road was basically one lane each way the entire way.

Obviously our 125cc scooter wasn’t going to compete with pretty much any of the other vehicles on the road and so we were constantly trying to give way to those faster moving buses, vans, cars and motorcycles. Then there was the oncoming traffic. We read that the minibuses were fast and erratic and this definitely wasn’t exaggerated.

What wasn’t mentioned was that they take the corners so fast, they often move into the other, oncoming traffic, lane. Not only were we watching for the traffic behind us and the road ahead of us, we also needed to be vigilant of the cars coming at us from around each bend.

Macrae made sure to take it slow and careful and it really only took a short time to get used to being mindful of it all.

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There’s always time for a coffee break

Besides winding roads, there is one other thing you’ll most certainly notice along this mountain road: Coffee shops. For some reason, they are quite prevalent throughout the mountain areas and we passed by quite a few before we finally reached the centre of Pai.

Deciding we needed a break, we stopped at one and took about a half an hour to rest. The road is quite bumpy and you can try to evade the potholes all you like but you’re bound to hit a few. Even on a smooth stretch of road, an hour and a half of driving and your butt is going to feel it, so add in quite a few bumps and potholes and you’ll be hurting in no time.

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We jumped back on, refreshed and ready to keep going. Since there aren’t any gas stations on the stretch of 1095 between Chiang Mai and Pai, we gassed up where we could in a small hillside stand with a makeshift gas pump set up by the locals.

We had passed a few stands before with bottles of gas and while we figured there’d be a few more along the way we didn’t want to take the chance since there are quite lengthy stretches of road between one village area and the next.

It’s difficult to judge your gas consumption by distance because of the terrain you have to drive. The other thing we were worried about was whether our gas meter was correct as this was a rental and we weren’t too familiar with how empty, empty is.

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A little detour – Pong Duad Geyser

Not too long after we fueled up we came across a sign for a geyser. It said it was only 6km off the road and we figured, why not? Taking the narrow dirt road we headed on our adventure not really knowing what we had got ourselves into.

When we say dirt road, we mean dirt road, and after driving down a few steep hills we got a little concerned about whether or not the bike would make it back up again. Avoiding more large potholes, ditches and rocks, we drove through the forest for what seemed like a very long time. 6km can be a long drive on a small scooter, taking some of the hills at 20km/hr.

When we finally made it to the next sign, it was a ticket booth for the Huay Nam Dang National Park in which we would find the geyser. At 200THB ($7 CDN) per person for a foreigner, we felt the admission was a little steep for Thailand, especially as the price for a Thai was only 50THB. We have come to expect paying a farang (foreigner) price versus the usually much cheaper local price, but it still bothers us every time.

After the drive all the way there, we really couldn’t turn back without actually seeing this geyser, so we paid and drove into the park.

The National Park was actually quite pretty. Nice scenic paths, hot springs, and of course, the geyser. Since it was getting later in the day and we wanted to make it to Pai before sunset, we decided to only worry about seeing what we had initially come to see.

After walking the almost 1km path through the forest, we were hot and bug bitten and unnaturally excited to see our first geyser. Pong Duad Geyser is only about 25 feet wide and 15 feet long. Smelling of sulfur while bubbling and steaming, it was actually a pretty cool thing to see.

While we didn’t get any time in the hot springs down the way, the geyser provided us with a nature-made sauna while we took photos.

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The last stretch of the drive to Pai

Since it was so hot and sticky, we didn’t stay too long and headed back to our bike to finish the drive. The rest of the way saw the same kind of winding, narrow roads as before. At one point in time we were climbing a rather steep hill when our scooter, full throttle, decided it could only handle about 15km/hr. There we were slowly chugging up hill as cars past us, wondering if the bike was going to make it or give out.

We stopped just to see if it needed a bit of a break from the heat and the strain of trying to get the two of us and our belongings up and around so many inclines. We both held our breath as we turned the key to try it again and fortunately it started up again and seemed to have the pep it was previously lacking. We laughed a little afterwards at what we must of looked like, eyes focused on the road ahead, two helmeted individuals bouncing on along the hill on this little scooter going absurdly slow.That had to be the most challenging part of our entire journey.

After that we had no difficulties with the bike. We did see one scooter wipe out about 20 minutes outside of Pai. We were driving up a rather steep curve when these two bikes came flying down. A few seconds later another two followed and the one in the front wiped out and hit the guardrail. We stopped to make sure he was okay and waited until the first two friends of his came back.

He was fine, scratched up and bruised, but it could have been worse. It was fortunate he went into the guardrail and not oncoming traffic (essentially us at that point) and that there was a guardrail to begin with as some parts are without which means a very long drop down the mountain. You could tell that the curve was an especially tricky one as the guardrail looked pretty mangled from past collisions.

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After that, we drove even more cautious but made our way smoothly back down to Pai. It wasn’t long after we saw the first sign welcoming us to Pai and the first of the rice paddy fields that it started to rain. We quickly donned our ponchos but shortly after that the torrential downpour began. We pulled over and sought some refuge from the rain in one of the coffee shops along the road and waited it out.

We had made the drive, conquered the 762 turns and now only had to wait out the rain before we could make our way safely into the center of town and enjoy all that Pai had to offer.

Read about our tips for getting from Chiang Mai to Pai, no matter your method of transportation as well as our suggestions on: Where to Eat, Where to Stay, and What to Do in Pai!

Have you ever conquered a difficult journey? Comment below and let us know all about it!

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762. That’s the number of turns along highway 1095 to get to Pai from Chiang Mai. There were all kinds of turns from sharp, narrow ones to long, curvy ones; both up hill and down hill; steep and shallow. We drove, choosing to make our own way and take our own time rather than take a bus or mini-bus. We had wanted the freedom to stop when we chose and be able to drive around Pai once we got there.

We had also heard that those riding the buses, or even driving themselves, to Pai often suffer cases of motion sickness and that the bus drivers will rarely, if ever, stop for those vomiting. We can certainly see how one would get motion sickness being on a bus. Not only are the roads winding and full of hairpin turns, the buses we saw drive past did not look like they were taking their time.

After one particularly curvy stretch of road, we noticed the above sign, indicating a vomit stop. We took a break to snap a photo of the sign and happened to have stopped at just the “right” time. We could hear someone suffering from motion sickness, loudly, in the bathroom of the pit-stop nearby.

If you’re looking to visit Pai, we’ve written a lot of information on where to stay, where to eat and what to do and have also compiled our posts and some added information and tips in our Free Ebook: A Guide To Pai.

Soi One Bedrooms – Best Place To Stay In Pai

We were sitting in our hotel room in Pai (pronounced “Pie” and called “Pai Town” by some), listening to the strong patter of rain and the thunder of the storm passing through the mountain town. We had made it back from sightseeing just in time, with only minimal soakage (luckily we had our ponchos with us) and we were pumped to spend some time in our air conditioned, clean, beautifully decorated boutique room we splurged a bit on for the night. We needed it though. As sad as it may sound, after almost 3 weeks of travelling, staying in hostels, hutongs, even a beautiful guesthouse, we had yet to have a really good shower. We needed to feel clean, refreshed and relaxed. So when we met the owner of one of the cafes in Pai where we stopped in to do some work and grab a caffeine boost and he mentioned his four bedroom boutique hotel, we decided that if we could afford it, and they had an available room, we would book it for the next night. Luckily, Sunday nights are their slow nights and they had one room remaining for us to book. As we walked into our room we realized that we have probably stumbled upon the best place to stay in Pai.

soi one bedrooms in pai thailand room view

The Room

So there we were, freshly showered, feeling clean and probably smelling better than we had in weeks, kicking back in what felt like complete luxury. We were in the Gold Room of Soi One Bedrooms. One of the aforementioned four rooms, the Gold room is the only one with two twin beds, rather than one large bed, and had a small patio out front with a seating area.  The room was nicely decorated with various artistic touches throughout. From the handmade, colourful lamp shade hanging from the ceiling, to the beautifully crafted pillows on the wooden chairs, the decor fit wonderfully with the room and the feel and vibe of the hotel and of Pai. Perhaps it was the fact that we’d been travelling so long, but not only was it decorated well, it smelled amazing. We were impressed with the cleanliness of the beds, the room and the washroom and were almost brought to tears when we tried the shower and found it had hot water and good pressure.

There was even a mini-fridge, kettle, coffee mugs and enough outlets to charge all our gadgets. It took quite a bit to get out of the hotel room once we were there. We wanted to enjoy the comfort and feel of the room but knew we only had that last night in Pai to wander and explore. So we went out that night and relished the thought of being able to rest our head on a comfortable pillow, in a nice room, with a hot shower awaiting us in the morning. We did contemplate staying just one more night, but all the rooms were booked and judging by our experience, we expect they fill up fast!

soi one bedrooms room view

The Property & Reception

The property itself felt like a little oasis with a small central area enclosing the staircase to the upstairs rooms and a small dining area for the attached restaurant. The two workers at reception were incredibly friendly and helpful and went above and beyond to accommodate and assist us with all of our needs. It’s our experience that in general people in Thailand are genuinely willing to help, but these two exceeded our expectations. We checked out a little early to head back to Chiang Mai and the lady at reception offered not only to hold our bags, but to use her personal umbrella to get to a restaurant for breakfast in the rain! She then provided us with large black garbage bags to cover up our backpacks for the long ride through the mountain in the event the rain began again.

While we didn’t patronize the restaurant, or the spa/massage parlor affiliated with Soi One Bedrooms, the areas looked inviting and clean. Had we planned to stay longer in Pai, we definitely would have made an effort to dine at the restaurant and maybe even venture to the spa for a Thai massage.

soi one bedrooms balcony view

Overall, this was a hotel we were tremendously glad we were able to book and would definitely go back if we had the opportunity. It was located right on the Pai walking street and off of one of the major bar streets, which was great even if it was a little noisy until 11pm. Since it was in the heart of the city, and walking street, there was a ton of things to do and see right off the front steps including restaurants, bars, walking street vendors, souvenir shops, coffee shops and convenience stores. There were several scooter rentals nearby for those that took the bus in and wanted to explore outside the city to the many viewpoints, waterfalls and other attractions Pai has to offer. (Drivers beware: there are a lot of people driving scooters for the first time in Pai and we saw many a bandaged and wounded Pai tourist.) We were pleased at the great value we received for our money. The only real downside was there were only 4 rooms so even though, like most places in Southeast Asia, you can get almost half price for a walk-in, it fills up fast and you aren’t guaranteed a room if you don’t book in advance, But if you’re lucky enough to get a room, you wont be disappointed because in our opinion it’s the best place to stay in pai.

Click here for Soi One’s latest prices and more info.

If you can’t get a room at Soi One during your stay in Pai, don’t worry, there are many hotels in Pai to choose from, just check out How We Slice It – A Guide to Pai. Part One: Where to Stay for a couple great options, or find Pai hotels by visiting our friends from Hotels Combined and they will defiantly help you out for your search for some great accommodations.

We Also have other information that you might want to sink our teeth into… like “How To Get From Chiang Mai To Pai” and “What To Do In Pai” when you get there.

When In Pai… You Must Eat Cake

Pai Siam Bistro

A visit to Pai Siam Bistro was what started the change in our plans and lead to our stay at Soi One Bedrooms. Walking down the street in Pai, we were looking for a place to escape the walking street for a moment, grab a coffee to refuel and get some work done. We happened across the entrance to Pai Siam, first enticed by the “gelati” stand out front but drawn in by the look and appeal of the narrow bistro. Sitting down at one of the tables we were immediately given a menu offering a range of tasty sounding food and coffeehouse style drinks. Opting for a hot and a cold cappuccino, we signed on to their free Wi-Fi and settled in to do some work.  Incredibly comfortable, with a great ambiance, this bistro was the perfect spot for us. We took a moment to enjoy the handmade lampshades decorating the space and the soft bluesy sounding music playing in the background.  The lampshades are made and sold in the partnering and attached shop next door and add some crafty elegance to the bistro.

inside the pia siam cafe in pai thailand

Our drinks were great. The smiley face in the hot cappuccino was a cute touch that had us chuckling. At a second visit the next day, we tried out an iced latte as well which was just as delicious. It was a great place for us to get work done and then just relax. Unfortunately we did not get a chance to try any of the food on the menu but we heard a series of compliments regarding the food from customers sitting around us on both visits. A neat aspect of this restaurant was the handmade lampshades (such as those in the room at Soi One Bedrooms). Like we mentioned, these were made and sold at the shop next door but all the lamps on display at the bistro were also available for purchase! It’s a great theme that flows between all the properties. We liked it so much here that we included it in our Top 5 Cafes In Northern Thailand post… well deserved.

pai siam coffee in thailand

While sitting there, we started chatting with a very friendly man from Scotland whom we later found out owned the bistro (and Soi One Bedrooms) along with his wife. Engaging, warm and fun we enjoyed talking to him and learning a bit of his perspective on life as an expat for 15 years and his growing business in Pai. The bistro was fairly new, opening just a short time ago and complemented his boutique shop next door. We started eyeing their gelati stand again from our seat and were told by the owner that they had a selection of freshly made cakes and desserts in the display at the front. Taking a peek at the assortment, we were told the rainbow crepe cake was a must-try. So of course, we did! The many layers of rainbow coloured crepes were held together by some type of cream cheese frosting and topped with jam and a scoop of ice cream. The combination of the flavours were perfect and we devoured it pretty quickly. Definitely one of the best desserts we’ve had in a long time.

We feel our visit to Pai was enhanced by our stay at Soi One Bedrooms and the coffee and dessert was a topping on the Cake (see what we did there?) from the little bistro called Pai Siam. Sure, we would have had a blast whether we stayed there or not, and there is a lot to do and see in and around Pai, but our night in the nicest hotel in pai, our smiley faced cappuccino and our delicious and unique crepe dessert made it extra special and extra memorable.

Click here for Soi One’s latest prices and more info.

Take a look at the map below to see how to get to Pai and where Soi One Bedrooms is located.


While exploring Pai, Thailand, we came across a map marking a WWII Japanese Memorial Bridge. Looking on this map, we realized we must’ve passed by it on our way from Chiang Mai to Pai but with it raining so hard when we got there, we had missed it altogether. On our way out, we made sure to make a quick stop and check it out. The WWII Japanese Memorial Bridge is located on highway 1095 (the route into, and out of, Pai) and is now only for foot traffic and wagons carrying tourists. It was built in 1942 by the Japanese soldiers in order to transport items across the Burma/Myanmar-Thailand border during WWII. Made of iron and wood planks, it has withstood several floods and stands as an interesting attraction and an historical landmark worth a quick visit if you are passing through.

You can also check out our posts on Pai including where to stay in Pai, where to eat in Pai and what to do in Pai. Or get all that and added tips and suggestions in our Guide To Pai E-Book.