I never had planned to go to Pai when I made my original itinerary because I only had planned to spend one week in Thailand. However, as I travelled through Vietnam and talked to people, they consistently told me I HAD to go to Pai. So, once the itinerary changed and I had more time, we made a point to drop by.
Pai is, almost unbelievably, more laid-back than Chiang Mai. There are lots of massage places (the normal kind), waterfalls, vegan restaurants (if anyone is heading there soon, I highly recommend Earthtone. It’s a bit of a trek from town but well worth it for the raw triple chocolate brownies!), Burger Queen and it just felt relaxed.
The night market was a lot of fun with lots to see without the pressure of buying like in Vietnam or Cambodia. It was at this market that I went what I came to call “full Thailand”. To me, this meant wearing one of the quintessential thin tank tops that you can buy for around 60 baht at any market and cut off shorts. I hadn’t brought any shorts with me because I knew my usual short shorts wouldn’t fly in Cambodia but, in Thailand, not only was it okay to wear short shorts, it seemed it was expected.
At first, I was very uncomfortable. I hadn’t worn shorts in three and a half months, despite temperatures always hovering between 25 and 35 degrees Celcius (without the humidity) and it had quickly become engrained in me that a woman showing her thighs indicated that she had “loose morals”, to say the least. Honestly, I didn’t know if I could ever wear short shorts again. But, with the temperature getting to about 40 degrees Celsius during the day, I decided to go for it. That was when I went full Thailand.
This phrase would come up a lot. Sometimes when we were doing something that seemed like a typical thing to do in Thailand (for example, napping during the hottest part of the day) but, more commonly, to refer to travellers who had all the typical Thailand tourist clothes: elephant pants, 60 baht tank tops, flimsy, colourful shoes and tons of bracelets. It was usually a contest to see who could spot the person who topped the last person we saw who went “full Thailand”.
While most people go to Pai for the trekking, waterfalls and partying (or, if you’re MT, for the circus school. Yes, it exists), we spent a lot of our time walking through the night market and trying to find new accommodation for our second night, but that’s a story that I won’t bother getting into. On side note, never stay at Pai Circus School; it was probably one of the worst places I’ve stayed at my whole trip.
My favourite part of the whole trip was the street smoothies we found (surprise, surprise!). This woman made the one of the best smoothies I’ve ever had without sugar or dairy but she only came out for the night market. I was in favour of staying an extra night just to get another smoothie (or five) from her the next day.
Pai is nice. I recommend checking it out, especially if you have the courage to take a moto around to the waterfalls and the surrounding area. Plus, you really need to check out smoothie woman. That being said, you can see Pai in a day and a half and not really miss much, unless you like empty clubs with their annoyingly persistent “promoters” coming to talk to you every few minutes.
Don’t worry, India seems to have gotten the Thailand out of me. I will leave you with a question, my Internets: Does anyone want my full Thailand shorts? Otherwise, they will be left somewhere in India.