Last updated: 11:00 PM ET, Sat February 27 2016

Opinion Home | Tales From the Leap

  • Shannon Wolf | February 27, 2016 11:00 PM ET

    Pai, Thailand: Spiritual and Artistic Community

    Pai, Thailand: Spiritual and Artistic Community

    PHOTO: The view from the White Buddha at sunset is stunning. (photos by Shannon Wolf)

    On the first night I arrived in the mountain village of Pai, I sat around a bonfire at Giant with some of the most talented musicians I had ever heard with new and old friends; and knew instantly that I had found home.

    I spent nearly two months here, living along the river in my own bamboo hut, driving along the countryside on my Honda Click scooter and I could have happily stayed forever.

    Pai has been one of my most cherished memories and the longer you stayed, the more it opened up. Pai has a thriving spiritual and artistic community here that I never knew could ever exist in the world and left me nothing but inspired, never wanting to leave and an oath to return again one day.

    Pai is nestled in the northern area of Thailand near the Myanmar border surrounded by waterfalls, luscious landscapes, and marvelous hiking trails with some of the friendliest and inspiring minds you’ll ever meet.

    READ MORE: Discover Thailand’s Gorgeous Isaan Region, Gateway to Lao PDR

    You can spend your days adventuring around jungles or on a bike, eating some of the best food on Walking Street or take it easy — swaying in your hammock along the riverside by day and cozied up around magical bonfires at Giant while a million stars illuminate the night sky.

    Best Bungalows: Pai Riverside Bungalows

    • 250 baht for your own personal bungalow with porch and hammock (Note: If you stay one month, you can barter the price down to 180 baht).


    • Comfortable queen size bed with mosquito net, pillows and warm blankets

    • Shared bathroom/shower with hot water

    • Wi-Fi

    • Free entrance to Fluid Pool

    Best Hostel: Chill Lom Hostel (150 baht a dorm)


    • Clean, comfortable rooms

    • Cozy common area with plenty of seating/hammocks

    • Bar/Cafe

    • Free towels/soap

    • Good working Wi-Fi

    PHOTO: I will never forget the incredible Pai family and the community we created here!

    Best Food

    Pai is littered with some of the best food in Thailand (I may be biased, but a lot of people would back me up on that statement!) Walking Street is littered with food stalls and you will have plenty of options to choose from! Prices range from 10-100 baht.

    Must eats for street stalls include Lasagna, Roti, Krom krem, Indian Chai Tea and Veggie Wraps to name a few. (Across from 7-11 on Walking Street, you will find the best Krom Krem and Roti in Thailand!)

    BEST Hidden Food Gem:

    When to Arrive: 5 p.m. only

    What to Get: Jackfruit Curry or Eggplant Curry (Note: It is SPICY!)

    Where is it? Next to Earth Tone Restaurant is a local lady who sells the BEST Thai curries you will ever eat made fresh every day. You will see a table lined with bags of food for 20 baht and sticky rice for 10 baht. (Both vegetarian, meat and fish options).

    Best Restaurants:

    • Burger Queen: Incredible handmade burgers and hand cut fries.

    • Boomalicious: If you’re craving a western breakfast, this is the best place for it.

    • Coffee & Thyme: Literally, everything here is delicious.

    • Best Coffee: Espresso Bar (also great Wi-Fi).

    Best Chilled Out Spots:

    • Art In Chai: Thursday nights for open mic night and great live music.

    • Spirit Bar: Best live music by far from all around the world!

    • Edible Jazz: live music, hammocks and relaxed atmosphere.

    Best Bars for Partiers:

    • Sunset Bar: By the end of the night, anyone who’s partying ends up here. Can do magic mushrooms at sunset (only selling at 7 p.m. for 500 baht).

    • Circus School: Perched atop of a hill, circus school overlooks all of Pai and is a great place to party, learn some juggling and watch fire shows — just not to stay.

    • Why Not Bar: Most people have pre-drinks here before a night out and also offer free dinners a few times a week!

    READ MORE: Uber Adding Motorcycle Pilot Program in Thailand

    Must Do's:

    • Attend free meditation classes at Good Life Restaurant at 9 a.m. Mon/Wed/Fri.

    • Rent a scooter and drive around the countryside, caves, four waterfalls and hot springs.

    • Hug an elephant at the elephant camps (but don’t ride them for ethical reasons).

    • Watch sunset at the Pai Canyon or White Buddha.

    • Wander through walking street every night for tons of delicious food.

    • Head to one of the music venues any night to hear some of the most talented musicians.

    • Eat pie in Pai.

    • Train for Muai Thai at Charn Chai.

    • Get some sun and swim at Fluid Pool (60 baht entrance fee).

    • Get an incredible bamboo tattoo by Mink at Cross Tattoo.

    • Head to Giant in the evening for the most magical night of your life. (Ask around where it is as it’s hidden).

    PHOTO: Exploring the winding countryside on scooters is an adventure in itself.

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Shannon Wolf Tales From the Leap

Shannon Wolf Shannon Wolf is a freelance photographer and writer, traveling across the globe with an open itinerary and no intent of stopping. Originally from Toronto, Canada, she left behind a fast paced life to truly live and not just exist in an attempt to inspire others to follow their bliss. At age 26, Shannon has visited 20+ countries on four continents around the world. She has travelled overland by chicken-bus and tuk-tuks, hitchhiked by fruit trucks and through islands on horse and buggy. She has slept in the jungles of Nicaragua, on benches in London, secluded hidden beaches and she’s only getting started.
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