Please note, my opinion is based on the following.
- I went to Ko Sarn Rd once and it was disgusting. It was dirty, full of people constantly pestering you to buy cheap shit, everything from fake t shirts to hookers
- I went to the Islands and really enjoyed Ko Tao. There are parties there but I spent most nights on the beach drinking buckets and shroom shakes and watching fire poy.
- I went to Koh Phangan and had a really awesome time spending most nights on the beach drinking and playing games with people from the hostel. The draw of Koh Phangan is the Full Moon Parties. I went to the Full Moon parties and they weren’t my cup of tea; everyone there was out to rip you off, and Haad Rin (the location of the parties) is a pretty dirty place. Kinda like Bangkok with beaches
- I went to Chang Mai and planned to stay there for a night with a friend on the way to Pai. We got there and realised that the attraction of this place was: Elephant Treks, Tiger Temples, and zip lining. I am pretty against the tiger temples because they all drug the tigers (even when they say they don’t, there is no way you could allow the public to sit with tigers that hadn’t been drugged) and the Elephant treks are just as bad. In order to make the elephants submissive, they practice Elephant Crushing (an elephant being placed in a strong, large stall or cage and tied with ropes to keep the elephant from moving, including being unable to kick, raise or swing its head), which literally crushes the elephants spirit so that it does what the master tells it. There are some good elephant sanctuaries which rehabilitate them but I didn’t know which were good so we stayed away. So anyway we made our way to Pai as soon as possible
- If you feel like you would have the same sort of experiences then Pai is probably for you. If you want to go to Thailand for hookers, go to Bangkok, if you like being able to be sick in the street without being judged, go to Bangkok, if you like to party on the beach with beautiful muscley tanned people, go to the Islands, if you want to see animals used as commodities, go to Chang Mai, if you want to relax, get drunk, see amazing sites without loads of people around, go to Pai
Pai was by far my favourite place in Thailand. I went for a month over Christmas and New Year and as a comparison I visited the following places:
- Ko Tao
- Koh Phangan
- Chang Mai
I have heard a lot of people talk about Thailand in terms of the North and South. The South is the party/beautiful island area, and the North is the more peaceful countryside place. Obviously that is a generalisation but that’s the vibe I got before going, and it seemed to be what I experience also.
Highlights from Pai:
- Spicy Pai. This was by far the best hostel I stayed in.It was recommended to us by a friend. They have one 24 bed dorm, which scared me at first, but when I arrived I realised why it was so popular. The dorm is actually a huge wooden beam type building, with bunk beds going up three and four levels, all open air and on a communal shack on stilts. Its difficult to explain but it was really nice. We planned to stay for 4 nights but kept adding an extra night till one night they were full. And it was so cheap, £3 a night or something.
- Pai Canyon. We took mopeds to Pai Canyon one day and it was by far the best tourist attraction I have ever been to. There was barely anyone there so we basically had the whole place to ourselves. The canyon has these amazing walkways with huge drops either side. In many other countries there would be all sorts of barriers and safety notices but here you were left to wonder, jump and skip between the walkways as you pleased. Highlight of Pai Canyon was Josh jumping a huge gap (main post photo). I had forgotten to wind on my camera so had to make him do it again. The photo doesn’t do it justice, he is about 6 foot in the air at that point but he looks like he has just left the ground
- Pai Hot Springs. This was another fun day out. We all took our mopeds to the hot springs. There was a fair few more people there, and you had to pay to get in which was a shame, but it was a nice place to chill in some really hot springs. Quote of the day: ‘ooo, its like stepping in to a hot bath’. Which everyone said as they got in. it was funny at the time.
- Pai Waterfall. We went to a waterfall one day and again there was barely anyone there so we could wonder around as we pleased
- Shroom bar. I can’t remember the name of the place but it was near to Spicy Pai. They did really good shakes for 500B. We only found it on the last night though and ended up doing three shakes each. Reality got a bit weird and thinking about all the travel we had to do the next day to get back to Bangkok was genuinely soul destroying. They also fed the DJ free shrooms and shakes all night. In order to become the DJ for the night you had to know how to use YouTube to select music to play. Highlight of the night was George the DJ from East London. He had us laughing all night.
- Everything is so cheap. Compared to everywhere else I went to in Thailand, it was so cheap in Pai. The food, clothes, drinks, hostels and everything were so affordable. You could eat and drink like a king each day for about £10-20.
- The Locals. The locals are so much more freindly here. Probably because of the type of tourist that visit. They get families and people who want to chill generally, so they don’t have much reason to be anything but nice to visitors.