Just Another Hippie town: Pai, Thailand
In my continuing series of ‘Just another…’, I wanted to shed light on the little hamlet of Pai, Thailand. No longer the undiscovered secret tucked away in the Northern mountains, Pai is rapidly becoming one of the most popular places in the country for backpackers and native Thai alike.
Pai, Thailand currently holds the world record (not verified by any facts) for the most dread locks and drum circles per capita of any city in the solar system. The city was discovered by the West a number of years ago as hippies sought refuge from the oppressive Western ways and found solace in the Thai’s penchant for happy endings and their famous expression of “mai bpen rai” or ‘no worries’.
As of 2012, the hippies of Pai are starting to become unsatisfied as the popularity of this town increases. This can not be blamed entrely on the droves of backpackers that come here for the afore mentioned drum circles and relaxing good times. Pai was recently thrust into the national spotlight when Hollywood came calling (Thailands version of it anyways) and a film called Pai in Love was made here back in 2008. Now, I can only imagine that Thai groupies come to this city and do tours of the famous spots where pivotal scenes were shot.
Despite the increase in crowds and guest houses to accommodate them, Pai, Thailand has remained a bohemian chic style village. The town has dealt with the deluge in an intelligent manner and has not strayed too far form the original forumla that made this place a dream to unwind for a couple days. There is an evening walking street full of shops, restaurants, coffee houses and guest houses done in the free spirit manner one expects from Pai. The best way to decribe this city is to compare it to Burlington, VT or Asheville, NC with a Thai twist.
Getting Here: Half the fun of Pai, Thailand is getting there. Best way is from Chiang Mai. There are many shuttle buses that can take you the 150km + route. A better option is to rent a motorbike in Chiang Mai for 200 baht or do the Mae Hong Son Loop