Pai - Review - Rebecca Saw travel blogger-002

What to do in Pai, Thailand – eat, shop, massage

I’ve covered a bit on traveling to Pai from KL, Malaysia (HERE), the weather and what are some of the attractions along the journey from Chiangmai (HERE).

So now that you’re in Pai, what could you do next?

Le Vintage Pai Thailand-001

Well, Pai district is a predominantly tourism-oriented town. Everything you know about Thailand; warm hospitality, cheap, delicious food and great shopping applies here as well.
Pai is just 200% more laid-back and its attractions more nature-oriented.

Still, that doesn’t mean the cheap massages and potential shopping thrills disappeared.

1. SHOPPING IN PAI

The most common item sold here is probably postcards ( you will see them everywhere!) and t-shirts that says “Pai”.

DSC08700

Leveraging on the tourism wave there are many shops around Pai.
However an all-one-venue to shop would be the walking street (Rungsiyanon Road).
We were there late evening and grabbed dinner at one of the restaurants (Baan Pai) before taking a long, slow stroll down this busy, vibrant street.

Dinner was delicious and besides the usual Thai salads and tom yam, I particularly liked the baked chicken, flavoulful til the bone and was served with a really kick-ass spicy sauce at the side.
Seafood is a predominant choice and the cuisine is Northern Thai style.

Pai - night market2

Like most night market in the world, Pai night market offers souvenirs, handmade and unique handicrafts, clothes, soaps, candles, jewellery, leather bags and paintings.

The vibe is very casual and the pace, serenely laid-back. Unlike markets in bigger towns which are likely to be jam-packed with aggressive vendors and buyers, you could actually browse the shops at leisure here.
Majority of the vendors aren’t pushy and they will allow you to examine their goods at your will.
Prices are already low to begin with, and if you do bargain, be kind and fair.

BELOW:
Ample space to walk without having to elbow anyone aside!

DSC08694

Pai, Pai, Pai.
Unless you’re really discipline (or broke) you will most definitely walk away with something with the word “Pai” printed on it.

DSC08700

DSC08699

pai t-shirts for sale

Postcards, stationeries and artwork. Pai is a very artsy and craft oriented town. The shops, restaurants and cafes ooze character and originality. It is rare to find any that are plain or monochrome.
And yes, that red letter box is everywhere!

Pai - night market, night street

pai souvenirs for sale-001

Some of these shops allow patrons to chill, order a drink and mingle at their space.

hangout cafes in Pai night market

Pai - night market , night life

It is a great way to make friends; over meals and a beer or two.

IMG_4991

Handwoven scarves are popular and there are so many designs to choose from. I would hazard a rough count of almost 20 different stalls selling pashminas, scarves and woven cloth.
Prices start from RM10 (100 baht) and these make practical, affordable souvenirs.

pai souvenirs for sale

DSC08706

You will also find authentic street food including halal dishes.

Pai - night market

Pai - night market1

It is a long street and at several points, catchy Thai tunes are sung by the local performers.

DSC08704

Pai - night market , night life-001

2. Where to stay: 

There are large cosy guesthouses nearby as well.
A quick research around gave us the figures of approximately RM30 for dorm sharing beds and RM60 – RM200 for a private room. 

shopping and massage in Pai - night market

The mild weather encourages outdoor activities. In the evenings, art cafés and bars prove to be popular hang-out joints.

shopping and massage in Pai - night market-001

3. Night Life in Pai

Night life in Pai isn’t non-existent as one may think. Yes it may be a rural side of Thailand and its main allure the nature but the arrival of tourists almost meant Pai has stepped up its game.

It is not the raucous type you see in Bangkok but a wonderfully mellow, casual vibe kind that part of the charm of Pai.
Stroll the streets and choose a bar that suits you. Most play indie house, blues, pop or the blues.
As you would probably know by now, Thai beers are cheap. Non-alcoholic mocktails and juices are available too.

Pai - night market , night life-001.html

Me: Happy with my purchases – a hat (yes the one I’m wearing!) and some unique handmade jewellery!
Gosh I do love the walking street here in Pai!

Pai - night market3

Nice? 🙂

shopping in Pai, Thailand 5

shopping in Pai, Thailand

shopping in Pai, Thailand 1

shopping in Pai, Thailand 2

shopping in Pai, Thailand 3

shopping in Pai, Thailand 4

Pai Walking Street/Night Market:

Location: 1095, Wiang Tai, Pai, Mae Hong Son 58130, Thailand

4.MASSAGE in Pai

We went to this one; Masterly Massage which is right at the end of the night walking street. It is divided into 2 sections; air-conditioned or otherwise.
The massage seats looks well-maintained and there were masseurs available immediately; unlike the other outlets where we were told to wait for 30mins to an hour.

shopping and massage in Pai - night market-002

Yes, massages are popular everywhere in Thailand.
This overall joint is cosier as well. The masseur I got was friendly and obliging, but I can’t commend her on her skils.
I like deep point tissue massages with emphasis on pressure points. My feet hurts, my ankles and my knees too no thanks to all the workouts that I do regularly.
I had hoped she could relieve me of those pains (even a little would be great), but the massage I got was more of a relaxation massage where she just kneaded and rubbed lightly over my feet.

CHIANGMAI iphone - Nov 2014

5. ACCOMMODATION Review: Belle Villa Resort, Pai

I had covered a bit of that above for hostels & backpackers but if you have a bit of budget to splurge and is looking for a mid-high accommodation with privacy perhaps Belle Villa might be worth considering.

The reviews on TripAdvisor are “very good” which is accurate enough.
It is not “superb”, but I liked the country-like style  feel of the place.

belle villa resort pai - review-006

Belle Villa Resort Pai is a 4-stars boutique hotel which is about 25 minutes walk from the night market.
Baki Zainal & I walked back after our massage (roads are clean and the area is safe) so yes, we can assure you that it is about 25 minutes. 🙂

belle villa resort pai - review-007

Our accommodations were individual cottages on stilts with nice balconies and great views over the fields to the valley.
Serene, absolutely quiet save for the occasional insect rhythms and private, it was like the perfect yoga/meditation/jungle retreat venue.

belle villa resort pai - review-003

Waking up to this a view is something I could get used to!

REVIEW - bellevue resort - Pai

I was anxious about mosquitoes at first but of course the management would have thought of all that.
The windows and door had screens installed to keep the insects and other possible intruders out while still allowing the ventilation of nature in.

belle villa resort pai - review-005

The rooms are equipped with a minibar, complimentary water, basic bathroom amenities, safe, bath robes, slippers, fridge, TV, DVD player and 2 phones, one in the bedroom and another in the bathroom.
There is a reclining area next to the big window overlooking outside which is really nice and perfect for that nap or to snuggle up with a novel.
It is clear that the cottage is a bit worn (the carpets & furnishings) but it is cosy and comfortable. The wooden fittings found throughout the room’s enclosure adds to the rustic feel.

belle view resort Pai - review

Back to nature or not, I was most happy that there were WIFI and about 3-4 electrical points to charge my essentials.

Bellevue Hotel

belle villa resort pai - review-004

The interior of the bathroom can be a bit “eccentric” but not in a bad way. It is the “disjointed” from the rest of the cottage.

BELOW: Walkway from room to the bathroom where the wardrobe and minibar section is.

walking into the bathroom

See what I meant?
You’re supposed to shower within that yellow round and the surrounding area is wooden planks. Water pressure can be a bit slow at times but you will be clean eventually, I promise.

belle villa resort pai - review

But I do love how spacious and quaint it is.

belle villa resort pai - review-001

The resort has a nice lobby and there are two pools – one big at the new building where the modern bungalows are (still under the same resort).
The large one is good for swimming while the other smaller one has a beautiful landscape surrounding it.

BELOW: The lobby.

belle view resort pai - lobby and breakfast

The smaller pool at twilight.

1 belle view resort - pool

During daylight you get views like this.

belle view resort pai - lobby and breakfast-002

Breakfast was small but covers pretty much the basics of eggs, toast, fried rice/noodles, juices and fruits.
The breakfast area (small cafe) sits on a nice terrace and allows you to inhale the cool air while savouring the countryside view overhung with a mysterious mist.

Chiangmai Day 3

Breakfast isn’t anything to shout about but since the street food at Pai is cheap and good I would suggest that instead.

belle view resort Pai - Review - Rebecca Saw -002

We were hosted in private cottages but the newer development are the modern bungalows. It is a stark difference from the wooden cottages as it is a contemporary bungalow built from cement.

**Hotel provides shuttle to town but do enquire at the lobby.

Address: 113 Moo 6, HuayPoo-WiangNua Rd | Tambol WiangTai, Pai 58130, Thailand
Region: Thailand > Mae Hong Son Province > Pai
Price range (per night): RM179 – 480
Hotel Class: 4 star — Belle Villa Resort Pai 4*
Number of rooms: 44

7. SIGHT – SEEING and more shopping at Shandicun Chinese Village.

Pai - Review - Rebecca Saw travel blogger-002

Shandichun Chinese Village is one of the 3 main Chinese villages situated in northern Thailand.
This village is populated by Chinese mainly from the Yunnan Region in southeast China. They were loyal to Chiang Kai-shek and the Nationalist Army and they came into Thailand when Mao Tse-tung pushed the Nationalist Chinese Army off continental China onto Taiwan.
So they escaped south into Burma and Thailand and formed fairly isolated villages that retain their culture, language and schools, one of which is this Shandichun village.

Shandichun Chinese Village - Pai, thailand-008

Shandichun Chinese Village - Pai, thailand-002

This picturesque village feels almost like a movie set up. Yes, it has an almost unreal vibe to it.
The houses are built out of mud and straw but they looked solid and so well-maintained that you wonder if anyone actually live in them.
Some of these houses are made into shops, and the villagers seem used to having people walking around with their cameras and poking their heads into their homes.

Chiangmai - day 21

Shandichun Chinese Village - Pai, thailand-009

The fields are neatly manicured, there are no signs of rubbish anywhere and a pond with small bridge is found right in the middle of the landscape.

Shandichun Chinese Village - Pai, thailand-006

1 Shandichun Chinese Village - Pai, thailand-010

One of the main highlight here is to sit on the wooden mechanism that works like a Ferris wheel.
Another is to experience horseback riding or well, just shop.
The honey sold here is amazing, and we were shown the bee hives high in the trees right above our heads.
There are plenty of handcrafted items, souvenirs, nuts, dried fruits, tea and wines.
The vendors speaks little English so it is best to visit here with a local guide.

Shandichun Chinese Village - Pai, thailand-013

Shandichun Chinese Village - Pai, thailand-007

Chiangmai - day 2

DSC08641

Spot the bee hives! 🙂

Shandichun Chinese Village - Pai, thailand-004

This is a great place to spend an afternoon sightseeing. The environment is very tranquil, there is little activity and everyone mind their own business so you can certainly enjoy a relaxed afternoon in peace.
And please, do buy the dried fruits, honey and nuts. The prices are cheap and the quality is pretty good.
Shandichun Chinese Village is located just 4.5km from Pai with a population about 2,000. I was told that it is possible to play dress up in traditional Chinese costume here though I didn’t witness such activities when I was there or else I would have jumped at the opportunity!

Shandichun Chinese Village - Pai, thailand-005

Chinese village - Pai, chiangmai
Shandicun Chinese Village
Address: 1095, Wiang Tai, Pai, Mae Hong Son 58130, Thailand

8. Cafe hopping in Pai

Coffee in Love  - Pai

Pai is home to a charming and colourful café culture.
Due to its proximity to the natural landscape of Mae Hong Son Province, these cafes usually boast of soothing views over hills and valleys.

Lest you waved all this off as “oh, like KL laa.. all cafes wood, steel, some old junks as decor..” , I’ll like to assure you that SOME of these cafes has imaginative themes that jump out at you, and are very original in both designs and the intended vibe.

We went past quite a few, and one of the more popular cafes here is Coffee In Love, owning its fame to a Thai love movie where a small part of the filming took place.

11 coffee in love pai - review-005

1 scenic - coffee in love-001

It has grew since to become a full-blown tourist location and as expected, there seem to be a crowd here all the time.
We visited twice, and enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere plus the opportunity to commune with nature.

1 coffee in love pai - review-006

1 coffee in love pai - review-001

1 coffee in love pai - review-003

1 coffee in love pai - review-002

Not much can be said for the beverages or the cakes (though 1 or 2 was decent enough) but it is really for the atmosphere more than anything else.

Rebecca Saw - Thailand PAI-001

Coffee in Love  - Pai -001

Coffee in Love
Address: 1095, Wiang Tai, Pai, Mae Hong Son 58130, Thailand

**This trip is made possible thanks to Tourism Authority of Thailand (Malaysia).

coffee in love - pai