Our first impression of Pai was slightly contrary to how it was advertised in blogs we read. It was no longer the super laid back, sleepy hippie town, nestled serenely in the mountains. Motorbikes with wobbly tourists aboard were everywhere, making the pace of the town more chaotic than we expected. Hippie wannabes, we called them, lazily meandered through town, their dreadlocks swinging defiantly. I also think we were the only tourists there who remained tattoo-less. Getting inked seems to be the thing to do while in Pai. Maybe because there is not much else going on?
We found a family-owned guesthouse pretty quickly, near the center of town (Taiya's Guesthouse). It only cost us 200 Baht ($6) per night! A clean room on a quiet back street with a hot shower and free wifi? Yes, please. After finding a place we explored Pai on foot and determined that it was a great place to try new foods and shop for souvenirs, if that's your thing.
In the evening of our first day in Pai, we met up with our friends, the Wagoner Family. We enjoyed dinner with them at Burger Queen (good!) and exploring the night market. Randy and I enjoyed a few Chang beers at a pub in town and the best food I had while in Pai were some deep fried chicken wings in fish sauce at a Thai restaurant near the river. They were literally finger lickin' good!
Overall, we found the pace of life in Pai more relaxing than in Chiang Mai, even with all the tourists zooming about. The air was a bit cooler and definitely cleaner, which we really enjoyed. We would recommend a visit there, but a few days is more than enough time to experience the sites and sounds of Pai.