I can see why people come to Pai for two days and stay for five. It's easy to lose track of time, to forget all your worries. With signs promoting love and peace and slow living everywhere, one can easily get swept up in the chilled out vibe the city exudes.
Pai is the only place in Thailand I've felt that tourists are actually a part of the culture. Unlike other popular backpack destinations such as Khao San Road in Bangkok or Koh Phangan's Hat Rai Beach, there isn't much of a divide between locals and travelers. There isn't a separate bar scene where the locals hang out, and the dining restaurants host street food prices.
Maybe it's because the type of traveler interested in coming to Pai is typically that of a laid back nature, willing to join the locals for a beer on the side of the road or sit and help them make jewelry or shoes. Maybe it's because the locals are so relaxed that meeting new people on a daily basis is something they thrive on, and selling their handcrafted goods allows them to do just that.
Every night at 6pm, the creative minds of Pai locals display their hard work for the town to see. With booths set up all the way down Walking Street, you can do everything from purchasing unique, handmade goods to getting your portrait drawn, drinking tea out of a bamboo cup, watching a man juggle glass balls on nearly every limb, or listening to local musicians perform. Pai is a creative paradise, where inspiration abounds.
Get started at Pittalew Art Gallery, where not only are beautiful paintings by Artist Sa-Ard Nilkong displayed inside a quirky little house, but the entire landscape is an artist’s dream. Large swings hang from trees. Beads dangle in the breeze. Beautiful flowers rest along the creek running by. Once a month Pitta Lew has live music events where the entire town is invited to come hang out, dance a little and enjoy the gallery. Unfortunately they don’t serve food or drinks (yet), but I’d recommend taking a good book and staying a while.
Don’t have that book yet? Before heading to Pittalew, stop in at Books and get lost in the boxes of used books upstairs, selling for 100 baht each. If you have room to carry them, you can buy two and get the third one free. Or maybe you’ll end up staying long enough to finish them all, and stop in for more on your way out of town.
If you’re into postcards, stock up on the hilarious photos from the eccentric gentlemen selling photos of himself all over Thailand out of a turquoise, Volkswagen Bug at the night market. When you’re ready to send them, you won’t have to go far. Unique mailboxes, both old and new, are a staple decoration all over Pai town. Even Pittalew has one on the way out should you find the atmosphere a good place to write home.
It's a town that invites you to come, hang out and stay a few days or a few months. In Pai you won't find tuk-tuks, and taxis are rare. You won’t find big clubs or crowded restaurants. You won’t feel guilty about spending a day in the hammock, reading, writing, painting, sleeping or just relaxing.
And you won’t want to leave.
Visit Baan Pittalew: Tel. – 08-3575-1355, Web – www.pittalew-art.com