I was trying to hide my two cameras swinging right beside my arms as we walked through Pai’s narrow Rungsiyanon Road. Even if the scene set before me spoke much loudly of touristy trappings, I couldn’t help but feel somewhat abashed that I was hefting two big cameras right along with all hippie backpackers this side of Northern Thailand.
|CUTESY POSTCARDS BEING SOLD AT THE WALKING STREET|
Say sawadikap to Pai’s version of Khao San Road. Aptly called the Pai Walking street, a half-kilometer road running along the main artery of the town. Along both sides, there’s nothing but shops selling souvenirs, handicrafts, artsy-cutesy-touristy stuff, restaurants and bars.
|COME NIGHTFALL, BIKES AND PEDESTRIANS RULE THE ROAD, ALMOST|
There’s not much happening here during the daytime, although most of the stalls are open, but come back at after the sun has set and the place comes to life. Right then, the Walking Street would be closed to traffic—I’m saying that loosely as bikes, motorcycles and sometimes a few four-wheeled vehicles also come crashing through the supposedly all-pedestrian road—as tourists, both local and foreign would start milling along the middle of the road.
|A MOBILE PERSONALIZED POSTCARD STATION|
It’s not as crowded and crazy as Khao San, even the bars can’t beat the laid-back nature of Pai, but it still boasts of a pretty good nightlife and an even better night market. Most of the stuff I saw being hawked here are quite unique to the place, not to mention, so much cheaper.
|SUPER CHEAP STREETFOOD|
|ROLLED BACON WOULD BE MY GUESS|
We initially went over to the Pai Walking Street to grab dinner, not knowing what to expect from this quiet northern town. And we were totally blown away at how cheap everything was, it’s like everything was set at half the price you would pay for in Bangkok. I cannot believe that I could buy a jumbo-sized sausage for just 10 baht (0.25 USD)!
|KHAO SOI AT PAI’S WALKING STREET|
I heard that khao soi, a Burmese noodle soup that made its way to Northern Thailand, is pretty good here too, even better than those in Chiang Mai, or so they say. So we tried that too. And although I wasn’t really able to sample these in Chiang Mai I can say that it was pretty decent.
|I HAVE TOTALLY NO IDEA WHAT THIS IS|
A walk through the street from end to end would not only give your legs a good workout, but your tummy as well. It takes great control to simply not buy and eat from every single store you pass by, what with their prices and all.
|CUBED ICE CREAM!|
|THE ONLY THING MISSING IS THE BOTTLE OF TEQUILA|
There’s the usual creepy crawlies stall hawking worms and grasshoppers, stands selling blocky rectangular ice cream which they only skewer to sticks right before giving them to you, and all the unnamable local street food all along the sidewalks.
|A TYPICAL CAFE ALONG PAI’S WALKING STREET|
Passing by several funky bars, we thought of drinking a few bottles of Chang before going back at the Pai House of Love where we were staying, but we thought better of it since we still need to motorbike our way back to the resort. We can see not a few backpackers nursing injured arms and legs which is really not an uncommon sight in Pai.
|INSIDE THE ONLY BOOKSTORE I SAW ALONG THE WALKING STREET|
For those wanting to party on to the wee hours of the morning, it would be much more convenient to book your stay at one of the many hostels and inns right along Pai’s Walking Street (check them here). I almost wished we stayed here, but I still dig the super serene vibe of our resort of choice.
|A BIT OF CULTURE FOR YOU|
While you really can’t glean much of Thai culture at Pai’s Walking Street, you can still see glimpses of them through a few hand-woven fabrics being sold by friendly local kids, a few hill-tribe people performing with their unique instruments at random street-corners and the Burmese-style temple set smack in the middle of the area (as in most of Pai’s tourist attractions, no entrance fee needed).
|HASHTAG WORTH IT|
Most people I know went to Pai not because of its waterfalls (Mo Paeng and Pam Bok), nor its Memorial Bridge, not even its landscape anomalies like the Land Split and the Pai Canyon, but because of this street, the Pai Walking Street; braving the punishing 762 curves from Chiang Mai to experience the cool hippie vibe of this particular road.
But is it worth the nausea of traveling to this place. It most definitely is. #WorthIt.