Tip: Don’t be afraid to try the street food!

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Looking for the best Pai cafes and restaurants in Pai? Let’s dive in!

I recently visited Thailand for the 5th (6th?) time and I fell in love with this amazing country all over again. We easily ate some of the best food of our trip to Thailand in Pai, sometimes returning to the same places over and over again during our visit. This blog will dive into all of the best restaurants and cafes in Pai, from cozy cafes to roadside stalls selling noodles.

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Lounging at Jaey's Cafe
Lounging at Jaey’s Cafe

Cafes in Pai

So much of what makes Pai, Thailand so amazing is how peaceful and beautiful it is. You could easily spend weeks just visiting the different cafes to read, write, or play games. 

From cafes set in a treehouse to cafes overlooking the rice paddies, there is no shortage of incredible cafes in Pai, Thailand.

Here are a few of my favorite cafes in Pai to visit: 

  • Fat Cat 
  • Bom Bowls 
  • Jaey’s Cafe
  • Monko in Pai 
  • Carrot in the Moon 

Fat Cat

Fat Cat is literally set in a treehouse, or at least that’s what it looks like. You can expect slightly higher prices but everything is so so delicious.

Bom Bowls 

Looking for smoothies and smoothie bowls in Pai? Bom Bowls is the spot for you! They also have a good selection of non-dairy milks for your tea and coffee.

Make sure to head upstairs for the best view!

Bom Bowl smoothie bowls (Pai, Thailand)
Bom Bowl smoothie bowls (Pai, Thailand)
Rooftop terrace at Monko in Pai
Rooftop terrace at Monko in Pai

Jaey’s Cafe

Despite being a bit of a drive outside of Pai’s town center, we visited Jaey’s Cafe more than once during our stay. It is perfectly placed overlooking the popular Bamboo Bridge. The cafe is the perfect place to hang out in the sun, ideally with a mango smoothie in your hand as you lay out in the netted hammocks.

Service can be a bit slow (bring a book!) but everything on the menu is delicious!

Monko in Pai

Monko in Pai is a bit of an uphill trek from town, but totally walkable and totally worth it. There is no food and the drinks are just okay, but the views are unreal. It is removed from the center of town so it was always empty when we visited. This means we had the entire rooftop terrace to ourselves!

It is a perfect place to hang out and read or journal with a view. 

Carrot in the Moon

Delicious drinks and baked goods, located right in the heart of Pai. If you don’t have a scooter to get around, this is a great option for you as it is centrally located.

I got the iced Thai tea and it was delicious, as were the various scones and breads.

Best Restaurants and Bars in Pai 

There is no shortage of great places to eat and drink in Pai, but I’ve put together a list of some of my favorites!

Joy’s Place 

Without a doubt, Joy’s Place has the best food in Pai. The food is delicious and the prices are unbeatable. There are just two simple tables placed in a driveway so don’t expect much of an ambiance. But the food is truly so delicious. My favorites are the pad see ew and green curry chicken. 

Street food on the walking street in pai thailand
Street food on the walking street
Glass noodle salad
Glass noodle salad

Tham Ma Daa Cafe

Laidback spot for beers away from the crowds. The food menu is just okay compared to other options, but the fries are a must-order!

Sunset View Pai 

A+ sunset view, B+ Thai cuisine. Come for a beer and the best sunset view in town. I’d skip the food and wait for something better, but it is definitely worth a visit for the view.

Almost Famous bar in pai, thailand
Almost Famous
Jaey's Cafe by the Bamboo Bridge
Jaey’s Cafe by the Bamboo Bridge

Cheese Madness

I’m not usually one to eat a ton of western food when traveling but Cheese Madness serves the best late-night grilled cheese. For a town that is known for copious amounts of weed, this shop does super well!

Almost Famous

I visited Almost Famous for the first time in 2016, and it was just as fun when I went back in 2023! Almost Famous is a fun, lively bar in Pai with 20+ types of mojitos.

Eat at the Pai Night Market 

If you’re looking for delicious street food, head to the Pai Walking Street any night of the week for a fun night market. The market and food stalls typically run from the early evening until late, although some stalls run all day long.

Food markets are a great way to sample lots of different delicious bites.

Here a few things that I recommend trying:

  • Mango with sticky rice – 50 baht
  • Coconut pancakes – 20 baht
  • Spicy peanut noodles – 20 baht
  • Veggie tofu rolls – 50 baht
  • Rice cake snacks – 25 baht

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8 Best Things to do in Pai

Where to stay in Pai

Due to our lack of planning, we ended up staying in 3 different places throughout our 5 nights in Pai. The good news is that all 3 of them were wonderful and places I would absolutely stay at again! I’ve shared my two favorites down below.

Overall I think where you stay in Pai really depends on whether or not you’ll be renting a scooter to get around. If you’re renting a scooter, then everything is closeby and easy to get to. However, if you are not comfortable renting a scooter and plan to rely on taxis, then I’d recommend staying close to the center of town.

pai thailand hotel

Paddy Haven Fields

Individual bungalows outside of town overlooking a lush paddy field. Shared bathrooms. Amazing sunset views.

Check rates and availability

pai thailand hotel

Baan Pai Riverside

Individual riverfront bungalows with private bathrooms right in the heart of Pai town. Breakfast available.

Check rates and availability

Things to know before visiting Pai, Thailand

  • I think the most important to know is that not only is weed legalized in Thailand (as of 2023), but it is very prevalent in Pai. You can buy weed or pre-rolls at just about any restaurant, cafe, or bar.
  • There are no rideshares like Grab or Bolt. To get around outside of the town you’ll need to either hire a scooter or take taxis.
  • The road to Pai from Chiang Mai is very very windy (over 700 curves). Make sure to take a motion sickness pill in preparation.

How many days in Pai?

I would recommend spending at least 2-3 nights in Pai. Not only is there some much to do and see both in Pai and the surrounding areas, but unless you’ve stopped in as part of the Mae Son loop, you likely traveled quite a few hours to reach Pai. 

3 nights is the perfect amount of time to balance exploring and relaxing in this beautiful mountain area. We stayed 5 nights and never ran out of things to see and do!

How to get to Pai?

If you’re visiting Pai you’re likely either visiting as part of a larger motorcycle loop or traveling directly from Chiang Mai.

I don’t have any experience on the long motorcycle routes in Thailand, so I can’t speak on those. But getting from Chiang Mai to Pai is super easy by shuttle. You can book at any tourist travel shop in Chiang Mai or online. The benefit to booking online is that you can choose your seat. This is huge if you get car sick because the road is super super windy (like 700+ windy curves windy).

Tickets start around 150 baht ($4.50) for a minivan and the journey takes around 3-3.5 hours.

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