Aug 12 2013
Why Not (there’s no question mark) in Pai — Mae Hong Son‘s favourite traveller destination — serves some of the best coffee in town and is also a fine spot for a well-chilled beer or pick-you-up cocktail at the end of the day.
In the mornings, Why Not wears its coffee shop and breakfast cafe hat, then from 17:00 onwards the food menu gets replaced with a cocktail list and a bar hat appeals. Consistently featuring at all times of the day are friendly staff, a great location, good drinks and very reasonable prices.
If the classy and lovingly decorated Wishing Well is new Pai, then Why Not is uncompromisingly trad Pai: minimal decor excepting an obligatory Bob Marley poster, tin roof, wonky bar stools and a comfortably grungy feel, which will either have you feeling completely at home after 5 minutes or dashing off to somewhere more chic where a cocktail costs twice as much but does come with a coloured parasol.
Breakfasts are cheap and cheerful, ranging from eggs and toast at 60 baht to muesli, fruit salad and yoghurt at 80 baht and through to a full English at 145 baht, with a choice of freshly squeezed juices. What impressed us most though was the excellent coffee and indeed owner Pong, a local Pai lad, informed us that it was roasted and blended by his dad from Doi Chang beans, a locally grown ‘fair trade’ coffee from Chiang Rai province.
Why Not is located around halfway down the town’s main drag, Chiasongkram Road, which runs from the bamboo bridge up to the bus station (see our Pai map here). It’s a strategic spot and lively in the mornings, with local shop holders popping in for a brew, expats checking in to pick up on the latest gossip and tourists grabbing some brekkie on their way to the bus station or the day’s destinations.
The town quietens down during the day when everyone’s out visiting, then picks up again late afternoon and early evening, which coincides well with Why Not’s 5 to 9 happy hour. No food is served in the evenings but you can pop in for a pre-dinner drink or a post-dinner coffee. We’re not usually big cocktail fans but their mojito was a damn fine one and a great deal at only 80 baht. There’s a range of well chilled beers and spirits and, yes, since this is Pai, they do serve buckets.
Opening times are slightly erratic. In theory 08:00 should see doors open, but it’s often more like 09:00, but closing time is a rigid 24:00 due to licensing laws.
Skip the mediocre waterfalls, moderately interesting temples and over-developed hilltribe villages: as you may have guessed, people watching is our favourite Pai pastime and this is the place to do it.
Chiasongkram Rd (nearly opposite aYa motorbike rentals), Pai
Open daily 09:00-12:00
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