One of my goals with the guesthouse reviews I share here is to present accommodation options for travelers working with all kinds of different budgets. With prices starting around 120 THB (about $3.60) per night, Purple Monkey Guesthouse in Pai is an awesome option for even the most hardcore budget travelers and backpackers.
Located about 3 hours away from Chiang Mai, Pai is the chilled-out break most travelers find themselves craving after spending a busy few days trekking, temple-hoping and visiting elephant camps in Chiang Mai. Pai’s slow, lazy, riverside way of life reminds me of a lot of Kanchanaburi, one of my other favourite places in Thailand. Pai is that place where you arrive intending to stay for a day or two, and then end up staying for a month; a place where the extent of your day’s activities often consist of rolling out of bed and climbing straight into a hammock.
Purple Monkey Guesthouse is the embodiment of Pai’s simple and relaxed style. Situated 0.5 km from the city centre, the guesthouse’s location along the river feels completely isolated, yet it takes less than 10 minutes to walk downtown. Our bungalow was painted in a cheerful rainbow of colours, with some wooden steps leading down to the attached outdoor bathroom at the back.
Personally, I think outdoor bathrooms are the best option if you’re hoping to spend under $10 on a guesthouse in Asia. Enclosed bathrooms in budget guesthouses are typically smelly and damp, with the poor circulation and moist air attracting all kinds of bugs. In an outdoor bathroom, on the other hand, the free air circulation helps the floors and walls dry off easily, plus bugs tend to pass through, rather than lurking in dark corners.
Our big bed was draped in mosquito netting, so we were able to sleep with the windows open, cooling off with a combination of the overhead fan and the night breeze. I can’t help but think mosquito netting looks romantic. I understand that it’s purely functional, but there’s something so cozy about sleeping surrounded by a canopy of netting. Our bed took up most of the space in our room, but our bungalow also included a small private patio out front where we could chill out at night and listen to the sounds of the river. Wi-Fi was available, but the connection was quite weak. That said, I felt completely out of place whenever I tried to open my laptop to work in Pai anyway. It’s just not a place you go with the intention of getting things done.
At the time of writing, the guesthouse has only been open for a few months, so you might notice some construction going on as you approach. Once you walk past the construction to the bungalows, however, the location is really laid-back and perfect. It also includes an open restaurant/bar area, which is located a few steps away from the bungalows. Nearby that is a set of hammocks, where we could easily have lost entire days reading and napping. There always seemed to be a staff member or another guest hanging around the bar who we could chat with. The staff regularly organize pub crawls and other activities, including a BBQ on our first night. With only a few other bungalows, Brent and I started to recognize the other guests pretty quickly, and we always felt welcome to join in with whatever events were going on. I’d definitely recommend it if you’re looking for a clean, welcoming, budget-friendly place to stay in Pai.
Disclosure: Purple Monkey Guesthouse hosted Brent and me for 3 nights in exchange for a review. I strive to provide honest reviews, and only recommend places and products that I really believe you would enjoy as much as I did.