We’ve given you the lowdown of the top restaurants in Pai overall, vegan and vegetarian spots, cafes for the best coffee and atmosphere, and also where to get breakfast and brunch. If those weren’t enough, we’re now detailing the best Pai restaurants to get cheap eats! Read on for some awesome and affordable options!
Pai Walking Street
If you’re looking for a variety of cheap eats, the choice is obvious: head to the nightly Pai market on the walking street! Backpackers who are missing Western food will be pleased to find a wealth of options: toasties of all tastes and flavors, homemade ice cream, traditional Thai goodies, kebabs from a rotisserie, sushi, burgers, pizza, and more! Make sure to walk the market in its entirety, you don’t want to miss out on some hidden gems. Plus, everything is affordable so you’ll be able to sample numerous dishes every night!
Ganesh Bar & Restaurant
You’ll obvs want to load up on as much Thai food as possible during your trip to the Land of Smiles. Enter: Ganesh Bar & Restaurant. This cozy spot will satisfy your spicy-noodle cravings and is cheap enough for you to frequent every day if you’re keen. They make an incredible khao soi (coconut curry soup with crispy noodles and vegetables) with chicken, pork, or tofu for only ฿50. The portions are large and the staff is friendly — what more could you ask for?
Location: 139/ RO Pho Cho Mae Hong Son 3065 Rd, Pai, Amphoe Pai, Chang Wat Mae Hong Son 58130, Thailand — VIEW MAP
Contact: +66 81 706 4608
Hours: Daily from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Chew Xin Jai Vegan Food
It seems as though restaurants serving vegan specialty food always jack up the prices. This is not the case, however, as Chew Xin Jai Vegan Food in Pai, Thailand. This strictly vegan venue is one of the cheapest restaurants on our list, with entire meals for less than a dollar. The buffet-style restaurant allows you to choose from one, two, or three mains laid out with a large portion of brown rice, and their menu also features an abundance of animal product-free items starting at ฿30. It lacks fancy decor or any type of aesthetically pleasing interior, but who needs an atmosphere when your meal is only a buck?
Location: — VIEW MAP
Hours: Open daily from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. (closed on Sundays)
Travelers looking for a proper burger will be thrilled to find Grunge Burgers. You might see these guys with a cart at the night market, but they’ve also got a little restaurant right off the walking street where you can sit and enjoy your tasty burger. The beef patties are large, cooked to perfection, and topped with loads of bacon, cheese, mushrooms, avocado and more! Vegetarians can order the black bean or chickpea burger and everybody should make sure to get a side of homemade fries! While a bit more costly than the local Thai dishes, Grunge Burgers has super reasonably priced western food to satisfy your cravings.
Location: Pai, Pai District, Mae Hong Son 58130, Thailand — VIEW MAP
Contact: +66 86 348 3853
Hours: Daily from 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.
Big’s Little Cafe
With meals starting off at as little as ฿30 (about $0.90), visitors to Pai who are ballin’ on a budget cannot go wrong by venturing to Big’s Little Cafe for a meal (or two). The venue is only open until 2:30 p.m., so be sure to get here early enough to pull up a bar stool and enjoy one of the delicious and affordable meals. Big’s Little Cafe specializes in breakfast food and burgers. Each can be tailored to your palette by adding on cheap extras like avocado, cheese, or veggies. This cafe is found right on Pai Walking Street, making it one of the best venues to people watch while enjoying an affordable meal!
Get the most bang for your buck (aka baht) at Na’s Kitchen in Pai. This eatery is located just a stone’s throw away from Pai Walking Street and has both indoor and outdoor seating to choose from. Na’s Kitchen lacks things like air-conditioning and aesthetic, but the venue certainly makes up for it with its wide array of delicious and affordable dishes. There are one too many menu items to choose from, including stir-fries, fried fish dishes, salads, soups, Thai curries, and much more. Whatever it is you are craving, Na’s Kitchen is likely to please. Appetizers start at ฿40, Thai soups start at ฿100, salads start at ฿70, and noodles, like the famous pad Thai, starts at only ฿60. You (and your wallet) cannot go wrong by choosing to dine at Na’s Kitchen while on a strict, backpacker’s budget!
Charlie and Lek’s
For backpackers on a tight budget, scouring the city for the cheapest eats becomes kind of a priority. If you are not willing to compromise delicious taste for price, however, then Charlie and Lek’s is the venue for you. This homely restaurant is serving up some of the best Thai dishes in Pai, and meals start out at as little as a dollar. You can literally decide on the price of your meal by what it is you put in it. For example, tofu and vegetable dishes are only ฿50 (about $ 1.50), while shrimp dishes are ฿75 (about $2.25). The venue is also considerably healthier in comparison to some of the other restaurants on our list and is a must-visit dining venue for broke backpackers in Pai!
Karsa Long Thai Food
Karsa Long Thai food is a small, hole in the wall venue serving up a range of Thai and international dishes. This restaurant has all the makings to impress almost every type of diner. Do you love breakfast? Karsa Long Thai food has got you covered. Are you in the mood to sample some of the country’s most famous dishes? Then be sure to sample a delicious curry. Are you a vegetarian or vegan? That’s no problem! Most importantly, this restaurant appeals to those backpacker’s on a tight budget, with menu items starting out at ฿50 (about $1.50).
Location: — VIEW MAP
Hours: Daily from 8:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Another affordable Pai restaurant along the walking street is Sugarcane. The same Thai family has been living at this location for nearly 100 years, formerly operating as a mechanical shop while also selling food. Over the years, it grew into a proper restaurant and was eventually passed down to the youngest sister in the family, who traveled around North America and Europe and then opened Sugarcane in 2017. Serving authentic Thai dishes, this restaurant has become a favorite to many backpackers traveling through Pai. They can make any dish as spicy (or not) as you’d like, and can make your food vegan or vegetarian as well.
The second burger joint on our list of cheap Pai restaurants is Burger Queen. With a choice of chicken, beef, sweet potato and pumpkin, mushroom, or eggplant burger, every type of traveler is guaranteed to find something to their liking. Burger Queen also makes their own steak-cut fries, which are thick and perfectly fried. Be sure to order these with their homemade garlic mayo (you’re welcome in advance). If you wanna hang out here for a while, grab one of their board games and get comfortable!
More Information About the Best Pai Restaurants for Backpackers
Hungry for more? Looking to sample the absolute best food at the top Pai restaurants during your trip? Then check out these other articles we’ve rounded up about the top eateries in town!
- Pai Restaurants: A Backpacker’s Guide on Where to Eat from Mad Monkey Hostels
- The 5 Best Restaurants in Pai, Thailand by Chan Wing Yan from The Culture Trip
- How We Slice It – A Guide to Pai. Part Two: Where to Eat from One Modern Couple
- Down the Pai-Hole: A Local Guide to Pai, Thailand by Shannon Wolf from Rad Season