A” catch-and-release” fish resort?
This was the first time I heard this term.
I was on a minivan bus, thrilled by my last-minute decision to whisk away for a two-day weekend to a place, I’d known only from a paragraph in a guidebook. It was like a blind date. I didn’t know what to expect and I was nervous; I hadn’t a clue where I’d be staying!
Pai, the Thai-hippie backpacker town, just three to five hours north of Chiang Mai and 362 road curves to survive, was my mysterious destiny. Little did I know then, that Beung Pai Fish Farm would be the destination that sold me on the entire place!
“It’s not in the guidebooks and there’s so many resort and guesthouses in Pai. It’s spread mostly by word-of-mouth. It’s a little outside of the main antics of the town- in the middle of some rice fields- but trust me, staying there is worth it!”
Graham, a 40-ish expat from the U.K., sitting next to me, eagerly divulged his secret hideaway. My curiosity was hooked. I held onto it like a college kid waiting for SMS text directions to a secret rave.
“You see, I love to fish. At Beung Pai, I can do that without harming my catch…”
The resort (that’s what I like to call it) houses two large fishing ponds, where fish lovers can feed fish and fishing enthusiasts can enjoy their catch, without the repercussions of a kill. Fishing poles are for rent and guests can fish on the premises, as long as they release their fish back into the water.
“…besides, the bungalows are clean, spacious and nicely decorated. The place is so peaceful because it’s in the middle of rice paddy fields and the owners are lovely; they make the most delicious homemade granola yogurt you’ve ever had!”
Owned by a beautiful young Thai couple, Orn and Run (who incidentally, generously taught me how to ride a motorbike in their parking lot!), the fish farm serves up a cruelty-free philosophy, scrumptious organic cooking and lots of love, making you feel like part of their family!
The bamboo bungalows are lined in an idyllic setting and come with bathroom ensuite, a bedroom with desk, fan, dressing cabinet and free wi-fi. All verandas have hammocks and some open to the lake! Rooms are clean, stylishly designed and spacious. The resort offers trekking and fishing trip guides, as well as an organic food restaurant. It’s all serene. In the morning when the fog is still lifting, the atmosphere is simply, magical!
Now here’s the kicker– the price. Beung Pai doesn’t hail “resort” prices, which is unfathomable considering the quality and unique experience they offer! Depending on season, you can get a room anywhere from 500 – 1800 baht (approx $17- 60 USD) which covers a range of options for every budget. Oh my lucky Buddha!
Pick up a pole and fish the day away, swing on your hammock or just hang out in the lake lounge feeding fishes… Beung Pai Fish Farm offers a down-to-earth, leisurely and elegant escape from the hyper-hippie action growing in Pai. Of all the charms of Thailand budget pads, Beung Pai offers a unique stay for travelers, who want to have more than the average resort or guesthouse experience.
Experience this incredible gem now, before its sweet owners realize they should be cha-ching! ing you more!
Note: When I stayed at this resort in 2009; it was less than a year old. Though its possible fishing policies have changed, I feel this post is still valid to post as one of my more unique and sublime stays in Thailand and since, the resort is only climbing in Tripadvisor reviews!
The White Sheets Reviews are Grrrl Traveler recommendations of guesthouses, hostels and hotels I’ve stayed at. Selections are based on their cleanliness (‘white sheets‘), service, hospitality and budget.