North of Chiang Mai - Pai is the town famous among hippies and those who travel off the beaten path. It's a small town located in a beautiful valley and surrounded by natural hot springs, waterfalls and cute little villages. The road to Pai is interesting as well - its a serpentine road that goes up and down along the mountains - it's pretty impressive unless your stomach doesnt like the roller coasters :)
The town basically has 4-5 main streets where everything is happening and it's full of very very very pleasant cafes, natural/organic stores, eateries, crafts shops and very awesome accommodation. To get some more interesting accommodation options - go just outside of the center - over the small river or right on the river (anyone you ask will direct you there) or a bit up in the hills. We stayed a couple of nights in a kind of hobbit dome place in the hills for $10 per night, and then over the river - $6 per night in a cute little hut. It gets pretty chilly at night, so make sure your place has proper blankets. The best way to explore the town is on foot, but if you're staying a bit outside or willing to explore further/go to soak in hot springs - rent a scooter ($4-5 per day) Wifi is available in most of the places, so you can enjoy the nature without losing the connection.
One of our favorite places to eat and just relax is a natural cafe/store on the street parallel t the river - it serves things like curries, all sorts of salads, even a variation of Russian borsch, very tasty teas/chais, home made kefir, kombucha and wheatgrass shots. Another great thing to try is the street food in the evenings - grilled sweet black rice with condensed milk is a must (you'll see it on the street grills looking like purplish black thin pancakes)
We went to visit some local villages just outside of Pai and a hot spring where you can choose a pool of your preferred water temperature (the closer it is to the spring itself - the hotter it is) You can do massages and yoga as well, options are plenty.
Pai is a good place to lay back and relax, forget about the crowds, traffic and busyness, ride your scooter around and enjoy the nature.
After Pai we went for a couple of days to a small village about 2 hours away and stayed at a beautiful guest house right on a river. The most fun thing about these villages is that you get to see how the locals live and maybe experience some of their ways - especially food and transport. Buses from the villages have flexible schedule, so what we did is hitched a ride in the back of a truck sitting on bags of rice and enjoying the views of the mountains.
Pai is definitely a place not to miss in Northern Thailand, it's so chill you won't want to leave it.