Pai is a fun little hippie town in the north-west of Thailand. It’s situated in a green and hilly environment and definitely a must visit when you are in Thailand. It’s one of those places where you are planning on staying for one night, and suddenly a week has gone by. I don’t think there’s a more relaxed place in Thailand (aside from the beaches) than Pai. Another plus: it’s fairly cheap! To get you going, I made a list of top things to do in Pai.
The fun thing about this little village: out of the 9 things to do in Pai which I will share with you below, about all of them require a scooter. Well, require might be a bit too strict, but you WANT to hire a scooter. Because let’s be honest, it’s much more fun to drive yourself, right?
So let us begin with our list of must-dos and must-sees. The good thing: almost everything is free of charge!
First, rent a scooter
Transport of choice? A scooter of course. Pai is a very accessible and mostly well paved, which makes it perfectly fit for some laid back driving on your two-wheeled vehicle. There’s lots you can visit around Pai (scroll down for some highlights), but if you are a true scooter lover, make sure to rent one in Chiang Mai and drive to Pai yourself!
Cost: About 150-200 Baht for a full day
Big white buddha (Wat Phra That Mae Yen)
Got your scooter? Good! The big white buddha is a nice little stop which I would recommend. The buddha statue is huge and there’s this very serene vibe to it (if it’s not too busy). When I was there, it wasn’t busy at all, which made it perfect to admire the amazing panoramic views. You have to climb about 300 steps to get to the statue, and appropriate clothing is appreciated (knees and shoulders covered).
PS: You can see the weather is a bit cloudy. That’s the down side of travelling in the rainy season. Although we were very lucky, we still had a little bit of rain that day. If you want to minimize your chances of bad weather, make sure to pick the best time to visit Thailand.
Walk around the market
Every night there’s a fun market on the Pai walking street. Lots of food vendors try to sell their deliciousness to anyone who walks by. One thing is certain: you won’t be hungry with all of those food places. But there are also a lot of market stalls which sell anything, from artsy paintings to hippie jewelry. Yes, it’s a hipster / hippie kinda place, but it’s really relaxed and I’m sure you’ll love it.
Fun memory: My travel buddy T. and I went out for drinks in Pai, and we met these two girls who both got a tattoo on the butt cheek: one got a Minion and the other got Stitch (from Lilo & Stitch). Yep, those things happen in Pai too.
Go to Coffee In Love
If you go driving your scooter around Pai, everyone will tell you to go to Coffee In Love. It’s a place with, admittedly, a great view, where you can enjoy a nice hot cup of coffee and a piece of cake. I wasn’t too fond of the cake (I’ve had better), but the scenery is great so I’d recommend going there for a quick stop.
Cost: Free (unless you want to eat/drink something)
Yun Lai viewpoint at Ban Santichon village
Viewpoints are always worth visiting. Why? There are lots of things you can find everywhere in Thailand, for example Thai food (like Tom Kha Gai and Chicken Cashew stir-fry), beer and nice people. But the view is what makes every location truly unique. So of course there’s a viewpoint in this list of things to do in Pai. You need to conquer an uphill road, but it’s worth it in the end when you grab your cup of tea and banana and enjoy this with a gorgeous panorama on the side ;).
Cost: 20 baht (but you get tea and bananas)
Ahh, the joy of a jungle jacuzzi. An early morning is better when it begins with taking a dip in the crystal clear and warm water of one of the hot springs in Pai. There are several around the area. Most popular? The Tha Pai Hot Springs (click for accommodation), which are located in the middle of the jungle. Imagine the steam floating over the water, surrounded by dense green trees and hanging vines… gorgeous. A visit will set you back about 300 baht, but it’s a truly magical experience.
Cost: 300 baht
Don’t want to spend that much money? There’s also the Pai Hot Springs Spa Resort which you can visit for 100 baht if you are not a guest. Or the even cheaper Sai Ngam Hot Spring, which is more of a local place and will cost you 20 baht per person and 20 baht per scooter. I’ve heard the last one is the best value for money, and the least touristy.
Hike the jungle
Of course there’s a hike in this list. I love hikes! This is not an official hike, but the surroundings of Pai mostly consist of jungle so it’s quite easy to just hop off that scooter and go explore. That’s exactly what we did. We tried to find a waterfall (and failed), but it was a brilliant hike anyway. Just make sure to follow a river or stream, so you can always find your way back.
There are several waterfalls to explore around Pai, and it’s up to you which one suits you. Although we failed to find one waterfall, we did find another. The most well known waterfall: The Mor Paeng waterfall. It is one of the top things to do in Pai. You can swim there so don’t forget to take your bathing suit.
A few miles from the city centre of Pai you will find the beautiful Pai Canyon with spectacular views over the valley. During the day time it’s gorgeous, but it’s especially beautiful around sunset. Be prepared to walk over narrow cliffs with over 50m drops on both sides. Not for the faint hearted. I think the Pai Canyon was one of my ultimate favourite things to do in Pai. If you want to stay at an accommodation close to Pai Canyon, check these out.
I made the perfect 10 day Thailand itinerary. Curious? Check it out!