Pai in northern Thailand is a tiny town where massive tourism has not come yet. Who goes to Pai are “good vibes people”, want to relax from noisy cities and enjoy the moment. Negative point? The 762 curves on the way between Chiang Mai and Pai.
Maybe you could things there’s nothing to do in Pai, but no, it has traditional temples, waterfalls, mountains, night market, meditation, yoga class, healing, reiki, good music like jazz and blues, endless choices of vegetarian and vegan food, pool bar and several other interesting workshops. And can you guess what Pai doesn’t have? Tuktuk, prostitution, McDonalds and noise. But it has 7Eleven…
WHAT TO DO IN PAI
Time passes slowly in Pai, but at night it’s another story. I listed the most interesting things to do and see I town. Also it’s possible to do by yourself just renting a scooter. If you do not drive, see the tour options I listed.
I recommend staying at least 1 full day, 2 nights in Pai. Now open Maps.me https://maps.methe free and offline map application to pin all places and plan your itinerary.
In the past, this central place was used to feed elephants. Today is the most famous and important temple in Pai. The pagoda Shan and the house of the spirits protect the city from negative things.
Also known as Temple on the Hill, the temple has a spectacular view over the Pai valley. It is a beautiful place to watch the sunset. Climbing the steps behind the temple, you will find the Big White Buddha.
The White Buddha is visible from all over the Pai valley. It is another quiet place to enjoy the beautiful view and the sunset. You can get there by walking 2km along the road climbing up 353 steps to the Buddha.
It is the temple where is the sacred image of Chiang Saen Buddha Luang Po unw Muang. It’s believed that King Naraesuan Maharaat built this temple to give good kharma to his older sister Pra Peenangsuphan Ganlayaa. The temple is in front of a lake 3.5km from Pai.
It’s the oldest temple in Pai, built over 800 years ago in traditional Thai style. This temple is 3.5km away from Pai, just after Ban Wiang Nua village, where the “noisy” parties take place.
Wat Klang is a temple complex. Inside one of temples has a black Buddha image made of bronze. The image pedestal has an ancient Thai inscription stating that the image was built during the period of King Khu Na Kham.
It’s the temple on Walking Street. Inside it has a huge pagoda, several smaller temples.
Pai’s most famous hot springs are in Huai Nam Dang National Park. It’s expensive for what it offers and it’s 8km away from Pai. Price 200 baht
It’s a resort with thermal water pools and a pool of non-thermal water. It’s 7km from the town center. Price: 100 baht per visit or 500 baht for 10 visits.
Also known as Secret Hot Spring, these hot springs are no longer so secret. It is 15km from Pai, very easy to get there. Price: 20 baht per person, plus 20 baht per motorbike.
Before arriving at the waterfalls you have to walk following the trail along the side. It’s about an hour and a half walk to the falls.
This waterfall is about 7 km from Pai. A waterfall of three layers, one of the most beautiful of the district.
This waterfall is one of Pai’s main attractions and the closest one to the city. You can climb on it and slide easily into a natural pool. If you do not want to slide, just stay in the pool from the top or bottom. You pay nothing, at her arrival there is a bar and the parking lot.
Isolated waterfall with 20 m high cliffs around where water flows. It is a well hidden place to find, because besides walking the highway, you still have to walk another 8km on a side road until you reach Pam Bok Village.
Great view in early morning or sunset. The canyon is 8km from Pai on a road full of curves.
Chinese houses were you can find souvenirs, tea house, restaurants and take pictures in a beautiful place.
The bridge was built by the Japanese to connect Chiang Mai to Myanmar during World War II. Today it is one of Pai’s biggest tourist attractions and is on the way to Pai Canyon.
The Lod Cave is an immense cave with a river passing through it where you can do the bamboo rafting, which is to sit on a structure made of bamboo and someone paddles with a bamboo in the darkness of the cave until you see the sunlight. Lod Cave is in Pai, but 35km away, further to the side of Mae Hong Son in a small village called Sop Pong. The road is very beautiful despite so many curves. Price: 150 baht for guided tour of up to 3 people + 300 baht from bamboo rafting for the same up to 3 people, 450 baht in total.
This viewpoint sits on the road between Pai and Mae Hong Son.
There is cooking class, river rafting, tubbing, motorcycle tours and dozens of other options, all easy to find on Walking Street.
Yoga class at 9am and 5pm. Price 100 baht
Daily yoga classes from 9.30 am to 11.00 am Hatha Flow, and from 5 pm to 6:15 pm Vinyasa. Price 200 baht
Daily classes from Monday to Friday 8-9: 15am, 13-14: 15 and 18: 30-19: 45pm. Price 200 baht per lesson.
Guided meditation on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 11am for free.
Detox and quick treatments, from 3 to 10 days.
Healing, natural healing energy with scheduled schedules.
Active and sitting meditations, aqua floating and healing.
Guided meditation on Tuesday at 9am.
This monastery temple is known as “Home Away from Home” and is 37km from Pai, but it is not difficult to reach by public transportation. The meditation retreat is for beginners and advanced level. The technique is Vipassana taught by English speaking monks. The meditation retreat in this temple of Pai lasts for a maximum of 10 days, has no cost, only a donation, and no appointment. You need to carry a passport, white and “loose” clothes, and also the passport. The other rules and explanation of how to get in the temple, you can see directly on the temple site https://watpatamwua.com
Sundays from 2 pm to 5 pm in front of The Jazz House
Daily 5-7am and 3-6pm. Fresh vegetables, fruits, insects, frogs, etc.
5:00 AM to 11:00 AM, near Pai Airport. Local style market. Look up and you will see the largest mango tree in Thailand.
Fresh vegetables, fruits, meats and frozen products. There is also street food at night.
Starts at 5 in the morning. Local market where you will find all sorts of things. It’s the most interesting market in Pai.
Local market with food, art and live music. It’s in the same place as Wednesday Market.
It has Hill Tribe products, handmade accessories, art, leather goods, souvenirs, Thai and Western food with many vegetarian options. It starts from 17:00 and goes until late at night.
If you don’t ride scooter /moped or have little time in town, I recommend taking a 1-day tour. Prices are same in all agencies, 500 baht. If you think you have to pai the rend, petrol, entrance fee, etc, it definitely worth taking a tour.
The possible combinations if you have a scooter are:
QUICK TIPS OF PAI
The best way to get around in Pai is by renting a motorcycle or scooter. As the town is tiny, composed of 3 streets, and everything is far by road that go up and down in uncountable curves. I don’t think Pai is the best place to learn to drive, but I think a lot of people will do it there.
Prices start from 100 baht and go up to 140 baht for 24 hours with insurance included. Be very careful of scams. Check you moped out, film and photograph the whole motorbike so you do not have stress afterwards.
All stores require you to leave your passport as a security deposit, but at AYA Services they have the option of leaving 2000 baht of deposit in place of the passport, a great option to keep your passport safe with you.
If you have never picked up a motorcycle or scooter in life, or don’t feel confident to riding around, Vespai Rental has private 45-minute lessons per 100 baht teaching everything you need to know. If you rent the motorcycle with them, the class cost 50 baht.
There is only one way to get to and from Pai : from Chiang Mai. It does not matter if you go to Chiang Rai, which on the map seems closer. The road connects Pai to Chiang Mai only and all buses will pass through there. But that does not mean that you cannot pick up packages for Laos (slow boat 1750 baht, 1550 baht bus) or Chiang Rai (500 baht) in Pai.
The road has 762 curves in the little more than 150km that connect one city to another, but the trip lasts at least 3 hours. Take a motion sickness medicine with you. You can find it on 7Eleven. From Chiang Mai to Pai and other way cost 150 bath.
There is an ATM in town and currency exchange on Walking Street. Rates are same as Chiang Mai.
Vegetarian and Vegan Street Food : There are several options on Walking Street, but my favorites were street food such as vegetable skewers, vegetable samosa and Mexican and vegetarian tacos.
Charlie and Lek : vegetarian food, special salads, Thai organic food
Cafe de Pai : Italian food
Earth Tone : vegan foods and desserts, detox juices, gluten-free options and organic snacks.
Fat Cat : Organic Vegetables Harvested from Vegetable, Vegan Food
Good Life : fresh juices
Grunge Burger : hamburger of all kinds, including mushroom and avocado
Maya Burguer Queen : burger the way we are accustomed and with vegetarian option
The Jazz House : Western menu with good music
Nature Life : vegan food and vegan chocolate truffles
TTK : kebab and falafel
Blah Blah Bar : Good music and cheap drink
Boom Bar : has happy hour from 6pm to 10pm, beer pong and ink to paint the face
Do not Cry Bar : the little darling of the party-goers. Live music of various styles, fireworks show, opens at 7pm, but only at 1am is the party even happening
Eve le Reve : for those who enjoy drinking wine from all over the world
Mojo Cafe : blues player
Moonshine : craft beer
Plan B : Have Thai whiskey for 50 baht at happy hour
Pool Bar : Exclusive pool for drinks and bar beers
The Office : has movie night and sports going live on the screens
The Pai Bar : Cold beer and sports on the screen
Father Reaggae House : Cheap cocktails and good music
Sabai Bar Reggae : live music and good weather to relax
There are two places with the same vibe as The Yard Hostel in Bangkok. I recommend Juno Hostel in town, and Baan Kati Sod in a quiet place, perfect to relax.
Come to The Yard Hostel!
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