Pai is a beautiful area of Thailand, and I've put together a guide to the top things to do in Pai alongside how to get there, when to go and where to stay!
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Pai is situated in the North of Thailand and there is one road in and one road out. If you’ve got the chance to visit Pai, then you should absolutely not miss it for the world. It’s steeped in natural beauty, mountains and the perfect place to escape for some tranquillity.
Below I discuss the top things to do in Pai.
How do you get to Pai?
Most people get a minibus to Pai from Chiang Mai, after visiting Chiang Rai. There are no big coaches that head there, it’s literally a minibus company that leaves every hour. You travel with a company called Prem Pracha and you can purchase your ticket either online or at the bus depo Chiang Mai Arcade Bus Station. It’s 150 baht for the trip that takes around 3 hours. This route literally goes in and out of the mountains….so it’s very twisty/turny and the chances are you will feel really sick. (We did!) They stop half way through for a toilet/coffee break and you will need to grab the fresh air.
Your other option is to get a “local” bus that takes around 4 hours- It’s around 75 baht and you can buy your tickets at the Arcade Bus Station too.
Where to stay in Pai?
Pai is filled with wonderful places to stay. But do note that taxi services are limited. Well, not limited, but it’s basically a set fair of 100 baht and you book a taxi from the main street, so it’s just awkward. Most accommodations are within walking distance (ours was a 15-20 minute walk with bags which wasn’t perfect).
We stayed in a place called Pai Phu Fah Resort and we stayed here for two nights. This is right in the middle of the Pai countryside, away from the centre and you are housed in little wooden huts/bungalows. The view that surrounds you is amazing and you can see green rice paddies and one of the big buddhas in the distance.
There are different types of bungalows for different price points. But we chose one with aircon because aircon is essential everywhere in Asia: £7.50 a night each for a private bungalow. But I see now they are offering the same deal but for breakfast! So that’s great. We paid for breakfast at the resort, which was super cheap, but if it’s included then that’s a bonus.
The guy who runs/owns this resort was wonderfully helpful and when we left he dropped us into town to the bus station instead of having to walk with our bags again.
Btw, they also have the sweetest dog in the world who came to visit me in the mornings. It made my day.
Getting around Pai
When you're opting for sightseeing, your best option is to rent a moped. This is the thing that most people do in Pai, and you’ll realise that once you see the hundreds of signs offering moped rental for as little as 100 baht for 24 hours.
One thing to note, that the cheaper the moped, the lower quality. Whilst this is fine if you are just driving around to local places. If you want to venture to some of the more far out places that I will speak about below, including hot springs and waterfalls, the roads include steep hills which a low cc moped, just will not bring you up!
So it’s always best to fork out the extra £1-2 quid to get a decent quality moped. Don’t forget to always wear your helmet and carry a raincoat with you. (Gotta love monsoon weather).
The Top Things To Do In Pai
You will be pleased to know that most of the top things to do in Pai are FREE (minus your own spending money of course :P )
#1 The Street Food Market (Pai Walking Street)
I have to include this because it’s the best street food market I had been to in Thailand. It’s cheap and the variety is crazy. Bradley and I ate so much food we struggled to walk home. Pai also loves its avocado, so it is truly an avocado lovers dream (me).
There are dishes to suit everyone, from meat lovers (bbq ribs to die for), vegetarians (friend mushroom and sweet fritters- delicious!) and vegans. The only problem will be choosing foods. I recommend you eat the street food each night. We didn’t get sick and everything is visibly clean and well prepared.
This street food market is located in the centre of the Pai. (Pai town is tiny). You’ll walk past lots of food establishments then you’ll enter the food market- yum! Stalls start setting up at around 5 pm, so head around 6.
#2 The Pai Canyon
I remember being super intrigued by this and I had seen pictures of my friends here so I was excited to visit. This is literally what it says on the tin. A Pai Canyon! It offers some beautiful views and it’s pretty easy to find. You park your moped (for free) and walk up to the canyon (for free). I reckon it’s a great spot to catch the sunset too.
There are Plenty of side trails lead off from the main viewing area and surrounding woodlands which are great if you just want to relax and engage in some bird watching.
#3 Waterfalls in Pai
There is a selection of beautiful waterfalls you can visit whilst you are in Pai and when we were there we checked out Mo Paeng Waterfall which is located 12 km west of Pai past Santichon. It’s fairly popular so you can expect to see some people there. It is possible to climb up this waterfall, but it is really slippy. I opted not to, but Brad climbed. (I attempted to climb but slipped). It’s a pretty stop and a nice place to get some photos.
The Pam Bok waterfall is another one you can visit. We didn’t check this out, but I did hear you can cliff jump and swim in it, but it is seasonal!
#4 Love Strawberry Pai
I loved this place more than I should have! This is clearly a tourist-made area but it’s so cute. It’s on your way to the Pai Canyon, so you may as well stop off since it won’t cost you anything either. In season, they grow strawberries here, but it was “off-season” when we were there. However, they sell the most delicious strawberry wine I have ever tasted, and strawberry vodka which is equally as nice. We purchased some strawberry vodka as a gift.
You can get pictures on big, bright oversized plastic strawberries, grab a coffee or a strawberry smoothie, or even swing into the air on a mini ride. It’s a random place, but that’s what makes it so unique! I doubt you will have ever visited somewhere like ‘Love Strawberry Pai’ before.
#5 Waterpark Adventure
Okay, this was probably one of my absolute favourite things to do in Pai. Mainly because we drove past it randomly and thought “what’s that?”. It’s not a waterpark in your traditional sense...rather it’s a massive swimming pool filled with massive inflatable courses to try and tackle and a big massive “bouncy” water slide to climb on top and slide down.
We were intrigued, so we pulled over to find a price. It didn’t even look like it was open...no one was there. We put our bags in some random lockers (that had no locks) and headed towards what looked like a bar.
There was a guy there and he told us it was open. I can’t remember the exact price...but I’m pretty sure it was around 150 baht. We thought at this price, we were going in!
We had SOOO much fun! We had a whole assault course to ourselves. It was amazing fun and so cheap. They even had super clean showers and toilets to clean yourself afterwards.
There is so little information about this place online….they don’t even rank for their own business name, so I can only give you the address, Pai 58130 Pai, Thailand and you should use Maps.me to bring you there.
It did advertise “pool” parties, with shots, drinks, DJs, the whole shebang. And I reckon they would be quite fun, but I think they are only for a certain season. I really hope this place stays open because if you have the chance to go, you will love it!
#6 Hot springs
There are quite a few different places that offer hot springs in Pai. Some at hotel resorts that are reasonably priced, or some literally in the woodlands. The one we choose was in the woodlands, which always makes it more natural and appealing!
Sai Ngam is located in a national forest park, so you pay an entrance fee of 20 baht as you drive into the park. There are limited signs, but just keep driving on the long, STEEP road that awaits you and eventually there will be a sign for the hot springs.
You can park up for free (always lock your bike with a chain) and head into the hot springs. They are literally just outside and there are three pools. They are extremely refreshing and lovely and warm.
These hot springs are regarded as the more quieter ones and cheapest- they cost 20 baht, which is pretty much 50 pence. They were quite busy when we were there, but not crowded.
Go before 2 pm!
After you’ve relaxed in the pools, you can pop to the one restaurant there for super cheap and delicious Pad Thai or iced coffee. (Approx £3 for both).
There are many other hot springs that you can check out. They vary in quality and price. These include:
So there you have it! This is my list of the top things to do in Pai.
Pai really is a wonderful place and it’s got such a wonderful atmosphere in the evenings. You can easily stroll into town, grab a cheap drink, or head to a bar then watch the stars in the sky.
There is also the opportunity to do and see other things that Bradley and I didn’t. These include the Memorial Bridge, Whitewater rafting/tubing, and checking out the big Buddha. We could see him from our room, so it wasn’t worth the 356 steps or something that it is.
Do you have any other recommendations to add to our list of top things to do in Pai? Then comment them below!
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As the type 1 diabetic half of Dream Big, Travel Far, I'm passionate about encouraging fellow type 1's to travel the world and not let their diabetes hold them back. I'm proud to now be a full-time digital nomad. Meaning I live my life working and travelling all over the world and am here to help you achieve your dreams as well in any way I can.
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