From the famous Pai Canyon to the hot springs and funky cafes, here is our list of 17 of the absolute best things to do in Pai, Thailand.
Arguably one of the best places in Northern Thailand, the hippy enclave of Pai has been drawing backpackers and alternative types for years.
Located 135km from the city of Chiang Mai, at the end of a twisting road with 762 curves, this gorgeous and quaint little village is the kind of place you show up for a day and stay for, well forever.
There are natural hot springs, waterfalls, markets, plenty of backpacker hostels, and more. It is easily reachable from Chiang Mai, which is a popular spot to visit in northern Thailand.
While Pai is well and truly located on the beaten path now, that doesn’t mean that you should skip this incredible place that has a reputation for being like a “Thai island in the mountains”.
Table of Contents
- The Best Things to Do in Pai, Thailand
- 1) Explore Pai Canyon
- 2) Wander Pai’s Walking Street Night Market
- 3) Visit the Pam Bok Waterfall
- 4) Hang Out at Mo Paeng Waterfall
- 5) Soak in the Tha Pai Hot Springs
- 6) The Land Crack (Land Split)
- 7) Learn to Ride a Scooter
- 8) Visit The White Buddha On Top Of The Hill (Wat Phra That Mae Yen)
- 9) Go Tubing Down the Pai River
- 10) Pai Circus School
- 11) Make the Most of Pai’s Nightlife
- 12) Check Out the Tham Lod Caves
- 13) Go Whitewater Rafting
- 14) Visit the Santichon Chinese Village
- 15) Spend Time in the Unique Cafes
- 16) Do Some Yoga
- 17) Chill in a Hammock
- Pai Travel Guide
- How to Get to Pai Thailand
- Accommodation – Where to Stay in Pai, Thailand
- Best Restaurants in Pai Thailand
The Best Things to Do in Pai, Thailand
We have spent over a month in Pai, spread out over a couple of years.
When we first checked it out it was when we were riding the Mae Hong Son Loop, one of the best motorbike circuits in Southeast Asia.
We kept coming back again and again and recently spent another week chilling in our favourite place in northern Thailand.
There are dozens of incredible activities in Pai, but we’ve managed to narrow it down to these ultimate activities.
From what to do, where to go, and even where to stay, here’s our list of the absolute best things to do in Pai, Thailand.
READ MORE: Check out our ultimate guide to travel to Thailand!
1) Explore Pai Canyon
Known as Thailand’s answer to the Grand Canyon (a very ambitious claim), Pai Canyon covers a large area that offers some brilliant views and fun hikes.
If you are feeling very active you can scramble all the way down and spend hours climbing and getting lost in nature.
It’s a bit of an adventurer’s playground too because some of the paths are quite skinny and sketchy, so make sure you wear good shoes if you are planning on exploring Pai Canyon properly.
A favourite pastime is enjoying the sunset with a beer in hand, watching the sky change to an astonishing array of colours.
You won’t be alone for sunset, but that just adds to the awesome atmosphere!
Get there to Pai Canyon by riding your scooter out of town back towards Chiang Mai.
2) Wander Pai’s Walking Street Night Market
Every night the main street of Pai fills up with street food vendors and market stalls selling everything from your quintessential hippie clothing and jewelry to personalized postcards.
Even if you’re not into shopping though, you still need to spend just about every night making the most of Pai’s Walking Street, especially if you’re hungry.
The selection of street food is quite varied; sushi, Indian food, barbecued meats, fresh fruit smoothies, and deep-fried everything. You certainly won’t go hungry!
Everyone ends up at the night market most nights so the people-watching is great. Just watch out for first-time scooter riders who have no concept of how to drive. Entertaining, but dangerous!
Hot tip – Crashing a scooter is not one of our recommended things to do in Pai!
3) Visit the Pam Bok Waterfall
Pai has a number of awesome waterfalls to visit, which is perfect because the area can get pretty hot during the day! What better way to cool off than visiting the two best ones!
One of our personal favourites is the Pam Bok Waterfall, located a short scooter ride from Pai. It’s a little more secluded than its more popular alternative (more on that below), so definitely don’t miss it.
Pam Bok Waterfall is tucked away beneath some high cliffs, so it is often covered in shade for most of the day. As a result, the water is quite refreshing, but that means you could have the pool to yourself.
There are also a couple of ledges you can climb to jump off. Be sure to check the water depth before taking the leap! Safety first kids.
READ MORE: Here’s our new list of the best places to visit in Thailand!
4) Hang Out at Mo Paeng Waterfall
The other most popular falls to visit in Pai is the Mo Paeng Waterfall, and this is our personal favourite.
At Mo Paeng Waterfalls there are great little pools with long, slippery rock faces running into them that you can slide down.
The scenery is gorgeous and it makes for a fun place to spend a few hours.
Our recommendation for what to do in Pai is to rent a scooter from town and spend exploring these epic little spots on your own.
5) Soak in the Tha Pai Hot Springs
For a relaxing afternoon when you visit Pai, head to the Tha Pai Hot Springs. Only 7km from town, a cold-water stream flows over boiling-hot rocks to create a soothing, heated pool surrounded by lush scenery.
Tha Pai Hot Springs are the perfect way to kill a few hours in the winter months when temperatures in Pai can plummet.
You’ll find lots of other backpackers hanging out and having a good time at the hot springs, so there’s a good chance you’ll make some friends there too.
This is one place we didn’t visit due to the fact we were there in summer and the weather was already roasting. But if you are there in the cooler months, don’t miss these amazing hot springs!
Sai Ngam Hot Springs are another amazing option. While Tha Pai Hot Springs are south of the town center, Sai Ngam Hot Springs are a 25 minute drive north.
Both are easily accessible from Pai and make for an incredible, relaxing day.
6) The Land Crack (Land Split)
Situated on the road to the Pam Bok Waterfall, the famous Pai Land Split is definitely worth a stopover.
A small property hidden in the hills had always been a working farm until a strange natural phenomenon changed everything.
Several years ago, the farmer’s land began to split and crack due to some strange soil erosion. His property became unusable as the land turned into a scene you would see after an earthquake.
The thrifty farmer then decided to turn his property and land split into a bit of a tourist attraction where he now offers you nuts, fruit, sweet potato, fresh rosella juice, and alcohol – all by donation!
Once you’ve filled up on food (he constantly brings you more to eat), you can walk up the hill to have a look at the Land Split.
The family is very friendly and is just happy to have people stopping by. Definitely one of the most unique things to do in Pai.
- Entrance Fee: Free of charge
7) Learn to Ride a Scooter
There’s no denying that Pai is one of the best places in all of Thailand to ride a scooter.
The quiet roads, beautiful scenery and lack of public transport makes it the ideal mode of transport.
There are many things to see in Pai, and getting around on a scooter is a fun and efficient way to do so!
If you’ve never ridden a scooter before then the lack of traffic makes Pai a perfect place to learn.
There are a number of shops in town that rent scooters for reasonable rates (usually around $5 per day), and then you just have to get yourself some fuel.
We recommend filling up at the petrol station in town for the best prices.
Once you have your bike and a full tank of petrol, all that’s left to do is ride off into the sunset with the wind in your face!
Note – Riding a scooter is potentially dangerous, so always ride within your limits (go slow, especially around corners if you’re not experienced), wear closed-toe shoes, and always wear a helmet.
If you wish to travel in comfort, then get your own driver and tour guide for a day!
- Price: around 150 baht/per day
8) Visit The White Buddha On Top Of The Hill (Wat Phra That Mae Yen)
Wat Phra That Mae Yen, also known as the White Buddha, is one of the top things to see when you visit Pai.
You can see it from most places in town, and the White Buddha high on the hill isn’t only a religious shrine, it also offers some of the best views over Pai!
Once you cross the bridge heading out of town keep following the road until you are about 2km out of town, and you’ll see the path to the top.
There are 353 steps to reach the White Buddha, and while it might be tiring, the vistas from the top are always worth it.
Time your trip to be at the top for sunset and you’ll quickly fall in love with the entire valley changing colours right before your eyes.
Make sure you take water with you, and even though the temperature can be hot keep in mind that you still need to show respect to Buddha by covering up.
It’s difficult deciding what to see in Pai, but the Wat Phra That Mae Yen is a Pai must-see!
- Opening hours: 6 AM – 6 PM
- Entrance Fee: Free of charge
9) Go Tubing Down the Pai River
The Pai River hosts the best Pai activities – tubing!
If you’ve never been tubing before then you’re in for a real treat. Basically all it requires is one big inflatable tube, your bathers, and a sense of adventure.
You head upriver with a bunch of friends and push yourself out into the water. Then you kick back and let the current take you back to town. The entire experience will take about an hour.
This is definitely one of the best things to do in Pai Thailand, especially on a hot day. Rent a tube from one of the tour companies in town for less than $10, including transport to and from the river.
10) Pai Circus School
In a bohemian community, everyone seems to practice different forms of entertainment such as fire dancing, juggling, and slacklining. Here in Pai, there is a school you can attend to learn all these skills yourselves!
The cost is 600 baht as a one-off membership fee and then you are free to join in on the lessons from experienced teachers in all the finer points of poi, staff, juggling, diablo, and anything else you might be interested in.
It is located in a beautiful elevated setting with views over the valleys and excellent gazebos you can relax in if you don’t feel like partaking in the activities.
Over the years they have worked hard to upgrade the facilities on the site, and it’s much nicer today than it used to be.
The Circus School also has some accommodation on the site, and if you stay there you can make the most of all the classes as well.
- Price: 600 baht
11) Make the Most of Pai’s Nightlife
For a small town, there are a lot of awesome bars and clubs to party the night away! Yep, Pai’s nightlife is infamous.
If you’re looking for a truly epic night out, then head to Boom Bar. This is the place to be for backpackers, and with cheap cocktails, a beer pong table, and pumping music, it’s a guaranteed fun night out.
Almost Famous Bar is a great spot to ease into the evening, as they have great cocktails. Another fun spot is the Mad Monkey Hostel.
Jazz House has more of a chill vibe with live music. Come here to eat, drink, and relax listening to some local artists.
Want an all-nighter? Then head to Don’t Cry Bar. Loud music, strong drinks, and tonnes of party animals…
(Don’t Cry Bar is temporarily closed due to COVID. But it hasn’t shut down for good, so keep an eye on the Facebook page to see if they reopen)
- Address: 139/2 Pai, Pai District
- Opening hours: 6 PM – 12 AM
- Address: 24/1 moo3 viengtai Pai District
- Opening hours: 7 PM – 11 PM Thursday – Saturday
Almost Famous Bar
- Address: 62/2 moo 3 Viengtai Mae Hong Son
- Opening hours: 5 PM – 12 AM
12) Check Out the Tham Lod Caves
Not exactly located in Pai, but instead, in a town 35km headed towards Mae Hong Son, there is a spectacular limestone system known as Lod (Spirit) Caves.
A river flows through the caves and you can hire a guide to float through them on a bamboo raft.
At certain points, you can climb upstairs and ladders to explore the stalactites and stalagmites up close as well as the numerous ancient ceramics and wall paintings that are scattered throughout the complex.
Definitely worth the drive/ride out there.
If you want an even more in-depth experience for caving near Pai, check out this epic full-day caving and spelunking tour by Pai Adventures.
13) Go Whitewater Rafting
One of the newest activities for what to do in Pai is going whitewater rafting, and if you’re looking for an adrenaline rush then this is the one for you.
You can choose to do a one-day tour or even a two-day tour, charging down class 3 rapids in a purposefully-designed whitewater raft.
Pai Adventures also has rafting tours that you can book where all the gear and instructions are included.
14) Visit the Santichon Chinese Village
Just outside of Pai is the village of Santichon Village, an ethnic-minority Chinese Yunnan village founded by people who moved from north of the border during the revolution.
These days it’s set up as a bit of a cultural exhibition, and while it might seem slightly touristy, it’s well worth a visit if you’d like to get an inside look at a different culture and try some different food.
Yunnan cuisine is quite delicious and the people are friendly here. You can get out to Santichon by renting a scooter and riding the short 5km to the village.
15) Spend Time in the Unique Cafes
One thing that Pai does not lack is amazing cafes serving up delicious coffee and food. Most of them have interesting decors and amazing ambience and are a great way to while away the day.
You could easily spend a week here and not visit the same place twice! Dedicate some time to exploring all the cafes, both in town and on the outskirts.
Our personal favourite is Container Cafe just outside of Pai. It has cool chairs, delicious coffee and snacks and awesome views over the farmland below.
- Address: Thung Yao, Pai District
- Opening hours: every day, from 10 AM – 6 PM
16) Do Some Yoga
If you’re feeling pretty sore after all the partying and waterfall jumping in Pai, then you should treat yourself to some yoga classes.
For such a cool hippy town, it’s no surprise that there are a bunch of yoga schools attracting spiritual types and anybody just looking to stretch their muscles out.
The most popular one is Sawasdee Pai Yoga, and they have two classes a day (9:30am and 5pm), and they will set you back 200 Thai Baht.
You’ll find them on the Pai River.
17) Chill in a Hammock
When you spend your days actively exploring everything Pai has to offer, it is only normal to need a break. Luckily Pai is one of the most relaxed places you are ever likely to visit.
Watch the hours fade as you laze about in a hammock, reading a book or watching the world pass you by.
Many accommodation options have great views over the valley or by the river. Be sure to choose one of these and enjoy the vistas! Definitely one of the best things to do in Pai!
Disclaimer – In previous versions of this article we listed visiting Thom’s Elephant Camp as one of the best things to do in Pai. While we always discouraged anyone from riding an elephant, we used to give everyone a chance to make their own decisions. Since then we have received reports that Thom’s is not as wholesome as it used to be, and as such we have removed it from our list and want to warn others not to visit Thom’s Elephant Camp.
Pai Travel Guide
To help you make the most of it when you visit Pai Thailand, we’ve put together this epic little Pai travel guide for you.
If you’re wondering how to get there, where to stay and what to eat after you’ve tackled all the awesome things to do in Pai, this is the guide for you!
How to Get to Pai Thailand
There’s a number of different ways to get to Pai, and it depends on your budget, style and where you’re coming from.
Most people travel to Pai from Chiang Mai, and often return the same way. There are three options to get to Pai from Chiang Mai.
If money isn’t an option, and time is, you can take a flight from Chiang Mai to Pai. It’s definitely not the cheapest option, but you’ll be there in no time.
The most common way for people to get to Pai is to take a shuttle bus from Chiang Mai, and while these are fairly cheap and quick, they are also a bit crazy.
The road from Chiang Mai to Pai has 762 curves on it, and zipping around those bends in a cramped shuttle bus can make everyone onboard nauseous.
Make sure you pick up some motion sickness tablets from a pharmacy in Chiang Mai first.
You can book your transport to Pai from any hostel or agency in Chiang Mai.
If you want to book it ahead of time though to ensure you don’t miss a seat, the best place to do so is on 12go.asia.
Ride a Scooter
This is the best and most enjoyable way to travel to Pai, as you’ll get the chance to really soak up the epic scenery along the route.
The fresh air in your face is a wonderful thing, and the road has been recently paved to be near perfect the entire way.
Leaving Chiang Mai is a bit of a hectic endeavour, but once you get into the mountains it’s all fun and speed the whole way to Pai!
Please be very careful though on this ride from Chiang Mai to Pai. We have met dozens of backpackers who have crashed on this road, and in every instance, it was because they either got too cocky with their skills, or were inexperienced and had no idea how to ride.
This is our personal favourite way to get to Pai, and you can organize rentals from somewhere like Mr. Mechanic or Aya in Chiang Mai (Aya offers one-way scooter rental too).
If you’re going to ride a scooter from Chiang Mai to Pai, make sure you have travel insurance.
Accommodation – Where to Stay in Pai, Thailand
Pai has got a great selection of places to crash, from luxury resorts to mid-range boutique hotels to dingy backpacker dives, and everything in between. There will certainly be somewhere to fit your budget!
The first time we visited Pai we stayed at two different places – Spicy Pai and Family Huts – and while they were good back then, the accommodation options have really improved in recent years!
Now you can stay somewhere quite nice on a budget, or really splash out and stay in some of the most incredible accommodation in the country.
Pai has also become a bit of a digital nomad hotspot, meaning if you are interested in long-term accommodation or private apartments and cabins there are quite a few options as well.
To find these check out AirBnB (and use this link to receive $35 off of your first stay).
As an even bigger bonus, we’ve partnered with the booking agent Agoda to give all of our readers 10% off of their accommodation around the world! Use the coupon: AGODANMD10 to get your discount.
The Best Hostel In Pai – DeeJai Pai Backpackers
The legends at DeeJai Pai Backpackers have been working hard to turn their humble abode into the best backpacker accommodation in Pai, and they’ve finally done it!
The dorm rooms are incredibly clean and spacious, and the common area is something to die for – gorgeous views over the rice paddies with some of the best sunset spots in Pai.
It’s a great place to stay if you are on a backpacker budget.
Best Budget Accommodation For Couples – Pai Country Hut
At the end of the Walking Street and over the bamboo bridge is a collection of awesome accommodations.
When you get over the bamboo bridge on your right is Family Huts, where we first stayed when we came to Pai, but the last time we were there we decided to try the place on the left, and wow what a spot!
Pai Country Hut is run by an amazingly friendly lady and has an epic location right on the river.
The bungalows have private bathrooms, comfy beds and hammocks on the balconies, making them a great spot to rest at the end of a big day exploring.
They also have working wifi.
Grab some beers and chill out by the river in peace and quiet, and don’t be surprised if you end up extending your stay there for longer than expected (we did!).
Best Mid-Range Hotel – Phu Pai Art Hotel
If you want a beautiful accommodation, but would rather sleep in more of a traditional hotel room instead of a bamboo bungalow, Phu Pai Art Hotel is the place to be.
It has stunning rooms with all the creature comforts you’d expect, including wifi in the rooms and a TV, and the property is absolutely gorgeous.
There’s a large pool for those that like to chill out on those hot Pai days, and the restaurant serves excellent food.
It’s a bit outside of town too, meaning it’s very quiet and secluded.
Best Luxury Hotel In Pai – Reverie Siam Resort
When it comes to pure luxury there are a couple of options in Pai, but nowhere does it better than Reverie Siam Resort.
If living the dream is high on your list of things to do in Pai, then make sure you book in for a couple of nights at Reverie Siam Resort and allow yourself to be fully spoilt.
It has an awesome pool with mountain views, a natural pool, excellent staff with wonderful attention to detail, and the rooms are to die for.
The decorations are quintessentially Thai, and tastefully done, so you’ll probably end up taking a few ideas for your own home when you leave.
Make sure you eat and drink at the restaurant and bar as well. The cocktails are a must.
Best Restaurants in Pai Thailand
Pai has come a long way from its old hippie backpacker days, and now there are a number of awesome and high quality restaurants in town. In fact when trying to think about what to do in Pai, eating is right up there on the list now!
If you are after a world-class burger head to Maya Burger Queen (make sure you haven’t eaten for a while as they are huge).
Dang Thai Food makes some of the best Thai food in Pai, and it is all at a very reasonable price, so make sure you eat there as well.
Om Garden Cafe has less traditional Thai options but does great vegetarian, healthy meals.
Splash out on some Mexican at Cafecito if you want something different too.
[box] That’s it for our list of the best things to do in Pai. Have we missed anything? Have you found the list useful? Leave a comment below and let us know![/box]
DISCLAIMER: Some of the links in this article are affiliate links, which means if you book accommodation, tours or buy a product, we will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. These commissions help us keep creating more free travel content to help people plan their holidays and adventures. We only recommend the best accommodations, tours and products, and regularly review these. Thanks for your support, kind friend!
71 thoughts on “17 EPIC Things to Do in Pai, Thailand [2023 Guide]”
Great and informative post! I love the idea mentioned in this blog.
Thank you so much. 🙂
Really helpful, thanks.
Thanks so much
Great Article Loved It
Thanks so much 🙂
Thanks so much Lisa. Glad you enjoyed it. 🙂
Thanks for the in-depth wonderful article you turned out here Enjoyed reading the article above and thank you for sharing good knowledge and information it’s very helpful. I was searching for a travel blog and found your blog site. I like your high-quality blog site design plus your posting abilities. Keep doing it.
We tried to visit the land crack but since covid it has been closed (we went on December 12th 2022). Also, the Pam Bok waterfalls charges 200 baht to enter the site for foreigners. Love the blog and will be visiting other sites soon.
Thanks so much for the in-depth wonderful article you turned out here loved it
Glad it was helpful. Thank you
Just a heads up: the agoda discount coupon is rejected as invalid. Good article.
Thank you so much for that Nathan. We appreciate it.
I am surprised that you spent a month in Pai and you missed out the Sea of Mist at the Yun Lai village.
Great blog! It has definitely helped us during our trip to Pai.
Just one thing I thought I would mention though is that the Land Split/Land Crack has not been caused by “ some strange soil erosion” but rather by an earthquake, first in 2008 and then 2011. It might be worth rectifying it in your blog 😉
Thank you for the information. We will have to change it. All the best.
Unfortunately, Land Split is temporary closed
Oh no…. thank you so much Shirley for letting us know. We will remove it from the article. 🙂
Pai use to be great 5-10 years ago but it’s been ruin by Hipster and dysfunctional Feminists. Not worth it anymore cause Westerner women aren’t right in the head anymore due to dysfunctional PC Culture brainwashing. STAY AWAY!!!
Sorry you feel that Paul. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. We did not feel this at all. Yes it may have changed but we always see the positive in places. Places change all over the world. Everyone should experience a place for themselves and walk away with their own opinion. Take care
Have a good time. Pai is such a good restful place. positively hit up the road market nightly. Pai is a piece of paradise.I am so impressed by the information you have provided related to Pai. Keep sharing more such posts!
Thank you so much. We loved our time in Pai. We really enjoyed the road market. We stayed out of town and found it so peaceful and relaxing. 🙂
Planning to head down Pai in a week time. Will be travelling solo from BKK. Any idea what other transport available to travel around Pai if no scooter? And what recommendations do u have for travelling to Pai from Bkk. Thanks!
Hi Aisyah, the only other option to travel around Pai is by tour bus. You can book a tour through many tour companies in the town. As for travelling from BKK to Pai maybe by train part way then by bus or you can fly from Bangkok to Chiang Mai. All the best
Really useful blog! Heading to Pai on Monday and can’t wait to check out some of your recommendations 🙂 Hoping to ride a scooter for the first time so glad to hear some of the roads can be quiet haha!!
Have a great time. Pai is such a great relaxing place. Definitely hit up the street market nightly. Be careful with the scooter. Pai is where a lot of people have injuries and the hospital is always busy with patients. If you do not have your motorbike license your insurance company will not cover you so be safe. Ask for a little lesson from the rental company. They usually do this as they don’t want their bikes to come back broken. You will do awesome, just take it slow and know where the brakes are. 🙂
Amazing blog & v helpful
Thank you. Glad it was helpful.
What a nice read
so much about elephants here, like somebody mentioned the money they earned from selling elephant rides helps feed them too – both the elephants and their human caretakers.
why do the animal rights nuts like to get into fake moral outrage over something i suspect even they themselves don’t really understand ? the thais have been riding elephants for as long as they can remember…no ?
Just because something has been happening for years does not make it okay. Slavery was also once legal …no?
@ Andy Chen
Either you clearly have never been to a place that offers elephant rides or you really just don’t care about the elephants’ well being. I went to a so-called elephant “refugee” camp where they offered rides. From the moment we showed up we saw the elephants in shackles. Later on, when it was our turn to get on the elephant, it wasn’t lowering itself fast enough for the trainer, so the trainer started angrily punching his fist on the elephants upper trunk. It was ridiculous. Elephants have to be trained to give rides to people, so that means they have to suffer whatever physical punishment it takes until they learn and obey. It’s wrong. Not to mention, of course, that riding an elephant is not even comfortable. Its shoulders move up and down a lot and it jostles you back and forth. Bottom line: elephants should not be trained to give rides for tourists. Neither should camels for that matter.
Totally agree! And it’s very important to remind everyone about this again and again as most people don’t know -mostly because they dont’ care – (as for zoo). Most elephant sanctuaries etc are just bullshit tourist attractions and animas are not so happy as people think they are. Values and ethic should be kept in mind when we visit any country. THailand has so much more to offer than stupid tourist advertisements with animals (elephants, tigers ..)
Very helpful blog! Thank you so much.
Pai is our destination of next year. It’s quite calm and the locals seem so nice.
We may go travel there in May or June. I’m not sure about the weather.
We’ve just known only one thing, it will be rainy season there.
Thank you in advance!
Thank you so much. We hope you like Pai. It can be a busy place but just don’t stay on the main street and you can avoid this. We stayed just across the wooden bridge and could walk away from the noice and business when we wanted. Definitely bring a rain jacket. You never know with the weather. If it is raining a little don’t let that keep you inside. Just embrace it.
Love your blog and find it helpful to plan my journey to Pai.
Glad we could help. Have a great trip 🙂
I love Pai so much. I have been here for more than 10 times and I still get excited whenever we go here. For me, Pai is like a paradise. Like you wouldn’t ran out of things to do here.
Thank you for your comment. Glad you love Pai as much as us. Pai is a piece of paradise. We love heading back there also. 🙂
Wow! I really love this post! I did not know Thailand was this beuatiful.. This post just gave me FOMO while reading it. Pai looks really nice and green. It’s picturesque. It definitely qualified into my bucket list! I’d totally love to chill in my hammock with a nice book looking at the beautiful plains.
Amazing post, though. Thanks 🙂
Thanks for reading Lauren. We recommend staying just outside of town or just over the river. Outside of town you will be woken with silence but need to travel to get to places. It was so lovely. Across the river, it is quieter and you are close to the centre of town. To get out to attractions, you need to rent a scooter. Never leave your passport with them. If you are not keen on the scooter, there are tours that go out that way too. Hope you get there one day. Happy travels.
This is a great read on things to do in Pai. I am a few days away from arriving there.
My only negative comment is please take off the the elephant comment. I understand you are only pointing it out as an attraction. However this is advertising bad practice to elephants and encouraging people to see them.
Anyone reading this that is interested in elephants, even if you do not ride them, visiting a park or ‘sanctuary’ that offers rides, bathing, hugs, performances or riding is feeding the industry. I strongly recommend checking out Elephant Valley Thailand in Chiang Rai.
I agree with Steph s! if you don’t encourage it don’t write about it for the whole of the internet to see! As a blogger you have a huge influence! You should not be condoning or advertising animal tourism. It’s really disappointing to read 🙁
Wow so beautiful place. Will be going in the month of June.
Hi Mike, It is a gorgeous part of Thailand. We hope you have a great trip. 🙂
Hi, Where in Pai did you take the picture from at the beginning of the blog, te one with the stunning view?
That photo is a drone shot. We took this photo just outside of Pai. It was a stunning morning.
Thank you for sharing… I also plan to visit Pai with hubby, like the adventure of cave
Have a great trip. Pai is a beautiful place.
My experience in Pai was one of rain and mud, so I don’t exactly have a great impression of the town. Sometimes Mother Nature is simply in a bad mood. However, even without the mud and rain, I’m not so sure I would have left with a warm feeling. The town simply didn’t do anything for me.
Sorry to hear that Nancie. There is so much more to Pai than the town itself. The town can get a bit too busy at times and you need to escape. We loved exploring the outer area and visiting the waterfalls and caves. If you go back, we hope mother nature is nicer to you. Happy travels
well, if you go to Thailand or Pai in rainy season then it is not about nature’s bad mood. come back in November or December and you will love it.
We used to work on the docks in Amsterdam until we had a couple of $100 dollars in our pockets and then head East to Asia, local bus, train or sometimes in Afghanistan by horse. The toilet paper was left behind in the Greek Islands, before crossing to Izmir in Turkey and our jeans were sold before reaching Mashhad in Iran and crossing into Afghanistan. By the time we reached Peshawar and the Khyber Pass everything in my bag, a rolled up blanket tied on the ends was local clothing. My proudest possession being the Afghan embroidered vest I wore until it fell apart in Goa, 15 years later. Now I see the “backpackers” swarming Pai flashing their mommies credit cards, and their “Spring break” mentality falling down drunk in the bars at night before crashing the motorbike they rented. I love Pai and have enjoyed it for many years. Please write about someplace else, maybe these kids will ruin it and leave Pai alone.
Amazing story Michael. Thank you for sharing. Many travellers have told us how different Pai was in the past. Unfortunately it is no where near the same and has changed dramatically. Take care and happy travels.
Loved reading this.
Hi nice informative post but I really think that you should mention about the malpractices that occur to tame elephants. I personally was against elephant rides but reading your post softened me up, I went along to Thom’s just to feed the animals but there was a solo traveller waiting for someone else to ride with them and I stupidly agreed. I was naive and now I have feelings of guilt and regret. I believe that all elephants are trained in the same manner however ethical the camp claims to be. I am not asking much just please mention about the dire practices that occur so that people do not fall into the same trap. Thanks
Hi Liam, we are against riding elephants and please don’t blame our article if you went along and rode an elephant. That was your choice. We just fed the elephants and watched them play. We did place an important note in the elephant section saying;
Before you decide to visit any elephant camp or sanctuary in Southeast Asia, please put some serious thought into whether you want to support this practice and if it s sustainable or not. We do not encourage elephant riding under any circumstance. We are simply listing Thom’s here as it one of the big attractions for things to do in Pai.
We push strongly not to ride elephants but unfortunately some people still do. We can only spread the information and the person themselves can make their own decision. We hope you enjoyed other activities and attractions in Pai. Happy travels
Pai is one of your favourite places in SEA ??!!! Pai is a totally fake hippies trap and totally focused on tourism.
If you say so.
Hi, where would you say are some beautiful places, with lots to see, but not too touristy??
Best thing to do would be to rent a scooter and go get lost in the surrounding hills 😀
Too bad I didn’t have this article while I was there. I see you mentioned the Tham Lod cave. I ended up there because I went to stay in Cave Lodge, one hour scooter drive from Pai, a accommodation (bungalows or dorm) just five minutes walk from the cave. You can do all kinds of trekkings from there, you write your name on a paper with the trekking you want to do, like all the other guests, and that’s how you form groups. Really chilled out common area.
John, the owner, moved there more than 30 years ago and has ever since been taking photographs of the caves and hilltribes in the surrounding area, really beautiful pictures. You can check his photobook available at the lodge.
Heard great things about the Cave Lodge. We’ll have to check it out next time we’re in Pai. Thanks for reading Lux.
I’m surprised you haven’t gotten shit for recommending Elephant rides! I wrote a post a few weeks back on an elephant foundation in Hua Hin where a couple of their elephants (2 of the 6) do elephant rides. I had the radical nut jobs commenting or writing me personally condemning this non-profit foundation and its activities and the ‘abuse of the elephants’. Got particularly upset because these places do their best to rescue/protect elephants and need funding to buy the elephants from bad owners, feed and medicate the sometimes injured elephants etc.
I personally don’t think tourists should do elephant rides or pay to watch elephant shows. But the fact is that is what most tourists will pay for and in doing so will be able to financially sustain an elephant sanctuary for the greater good of all the elephants.
Anyway, good post. Thinking of going to Pai in a few weeks.
It’s a tough one, isn’t it Frank. We didn’t personally do any elephant rides, and don’t think we ever would do them, but decided to mention it in the article so people know it is an option. We always encourage people to do their own research before jumping into any of these kinds of activities. Shame to hear you got smashed by some nut jobs. It really is a touchy subject. Have fun in Pai! One of our favourite places of all time.
You should recommend Conserve Natural Forests in Pai instead. They have only two elephants that are totally free and not forced to give rides and were both saved from a tourist trap. Also, they are both pregnant and you can feel the baby elephant kick from inside and it is possibly the most amazing experience ever. Their goal is repopulation and after the babies are old enough to be separated from their mothers they will be reintroduced to the wild at the Queen’s Elephant Protection National Park. This company is just as good, if not better than the big elephant rescue in Chiang Mai. This is a MUCH better alternative than Thom’s.
Thanks for the tip! We’ll check them out when we get back to Pai in the coming weeks 🙂
Thanks Madeline, I was desperately looking for a more responsible option than Thom Elephant Camp and this needs to be perfect !
I’ve never been there, but it’s absolutely beautiful! <3 Looooooooove at first sight!
One of our favourite places in all of Southeast Asia! Make sure you check it out next time you’re in this neck of the woods. 😀
And don’t forget a bicycle/scooter adventure to the beautiful little chinese village at 7km from Pai. (Be careful with the chickens and the childrens on the way !)
Street is decorate with traditionnal chinese lanterns, locals are friendly and the view on the top of the hill is really nice ! (I found a hammock to take a nap after the climb on my bicycle !) 🙂
We missed that one unfortunately. Cheers for the tip! We’ll be sure to check it out next time we are in Pai.