I’ve heard of Pai for years now, ever since we went to Thailand to live as teachers in 2015. I was told it was a little hippie paradise in the mountains of Northern Thailand. And while we didn’t make it there the last time we were in Thailand, we made sure to go visit this time around. We desperately needed some quiet time surrounded by mountains, and it was rainy season, so we definitely knew it would be quiet!
We were told we would need no more than 2 days in Pai, but we ended up staying for a little over a week. We thought this was a perfect amount of time to slowly see everything there was to see with plenty of time to rest each day. We were right 🙂 But keep in mind that most travelers are only there for a couple days.
How to get there
From Chiang Mai, you can easily find a mini bus which will drive you there. Be sure to take motion sickness tablets if you get car sick because there are over 750 curves, turns and switchbacks on the way through the mountains Had we taken this route, I would have been so sick
Instead, we opted to take our motorbike on the 2.5 – 3 hour journey, which was definitely the best option for us. We loved being able to stop at different look out points and cafes along the way. We just brought one backpack between the two of us and hopped on our 125cc Honda Click, rented from Cat Motors in Chiang Mai.
This was the best option for us, but Sam has a LOT of experience riding motorbikes. As mentioned before, there are over 750 razor sharp curves with sometimes no barricade between you and the cliffs. If you don’t have experience riding, I would highly recommend taking the mini bus.
Where to Stay in Pai
Pai Iyara – Comfort Traveler Pricing
Pai Iyara is a beautiful family-run resort, just outside the Pai village centre. It’s about a 5-7 min motorbike ride to the village from here. Great location because your much closer to the Pai Canyon, Hot Springs & Waterfalls from here. Very quiet, great pool overlooking the valley, and the rooms themselves were nice enough, clean with working air-conditioning.
I don’t typically do this, but do NOT stay at B2 Premiere Pai. We had the worst experience on our first night, and the manager was of no help at all, telling us everything was our fault. The housekeeper all but gave Sam the bird, after Sam asked her to not clean the room at 7 in the morning. The pool and exteriors are detiorioated. It was just a mess. There are better spots for sure to find.
What to Do
Mor Pang Waterfall – Local hang out on the weekends. A group of tiered waterfalls that act as slides in the rainy season. We didn’t go down, but we could see how it would be super fun. Nice short hike from parking the falls. No entry fee.
Pam Bok Waterfall – Epic waterfall you have to hike around 5-10 min to get to. Rainy season is best to go see as the falls will be flowing more You can hop in the water and get closer to the big fall. So refreshing after a hot & muggy day. No entry fee.
Sai Ngam Hot Spring – this was actually more expensive than I thought it would be, around 250 baht per person plus bike fee. But really cool & clean hot spring to hang out in. Definitely go in the morning before it gets crowded & too hot. About a 25 min ride from town.
Pai Canyon – One of the bigger attractions in the areas. There are definitely points that more treacherous than others, but for the most part it was pretty easy to walk around the ridges. Be sure to wear sneakers. We spent about an hour walking around and exploring different parts of the canyon. We hear sunset is nice, but it was cloudy every day we were there so we didn’t go for sunset. No entry fee.
Yun Lai Viewpoint – Cool viewpoint over the village, nice place to have a cup of tea and relax after the steep ride up. 20 baht entry fee.
White Buddha – Definitely worth the walk up The view alone is worth it, but the White Buddha is stunning against the green mountain. Girls, make sure to cover you knees & shoulders, no bare stomachs or tight leggings either. No entry fee.
Markets – there are loads of markets around to walk around. Every night from 5 pm, the main street turns into a walking street with local handicrafts & typical Thailand souvenirs.
Yoga & Meditation – Pai is known for its hippie atmosphere. Everywhere you turn there is a yoga studio, meditation classes or other healing therapies being offered. I particularly loved Pai Yoga Shala, just outside the main village.
Where to Eat in Pai
Our favourites are bolded 🙂
- Top 5 Cafe – friendly owner, great Thai & Western food on the main street
- Jazz House – great spot for happy hour & jazz music from 7:00 pm onwards
- Earth Tone – our favorite spot to eat. Even Sam loved the all vegan menu. Literally anything you get will be delicious, but be sure to grab some of their raw desserts & vegan ice cream.
- Na’s Kitchen – organic, traditional Thai food
- Karsalong – some of the best Khao Soi we’ve had in Thailand
- Charlie & Lek – quick, tasty, organic Thai food
- BOM Bowls – delicious smoothie bowls
Other things to note:
Water Refill Stations – a few of the shops & restaurants offer water refill stations for free, for you to refill your reusable water bottle
Rainy Season – Some of the hikes are closed during this season because of landslides or flash floods. Also there are a LOT less people around and many hotels use this time to renovate, so some pools or other hotel amenities may be under construction. That said, this makes it much cheaper to visit, and the rain really didn’t affect us that much.
Headed to Pai? Let us know in the comments below!