OUR GUIDE TO PAI - WHAT TO SEE AND DO
Located just 3 hours outside of Chiang Mai, lies a laid-back hippie like town. We had only planned to visit for a couple of nights but it has a way of sucking you in and making you never want to leave.
In total we spent 7 days exploring and relaxing in this beautiful town, obviously, it can be covered in just a few days but it depends on your timeframe and how fast paced you like to be.
Here are all the destinations we visited during our stay.
WHAT TO SEE AND DO IN PAI
This beautiful natural attraction was one of the main reasons we made the trip to Pai. Located roughly 8km away from Pai Centre it is easy to reach via motorbike. Considering it is also currently a free attraction, there is no reason not to go!
A walk around this canyon provides quite the thrill when walking on narrow elevated paths 30meters high! You can freely adventure as far as you dare so if your up for it then don’t forget some sturdy shoes, I ended up wearing bare feet as my flipflops couldn’t quite do the trick!
The canyon is by far the best place in Pai for watching the sunrise AND sunset. If you’re an early riser than be sure to visit for sunrise, you will find you only have to share the whole area with one or two others! Making for a peaceful and beautiful start to the day.
We also went during sunset and could not believe how busy it became! Truckloads of people were pouring in one after the other all after that beautiful sunset view. Happy travelers brought beers, snacks, and music along to end their day. So it would be a great way to meet new people!
Definitely worth the long journey!
When you arrive you have a few different options to choose from, you can opt to only explore one section for a lower price if you're on a budget, however, we recommend exploring all three caves with a ride back on the bamboo raft. (Set price of 450 for a maximum of three people)
Every tour includes a compulsory guide from the village. Beware, they will try to race through the caves as fast as possible in order to get through more groups in a day. Just take your time and be sure to ask them to slow down, your paying for this experience!
There is also fish food for sale at the front desk which you can use when on the bamboo raft, but we thought it to be a waste of money. You will see them all swimming beneath you whether you have food or not.
TIP: Be sure to fuel up before leaving Pai! This is a 1-1.5hour drive from Pai center, taking you through beautiful scenery and up over steep hills. Due to this our scooter guzzled the fuel quickly! Don’t end up like us, paying 100 baht for 1 liter at the top of the hill because she knew how desperate we were.
This will be your last stop along the same road as the PomBok waterfall and Pai land split, so if you keep your eye out your sure to find it easily on the lefthand side. At present, there is no fee, just a donation box so completely up to you. The bridge itself is roughly 1km long where you will see buffaloes playing in the mud, dogs sprinting across the field, monks, and a great view of surrounding mountains.
There is also a little Ferris wheel (Unsure how safe it is, so ride at your own risk!) and a small archery range that costs 50baht for 6 arrows. The guy that runs it is absolutely lovely, hit the bullseye and you will receive a small prize!
TIP: In wet season (July-October roughly) you will have a far nicer view of the lush green rice fields while walking along the Bamboo bridge. So if you can time it right then your photo will be far better than our dead, dry desert-like grass background.
PAI LAND SPLIT
The Pai Land Split is definitely a must visit! In 2008 this land (Once a farm) was split in half by an earthquake, then only further deepened by two more shakes. As you walk in you will be greeted by the cheerful local owner of this geological site turned tourist attraction, as well as pictures to show the progression of the split.
After walking a few minutes uphill gawking at the huge crack to your left, you will reach the top where you see the extent of the damage. You can then walk down into the split and explore from the bottom.
After working up a sweat you stroll through the organic farm as you head back to the starting point and sit in the shaded seating area where the owner will happily bring you a bunch of different organic fruits, homemade juice and wine to taste! There is no charge for this, only a donation of your choice going into the box.
Highly recommend teaming this up with a visit to the PomBok waterfall and Bamboo bridge as they are all on the same road and within a short distance of each other.
PAM BOK WATERFALL
Considering we are from New Zealand and have been traveling South East Asia for many months now, this waterfall to us was pretty average! BUT we visited in the dry season. We did not realise the images on Instagram of fellow travelers jumping off rocks and refreshing under the waterfall was all during wet season.
This waterfall is situated on the same road between the Pai land split and the Bamboo bridge and takes only a few minutes by foot to reach. Therefore it makes for a great stop during wet season for a swim. (Also worth seeing for yourself if you're out that way during dry season)
THE CONTAINER @ PAI
Looking for the perfect Instagram café? This is it!
This beautiful little café holds a variety of great photo opportunities and the owner is the loveliest lady who will rush out to welcome you in. We grabbed a coffee (50baht) and muffin (80baht) for our morning snack while staring out at the view from the top.
Strangely enough, even though they are in the perfect spot for watching the sunrise, they don’t open until 8:30am. To beat the crowd we popped in around opening time, always enjoy my morning coffee with peace and quiet.
Although it is not a budget-friendly café stop, it was a damn good coffee!
Check out these seats!
CHEDI PHRA THAT MAE YEN (WHITE SITTING BUDDHA)
Only a 5-minute drive from Pai Centre sits one of the largest Buddhas we have seen during our travels. This is a great spot to watch the sunset and take in the view of Pai from high up above.
Make sure to remember the temple dress code, otherwise, you will find yourself renting a skirt from the lovely local ladies for 20baht.
Although it technically opens up at 6 pm, you will find keen stalls spreading out their goodies a little earlier if you're desperate. Down walking street, you will find a huge array of different cheap foods, fresh juice, local handmade merchandise, and great bars!
At night it becomes the haven for cheerful travellers out to mingle and keen to drink! We found it to be such a positive atmosphere for a nighttime stroll, collecting a great array of foods to snack on as we explored the streets and drank at a range of bars with fantastic live music.
Free entry! We were expecting to at least pay a small fee for the use of the pool, but from what we saw, it seems like they make more than enough money from the alcohol intake.
This is a great place to hang out and meets new people while cooling off in the refreshing cold pool. Drinks are above average price range but what do you expect when you get free entry to a swimming pool with a DJ.
SAI NGAM HOT SPRINGS
We definitely left with mixed feeling about these hot springs…
Although it was less developed than other hot springs we have visited, it was still packed with a mixture of tourists and locals making the trip to enjoy the clean warm water. It is not the hottest of water, but it was a great temperature to relax in considering it was a scorching day.
There is also a food stall, bathroom, changing rooms and seating spots around so you could easily spend a few hours here, and we suggest doing so to get your money worth!
TIP: We watched the locals rubbing the mud from the sides of the hot pools onto their face. Its full of lots of minerals and acts like a great face mask if your brave enough!
Cost: There is now a 200baht entry fee plus another 20baht as you reach the pool.
LOVE STRAWBERRY PAI
What we love about it? The fact that we budget backpackers could stroll on in, have a look around at the strawberry patch, check out the merchandise on sale, drool over the expensive food and see the view all for free.
We can be quite tight with our money but if you can spare the change then it makes a great stop for afternoon tea on your way out to the Pai Canyon for sunset! They have delish looking fresh baked strawberry goodies and drinks to indulge in.
THA PAI MEMORIAL BRIDGE
Although it is not the original wooden structure that preceded the mainly steel one you see now, this bridge has a lot of history to it.
So if you're into history or just a lover of bridges, then this is your haven. Located only a couple of minutes from the famous Pai canyon, it’s an easy spot to visit.
WHERE TO EAT
As mentioned earlier, here you will find a wide array of foods ranging from traditional Phad Thai for 40baht to vegan falafel pitas. A walk down this street will surely cater for any food cravings you have!
Tip: When looking to find a juice, if you're on a budget then there are a few stalls only charging 30 baht whereas some charge up to 60! Hunt around to get good deals.
Although we absolutely love a good Phad Thai, Green Curry or Fried Rice, sometimes you really just crave something light, cold and refreshing. Bom Bowls have put together the most delicious menu of smoothie bowls ranging from 100-140 baht with the option to add extra toppings. They have a great range of seating options, fans to help with the heat and friendly staff.
I’m Fine Café:
We can’t recommend their coffee enough, nothing beats a piping hot well made coffee to start your day. Their food and service was also fantastic!
Need your cute and fluffy animal fix? This café literally places little rabbits right on your table while you enjoy a coffee. Great cheap place for breakfast at 70baht for 2eggs on toast + coffee.
Earth Tone Cafe:
This is an organic cafe that is fully vegetarian / Vegan. It was well priced and super tasty! They grow a lot of there own produce and make there own healthy drinks like Kumbucha. They also have amazing raw desserts and homemade Vegan ice cream.
WHERE TO STAY
For only 200 baht you will have a large room with a big private bathroom or you can pay an extra 150baht (350 altogether) for air-conditioning. We visited during hot season so aircon was a must! The owner is super friendly and happy to help make your stay as comfortable as possible.
Note: Check-in is actually located at Monkey House 2, just a minute or so drive away.
Slow Life Sabaidee Pai Bed & Breakfast: Great hostel with aircon bunk rooms at a cheap rate. They have awesome food and a pool to relax in.
Pai Circus Hostel:
Provides the most unique experience where you can meet other fellow travelers through a variety of activities, such as bonfire night, treasure hunts, circus-like activities and they even have a pool! Pretty much every budget travelers dream.
If you call ahead they will pick you up from the bus station for free. You can find this on 'Hostel World'
This beautiful resort has a fantastic review score of 9.5 with rooms starting from 650 baht.
All of the rooms are bamboo structures, equipped with private bathrooms and a patio to sit and relax out on.
With all rooms equipped with aircon, private bathroom, and a fridge you can’t complain when only paying 850 baht (Including a superb breakfast).
If you’re a hotel Instagrammer or just absolutely loaded then this is by far the best spot for you. It looks like something out of a magazine, picture perfect. With a rating of 9.4 surely you be living the dream. With rooms starting from 3,800baht including Breakfast, it is definitely on the luxurious end of the scale.
Check out other accommodation in Pai Here.