Pai was our second stop in Southeast Asia, and several countries later, it is still one of our favorites!
Something about this little hippy town in the mountains just captured our hearts and wouldn’t let go. There is so much to see and do in Pai that many people come for a few days and find themselves staying for a few months.
Since there are so many options on what to do, we put together a quick list of 10 things you can’t miss in Pai!
Rent a Motorbike-
If you’ve never ridden a motorbike before and are looking for a good place to learn, Pai is it! The roads are pretty empty outside of town, leaving you plenty of space to practice and the scenery is stunning! It’s also pretty difficult to get around to the various attractions, as taxis and tuktuks are scarce and expensive.
Side note- Please be careful! Thailand isn’t your home country and the traffic rules you are used to aren’t the norm here. Many backpackers hop on a scooter for the first time and take off only to get in accidents on the hair-pin turns— that’s why you see so many backpackers sporting bandages around town. Just be careful, stick to the side of the road and ride at a slow pace!
Visit Coffee in Love-
Coffee in Love is an adorable little coffee shop that overlooks the valley in which Pai is situated. The views are breathtaking, making it the perfect place to kick back and relax with a cappuccino and a slice of their homemade cheesecake.
Pai is home to a few coffee shops that have kitschy themes and photo ops. Be sure to check out The Container and Love Strawberry Pai, as well!
Sunset at Pai Canyon-
Pai Canyon is best enjoyed at sunset but make sure you get there with time to explore before the sun goes down. The brave can wander the narrow paths with no barrier between them and a steep drop of several hundred feet. The paths can get a bit dicey, so it’s best not to explore in flip flops.
The best spot for sunset is at the beginning of the canyon where everyone sits to take in the beautiful views.
Hike up to the Big Buddha-
The big white Buddha statue in the mountains is visible from most of Pai and caught our eye right away. The stairs to reach the statue are brutal, but the views and the sheer massiveness of the Buddha are worth it.
Stop by the Land Split-
The Land Split used to be a thriving farm before one day the owner woke up to find that a giant fissure had split his farming land overnight. Instead of giving up, he turned the Land Split into an attraction for all the tourists in town.
The actual Land Split isn’t the attraction though— it’s the owner and his family’s hospitality! After sending us up the hill to view the Land Split, he and his wife prepared a feast of fresh fruit, nuts, snacks and amazing roselle juice for us. They just kept bringing out more and more food and drinks until finally we had to tell him that if we ate one more bite we would burst. He also gave us some great advice about which local waterfalls were the best.
We definitely recommend stopping by as the family that run it are some of the nicest people we’ve met in all of Southeast Asia. They provide all the food and advice with no guarantee of anything in return, as the Land Split does not charge a fee but operates on a donate what you can basis.
Swim in the Waterfalls-
Pai is home to several beautiful waterfalls that are only a short drive from the main town. You can easily make a whole day out of exploring the falls by motorbike!
Pam Bok waterfalls, which is located just down the road from the Land Split, is best enjoyed in the early morning. Joe and I got there around 9am and had the whole waterfall to ourselves. There is a ledge where you can jump into the water below, if you’re daring enough! Keep in mind that there is a bit muddy path to this waterfall so be careful if you decide to wear flip flops.
The Mo Paeng waterfall was our favorite in Pai. This waterfall actually has a natural waterslide for those who are daredevils and plenty of small pools for those who just want to watch to swim in. On any given day you can find locals and backpackers swimming and sunbathing around the falls. If you want less of a crowd go in the morning.
Chill at Fluid-
Even though its in the mountains, Pai can still get sweltering hot. Those looking to take a refreshing dip can spend an afternoon in the pool at Fluid. Fluid has a decent sized pool with plenty of space to lay out and a nice bar. For a small fee, you can spend all day poolside with a drink in hand to the tune of some decent reggae.
Stroll the night market-
Every night the main street in town becomes a bustling night market filled with endless options for snacks and souvenirs. We never actually went to dinner in Pai, instead we would walk around the market and pick a few things to share. Some highlights were amazing noodle soup, an awesome invention called the potato twist and delicious chicken on a stick!
Have a Drink at Don’t Cry-
The town of Pai has a curfew. All bars must close at 12AM. Well, all but one. Don’t Cry is the only bar in town open past midnight and it stays open until the early hours of the morning. The atmosphere is what makes this bar— there are cushions grouped together on the ground with candles to provide light and soft acoustic music that makes it the perfect place to end your night.
Take a Dip in the Hot Springs-
Pai is home to beautiful natural hot springs! The pools are great for a good soak and the mineral water is said to have some healing properties. Some of the pools are even hot enough to boil an egg! The springs on the map are heavily overpriced for foreigners but many backpackers have mentioned secret free pools nearby. Despite the cooler mountain air, Pai still gets hot during the day so the best time to visit the hot springs is early in the morning.
Where to stay-
Pai has some amazing guesthouse and hostels! Seriously, there is something for every type of traveler and budget in Pai.
If you’re looking for a hostel with a social atmosphere that is close to the center of town then definitely check out the Purple Monkey Guesthouse! For about $10 a night, I stayed in a private concrete bungalow and loved how fun and social this hostel was. The bar is open until midnight and there is always someone to chat with. We made tons of friends and genuinely enjoyed our time at the Purple Monkey Guesthouse.
I also visited the Pai Circus Hostel and loved it! Would definitely want to stay there next time I visit.
If you are looking for a riverside bungalow or something a little more upscale check out some of the amazing accommodation options on Agoda.com– my favorite site for finding great places to stay throughout Asia!
- Sunglasses– A good pair of sunglasses is essential for Southeast Asia. I brought one good pair with polarized lenses to protect my eyes and then bought a zillion cheap pairs in funky colors.
- Beach towel– I love round towels like this one! It’s big enough so that your hair never gets in the sand and is perfect to wrap up in if you get a little chilly. It also packs up nicer than carrying around a beach towel.
- Necklace– Elephants and Thailand just sort of go together!
- Sunscreen– Bring sunscreen from home. All of the sunscreen in Southeast Asia has skin whitening agent in it and if you don’t want to bleach your skin, you’ll need to pay triple the price you would at home. Try to bring enough to last your whole trip if possible!
- Flip-Flops– Bring a decent pair of flip-flops since it’s probably what you’ll be wearing 98% of the time. With all the walking, you’ll want a brand that holds up well and is comfortable like Havaianas.
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