You don’t have to look far to find a ton of cool things to do in Pai, Thailand.
Pai is located 150 kilometers, and seemingly a world away, from the hustle and bustle of Chiang Mai. It is secluded, peaceful, laid back, and is a MUST-visit destination for anyone in northern Thailand.
Trust us, to visit Pai is to fall in love with it.
Situated in a mellow river valley Pai is surrounded on all sides by intense natural beauty. Rice fields, forests, rolling hills, and big blue sky all come together in a stunning amalgamation of color. Throw in an occasional fiery sunset and you have something you might expect to see in a painting. The town itself is small, with one main drag that is home to a majority of the cafes, restaurants, and food stalls. You can get around Pai on foot without any issues whatsoever.
We stayed in Pai for 10 days and had a very hard time forcing ourselves to leave. There are simply so many things to do in Pai, and so much beauty to uncover. We miss it to this day.
The list below covers only free or inexpensive activities. Pai offers rafting, organized hikes, cave exploration, and other cool activities for the outdoorsy traveler. Prices vary by season as is the case everywhere else in Thailand, so take that into account when planning your trip.
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Things to Do in Pai
Rent a Scooter in Pai and Explore!
Get a scooter at one of the many places that rent them out (for around $5.00 a day, cheaper if you rent for a week at a time and haggle) and head out of town to immerse yourself in nature. Drive south to Pai Coffee Love for spectacular valley views, north on a 60-kilometer jaunt that takes you high into the hills to visit Lod Cave, or simply drive around aimlessly and let yourself get a little lost. We did so every day and never got tired of discovering a new view.
A note of caution – Please be aware that scooters are not toys. It seems like every month we read a news report out of Thailand about a tourist dying in a motorcycle accident. Sometimes alcohol is a factor, sometimes it’s inexperience with driving a scooter, and sometimes it’s simply bad luck. Either way, use caution and drive responsibly. Be aware that the rules of the road are very different in Thailand than they are in the West. What you expect another motorist to do is not necessarily what they WILL do, so drive accordingly.
Food Stalls on the Walking Street in Pai
Meander down Pai’s main drag (adorably named “Pai Walking Street”) at night and sample some of the fantastic eats found among the long line of food stalls. Our favorite tasty treat was fried vegetarian dumplings that were whipped up by an elderly Thai woman. They were delicious, fried fresh before our eyes, and extremely cheap. Whatever your culinary bent, you will find something to eat on Pai’s Walking Street.
River Tubing in Pai
Pai River is scenic and deserves some exploration. The best way to do so is to rent a tube from one of the many shops that offer it in town, hire a tuk-tuk to take you a few kilometers upriver and float back into town.
Bring some cold brews, but please remember to not litter in or around the river. We saw a couple of people chucking beer cans into the water, which is a pretty shitty thing to do. Bring a trash bag of some sort with you, preferably a reusable one!
Visit Pai Canyon
Pai Canyon is a picturesque canyon located some 8 kilometers due south outside of Pai. The canyon’s red ridges and orange soil makes it reminiscent of the Grand Canyon (in super miniature form). We highly recommend you try to catch at least one sunset here, as they can be quite spectacular. There is currently no fee to enter.
The ride to the Canyon with a scooter is about 25 minutes, if you aren’t driving like a maniac, and is totally worth the trip just on its own. Make sure to stop often at the various overlooks and tea/coffee houses for some excellent views!
Pai Hot Springs Resort
Pai Hot Springs Resort offers you relaxing hot baths, and a cold water pool to sunbath and chill out on. You can spend literally and entire day here just relaxing, catching rays, and taking a tranquil breather.
100 baht ($3.00) gets you a full-day pass to make use of the wonderful pool and the three thermal baths found here. We found this to be a great way to kill a few hours, lounge out, and relax.
Grab your Scooter and head south some 7 kilometers out of town. You’ll see signs for the resort along with Thom’s Elephant Camp. No reservation is needed at the time of writing, nor do you need to be renting a room here to partake in the pools and baths.
Watch the Butterflies Flutter By
We know literally nothing about butterflies. Well, we know that they have wings, they used to be caterpillars, and that they are pretty. And we know there are hundreds of varieties of them to be found in and around Pai.
A short scooter trip north of town brings you to open fields, where you can literally pass the day watching these amazing insects go about their colorful business. It’s enchanting, magical, colorful, and absolutely beautiful, just like the rest of Pai!
Where to Stay in Pai, Thailand
Best Hotels in Pai
Hopefully you’ve been convinced to visit Pai when you’re in Northern Thailand. If you need some help picking a place to stay, we recommend the following establishments. Just keep in mind that Pai is a very small town that has seen a huge boom in tourism, so things like hot water and perfectly functioning WiFi aren’t the norm.
Pai River Villa
Pai River Villa is our top pick for the best hotel in Pai. We stayed here for the duration of our visit and had an excellent experience. The property, which is located on the river, is just a few minutes walk from the center of Pai. The staff are extremely friendly, the villas are comfortable and clean, and the setting is beautiful and remarkably quiet (other than an occasionally annoying rooster). There are eighteen private villas to choose from that can accommodate up to two people each. It is the perfect place for friends or couples who are looking for a private and quiet setting to relax in.
Best Hotels in Pai – Happy House Pai
Happy House Pai is a centrally located, family run hostel with a variety of accommodations including dorms and private rooms. They have a full kitchen, a bar, pool and ping pong tables, high speed WiFi and same day laundry service. It’s a great place to stay if you want the option to socialize or turn in early and have a quiet night. We reckon it is one of the best hostels in Pai.
Best Hotels in Pai – Soi One Boutique Bedrooms
Soi One is the nicest accommodation option we found in the center of Pai. It excellent location, and beautifully decorated rooms, make it one of the most popular properties in Pai for visitors that don’t mind paying a few extra bucks to stay at a quality establishment.
Pai Hotsprings Spa Resort
Pai Hotsprings Spa Resort is perfect for anyone looking for a peaceful experience in a luxury setting. The resort, which has 68 beautiful bungalow-style hotel rooms, is located about six miles north of Pai. The property has an in-ground swimming pool with a stunning view of the countryside, a natural hot spring pool, and air-conditioned rooms. Their friendly staff will help you organize activities, massages, and transfers.
Find Great Rates on Hotels in Pai, Thailand on Booking.com!
And there you have it folks, our guide to Pai, Thailand. We REALLY loved staying here for a week and we totally would do so again! As usual, happy travels, and we will see you guys on the road!
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