Pai, Thailand is one of those places you don’t expect much from, but somehow it sneaks up on you and steals your heart. A weekend trip to Pai quickly turns into a week and before you know it you are extending your stay to a month. We even know people who have never left. The hippy vibe of the small village is infectious, the lush and natural surroundings are mesmerising and of course the number of amazing things to do in Pai is both exciting and endless. I have to be honest though, the town of Pai itself is nothing to brag about, as it’s mostly restaurants, shops and bars, but walk a few minutes away and the true beauty of Pai will shine like gold in a mine.
Oh, and I can be a bit verbose at times. If you are looking for something specific, such as the best places to stay in Pai, use the index below to go straight to that section.
1.) Rent a scooter and cruise around town
The beauty of Pai lies in its mountains, waterfalls, hot springs and lush landscapes. The best way to explore Pai’s natural attractions and lush beauty is to rent a scooter. With your own set of wheels, you can enjoy all the great things to do in Pai and its breathtaking scenery at your own time and pace. Scooters can be rented in town for as little as 100 baht (~$3USD) per day.
We recommend that you rent your scooter from Aya Services. Why? Well, our scooter broke down (over 40 miles out of town) and we had to take it to a mechanic. Of course they overcharged us (1000 baht for a belt change), but when we got back to town we showed Aya Services the receipt and without any questions or raised eyebrows they refunded us. Now that is great service. They also have a great reputation and a very simple rental process.
2.) Hunt for waterfalls
No trip to Pai is complete without a visit to one of the many beautiful Thai waterfalls in the area! Here are the three main waterfalls you must add to your list of things to do in Pai.
Mo Paeng Waterfall: This waterfall is the easiest to get to from town, which makes it the most popular and crowded of them all. For this reason we decided to skip it. However, many visitors seem to enjoy Mo Paeng Falls for its natural water slide that leads directly into the natural pool below.
Pam Bok Waterfall: Because you need a scooter to get to Pam Bok Waterfall, it’s much less crowded than Mo Paeng Waterfall. It’s a great place for a refreshing swim (the water was freezing) or to pretend to be Ariel from The Little Mermaid. From here you can also walk to the viewpoint or check out Su Thong Pae, a 500 metre long bamboo bridge that stretches over rice fields.
3.) Enjoy the natural hot springs
If you are looking for a day of relaxation while in Pai, the natural hot springs are a must. The Pai Hot Springs cost 300 baht to enter and the Sai Ngam Hot Spring costs 20 baht.
If you want to experience the hot springs without the crowds and in a more luxurious way, you can visit the Pai Hot Springs Spa Resort. For just 100 baht (~$3 USD) you can relax in not one, but three different thermal baths and then cool off in the pool surrounded by beautiful scenery.
4.) Enjoy the view at Pai Canyon
Pai Canyon is Pai’s super small version of the Grand Canyon. Here you can enjoy some great views over Pai. Around 5:30pm most of the tourists flock here to enjoy a stunning Pai sunset. Another place where we enjoyed watching a sunset in Pai was at Wat Phra That Mae Yen or up at the White Buddha statue.
5.) Gaze at the stars
On our night walk back to where we were staying (out of town) we realised that there are certain places where you can look up at the sky and get lost in the clear stars that fill the sky. We found several areas outside the city where light pollution was non-existent and darkness prevailed, i.e. the best places for stargazing. Scout out a few places during your visit and enjoy what many people take for granted.