Pai is sometimes referred to as the “Thai island in the mountains,” and with good reason—it is a charming small town tucked between valleys in the hilly area of Mae Hong Son province.
It’s one of those locations where a weekend getaway may turn into a weeklong stay or perhaps the beginning of a new home. Pai, in Northern Thailand, is home to some amazing hot springs, Pai Canyon, the Pai River, and delicious street cuisine. Pai is located 146 kilometers from Chiang Mai.
Therefore, if Pai is on your vacation schedule for Thailand, this list of the top 10 things to do in Pai, Thailand, will help you prepare.
1. Investigate the renowned Pai Canyon
Due to its abundance of hiking routes, Pai’s Pai Canyon is sometimes referred to as Thailand’s counterpart to the Grand Canyon. Using a tuk-tuk or a scooter rental will make it simple for you to explore Pai Canyon.
The Pai Canyon, which protrudes above the jungle, becomes orange as the sun’s final rays gradually fade away and give way to nightfall.
But take caution. The fine gravel that is dispersed along the narrow, steep trails that ascend and descend the canyon makes them exceedingly slick and dangerous.
Take the broader routes halfway across the Pai Canyon, which provides breathtaking sweeping views of the surrounding forest, if you want to be secure.
Pro Tip: Purchase drinking water at the canyon’s bottom, then go there 30 minutes before sunset to see nature transform into something quite charming.
2. Sai Ngam Hot Springs is a Great Place to Relax
The Sai Ngam Hot Springs, often known as the “Secret” Hot Springs, is located 25 minutes north of Pai’s town center.
The Sai Ngam Hot Springs, which are tucked away inside a forest, offers a peaceful natural environment where you may unwind while taking in the interplay of light and shadows as the cascading water caresses and revitalizes your worn-out body and spirit.
Pro Tip: To avoid the crowds, arrive before opening time or right before it. 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. is when business is open.
3. Take a bath in the Tha Pai Hot Springs.
Tha Pai Hot Springs, which is south of Pai town, is beautiful. You may choose from a variety of hot baths, so it won’t seem overly crowded.
The neighboring natural hot springs are the source of the thermal baths. The reason the admission price is 300 Baht instead of 200 Baht at the Sai Ngam Hot Springs is that the amenities are considerably superior here.
If you go to Pai in the winter, you really must visit Sai Ngam Hot Springs and Tha Pai Hot Springs to pass the time and stay warm.
Pro tip: Be there first thing in the morning when the gentle sun casts a colorful interplay of shadows. Additionally, climb higher to avoid the throng.
4. Traverse the Tham Lod Caves’ labyrinths
The Tham Lod Cave System, which spans an amazing 1.6 kilometers, is a must-see sight. It is completely cut through by the Lang River.
According to studies, the area’s prehistoric inhabitants utilized it as a burial site from the late Pleistocene to the late Holocene period.
Overall, there are three caves: the Pi Man Cave, the Sao Hin Cave, and the Tuk Ta Cave. To make your way through the maze-like passageways of this ancient cave system, you’ll need a local guide. For the greatest views of all, get aboard a bamboo raft as well.
Pro Tip: Bring your camera so you may record the stunning rock formations. Wear comfortable shoes since you will be walking on damp rocks.
5. Admire the Stunning Waterfalls
Pam Bok Waterfall
The majestic Pam Bok Waterfall is situated deep among the mountains to the south of Pai. It is especially stunning due to its hidden setting beneath the canyon and the dense vegetation. The first waterfall you come across will be quite uninteresting, but the Pam Bok Waterfall truly shines when the canyon splits.
Mo Paeng Waterfall
The picturesque Mo Paeng Waterfall is located to the north of the Yun Lai Viewpoint. You can climb up and then slide down a slippery rock to splash in a cool pond or natural swimming hole at this multi-level waterfall.
The Mo Paeng Waterfall has strong bamboo bridges that may be used to access all of its levels.
Pro Tip: There are 30 minutes between each waterfall. On the same day, cover them both.
6. Visit the Yun Lai Viewpoint for a Surreal View
Take an early-morning excursion to the Yun Lai Viewpoint when you are in Pai to witness the dawn. This vantage point provides a 360° view of the Pai Valley, encompassing the canyon and the surrounding hills.
If you’re fortunate enough to see the sunrise, you’ll be instantly transported to a fantastical setting as the sun slowly rises over a sea of mist engulfing the valley.
Once you’ve gotten your fill at the viewpoint, you may visit Santichon Community, a Chinese village that is home to the viewpoint.
Pro Tip: You can camp out overnight to see the beautiful daybreak if you believe you won’t make it there in time.
7. Be amazed by Wat Phra That Mae Yen.
The Wat Phra That Mae Yen, also known as the Big White Buddha statue, is a little exciting for digital nomads traveling through Thailand. However, seeing yet another enormous Buddha statue might not be all that appealing.
The dazzlingly white Buddha statue is free to see, but it takes an hour to climb to the summit, where you can get a broad vista of the Pai Valley.
Pro Tip: Be there just before sunset to see the valley gently change hues. Additionally, one covers oneself out of respect for the Wat Phra That Mae Yen.
8. Take a Walk Down Pai’s Walking Street
The Walking Street, which also happens to be Pai’s main street, is the area that is the busiest and most active in the city. The street is lined with cafes, stores, and restaurants, making it a popular hangout for travelers.
You will enter a night market right away, where you will get a wide variety of nutritious cuisine from street sellers offering anything from Indian food to falafel, lasagna, bruschetta, and more. This is where Pai’s nightlife comes to life.
There is something for everyone on the long list of foods, including vegetarians, meat eaters, and even Megarians.
If you enjoy shopping, the night market will be particularly alluring. You may discover a ton of wonderful products for your money, from apparel to natural medicines.
Pro Tip: There are two booths that provide only gluten-free cuisine.
9. The Buddha Bamboo Bridge stroll
The Pam Bok Waterfall is located closer to the mountains, but the apparently endless bamboo bridge that crosses vast expanses of rice terraces is farther into the highlands.
If you’ve already been to Mae Hong Son’s Su Tong Pae Bamboo Bridge, you might not find the Buddha Bamboo Bridge to be as appealing. If not, however, this bamboo bridge will demonstrate to you how the Thai people constructed bridges in the past for monks.
There isn’t much to do here but unwind and take in the peace and quiet that the place exudes.
Pro Tip: Even though the bridge has a 24-hour entrance, when lethargy sets in, think about going in the afternoon.
10. River Tubing on the Pai
Tubing down the Pai River is a top draw for fans of water sports. Bring your friends or family upstream, sit on a large inflatable tube, and let the river’s current carry you back to the small town.
Simply rent a tube from a tour operator, and they’ll also arrange transportation to and from the Pai River for you.
Pro Tip: Steer clear of the wet season. Rivers may be hazardous.