Although it has seen a huge increase in popularity as a place to visit in Thailand, Pai is still one of the least travelled places that we’ve been to as it’s just a little bit further out and harder to get to than the other hotspots. That is not a testament, however, to how wonderful Pai is! So tuck into our slice of Pai and fill yourself up with all the info needed!
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What to do?
There is SO much to do in Pai but we’ve compiled our favourites in a list below:
*Note* We did a half day tour which included everything below up until the Get Scooters section. It cost us 200 baht each which was totally worth it and was a really great way to meet people!
Sunset at Pai Canyon – This was the best sunset we saw in our entire 3 month trip! We arrived early at the canyon and we’re glad we did because it was already packed and there wasn’t many spaces to sit left, plus it was a good 20 minute climb to get to a great spot! We were in a large-ish group as we were on a half day tour and everyone had beers which made the whole experience a lot more fun! You need to see this for yourself as pictures really don’t catch the beauty of it but we’ve thrown one in anyway!
We Love Pai – A quaint little coffee shop with one hell of a view just outside of the town, this is a spot you really don’t want to miss (the oreo cheesecake had us going back for more)! The coffee shop is a little bit more pricey as it’s such a tourist hotspot and we paid around 100 baht (4 pounds) for a giant slice of cheesecake. Take in the marvellous view below:
Bamboo Bridge – This was a super cool bamboo bridge across several rice paddies that took around 40 minutes to traverse there and back so wear some ankle protection! You’ll see a variety of cattle, some fluffy, some not so fluffy and loads of little puppies too so this makes it a dream for any animal lover. There’s a few structures, some photo opportunities and temples based around the bamboo bridge and even a really cute feeding pond which requires a donation that goes towards keeping the fish healthy.
Earth Split – We’re not sure how this terrain ended up like it did but we’re guessing an earthquake, even the locals weren’t sure! It’s something a bit different though and is free to get in with a few nice climbs and a little hill where you can come down on in makeshift carts the locals have built (if you’re daring enough)! You don’t need to spend long here, roughly 30 mins but we think it’s worth a visit.
Chinese Village – The Chinese Village was truly breathtaking; an intricate little village in the hills just outside of Pai that was once home to many Chinese workers a very long time ago. It houses a few mini pagodas, temples, ponds, shops and some wonderful flower beds. There are a few activities to do here, including renting out traditional Chinese costumes for a photo opportunity (we didn’t do this as it was quite costly, they also didn’t have any dresses in our colour).
Strawberry Fields – The perfect spot to take in the magnificence of the scenery of Pai, located in the hills with a killer view. Not a whole lot to do here but we did some morning meditation and were just grateful to be lucky enough to travel our beautiful planet. There are a few little restaurants here in case you get hungry or you’re feeling naughty enough to get an ice cream!
The White Buddha – This served as our compass for all of Pai, if we could see it, we told ourselves we knew where we were (it helps that it’s giant and stands out from the verdant greens all around)! There are quite a few steps to get up to the main event and in the blistering heat it’s definitely not for the faint of heart. As with most Buddhist places of worship, please wear something to cover your shoulders and knees otherwise you may be stopped at the entrance. This place holds some lovely memories for us as a couple we were travelling with for a couple of months of our journey actually got engaged here! Congrats again H & J! We love you!
Get Scooters! – We were too nervous to rent scooters as neither of us had ever ridden them by this point (little did we know how much we’d love them in Vietnam) and we utterly regretted it. We missed out on a few cool caves and waterfalls due to not having the transportation sorted (it would’ve cost tons to get there in a taxi or tuk tuk). It also just allows you the freedom to go and see everything without needing to worry about being on a tour.
Eat at Gyoza Queen – A little stall located on the main walking street in the centre of Pai, we weren’t prepared for just how delicious and addictive these Gyoza would be; hands down the best Gyoza we’ve ever eaten! For a mere 50 baht (2 pounds) you get 6 Gyoza of your choice (steamed or fried). We had to get one each and did a little mix and match of 3 each but the steamed were better and obviously a little more healthy. Top tip: with the chilli sauce you get given, you honestly don’t need a lot; we’re both fans of spice and it blew our socks off!
Jam on the River Pai – A little bar tucked away down an alleyway that we met our very dear friend Kayla at who happens to live in Pai. The Pirate Juice is a speciality cocktail which tastes amazing and will get you tipsy very quickly. It’s a super chill vibe all around the bar which doubles as a hostel; all of the huts for rent are on stilts. Come here and chat with the charming bar staff, listen to some reggae and dance the night away!
Eat at Mango Tree – Mango Tree is without a doubt incredible Thai food. It has a cozy, welcoming interior to provide relief from the scorching sun and our favourite Pad Thai in Pai. We ate here more than we’d like to admit considering we’re normally very adventurous with food and where we eat but when something is just this good, why not go back? Prices are affordable, a little more expensive than the spots where the locals eat but so worth it.
Do a Bar Crawl – Pai is very small so getting around if you’re staying near the centre is easy but we recommend visiting Soi Raddamrong (the street), there are some great little bars there, one in particular we would love to recommend but can’t remember the name; it’s owned by a very eccentric Thai lady who has a passion for all things Mojito. Lots of beer pong and pool to be played across all the bars in Pai and some great little niche spots such as a craft beer pub. Go on and treat yourself!
What Does it Cost?
Prices in Pai are very similar to Bangkok, if not a little bit more pricey in some cases. We think this is due to there being a lot of tourist focused areas within the town centre. There are a lot of top-end restaurants which will charge anywhere from 200-400 baht for a meal which is actually steep for Thailand. You obviously don’t have to eat at those restaurants though as we couldn’t quite justify paying so much on food when there were so many activities we wanted to do on our travels. Overall though, compared to our home prices in England for pretty much anything, Pai still comes out a helluva lot cheaper!
How To Get There:
We would recommend going from Bangkok to Chiang Mai on the overnight bus which takes anywhere between 9-12 hours. We went straight from Bangkok to Pai but had a 2 hour stop-off in Chiang Mai at 5am (eww, right?) which wasn’t the nicest as we got eaten alive by mosquitoes due to having to sit outside because the station wasn’t open at that time. The bus trip cost us around 800 baht each; prices can very wildly but it really depends on how much of a rapport you can build with the shop you get the tickets from and if you can haggle the pricing down. We booked ours with Fabulous Travel Agency *mentioned in our Bankok post* and the owner even threw in a free massage!
Where to Stay:
We would recommend Guest House Canary for a super cheap, super chill place to stay which has great communal areas and cost us 640 baht (around £16) for 2 beds over 2 nights. We’ve included a link to the guest house below: