I booked three nights accommodation in Pai and ended up staying for almost two weeks! There is something about the place that made it hard to leave. I will write a blog post about Pai and what I liked so much about it, shortly. For now, I will give you some information about the famous attractions in and around Pai. And I will also give you a few options on how to see them all.
Pai is a small town that is approximately 130kms Noth East of Chaing Mai. Most backpackers use the private shuttle service from Chiang Mai to get to Pai. The vans usually pick you up at your hostel, or hotel and take between 3 to 4 hours to get from Chiang Mai to Pai or vise versa. A few companies are offering this service which cost about USD 5 and can usually be booked through your accommodation or one of the many travel agencies in town.
The town of Pai itself is easy to navigate and has plenty of cheap food and cheap accommodation options, including a nightly market on the main pedestrian street. There is something for everyone here! If you want to stay at a hotel or hostel in town and party, you can do that, or you can walk 15 minutes away from the town center and stay at a beautiful, peaceful place. Just a heads up for you partiers, the bars typically close at midnight. However, there are a few after-hours places where you can go and drink.
OK, enough about the town! Let’s see what there is to do here in Pai.
What To Do
Rent A Scooter
Although I was too lazy to do this, most backpackers rented a scooter from one of the many places in town. Scooters are very cheap to rent and typically cost between USD 4 to USD 10 for a 24 hour period, depending on the size of the motor. After talking to several backpackers, and seeing many other travelers wearing bandages on their legs, arms, face, etc., I would suggest renting a helmet if you decide to use this option to explore the area.
Heads Up! Driving in Thailand is most likely “Same Same,” but much different than the standards that you are familiar with in your own country. Most drivers in Thailand pass on solid lines, and they sometimes tend to make sporadic, and unpredictable maneuvers.
Although you can easily rent a scooter with your regular driver’s license from home, you officially need a motorcycle license here in Thailand. I’ve spoken with a few backpackers, and they have all told me that the police will sometimes randomly pull foreigners over and check to see if drivers have the proper license. In all cases, the police have let them off with a small unofficial fine. (Cash Only! :P) Also, most companies do not give you insurance with your bike. So if you hit something, or damage the bike, you may have to pay out of pocket. None of these things seemed to deterrent travelers from renting scooters. It looked like I was the only one in town that didn’t have a bike. Most likely next time!
Group Day Trip
There are a few different tour packages that are offered in town that take you to all the major sites for a meager price. Most of the tour companies will cram 8 or 9 people into the back of a pick-up truck and cart everyone around for a full day. The tours usually last 8-10 hours, cost under USD 20, and include a decent lunch. Although the bench seats in the back of these trucks were not comfortable, I found it to be a fun, and economical way to see all the sites, and meet some cool travelers at the same time. Win!Win!
I did two different day tours during my stay in Pai so I will focus this blog post on both of those tours. Each trip had six points of interest, both ending with sunset at Pai Canyon. You can, however, visit any of these attractions on your own with a car, or a scooter.
The caves are located about 45 minutes away from town by car. The entrance fee is USA 8 but is often included in the tour packages. The caves are big and have some steep steps to climb. The cost of entrance consists of a guide that brings along a lantern. The guide will also take you on a short bamboo-boat ride within the cave. Inside the cave, you can see some neat formations made from the stalagmites, and stalactites.
Sai Ngam Hot Spring
The hot springs are not unusually hot, but they are warm making it a much-welcomed stop. As you can see in the pictures, we were playing with the mud.
Mor Pang Waterfall
I wouldn’t give this one too many points during the dry season. I’m sure it is much more impressive during the rainy months!
Pai Canyon (Sunset)
Most of the tour companies end their excursions here at Pai Canyon. The views are spectacular, but please be careful! The cliffs here are steep, and there are no barrier guards.
The best part of any tour is meeting all the cool people along the way! There was nine of us all packed into the back of this pick-up truck. Yes, it was uncomfortable, but by being crammed together, we got to know each well, making the adventure that much better!
Chinese Village & Yun Lai Viewpoint
Yun Lai Viewpoint is just a short drive up the hill from the Chinese Village. It has a few shops at the top where you can buy tea to enjoy with the spectacular view of the area.
The Chinese Village has a lot of little shops, and exciting things to see. It is worth making a short visit.
You can find this type of swing around the Pai area. It takes a bit of work, but it is possible for four people to use it at one time.
This spot is a great place to get some beautiful pictures of the local landscape. It’s mainly wheat fields with a lot of oxen grazing. I went in the dry season which was nice. I’m sure it is much more impressive during the rainy season as everything would be green.
This attraction is entirely new and easy to get to on your own. You can see the White Buddha from town, and it is accessible from the main road out of Pai.
This one is interesting and is included in some day trips. It’s a natural split in the land that occurred in 2008. There is no real explanation as to what happened here. The farmer just woke up one day and found his land split in half. There was no earthquake or flood to cause it; it was just a natural occurrence. You can walk along, and within the land separation. The dates were marked at the locations of were each separation occurred. One said 2008; another was in 2011.
Other Created Tourist Attractions
The locals in Pai are great at making attractions and building beautiful things for the tourists. I visited two different such attractions. Coffee in Love, and Love Strawberry Pai. Both places are great for sitting back and having a drink with a view!
Well, that is Pai in a nutshell! There is also another thing to do around Pai, like hiking into the tribal region, visiting the long neck Karen tribes, and plenty of scenic roads to explore. If you would like to share any of your experiences from Pai with our readers, then please do so in the comment section below.
If you would like more great tips on traveling then, please visit my website. Travel Can Be Cheap. Thank-you for visiting my travel blog today! Tyler England.