Pai is very popular these days with backpackers. It is a place where they all come together to relax, drink, smoke weed, drive motorbikes and explore the famous mountains of Thailand. Pai is around 150 km away from Chiang Mai.
Top Things To Do And See In Pai
Rent a motorbike - You need a motorbike if you want to explore Pai the best way you can. Take a map, pin and visit all the amazing places Pai has to offer.
Pai Hot Springs - Drive to the hot springs and bath in a couple of them. Be ready for the rotten egg smell though... It is quite strong, especially at the plus 80 degrees hot springs.
Mo Paeng Waterfalls - Refresh yourself in one of the amazing waterfalls of Pai and meet the local stray dogs. They are dying for a cuddle.
Pam Bok Waterfalls - Perfect waterfall to go swimming on a hot day. Although Hayley can confirm that the water was freezing cold.
Pai Canyon - Who would think that there are canyons hidden in the green mountains of Pai? Go off the beaten track and explore the canyon where no one else ever comes. Make sure to bring loads of water because it really does get super hot.
Pai's Walking Street - At night the main street of Pai fills up with lots of food vendors and market stalls. They mostly sell handmade clothing and jewellery. It is all quite expensive because it is a very touristic and popular place.
Pai Viewpoint - This is our favourite spot to relax and to enjoy the ultimate freedom that travelling gives us. We could spend hours here without getting sick of the view. Watch the beautiful sunset over the mountains. Grab yourself some small bananas and a tea in the cafe. Breath in the fresh air and just enjoy life.
Say No To Animal Tourism
Thom's Pai Elephant Camp in Pai, Thailand is the first elephant camp where tourists can interact with the gentle giants. They make tourists like you and I believe that they take care of these beautiful creatures and that they are a part of the family. All of this is not true and the reality is quite the opposite. Read more about it in our article Say No To Elephant Riding and stop animal cruelty!
Costs In Pai
Pai has become more expensive over the years due to its popularity with tourists. There is definitely a big change with the first time I visited Pai in 2010 and 2017.
Food and drinks - Street food is still cheap. But eating out in a restaurant can get quite expensive for Thai standards. Alcohol can get expensive but every bar does a happy hour every night. I really recommend to try some organic restaurants. You might pay a bit more but it is truly delicious and people are incredibly friendly.
Accommodation - You can definitely find cheap hostels and bungalows. But if you want something more price-quality you will have to pay a bit more than in other places in Thailand. We stayed in a bungalow for 300 BHT (8,5 USD) a night which is actually really cheap. We had our own bungalow with a private bathroom. We didn't book online but just walked around and found these bungalows. They are located in a local's garden. You can also stay outside the busy touristic area and get more for your money. There are resorts for the more luxurious travellers. And there are yoga retreats all over Pai.
Transport - The minibus runs a couple times a day from Chiang Mai to Pai and costs around 200 BHT (6 USD) and takes 4 hours. A private taxi is only 2,5 hours but it is expensive. You can also rent a motorbike and drive to Pai yourself. The drive there is amazing with its 700 curves and amazing viewpoints. But good driving skills are required. Motorbike rental is around 150 BHT (4 USD) a day.
7-eleven - This shop is found anywhere in Thailand and it will become your best friend throughout your travels. You can safe a lot of money by buying your alcoholic drinks and breakfast here.
Transport - Taking the minibus from Chiang Mai to Pai is the cheapest option. You might get sick from the plus 700 curves yes but it really is the cheapest way. Starts from 150 BHT.
Motorbike hire - ALWAYS BARGAIN. If you are wanting 2 motorbikes, ask for a discount. Are you renting for a couple of days, ask for a discount. There is no harm for asking and it could save you a couple dollars.
Saving on drinks - Make sure you don't miss happy hour. Whenever happy hour is done in your current bar, go to the next one. Beers are always relatively cheap.
Tours - Don't spend money on tours and just explore by yourself. Rent a motorbike for 150 BHT (4 USD) a day and get out there.
Drugs in Pai
It is not a secret that people use drugs in Pai. But if you do, you have to be cautious. Thailand is very strict about using drugs. There is a 0 tolerance law. Some travellers think it is okay to have weed on them because they are in Pai, a village in the mountains with lots of hippies. This makes this place the perfect place to use drugs. But obviously, this is nonsense. There are police officers in Pai and travellers do get caught with drugs. The police officers stop you on the road while you are on your motorbike and do a full body search.
It is NEVER okay to carry weed or any other drugs with you in Thailand. Remember this and respect the Thai laws. Mostly for your own sake.
There is a reason why a lot of travellers get stuck in Pai for months. It is not only a cute little village in the mountains, it is much more than that. Pai has a lot to offer. From delicious organic food and yoga retreats, to amazing waterfalls and canyons. Pai had a strong local community back in the days. But nowadays it has become more of a backpackers paradise in the mountains.
We personally liked our time in Pai and met some amazing local people through our accommodation. But also the lady of our favourite cocktail bar was so sweet and heartwarming. She is married to an English man and they are now raising a son together in Pai. And most important, she makes the best cocktails of Pai and has like 10 different kinds of mojitos!
Our favourite place to go for drinks is Bamboo bar right beside the Pai River. There is always a cosy bonfire going on where we can all sit around on pillows and get to know fellow travellers. Live music now and then, lots of beer and the party goes on until the sun rises.
We have spend half a day in the Fluid Swimming pool which is walking distance from town. It's a very popular spot and meeting place for travellers. There are always good beats playing and drinks available. Everyone is there for the same reason. To relax and enjoy their holidays.
Go and see all this beauty yourself and don't hesitate to message us if you have any questions or need more recommendations.