Tucked way up north in the mountains of Thailand is the hippy haven of Pai! This small incense filled oasis is full of magical waterfalls, mouthwatering meals and breathtaking scenery. Although it is full of tourists, Pai is a city not to be over looked to the traveler seeking authentic Thai vibes. Here is a quick guide to understanding the must know information about Pai, Thailand!
How to get there:
Located roughly three hours away from Thailand’s northern hub – Chiang Mai it is accessible by wheels or airplane (although flights are a bit pricey – around 60 USD for the 30 minutes of air time).
There are vans and buses that depart every hour. If you are motorcycle savvy, you can opt to ride the curved roads yourself. The ride is quite scenic but full of twists and turns, many buses and vans cut corners so you have to be very careful!
From Chiang Mai’s Arcade Bus Station you can catch a van at their office across from the Van Station. The first van departs around 6:30AM and one departs every hour after that but seats fill quickly, make sure to hustle over there to get a spot!
In Pai there is one bus station. It runs vans down to Chiang Mai, again seats fill up so buy your return ticket the moment you arrive. Although, if you are unable to buy a seat at the station, don’t worry! There are tons of different tourist agencies that can sort out a van for you, they will just take a bit longer – the bus station buses pride themselves on their timely schedules. A ticket, regardless of where you buy it, will cost you around 150 Baht, (4.20 USD).
Where to stay:
There are many different places to stay in Pai and the prices range to accommodate all different types of travelers. There are hostels, hotels, and resorts all around the city. The further away from ‘The Walking Street’ you get the more rural and scenic the views are. Keep in mind that this also means you will need transportation in and out of town!
There are motorbike/scooter rentals that range from 100 – 300 Baht a day. This is a good budget option for getting around town as well as to explore the surrounding areas.
There are a couple of larger hostel compounds that are a little bit outside of town. These have many amenities and the need to go into town is less great. This would be a great option if you want to maximize chill out time!
If you want to be inside the city, you want to be looking for proximity to The Walking Street. This is where the best places will be. The closer you are the more likely you will be hearing music from the bars that line this street and the surrounding ones. As long as you bring ear plugs, it shouldn’t be a problem!
Some great options for accommodations are:
Spicy Pai – Many friends of mine from around Thailand have stayed in this hostel and absolutely loved it! Beds go for around 10 USD.
Day Off Guesthouse – I stayed at this guesthouse while there and had a wonderful experience. It was clean and the vibes were chill. Great location although very close to the bars at night! Rooms go for around 11 USD a night.
What to do:
In Pai there are countless natural beauties to be explored! Mountain drives and waterfall adventures will fill your days and the lively Walking Street is abuzz at night. If you don’t care to do much, Pai is also just the place to do that! Take a nap and laze about in a cool coffee shop. The food is top notch, full of vegetarian specialties but if you are craving some spicy Thai cuisine that is available as well!
You can hire a Tuk Tuk or rent a bike for the day in order to see the sights around Pai for yourself. If you would rather take part in a tour you can arrange one in the city!
Pai is full of waterfalls, most of them are close to the city! Here are a couple of good ones to explore:
Pam Bok Waterfall: Pictured above, is a short drive out of the city. There is a small parking lot and it is a small walk to the actual falls.
Mo Paeng Waterfall: This waterfall is known for it’s large slippery exterior making it perfect for sliding down!
Mae Yen Waterfall: About seven kilometers from town, and a couple hours hike, but it is renowned as the most beautiful!
There are a couple of different hot springs in Pai. One is close to the city, Tha Pai Hot Springs, not to be confused with the Tha Pai Camping Grounds which are man made springs and cost around 300 Baht a person to get into!! The original Tha Pai Springs are deeper in the National Park!
Sai Ngam Hot Springs are 30 mins outside of town, all natural and cost 20 Baht for the National Park entrance fee and 20 Baht per person! The water was warm and clean, locals and foreigners alike paddled about the shallow water.
A gorgeous place for sunset (although super crowded) is the Pai Canyon. This steep ravine filled landscape looks otherworldly. Be careful exploring the canyon though, there are no rails or safety precautions and it is slippery!
The Land Split:
Although it has a dramatic name The Land Split is far from breathtaking. The earth just moved a little creating a small crevasse. I wouldn’t recommend this solely for its archeological grandness BUT what totally made it amazing is that there is a little fruit stand at the entrance.
If you donate a small amount of money the owners will give you fresh Roselle juice and passion fruits or bananas to snack on! The workers there were delightful and so sweet – making this a must visit regardless of if you appreciate tectonic movement.
Shop on The Walking Street:
This street makes up the majority of the town and is lined with delicious eateries, cool coffee shops and hip bars! There are a myriad of shops and the majority are not your typical tourist fare (yay!!).
Everything from artisan soaps to handcrafted goods line the streets and in the evenings there are tons of different food stalls that set up that will curve any craving you may have! It is very easy to get lost perusing this chaotic wonderland.
Pai is a magical little haven full of hippies and chill vibes. Whether you stay in town or among the rice patties you are guaranteed to have a good time!
Hope this guide is helpful when planning your next trip to Pai 🙂
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