lots of greenery amongst the Pai river and palm trees in Northern countryside of Thailand , Is Pai worth visiting

Is Pai Worth Visiting?: Complete Guide

Is Pai worth visiting? Are you debating whether you should visit Pai or not? You’ve come to the right place!

Pai is definitely worth visiting for everyone, but some will enjoy it more than others. Pai is a remote, charming small town in the mountains of northern Thailand.

It’s a popular place to relax, unwind, attend day tours, and experience its lively nightlife.

In Pai, you’ll find waterfalls, hot springs, the opportunity to do tipsy tubing, hike many viewpoints, and experience some of the best sunsets in Thailand.

Evenings in Pai revolve around the popular night market in town, where you’ll also find many bars and restaurants to visit.

In this complete guide, I’ll cover the best things to do in Pai, where to stay in Pai, hotel/restaurant suggestions, and a few important tips for Pai you should know before visiting!

picturesque street in Pai with scooters parked on the side of the road, greenery ahead on a clear sky day

How to Get to Pai

Most who make the trip to Pai come from Chiang Mai because it’s the largest city close to Pai with an airport, Chiang Mai International (CNX).

If you’re already in a nearby place like Chiang Rai or anywhere else, you can skip going to Chiang Mai first.

To get to Pai, you’ve got two options: a shared minibus van or a private car transfer.

On a minibus van, you can expect a full bus of 12 passengers, and buses are comfortable with AC. They cost around 200-250 baht/$6-$7 US per way. You’re allowed one backpack of any size as free luggage; if you have a suitcase, you will be charged 150 Baht to bring it.

Alternatively, you can take a private car transfer; you’ll have your own space in a vehicle, ideal for those looking for some privacy. This method will cost you $44+ US, depending on the vehicle you choose.

From Chiang Mai to Pai, it’s around 3 Hours trip; it may be slightly longer because halfway, you will stop for a washroom break; there’s a shop there for those who forgot to pack snacks.

plentiful grass amongst a beautiful tree in the countryside of Pai

Things to Do in Pai

Pai is full of amazing things to do, which is one of the many reasons it’s become so popular among travelers. From hot springs to Buddhist temples, viewpoints, and more!

But getting from place to place in Pai is difficult unless you’ve rented a scooter. There aren’t taxis waiting around in Pai unless you hire one to take you to a specific place.

The best way to see Pai is by attending the popular Half or Full day tour of Pai; that way, you get to see most of the attractions of Pai in one day!

Half Day Tour or Full Day Tour

The half-day tour is one of the best ways to see Pai. On this tour, you’ll board the back of a pickup truck and tour the many amazing spots around Pai. All spots listed below are included.

You can purchase this half-day tour anywhere around town from one of the many booking offices. I personally booked with AYA Service Pai; they were great, and everything was smooth.

There are two time slots for the half day tour, either morning at 9:00 AM or afternoon at 1:00 PM.

The cost of the tour is 300 Baht/$8 US, and then you must pay 100 baht to enter one place on the tour and 50 at another. So, 450 Baht/$13 US, including everything for the tour.

  • White Temple
  • Mo Pang Waterfalls
  • Yun Lai Viewpoint

  • Santichon Village
  • Coffee Producer
  • Kho Ku So Bamboo Bridge
  • Pai Canyon (sunset)

It’s a good idea to eat before going on the tour, though you will be stopping at many spots throughout the tour where you can buy snacks or a small meal.

The full day tour includes everything the half-day tour does, but you’ll also get to visit Lod Cave and a hot spring. This tour starts at 9 or 10 AM, depending on the tour company you book with.

viewpoint of mountionus hills from the Big Buddha in Pai, Thailand

Tipsy Tubing

After a few drinks, coasting down the river in a donut floaty in the countryside in Thailand as you party with several others. That’s exactly what tipsy tubing in Pai is all about.

On this tipsy tubing tour, you’ll spend two hours floating along the river in Pai, stopping at 3 different riverside bars with DJs playing live music!

Along the way, at the three bar stops, you’ll get the chance to do some face painting, play some volleyball, and snack on some tacos.

It’s the perfect activity to enjoy a few drinks in the afternoon, meet other fellow travelers, and see Pai’s countryside.

Fluid Swimming Pool

For those looking to have a laidback day in Pai, spending the day lounging around at the Fluid swimming pool is an excellent idea.

Located within walking distance from Pai Town, Fluid Pool is a 25-meter pool with a restaurant and bar next to it.

It’s the perfect spot to come relax, have a few drinks, and eat some appetizers by the pool.

In the morning is when it’s most quiet here. In the afternoon, the pool becomes quite lively with more of a party scene.

Open: 9 AM – 6 PM

Cost: 100 Baht to Enter

Pai Canyon

Famous for being the most popular tourist attraction in Pai, the Pai Canyon is a beautiful hiking trail with a network of narrow paths and exceptional panoramic views.

The canyon features many different viewpoints of its surrounding valleys and mountains. At sunset, the Pai Canyon gets quite busy; after all, it’s the most popular place in town to come watch the sunset.

Be careful when hiking along the trails; many are uneven and can get quite steep in some places. The drop below is quite steep, so make sure you watch your step. It’s recommended to wear proper footwear when visiting.

Pai Canyon is located just a short drive outside of Pai town, and it’s free to visit. You can get here by scooter, or if you’ve decided to attend one of the Half or Full day tour, this is the last stop on the tour.

With its red dirt, many breathtaking viewpoints, and overall sunset atmosphere with many locals/tourists, the Pai Canyon is a must-visit when in Pai!

a long trail amongst the mountainous known as the popular Pai Canyon

Visit a Hot Spring

What better way to relax than visiting a hot spring in the countryside of northern Thailand?

There are several hot springs located around Pai, but you must drive to all of them. So if you haven’t rented a scooter, visiting them isn’t possible.

Though as mentioned earlier, the full day tour includes one hot spring to visit during the tour.

Below are the two most popular hot springs in Pai, with entry costs noted. Both are open from 8 AM till 5 or 6 PM.

Tha Pai Hot Spring – 300 Baht

Sai Ngam Hot Spring – 400 Baht

Pai Pub Crawl

Walking around Pai town, you’ll quickly notice there are many pubs/bars scattered all around. All are unique in their ways, offering different music, and are walkable from one another.

That’s exactly why Pai is the perfect place to do a pub crawl; on this Pai pub crawl, you will first attend a dinner with others at 7 PM.

After dinner, you’ll get to enjoy a few activities and games with others, and then continue the evening by visiting the many pubs around Pai Town. At the end of the crawl, you’ll visit a nightclub with everyone.

If you’re traveling alone, this is a great way to meet others. Pai is a popular place for solo travelers, and many visiting are looking forward to meeting fellow travelers!

side streets with bars and many tourists walking amongst the Pai Night Market

Pai Nightlife

Pai has a lively nightlife centered around its amazing night market in Pai Town. The most popular thing to do in Pai after sunset is the night market in Pai; it’s a large market full of food/good vendors on two long streets in the center of town.

Walking around next to the night market in Pai, you’ll find several restaurants, bars, and places to enjoy marijuana (it’s legal in Thailand).

The entire Pai Town area is very walkable, and that’s what makes it great. You can start your evening at a bar having a few drinks, walk over and get some street food, then go to another bar, and so on.

Besides Pai Town, with its night market and many bars/restaurants, the only alternative thing to do in Pai at night is to attend some of the jungle parties going on weekend nights.

To find out about the jungle parties in Pai, walk around town, and you may see signage or speak to locals. Walking around Pai Town at night, sometimes you’ll spot locals offering a taxi service to the jungle party.

food vendors, lantern lights during the start of a lively night in Pai, Thailand

Where to Stay in Pai

A part of the charm when considering visiting Pai is the many beautiful accommodations you can find.

Some are located by the river, others offer you views of the rice fields/mountains, and some are remote in the woods of Pai. There’s no shortage of unique hotels in Pai, that’s for sure!

But before deciding where to stay in Pai, you first must decide if you’ll rent a scooter or not. That’s because all unique accommodations in Pai require you to have a scooter to get to them.

If you’ve decided against renting a scooter, then you should stay in Pai Town. You can walk everywhere you need to there, and if there are any places you want to go far out, they can be visited by tour.

Reverie Siam – 4 Stars / Located within walking distance from Pai Town, Reverie Siam is a luxurious oasis within Pai’s countryside

Pai Boutique Resort – 3 Stars / Beautiful bohemian decorated hotel right in Pai Town; rooms offer stunning countryside views, and the hotel has many amenities

The CountrySide Pai – 3 Stars / Located in the midst of the countryside, this hotel provides visitors with small huts amongst the rice fields

Family House Pai – 3 Stars / Charming hotel with beautiful Pai river views, a restaurant on-site and located right in Pai Town

Revolution Hostel Pai – The most popular hostel in Pai, located right in Pai Town; they’ve got several dorm rooms, a pool, and a large communal space

Bodega Party Hostel – A modern decorated hostel known for its fun party every night, with a nice rooftop offering mountainous views

street with mountains in the distance and a street cafe on the side of the road

Best Restaurants in Pai

The food is quite diverse in Pai, despite being a remote town in northern Thailand. But with the many tourists Pai sees, I guess it makes sense.

In Pai, you’ll find plenty of Western food, as well as many local Thai restaurants. Then, there’s always the daily night market, of course.

Here are some of my favorite restaurants I enjoyed dining at when visiting Pai.

Nong Beer Restaurant: Popular amongst both locals/tourists, this restaurant serves just about every Thai dish you can think of; they’ve also got a Western menu as well

Cafecito Mexican: An authentic Mexican restaurant serving tostadas, tacos, tortas, and more.

Baanpai restaurant: Fresh seafood, pineapple rice, burgers, there’s just about everything at Baanpai

Cheese Madness: Specializing in everything cheese from mozzarella sticks to a wide variety of delicious grilled cheeses / they’ve got a gluten-free bread option too

Street Eats: 10 Baht Fried Chicken Lady / Kaw Jeaw Bar

stir fired basil dish with shrimp served street side in Pai, Thailand

How to Get Around Pai

There aren’t too many options for getting around Pai, but being a small town in the mountains, that makes sense.

If you’re an experienced scooter driver, it’s best to rent a scooter. Otherwise, it’s best to stay in Pai Town, walk everywhere you need to go within the town and attend tours when you’d like to visit places in Pai.

Scooter: Nearly everyone in town uses scooters to get around; locals or tourists

New drivers, be careful renting a scooter; as you walk around Pai, you’ll notice many tourists bandaged up from scooter accidents.

Walking: Pai Town is very walkable; you can walk anywhere within the town in 5-15 minutes

Attending Tours: For those who don’t rent a scooter or perhaps you’d like to make the most of your time in Pai, tours offer transportation to all of Pai’s main attractions

a charming cafe with many decorations in Pai, Thailand

Best Time to Visit Pai

There’s a tight window for ideal weather in Pai; the best time to visit Pai is from November to March. Here’s a breakdown of the different weather periods in the year for Pai.

November – January: During this time of year, you can expect many dry days, with lots of sunshine and low humidity. This is by far the best time to visit Pai.

February – April: These three months in Nothern Thailand is when the burning season is, a time when farmers burn crops, and the air quality index becomes some of the worst in the world.

May – October: Considered the off-season, during this time, you can get lucky with sunshine some days, but heavy rainfall some days and high humidity levels are to be expected.

a vibrant sky during sunset at Pai Canyon

Tips for Pai

Pai is one of those places where, before visiting, you should at least do some research so your trip goes smoothly. Here are a few tips for visiting Pai you should know of!

Winding Roads: The trip to Pai is full of constant winding roads, going up mountains and then down. Those who get motion-sick, be prepared. Purchase and take motion sickness pills before leaving for Pai.

Sweater for Evening: It can get slightly chilly in Pai during the evening, nothing unbearable, but you’ll notice many wearing sweaters, and if you’re one of those people who get chilly, you’ll want to bring a sweater to Pai

Book Transportation Back: Tickets to return to Chiang Mai from Pai can get booked up quickly, especially on weekends. So, if you know the day you’d like to return to Chiang Mai, book your return ticket once you get to Pai and get it over with.

  • Many times, tourists try to book too late, only to find out tickets are sold out, and they’ve got to spend another night in Pai

Day Trip bag: With many day trips in Pai, you’ll want to bring a small backpack or bag to hold around your water, towel, and other things as you’re on a tour

Luggage on MiniBus: If you bring a backpack of any size on the minibus, it’s free; for any luggage, you will have to pay 150 Baht.

Pack some snacks: The road to Pai is three hours, and you may get hungry; the minibusses do stop halfway, but why not bring snacks ahead from 711

the Big Buddha temple in Pai, Thailand

Is Pai Worth Visiting? — Final Thoughts

What do you think after reading about all the great things to do in Pai? Is Pai worth visiting? After visiting, I can confirm Pai is definitely worth visiting!

I really enjoyed my time visiting Pai, and after visiting, I understood why Pai is so popular. It’s an ideal place to relax; you’re in a remote small-town amongst the mountainous countryside in Thailand.

Days in Pai are slow and relaxing; in the daytime, everyone’s either on tour, relaxing at a pool/hot spring, or adventuring around through the mountains.

Evenings/nights in Pai are also laid back, with many places to catch the sunset, but then also lively at night, centered around the popular Pai night market, with many bars/restaurants nearby to enjoy as well.

A bonus: Pai is one of the cheapest places to visit in Thailand; it’s quite easy to budget yourself when visiting Pai!

Pai is an excellent destination for those looking to explore, kick back, and really relax. Don’t visit Pai expecting luxurious establishments or over-the-top bars/nightclubs. It’s not Phuket or Pattaya. Pai is a charming, fun, laid-back hippy town!

old structures and greenery at the Chinese Village in Pai

Pai is popular because it’s full of things to do, from viewpoint hikes, hot springs, waterfalls, and river activities; at night, Pai has an exceptional night market, many bars to visit, and a lively nightlife.

How long should you stay in Pai?

Spend at least two nights in Pai; there are many things to do, and a day tour will take one day from your visit. You’ll want to have another day to explore for yourself!

Is Pai walkable?

Pai Town is very walkable, and you can walk anywhere within 5-15 minutes. But the rest of Pai’s attractions, like waterfalls, the Canyon, hot springs, and other tourist attractions, aren’t walkable; you’ll need to get there by scooter or tour.

Is Pai a day trip from Chiang Mai?

It can be a day trip, but it’s a very long day trip with a total of 6 hours of transportation. It’s much better to spend at least one to two nights in Pai.

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