Traveling to Pai and what to see in Pai

by Ale Werner
Pai canyon - Pai - Thailand

In this post, you will find our guide to travel to Pai in Thailand. If you want to know more before or during your trip to Pai, read on. What to see in Pai and its surroundings, what to do in Pai, where to sleep in Pai, how to move around Pai and its beautiful landscapes and much more.

A little bit of information about Pai in Thailand

Pai is a small town located in northern Thailand. For years it was considered a quiet place where many foreigners came to live and enjoy the calm vibes. However, those years have been left behind and today Pai is one of the most visited spots by travelers and tourists who travel to Thailand. Traveling to Pai is a must if you expect to really know Thailand.

Pai is a city to enjoy during the day and night, gaining the reputation of “hippie backpacker city” among the travelers. By day you can see Pai waterfalls, you can trek and even walk through a mini canyon. At night there are many bars and restaurants opening till late, where locals and tourists drink beer and spirit drinks. The prices are much lower than the popular Chiang Mai, so many even decide to spend several months here.

You can access the map here.

What to see in Pai, Thailand.

Memorial Bridge - Pai - Thailand

Memorial Bridge.

This bridge was built by the Japanese during the Second World War to transport arms and provisions from Myanmar, formerly Burma. What few know is that it is not the original, but a reconstruction in honor of it. Anyway, it’s pretty photogenic.

Pai canyon - Pai - Thailand

Pai canyon

It looks like a little Colorado Great Canyon on the United States in a real miniature version. The landscapes and surroundings of Pai Canyon are very nice. The entrance is free so its worth a visit during your visit to Pai. Be careful not to get so close to the edges and walk carefully through it, because some precipices are quite high. Not suitable for people with vertigo.

Watefalls in Pai

Pai’s waterfalls.

There are 3 waterfalls that you can visit in the surroundings of the city: Mo Paeng, Pam Bol, and Mae Yen. They are not as big as others that you can see in Southeast Asia, but on hot days you can take a bath in them, enjoy a picnic or rest in the rocks. Some even can be used as a slip.  It’s very recommended to enjoy them during hot days when traveling to Pai.

Yun Lai Viewpoint.

Passing through the Chinese town, which is too touristy in our opinion and we do not visit or recommend, you will find a viewpoint. You can go in for 20 baht and get some beautiful views and have a cup of Chinese tea courtesy of the owner of the backyard where the viewpoint is located. You can see the city of Pai and its surroundings.

Night Market:

The good atmosphere and the entertaining shops that make Pai’s night market it an attraction in itself. It’s open every day on the pedestrian street of the city, Chaisongkhram Rd. Pai’s night market is one of the must-see places in the city.

Buddha Bamboo Bridge.

A long bamboo bridge that passes over the rice fields in the vicinity of the city. A good way to see how the locals work the land.

Important information to plan your trip to Pai

Best time to travel to Pai

The climate is quite similar to Chiang Mai with three quite marked seasons. For more information visit our Chiang Mai post here.

  • November to February: The best time to travel to Pai in terms of weather. Less rain and pleasant temperatures.
  • March to April: intense heat and less rain so the pollution is quite high. The nature is quite dry.
  • May to October: Rainy season, but at the same time the natural surroundings will be very green and beautiful.

How to get to Pai

Located exactly 762 curves away from Chiang Mai and 650 meters high, the road to reach Pai is known to be a torture for those with a propensity for dizziness. Whatever your means of transport, keep in mind that you (or whoever sits next to you) can be victims of a cruel outcome, so have always a bag with you and take precautions, such as chewing ginger.

1. Minibus to Pai from Chiang Mai

In general, going from Chiang Mai to Pai is the alternative that most people take. The price is approximately USD $6 per person for a seat on a shared minibus that takes between 3 and 4 hours on the way, depending on how fast and crazy your driver is.

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You can buy the tickets at any tourist agency in the city because the surcharge is only 30 baht for the commission and you will avoid the trip to the bus station. The same applies to take a Minibus back from Pai. If they are large groups, it is best to book directly with the largest minibus agency; “Aya”. More information at this link.

2. Leased Auto / Moto:

Given the beautiful landscapes that we can find on the way to Pai and in the surroundings, many travelers and tourists decide to use their own means of transport. If you decide to opt for this alternative to visit Pai remember that in Thailand you drive on the left (and the driver’s seat is on the right of the car). Find in this link a page where you can rent cars with confidence.

If you are looking for advice on how to lease a motorcycle in Asia and survive in the attempt, enter here.

3. Public Bus:

The buses from Chiang Mai to Pai depart from the Arcade bus station, located northeast of the city. The buses do not have air conditioning and take 4 hours or more to complete the journey, depending on traffic.

The ticket price is 90 baht per person, per trip. Buy tickets directly at the bus station; If someone offers you a ticket before the trip start, it is most likely a scam.

  • Hours: 07:00 – 08:30 – 10:30 – 12:30 – 16:00.
  • They only depart when seats have been filled, so schedules may vary.


One of the best booking websites in Southeast Asia is, where you will find buses, ferries and more to travel through the countries of Southeast Asia.

What to do in Pai

Pai is a place to enjoy nature. Among the things to do in Pai, you will find waterfalls, some hill temples, rice fields and much more. Pai is an ideal place to relax and enjoy.

What to take to Pai

More than temples, here you will enjoy nature. Bring comfortable shoes and a swimsuit for the waterfalls during summer.

How to move around Pai

The biggest attractions are outside the small city, so it is ideal to have your own means of transport to move around Pai. The points of interest are separated by a few kilometers and are quite easy to find.

1. Bicycle

Many choose this option, however, on very hot days the roads can be very long and exhausting. Some roads even involve climbing up mountains in the area. You must have a good physical condition if you choose this alternative.

2. Moto

Lots of shops in the center of the city and even several of the hostels and hotels have motorcycle rental service. The price goes around 5 dollars a day and maybe more expensive during high season.

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Always be careful and take pictures of the bike in the rental shop. One of the biggest and most popular scams in the country is to tell you that you hit it and made you pay for the fix when the moto always had it.

For more motorcycle rental tips, enter here.

3. Tuc Tuc

If you do not feel comfortable with moving around by your own, there are always tuk tuks willing to take you to the different spots on the area. Remember to always negotiate the price before starting the trip. You can confirm prices in your hostel/hotel, as they will depend on the distance you have to travel and your negotiation capacity.

4. Pais excursions and tours.

Of course, you will find many agencies in the city willing to make you a complete tour of the area. There are alternatives for everyone, what to do will depend on the price you want to pay, where you want to go, and whether the tour will be private or shared.

Where to sleep in Pai

Most tourists decide to look for accommodation in Pai on hotels near the river for the peace and tranquility of the places. In general, the spots close to the center are not at all quiet due to the nightlife and loud music of the bars.

Prices for accommodation in Pai are much lower than in Chiang Mai, finding rooms for USD $15 with private bathroom and air conditioning. If you want to pay more you can find amazing accommodation alternatives.

Where to eat in Pai

  1. Night Market: At night, the main street of the city (Chaisongkhram Rd) is full of food stalls and souvenirs. Here you can find street food of all kinds, ideal to eat in Pai.
  2. Downtown streets: Use your intuition or the Tripadvisor recommendation platform. There are many good places scattered around the center of the city.

Shopping in Pai

1. Night Market:

Every night a large market opens on the main street of the city, Chaisongkhram Rd. In this place, expats and even backpackers/tourists set up their own businesses. You can find from the typical trousers and shirts with elephants to original crafts.

2. Downtown:

Pai stands out as a town of artists, so it is possible to find objects different from those you have seen in other cities. Strolling through the city center is quite entertaining if you’re interested in shopping. Pai is without a doubt a perfect place to find that different and special gift you are looking for.

Scams and dangers in Pai

The same from all over Thailand. Read our post about the country for more information.

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