Once you’ve made it to Pai (see our advice on getting from Chiang Mai to Pai) it’s time to enjoy this fantastic part of Northern Thailand and the charms of the gateway to Mae Hong Son.
So, what are the top things to do in Pai and how should (could!) you spend your time in this laid back mountain town.
Relax and enjoy the surroundings
Whilst there are lots of things to do in and around Pai, one of the best ways to spend you time is simply relaxing, enjoying the mountain views and laid back atmosphere. There are some fantastic places to stay in Pai with lovely gardens and swimming pools that it’s fast become one of the best places in the North to simply kick back and relax. And what’s wrong with that!
Explore Lod Caves
Around an hour or so from Pai, just before the small mountain town of Pan Mapha, is the huge Lod cave system. It’s a great trip to get there – you head up and over a mountain ridge on the way and make sure you stop for a coffee and to take in the views – and worth the trip for that alone, but then you arrive at Lod caves your in for a treat. With a local guide you’ll first explore on foot through the huge caverns and then sit on a bamboo ‘raft’ to float out through the caves. With simple but delicious food stalls at the entrance to the caves you can make this into a lovely relaxing day out. Well worth it.
Try to find the best coffee in Thailand
It sometimes seems as if every other shop in Pai is a boutique coffee shop and that’s no bad thing for java lovers. There are some superb coffee shops all around the town and into the surrounding countryside. Some with amazing coffee, some with delicious cakes, some with stunning views and some with all three and, if you’ve got your own transport, enjoying all three is a lovely way to spend an afternoon!
Cool down at a waterfall
Waterfalls feature large in most Thai people’s list of things ‘to do’ and quite right too. There are three main waterfalls to explore around Pai, Mae Yen, Pam Bok and Mor Paeng all giving you a great opportunity to explore some of the surrounding countryside and to cool off in the pools at the foot of each fall.
Get adventurous and head to the very best sunset and sunrise spot
Whilst most people head to Pai Canyon for the sunsets, the absolute best spot around Pai as at the summit of Doi Mieng. Not easy to get to – you need to head a long way down a small track heading into the hills and then the final stretch is very steep and off road meaning you need a 4WD or off-road motorbike – but well worth the effort. You can organise trips and overnights at the summit from agents in Pai town and then be safe in the knowledge that you’re enjoying the most adventurous sunset in the area!
Indulge in some culture
Wat Phra That Mae Yen is a Temple with a huge white Buddha image that can be seen from all over Pai. Perched high up on a hill make sure you’re legs are in good shape before you head up the steps to the Buddha image but then enjoy the tremendous views across the whole of Pai and beyond.
Soak in some hot springs.
There are a number of hot springs around Pai and heading a little further afield but perhaps the most famous are Tha Pai Hot Springs. With a number of pools ranging from boiling eggs hot to perfect for relaxing the muscles you can both cook your lunch and do your body some good here!
Have fun exploring the night market and street food
Pai, like all travellers towns in Thailand, has a great night market and lots of different food to try. Whilst the night market isn’t as ‘authentic’ as you might find in more remote towns and villages, there are always lots of interesting stalls, some a little cliched (Bob Marley rasta t-shirt anyone?) and some very cool. But it’s fun to browse around and soak up the atmosphere. And to make things even more enjoyable there is some superb street food to munch on and keep your energy levels up whilst your browsing. And why not end the evening in one of Pai’s fun bars – from party central to more laid back cocktails, there’s something for all.
Relax your mind and body with some Yoga
Pai is famous for the number of different ‘wellness’ opportunities to go along with the hint of alternative lifestyles in the area. If you’re new to Yoga why not sign up for an introductory session, if you’re more experienced there are a number of different centres offering all sorts of different Yoga experiences. And the setting up in the mountains couldn’t be any better
Our final recommendation for Pai is simply to do a bit of everything and enjoy the whole ‘scene’. Whilst late nights in Pai can get a touch frenetic, particularly if you end up in the same bar as one of the organised ‘pun crawl’ groups, it’s generally a lovely paid back place to enjoy a day or two, or even more. Sit back and people watch, indulge in a little retail therapy and enjoy all the different food. A lovely place to re-charge your batteries and enjoy the mountains of the North
Ready to find out more about The Tuk Tuk Club and our amazing adventures taking you through Pai? Have a look at our 11 Day Adventure itinerary spending two nights in Pai
Or for more information and articles about Pai have a quick (or long!) visit here…….