About 3 hours drive from Chiang Mai, located in the north of Thailand is a quaint little town that captures the heart of anyone who visits. This town is called Pai. From the rolling hills to the laid-back way of life, Pai is a gem of Thailand that you simply don’t want to miss! It’s a backpacker’s haven, a peaceful retreat from city life, and it has no shortage of things to do and see.
You simply don’t want to miss Pai if you’re planning a trip to Thailand. In fact, it happens to fall on our bucket list of experiences to have in Thailand. Let’s dive in to get to know a bit more about this hidden gem of Northern Thailand, shall we?
Where is Pai?
Pai is located in the very Northwest corner of Thailand in between Mae Hong Son and Chiang Mai. Because Pai does not have an airport, the easiest way to get there is to go by minibus from Chiang Mai. You can also opt to rent a car or motorcycle if that’s your thing!
The drive is a beautiful 3 hours through the mountains. It’s so pretty, but not for the faint of heart–or stomach. If you get motion/car sickness you’ll want to be sure to prepare for this trip accordingly. Trust us, it’s 100% worth it.
If you’re already planning a trip to Chiang Mai, this is such an easy place to add to your itinerary, and you’ll be so happy you did.
Best Time to Visit Pai
Winter is definitely the best opportunity to see Pai at its most beautiful, from late October to December. There is less rain this time of year, meaning the days are sunny and warm, but not so hot and humid like they are in the summertime. The night temperatures drop and make for comfortable sleeping as well.
We don’t recommend heading to Pai in the months of March-May. This is when you’ll find the burning season. There are many forest fires and Pai and Chiang Mai are two cities that are most affected by this. While it can still be beautiful, the air quality is not the greatest and the scenery is less amazing because of the cloud of smoke hanging over.
Top Things to do in Pai
Walking streets, markets, shopping
Pai walking street is one of the best. It’s where you can do some shopping and most importantly, where you’ll find tons of delicious things to eat. There are so many Thai foods and drinks to try!
One of the most famous landmarks is the White Buddha at the temple Wat Pra That Mae Yen. The White Buddha can be seen from many viewpoints in Pai because it’s so high up. It’s really something to see.
Rent a motorbike and drive around
With so much to be explored just outside Pai, it’s best to rent a scooter to get around and take it all in. They can be rented from anywhere in town, oftentimes your homestay or hostel will even have them for you to rent.
Pai Canyon is a must while you’re in Pai. Steep cliffs are connected by natural bridges and amazing views. We recommend going for sunrise or sunset. You can find a place to sit and take in the scenery. It’s a great way to be in nature, and best of all, it’s totally free!
Live music, nightlife, hit the town
Pai has an artistic feel to it, and there are many bars and restaurants that offer live music in the evenings. Hitting the town to take in the nightlife is a must in Pai, and the town itself is super walkable which makes it easy to hit up a few different places in one night.
Pai Bamboo Bridge
If you picture Thailand full of expansive rice fields and bamboo bridges, then you don’t want to miss the Pai Bamboo Bridge. It’s best to experience it during monsoon season (June-September) if you want the green rice paddies of your dreams! It can be extremely humid, but the photos are worth it.
It can also be really nice even when it’s not green, but it offers a completely different feel.
Ready to Go?
Thailand is an amazing country with so much to offer. There are many, many places to visit. From the bustling capital of Bangkok to the quaint small villages like Pai. You can have a unique experience by visiting both types of Thai cities during your time there.
Ready to visit this dreamy mountain town? We thought you might be. Be sure to read up on things to know before you visit Thailand, and get to planning! You are going to love this amazing place.