Nestled in the picturesque mountains of northern Thailand, is a hidden gem waiting to be explored.
Pai is often associated with young, backpackers looking for a place to relax in the day and party at night, but it has so much more to offer than that.
If you’ve ever wondered “is Pai worth visiting?” the answer is absolutely! Without a doubt, Pai is one of the most unique and off-the-beaten-track locations in Thailand that abounds in natural wonders, a peaceful and bohemian atmosphere, as well as a vibrant arts scene.
Still don’t believe us? Then allow us to introduce you to all the reasons to visit Pai this year.
Reasons To Visit Pai!
1. Breathtaking Scenery
Pai is blessed with a gorgeous and serene mountainous landscape that will take your breath away.
As you traverse the winding back roads, you’ll be surrounded by rice paddies (the biggest export in Thailand and a staple agriculture in Pai) as well as craggy canyons, gorges, and mountain viewpoints.
Not only that, but Pai has many cascading waterfalls that you can stop off and take a dip in, such as Pam Bok Waterfall and Mo Pang Waterfall, which have refreshing pools to swim in.
The biggest natural landmark in Thailand‘s northern territory is The Pai Canyon, which offers panoramic views of the valley below.
Witness the beauty of Pai’s landscape from the Yun Lai Viewpoint or the many viewpoints along the Route 1095. Anyone visiting Pai should prepare themselves to be perplexed by the ethereal beauty of the place, it’s one of the top Thailand bucket list experiences.
2. Peaceful Atmosphere
One of the most appealing aspects of Pai is its laid-back and peaceful atmosphere. Unlike the bustling cities of Bangkok and Chiang Mai, life in Pai moves at a slower pace, allowing you to unwind and connect with nature.
Whether you stay in Pai Town and stroll through the quaint streets lined with artisan shops, trendy cafes, and cozy guesthouses or you rent a scooter and visit the nearby Tea Houses, you’ll find pretty much everywhere has a bean bag or hammock to laze around in.
If you’re looking for a place to escape the daily grind, the tranquility of Pai will put your mind at ease.
Not to mention Pai’s peaceful temples, such as Wat Phra That Mae Yen, home to Pai’s Big Buddha, which awakens the spiritual aura inside you.
3. Thriving Arts and Culture Scene
Pai boasts a vibrant arts and culture scene that attracts artists, poets, musicians, and performers from all over the world.
The town has a bohemian vibe which is evident not only in the backpackers who visit here, but also in the numerous art galleries, restaurants, cafes, and venues in the town.
Each night you will find live music, poetry readings, open mic nights, and more in the restaurants of the main town.
4. Adventure and Outdoor Activities
For adventure seekers, Pai offers a plethora of outdoor activities to get your adrenaline pumping.
You can go whitewater rafting along The Pai River all the way back to Chiang Mai, or for a more leisurely experience, try your hand at tubing. Fancy flying through the sky? You can go ziplining in Pai, too.
Trekking enthusiasts will find numerous hiking trails to explore the nearby mountains, encounter hill tribes, and witness breathtaking waterfalls.
5. Delicious Street Food
No trip to Pai would be complete without indulging in the street food, whose aroma fills the air every night above the Walking Street.
As well as mouthwatering street food, there are many trendy cafes and restaurants in Pai that offer farm-to-table cuisine.
Don’t miss out on trying traditional northern Thai dishes like khao soi (curry noodles), sai oua (northern Thai sausage), and mango sticky rice for dessert.
6. The Adventurous Pai to Mae Hong Son Road Trip
One of the main reasons why visitors come to Pai is to take the extraordinary journey to Mae Hong Son along Route 1096.
With 762 turns, it’s one of the most dangerous roads in Pai, so be careful if you choose to tackle this brave adventure.
The route takes a minimum of two days and passes through verdant hills and past viewpoints of the mystical landscapes.
Along the way, stop off to explore the interesting cave systems in Pai or take a dip in the hot springs.
Discover hidden waterfalls, encounter ancient temples, and get acquainted with the hill tribe communities.
7. The Sunsets at Pai Canyon
We mentioned earlier that Pai is known for its beautiful nature, but nothing is more beautiful than the golden orb of the sun as it bids adieu to the day over Pai Canyon.
The glow upon the rugged terrain of Pai Canyon is a spectacle that is hard to put into words.
Here, on the edge of the world, nature weaves its magic into a site too enchanting to capture.
Its peaceful atmosphere provides solace, inspiration, and a connection to nature, and is one of the top reasons to visit Pai.
8. The Ethical Construction of the Bamboo Bridges
Pai has a big ethical ethos that you can’t escape from, but perhaps the biggest feat of ethical construction is the bamboo bridges – a hand-made, bridge that connects the villages to the temples.
The most famous bamboo bridge in Pai is the Kho Ko Su Bridge, which was built to allow the monks an easier passage to the village to get food.
The bridges pass over rice paddies and fields, allowing you to immerse yourself in a realm where nature and human ingenuity intertwine.
9. The Unique Caves
Just outside the town of Pai, you will find a plethora of mystical caves, where darkness unveils a hidden world of awe-inspiring wonders.
Whether you are exploring the depths of Tham Lod Cave (Nam Lod Cave), where 1.5 km of cave systems are beckoning you to explore, or you want to get off the beaten path at Tham Pla Fish Cave, there is something for everyone.
Our favorite cave is Nam Lod, which can only be accessed on a narrow bamboo raft, unveiling a realm of rock formations that come alive with each flickering torchlight.
Be sure to bring fish food with you, as the waters are teaming with fish that go wild for the food!
10. The Relaxing Hot Springs
Need more relaxation than just soaking up the vibe and sitting in a hammock all day? Then the hot springs await!
Surrender yourself to the warm healing waters surrounding Pai, where time slows down and the mineral-rich pools rejuvenate your body and revitalize your spirit.
Surrounded by lush greenery and serenaded by the symphony of nature, Tha Pai Hot Spring and Sai Ngam Hot Spring are the perfect places to find solace in this oasis of calm.
11. Cozy Tea Houses
Another way to experience the laid-back atmosphere of Pai is by sitting in one of Pai’s tea houses, where time slows down and hammocks await.
Sit back and enjoy a Thai milk tea while looking out over the stunning landscapes.
Amidst the lush greenery and mist-kissed mountains, these tea houses offer a sanctuary for those in need of rejuvenation.
12. Vibrant Nightlife
As nighttime falls, the town of Pai comes alive with a vibrant nightlife scene.
Embrace the allure of Pai’s nocturnal scene, where the rhythm of live music intertwines with the laughter of fellow travelers.
Dive into the spirited atmosphere of eclectic bars like Jikko Bar and Almost Famous Bar, where stories are shared and connections forged.
For an immersive night out, venture to BeBop, the largest and most popular bar in Pai, especially on Saturday nights where live music sets the stage for an unforgettable evening.
13. Unique, Ethical Accommodation Options
We mentioned before that Pai is known for its ethical ethos, and if you’re keen to explore some ethical tourism, then seek to stay in one of the ethical accommodation options.
Embrace sustainable travel by staying in a calm, bamboo-made bungalow, where you can laze in your own hammock overlooking the mountainous landscape.
Ethical accommodations are aplenty in Pai, but you should note that they usually lack modern conveniences such as air conditioning and hot water.
However, Pai’s climate is usually hot in the day and cool at night, so there isn’t usually a need for A/C at night – and the cold showers? You get used to that in Thailand.
14. The Many, Many Viewpoints
Pai has a treasure trove of breathtaking viewpoints to choose from.
Ascend to Yun Lai Viewpoint, where the valley unveils its beauty in a mesmerizing sunrise display, or drive along Route 1096 to Doi Kiew Lom Viewpoint for amazing panoramic vistas.
If you enjoy jungles and forests, then the Muang Pai Stone Forest Viewpoint has awe-inspiring vistas of the forest.
15. The Chinese Culture
Being close to the Burmese and China borders means that Pai has a rich tapestry of Chinese culture waiting to be explored.
The peaceful Santichon Village, located on the hills outside of Pai Town, is a picturesque village showcasing the vibrant heritage of Yunnanese culture.
Wander through the narrow streets, adorned with traditional paifangs, and learn about the influence of Haipai culture in Pai.
Is Pai Worth Visiting FAQs
Why do people like Pai?
People love Pai for the beautiful scenery and landscape, the laid-back atmosphere and the authentic feel of the place. It’s also an affordable destination in Thailand as it attracts primarily backpackers, as opposed to those looking for high-end luxury.
How long should I spend in Pai?
You should allow at least three days in Pai to see the highlights and get a feel for the place. However, it’s somewhere where you can relax and unwind, so you could easily spend 5-7 days here and not get bored. All two additional days if you plan to do the Mae Hong Son road trip.
When should I visit Pai?
The best time of year to visit Pai is from November until February when the weather is fine but not too hot. From March to May, the farmers will burn their fields around Pai and Chiang Mai, and from June – September it’s the rainy season, so as long as you avoid those months any time is a good time.
So, Is Pai Worth Visiting?
Pai is a unique destination that captures the heart of anyone who visits here, leaving them with a feeling of peace and tranquility, as well as memories that will last a lifetime.
It’s an easy place to settle into, and where you can easily make friends with like-minded backpackers and young travelers.
Its stunning natural beauty, peaceful atmosphere, thriving arts scene, adventurous activities, and so much more make it a must-visit place to visit in Thailand for first timers.
Whether you’re seeking relaxation or adrenaline, Pai has something to offer every traveler.