One of the popular things to do while visiting Chiang Mai in Thailand is to take a car ride north-west to the small town of Pai.
With a population of 3000 people, it’s really cute and totally worth the bumpy journey through the mountains!
My sister and I actually went to Pai as part of a two-day tour around Northern Thailand during our month-long backpacking trip.
Even though we were only in the town for a total of 18 hours, I quickly decided that it’s one of the prettiest places I’ve ever been to!
How to Get to Pai from the UK
First things first, getting to Pai from the UK can be quite a challenge.
Your best bet is to fly to Chiang Mai first via Doha through Qatar Airways.
Then you can go onward to Pai from Chiang Mai using one of the public transportation options below:
- A taxi, which will take around 2 hours and cost roughly 1400B (around £36)
- A minibus, which will take roughly 3-4 hours and cost roughly 300B (around £8)
- The public bus, which will take roughly 5 hours and cost roughly 95B (around £2.45)
The choice is yours!
Top Things to Do in Pai, Thailand
Once you’ve arrived there safely, be sure to check out my 7 personal highlights of Pai, Thailand.
1. Pai Canyon
Highlights of Pai, Thailand 101: check out Pai Canyon.
Essentially an elevated viewpoint overlooking the Pai valley, this spot is super lovely on a sunny day and worth the little hike to get to the top.
2. Pai River Villa
Pai River Villa is the accommodation where we stayed at for our one-night stay.
The best thing about it? We had our own private bungalow with a king size bed and ensuite bathroom. And it was right on the river that runs through Pai, Thailand!
Peaceful and stunning, we couldn’t help but love it.
3. The Night Markets
Did you know that the actual town centre of Pai is only a couple of streets long and wide? It’s very popular with backpackers and holiday-makers alike during the day. However, it only truly comes alive in the evenings.
There’s a cool night market down the main street that is not quite as extensive as the Sunday Walking Street in Chiang Mai, but still fun to walk around!
Stop by and I guarantee you will enjoy yourself (and perhaps pick up a couple of bargains along the way!).
4. The White Buddha
The White Buddha statue is situated halfway up a mountain overlooking Pai, Thailand.
Granted, it doesn’t seem like much from a distance. That said, as you get closer, it’s seriously impressive.
Sure, there’s about 38,428 steps to walk up to reach the very top (okay, that’s a slight exaggeration). But once you get up there, the view is simply breathtaking.
5. Chinese Yunnan Village
Another highlight of Pai, Thailand, Yunnan Village is an old Chinese settlement that has turned into a major tourist attraction in recent years.
Many people come from all over to experience the Yunnan food and way of life.
It’s not a huge area so it doesn’t take long to peruse – I’d say it was a nice little pitstop on the tour and so adorable that it looks like a postcard!
6. Mo Paeng Waterfall
Usually, Mo Paeng Waterfall is one of the tourist hotspots in Pai (as well as Pam Bok, which wasn’t included on our tour).
Having said that, during our visit, we were told that there hadn’t been any rainfall in weeks so the water was very sparse.
Even so, the surroundings were still incredibly rich and diverse – and I could imagine the waterfall would have looked ever lovelier if there had been a little more water!
7. Pai Hot Springs
Unfortunately, visiting the hot springs wasn’t included on our tour so we didn’t get to experience them.
Although, if you get the opportunity, you should do this as I’ve heard great things about it!
Experiencing Pai, Thailand
To summarise, my sister and I just couldn’t help but love Pai. I think it’s largely due to the fact that the (small) size of it makes it incredibly charming.
Plus, with it being nestled amongst the mountains up and down some of the most twisty, bumpy roads known to man, it feels a bit like a secret hideaway.
Furthermore, I can’t emphasise how picturesque it is in town centre – a perfect muse for artists needing a new subject! We were only there for one night but I fell madly, deeply in love with the place and I will never forget it!
Have you ever been to Pai, Thailand? What did you think?
Katie Davies is the Yorkshire-based freelance writer who founded Trendy Tourist. Since 2017, she has written for over 100 companies on a range of subjects, from fashion to marketing. When she’s not producing content, you can find her shopping, exploring a new place or sitting somewhere having a cup of builder’s tea.