Pai is a small village located in the north of Thailand, hidden within sunken valleys and filled with a surplus of hot springs/waterfalls. This Travel Guide to pai shows this beautiful part of the country. It is a several hours drive from Chiang Mai and is a must if you’re located in the area. Pai itself is a quaint town that has been embraced by tourists for its hippy influence, and is reflected through the town with many reggae bars and boutique shops. It is a little slice of paradise and a true example of Thai village culture.
HOW TO GET THERE
Getting to Pai is relatively easy, there are two main ways to get there. Bus/mini van are the preferred and the cheapest methods. The bus will cost around 150B – 200B from the local bus station (Arcade 2). Flying is also another option however, flights are not frequent and will potentially cost a lot more.
Travel Guide To Pai
What To Do
The Night Market
The night market in Pai is definitely one of the best in Thailand. The street becomes filled with dozens of various food stalls, along with some of the most intricate hand made craft to purchase. Starting around 5pm and ending around 11-12pm, you’ll be exploring this market every night you’re in Pai. It is a great way to see some of the locals cooking their favourite cuisine and making some friends in the process.
For anyone who loves adventuring off the beaten track, Pai canyon is a great experience for beginners and novices. Located south of the town, this dusty trail allows you to explore some of the beautiful nature surrounding Pai. However, it needs to be noted that this experience depends on the time of year you go to Pai. The dry season, also known as the burning season, will have poor air quality as it is filled with smoke.
The hot springs are one of our favourite sights to see in Pai. There are several hot springs in the north (Sai Ngam) and south (Pai hot springs). Personally for us, we prefer the Northern hot springs as they are less busy and objectively more beautiful and natural. We recommend you rent a motorbike for a day and explore the various ones on your own!
You will probably notice this large Buddha on the drive into Pai. A gigantic white buddha and a favourite for most of the tourist that come to Pai. It is located at the top of a 300 step hike. Most notable during the beautiful sunsets, the Giant White Buddha is a must see, not only for the Instagram, but for the beautiful sunset you are rewarded with after a tiresome hike.
Travel Guide To Pai
Where To Eat
For us, Burger Queen will always have a special place in our hearts. That is because it was where we had our first official date! While the name is funny and a play on the chain Burger King in the States, the food is actually very tasty! For the ultimate custom burger, this is the place where you need to be.
Now for the more adventurous of you, I.P Burger is home to some of the stranger side of food. With burgers ranging from ostrich, to crocodile meat, this is definitely a peculiar place to find yourself in Pai. (We did not eat here ourselves, however its fun to take a look at their menu!).
Om Breakfast Cafe
This is our favourite breakfast cafe in Pai! Their menu is amazing, with a large variety of healthy options and coffee menu to please anyone! The breakfast burger with, sautéed potatoes and veg and a home made bun containing bacon and egg this is a great way to start your day. With the rise of more and more boutique cafes and restaurants, Om Cafe continues to produce great food and never disappoints!
The Night Market
As mentioned before, the night market is the place to find any thing you want eat and certainly will satisfy your cravings. Some of our favourites in the night market include the falafel stand, lasagna lady, and the gyoza stand.We ate here nearly every night and there is no reason why you wouldn’t, you’ll spend a week trying everything.
Travel Guide To Pai
Where To Stay
For those of you traveling as a couple or you need a break from the hostel life we can’t recommend LiLu Hotel enough! This is where we chose to stay and we were so satisfied with it. With large beds and the a hot shower, we were so pleased with the quality given its cheap price. Book your stay Here.
One of the more popular hostels, Common Grounds is a great place to make friends and to find all the information you need to explore Pai. The beds are okay and the dorms range from 4 bed to 8 bed, so you’re not alway rammed in like a can of sardines. Book your stay Here.
The Puri Pai Hotel is located just a short ways out of the main town and offers guests a tranquil escape. With only 10 villas and 18 deluxe rooms, Puri Pai is small enough to truly capture the peacefulness of Pai.
The hotel itself is the perfect place to relax. With sweeping grounds, a luxurious pool, and decadent restaurant, it has all you could ever need. Additionally, if you are traveling with family, or a group of people, than Puri Pai is just the spot for you. It has 1-3 bedroom villas perfect in size to comfortably accommodate a large group.
Additionally, the hotel offers a complimentary shuttle service to and from the main town at several times throughout the day. This is perfect for guests since the property itself is about a ten minute drive away from the main town. Book your stay at this incredible hotel Here.
Overall, if you are making a visit to Chiang Mai we highly suggest you take a few days to explore the lovely town of Pai. It is by far one of our favourite places in Thailand and we continue to return year after year! However, one really important thing to note is in regards to the time of year which you visit. There is a wet season and a dry season.
We recommend you visit between late October through mid February, while the land is still very green and the hills magnificent. We went during the burning season/dry season, where the hills are more of a brownish tint, and the air quality low. While we still love the vibes of Pai and were happy to be back, we also knew of its true beauty during those wetter months!
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