Pai is a small town located north west of Chiang Mai, a well-known destination among tourist travelling to the northern region. A small town with less than 3,000 people (based on 2006 figures), you can certainly expect a quiet and tranquil environment there.
Lots of travellers end up spending more days in Pai than initially planned. The next time you travel up north of Thailand, be sure to add Pai into your list. You can read more on how you can get to Pai from Chiang Mai which I will be sharing on my upcoming post. Once you are there, you can easily get around the town and other attraction nearby with a scooter which is available for rent at 100 baht per day.
Here are some of the things you need to do in Pai.
1) Pai Chinese Village
Pai Chinese Village is a small village which populated by Chinese villagers. The village is definitely worth a quick stop over as the view is pretty amazing. I do not particularly find this place amazing as it has become a pretty touristy place in which majority of the place is catered to tourist. You can even see a recreation of Great Wall over in this village. That is the extent of how touristy it is.
Having said that, it is still worth a quick stop over. The view is amazing and most people stop over for the amazing food there.
If you have a huge thing for nature and waterfall, there a number of waterfalls in Pai you can visit. Not as beautiful as the one in Laos but a pretty decent one to cool you off or stop over. Some of the waterfalls are easily accessible while some are deeper in the woods. The two relatively famous waterfalls are Mor Paeng Waterfall and Pembok Waterfall.
Mor Phaeng Waterfall is one you would easily locate as it is close to the Pai Chinese Village. If you happen to visit Pai Chinese Village, you may stop over here to check it out but I personally prefer Pembok Waterfall over Mor Paeng. This, however, locate further in which require longer scooter ride.
You will ride pass the land crack on your way there. I actually discovered this place based on the recommendation by the owner of the land crack.
3) Pai Canyon
Another attraction you need to visit is the Pai Canyon. It is sort of the main highlight of the trip. Most travellers head there for the sunset view so be sure to check the sunset timing before heading over.The Canyon is just a short walk from the entrance (less than 10 minutes).
You must never skip Pai Canyon simply for its spectacular view. Get there early for a good seat before the sunset if you love sunset scenery. If you are like me, you might want to go during odd hours to avoid the crowd. To get here, you will definitely need a scooter as it located approximately 13km from the town.
4) The Land Crack (Land Split)
What happens when you wake up one morning and notice a huge crack over your farm? You can either complain about it or innovate. This is what happenned over at the land crack. It was initially a farm but one fine morning, the farm owner woke up noticing a huge crack on the farm. He then decided to transform the land into a tourist destination while still farming on areas without the crack.
The land crack is a nice place to visit and chill for the entire evening while snacking on some fruits and snacks prepared by the owner. He does not charge but there is a box in which you pay what you think is worth the price. Think it is worth only 20 baht then pay that but if you think it is worth more than that, feel free to pay more. I find this concept pretty interesting.
Price: Whatever you think it is worth
5) Wat (Temple) Hopping
If you are a huge fan of Wat and the architecture, there are plenty of wats around Pai for a quick stopover. It is however not as big and impressive as the one in other parts of Thailand. Some of the Wats require payment to enter so be sure to check before heading there if you do not intend to pay.
6) Cruising by the countryside
Pai is a small town by the countryside. The best way to explore this place is through scooter. You can witness the magnificent view of the lush green paddy fields while you cruise along the countryside. Unlike other parts of Thailand where you will end up cruising for hours with nothing much to do, there are lots you can do while you cruise by Pai countryside.
The fact that Pai is a small town, most of the attractions are located close to one another so it will not be long before you reach the next attractions. Not only that, there are plenty of cafes all around Pai which is something you do not want to miss.
7) Cafe Hopping
As mentioned earlier, there are plenty of cafes all around Pai making it a good place to cafe hopping. A popular place for teens! I would recommend some good cafe but I am not a huge fan of cafe. Thus, I am not able to recommend any.
8) Pai Night Street Crawl
This is another one of my personal favourites. I love visiting night market. Though the one here is not as huge as Chiang Mai Sunday Market, the one in Pai is a great place to spend the night. The night market is located in the town and you will definitely not miss it (the town is not that huge).
At approximately 6 pm, stall vendors will start setting up the stall by the streets. If you are looking for souvenirs or local street food, this a place you do not want to miss. Right after the night street crawl, you can head over to a random pub or cafe for a quick drink to end the night.
9) Wat Phra That Mae Yen (Giant Buddha)
If you were to choose one wat to explore, Wat Phra That Mae Yen should be the one you need to explore. This is where the Giant White Buddha is located. You will not miss it as you can easily spot it from the town itself. It is located away from the town in which you can easily reach through your scooter. The challenging part is the stairs climb up to the top of approximately 353 steps.
10) Memorial Bridge
Located over Pai river, the memorial bridge has become a popular spot for local and foreign tourists. But to me, it is just another bridge. It was built by the Japanese to transport weapons and other items to Burma during the World War. The memorial bridge is located in on the highway. Thus, it is hard not to miss it.
These are just a few of the things you can do in Pai with plenty more from Hot Spring, Pai Circus School, visit the Elephant Camp and much more. Pai is definitely one of the places you must not miss if you are travelling up north of Thailand.
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