Pai is a small countryside town in the Mae Hong Son province of Northern Thailand. I spent three days exploring Pai and have put together this ultimate guide for 10 Awesome Things To Do In Pai including viewpoints, waterfalls, hot springs, and more!
Also in this guide, I have included some useful information on how to get to Pai, where to stay, how to get around, and the best time to visit.
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10 AWESOME THINGS TO DO IN PAI
#1 PAI CANYON
The Pai Canyon, also known as Kong Lan, is an incredibly scenic canyon with stunning valley views and it is one of the most reputable locations to catch a Pai sunset. The Pai Canyon should be on the top of your list of things to do in Pai.
WHERE IS THE PAI CANYON
Pai Canyon is located 8km south of Pai township along the main highway. If you are heading south from Pai, it takes approximately 10-minutes to the Pai Canyon parking lot on the right-hand side of the main road. If you pass the Pai Memorial Bridge, you’ve gone too far.
WHAT TO EXPECT AT PAI CANYON
There is no entrance fee to visit the Pai Canyon, just park your scooter, grab a snack and a cold beverage from the small stall vendors and begin the walk up the paved stair trail.
It is approximately a 5-minute walk up the stairs to the first viewpoint, which tends to be where most visitors gather for sunset, lining up to take photos.
However, if you’re game enough to hike along the skinny ridges to farther, less crowded viewpoints, you’ll have a much better adventure and memorable experience at the Pai Canyon.
The ridge trails are very dusty with unprotected drop-offs of up to 30-meters on either side, so please take care and know your limits. I recommend wearing proper hiking boots or closed in shoes when scrambling around the Pai Canyon.
Must Read → 3 Week Thailand Itinerary
SUNSET AT PAI CANYON
Pai Canyon is the most popular, and in my opinion, the best spot to watch the sunset over the mountains as the last rays of light leave the valley. Pai Canyon is also its busiest during golden hour so you can expect it to be crowded.
We decided to hike along a narrow ridgeline to a farther away viewpoint where I could see a rocky platform jutting out from among some pine trees.
It was a bit of a scramble to get there but we managed to have this little spot all to ourselves to enjoy the vibrant colors spreading across the sky and get some decent shots!
Full blog post → Pai Canyon
#2 LAND SPLIT PAI
The Land Split Pai is one of the most unique locations I have been to and a fascinating story to go with. If you are looking for what to do in Pai, venturing our to the Land Split is definitely worth the short drive.
WHERE IS THE LAND SPLIT PAI
The drive to the Land Split Pai should take no more than 20-minutes from the center of town.
LAND SPLIT PAI ENTRANCE FEE
The entrance fee at Pai Land Split is by donation only.
Opening hours are Monday to Sunday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.
THE STORY BEHIND THE PAI LAND SPLIT
What once was a sustainable crop farm is now somewhat of a large crack in the earth’s surface due to an earthquake in 2008 that tore a local man’s backyard in half.
Could you imagine something like this happening to your property overnight? It would be pretty surreal and frightening. But instead of the local man grieving over his lost crops and income source, he oversaw the fact and has since turned his Split Land into a tourist attraction.
When I arrived at the Pai Land Split I was welcomed by the Friendliest Thai man I have ever met. He was quick to offer me a cold cup of homemade hibiscus juice, some banana chips with hibiscus jam, steamed sweet potato chunks, and some seasoned nuts.
He didn’t ask for money though there is a donation box to pay as you feel. I wish I had got his name, but I can tell you that he is a very generous man and wishes for everyone to have an enjoyable and memorable experience on his property.
Pai Land Split
WHAT TO EXPECT AT THE LAND SPLIT PAI
There is a loop circuit trail around the Pai Land Split that leads through beautiful gardens and fruit tree plantations before arriving at the almighty crack!
The Land Split is around 3 meters wide and 11 meters deep and there is the option of walking around the top of the split or down at the bottom of the split itself.
The Pai Land Split may not seem impressive to some but I think the fascinating story behind it and the hospitality of the landowner is more than enough reason to add this location to your list of things to do.
Full blog post → The Pai Land Split
Pai Land Split – What to do in Pai
#3 PAM BOK WATERFALL
Pambok Waterfall is a fun-fuelled adventure to be had when exploring the mountainous region.
WHERE IS PAM BOK WATERFALL
It is approximately a 20-minute drive to Pambok Waterfall from the center of Pai.
ARRIVING AT PAMBOK WATERFALL
There is no entrance fee to visit Pambok Waterfall, just park your scooter in the parking lot and follow the trail up to the falls.
The way is a combination of rocky steps, a steel bridge, and then a short walk up the stream to the base of Pambok Waterfall.
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Pam Bok Waterfall
WHAT TO EXPECT AT PAMBOK WATERFALL
The beautiful Pambok Waterfall is surrounded by a canyon of high cliffs with a freshwater rock pool at the base of the falls. It is less touristy than the Moe Pang Waterfall in Pai, meaning you’ll most likely have it to yourself.
There are a few rock jumping points from the cliff walls surrounding Pambok Waterfall though be sure to do a depth check first and avoid diving headfirst into the rock pools.
The best time of year to visit is in the wet season, July to November, when the rain provides a decent amount of water flow from the mountains to the falls. In the dry season, February to May, there won’t much more than a trickle of water.
I spent an hour or so exploring and swimming at Pambok Waterfall before continuing another 2km up the road to the popular Bamboo Bridge attraction.
Full Blog Post → Pambok Waterfall
#4 BAMBOO BRIDGE
The Bamboo Bridge Pai, also known as Boon Ko Ku So, is an 800-meter long bridge that stretches over a field of lush rice fields in the Mae Hong Son region.
WHERE IS THE BAMBOO BRIDGE PAI
The drive to the Bamboo Bridge Pai should take no more than 25-minutes from the center of town.
BAMBOO BRIDGE PAI ENTRANCE FEE
There is a 30 Baht admission fee to be paid at the entrance to the Bamboo Bridge Pai.
Once you’ve received your ticket from the lady you are good to go.
WHAT TO EXPECT AT BAMBOO BRIDGE PAI
There are a few things to do at the Bamboo Bridge Pai such as grabbing some food and coffee from the cafe on top of the rice fields, feeding the fish in the small pond, visiting the Buddhist temple, and of course bouncing along the bamboo bridge from one end to the other.
The best time to visit the Bamboo Bridge Pai is in the rainy season, July to November, when the rice is long and lush.
Visiting outside of the rainy season you can expect to see brown and yellow fields but the scenery is still very beautiful nonetheless. The mountainous backdrop at the Bamboo Bridge Pai makes for great photo opportunities.
The Bamboo Bridge Pai can get quite busy during the day so if you want to experience this location without the crowds, aim to get there between 8 am and 9 am.
Full blog post → Bamboo Bridge Pai
#5 MO PAENG WATERFALL
Mo Paeng Waterfall is hands-down my favorite waterfall in Pai. This beautiful set of falls is located up in the hills on the outskirts of Pai and it’s got everything you need for a day of fun in the sun!
ARRIVING AT MO PAENG WATERFALL
Mo Paeng Waterfall is located 9km west of Pai. From the center of town, it is approximately a 20-minute drive.
There is no entrance fee to the Mo Paeng Waterfall, just park in the designated parking under the trees and from here it is less than one minute to walk to the base of the falls.
WHAT TO EXPECT AT MOR PAENG WATERFALL
Mo Paeng Waterfall has more than just one set of falls, in fact, there is a collective of swimming holes and two or three smaller waterfalls at this one location.
I visited the Mor Paeng Waterfall at around 8:30 am after experiencing an unforgettable sunrise at the Yun Lai Viewpoint, another popular point of interest in Pai.
Mo Paeng is the closest waterfall from Pai and the most popular among tourists. Although, when I visited there was literally no one else at the falls which surprised me knowing the popularity of Mo Paeng Waterfall.
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Mor Paeng Waterfall
I arrived at the main set of falls at Mo Paeng Waterfall which is where the trail from the car park leads to first.
There is a shallow rock pool at the base of these falls, which aren’t that spectacular, to be honest, so don’t get your hopes up here. It was more just a flow of water running down some boulders into this freshwater swimming hole.
However, I explored further downstream and found a larger waterfall gushing down a smooth rock surface into a more inviting rock pool at the bottom.
This is where you can find the natural water slide and the reason why many people flock to Mor Paeng Waterfall on a hot sunny day.
The forest that surrounds Mo Paeng Waterfall is green and serene and I just knew I had to fly my DJI Mavic Drone Camera to get another perspective of it all. From the air, I spotted more waterfalls and rock pools upstream so I had to go and check them out!
There are grass patches and wooden gazebos which is the perfect setting to laze around and lose a few hours at Mo Paeng Waterfall if you have the time. If you are traveling solo, it’s the perfect spot to meet and hang out with some other travelers!
Full blog post → Mo Paeng Waterfall
#6 YUN LAI VIEWPOINT
The Yun Lai Viewpoint is arguably the best sunrise viewpoint in Pai, offering beautiful sweeping views of the valley.
Yun Lai Viewpoint is located 6km west of Pai. From the center of town, it is approximately a 15-minute drive.
YUN LAI VIEWPOINT ENTRANCE FEE
Yun Lai Viewpoint Entrance Fee: 20 Baht
Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday from Dawn to Dusk
ARRIVING AT YUN LAI VIEWPOINT
You want to aim to arrive at Yun Lai Viewpoint between 6:00 am – 6:30 am with some spare time before the sunrise.
From the jump-off point, follow the pathway through the beautiful entranceway that leads up to the viewpoint.
WHAT TO EXPECT AT YUN LAI VIEWPOINT
Yun Lai Viewpoint is a massive draw for tourists so it was very busy when I visited. My guess is that there were around 50 people crowded around on the grass field and the bamboo viewing deck waiting for the sunrise.
It was a bit overwhelming at first, trying to find a quiet spot amongst the crowds to enjoy the sunrise, so we perused the area and found a trail that leads down to some flower fields directly beneath the bamboo viewing platform and we scored this epic spot all to ourselves.
The Yun Lai Viewpoint itself offers incredible panoramic views of the surrounding mountainous region and the township of Pai in North Thailand.
The sun began to rise and filled the valley with golden rays and the low lying fog started to clear, revealing the vast green landscape below!
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Entrance to Yun Lai Viewpoint
Yun Lai Viewpoint
There is a cafe attached to Yun Lai Viewpoint, serving up hot coffee and baked goods, the perfect treat while waiting in the dark for the sun to rise.
There are also half a dozen bungalow accommodations and tent sites available to book for a night or two which would be a pretty awesome view to wake up to.
Regardless of the large number of tourists that visit the Yun Lai Viewpoint each morning, there are still secluded and quieter spots to be found in the flower fields for a better sunrise experience.
Full blog post → Yun Lai Viewpoint
#7 PAI WALKING STREET
A stroll down Pai Walking Street is one of the best things to do in Pai, especially at night. Every evening there is a night market on Pai Walking Street.
The road gets closed down to motorists and the market sellers line both sides of the street with their food carts.
It’s a great experience and the food is very diverse! My recommendation would be to treat it as Tapas style, order a small portion from each stand so you can try half a dozen different Asian cuisines.
Once you have finished indulging in some street food, duck into one of the bars on Pai Walking Street for some live music and people-watching.
Must Read → 3 Week Thailand Itinerary
Pai Walking Street at night
Fresh sushi at the Pai night market
#8 SAI NGAM HOT SPRINGS
The Sai Ngam Hot Spring is the perfect place to spend a few hours away from the city center. Sai Ngam Hot Spring is surrounded by a lush, green forest inside a national park.
Sai Ngam Hot Spring is located 17km north of Pai. From the center of town, it is approximately a 25-minute drive.
SAI NGAM HOT SPRING ENTRANCE FEE
National Park Entrance Fee: 230 Baht per person
Sai Ngam Hot Spring Entrance Fee: 200 Baht per person
Parking Fee: 20 Baht per vehicle
Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm.
ARRIVING AT SAI NGAM HOT SPRING
As you turn off the main road to head down to Sai Ngam Hot Spring, you’ll be stopped at a checkpoint at the beginning of the national park to pay the 230 Baht National Park Fee.
This cost was far more than what I expected to pay to swim at a hot spring but I had just driven 25-minutes to get here, so I reluctantly handed over the money to the gatekeeper.
From this checkpoint, follow the road for another 5-minutes to reach Sai Ngam Hot Spring. The road is very steep and hilly so please use caution.
At the jump-off point, there is a ticket office where you’ll have to pay the 20 Baht fee to go swimming in the natural hot pools.
In total it cost 460 Baht (USD$15) for the two of us… It definitely isn’t the cheapest attraction but I must say that as soon as I jumped into the Sai Ngam Hot Spring there were no complaints!
Sai Ngam Hot Spring
WHAT TO EXPECT AT SAI NGAM HOT SPRING
The Sai Ngam Hot Spring is a 3-tiered cascading natural hot pool, the top one being the hottest at 34-degrees Celsius.
I could have spent hours floating around in this crystal clear hot spring. The water temperature was just perfect!
If you have an underwater GoPro camera, you’re going to want to put it to use! I don’t think I have ever seen a freshwater spring as transparent as the Sai Ngam Hot Spring.
There is a timber seating area off to the side of the springs to hang out and change rooms/toilets are located at the gate entrance.
Also, if you want to buy some snacks and drinks there are some small stall vendors that line the street near the car park.
Full blog post: Sai Ngam Hot Spring
#9 THE WHITE BUDDHA
The White Buddha in Pai can be seen from almost everywhere in town. The White Buddha, also known as Wat Phra That Mae Yen, is a must-see attraction.
The White Buddha is 2km south-east of the center of Pai. It’s walkable from the town but be prepared for a sweat fest as there are 353 steps to the top.
WHAT TO EXPECT AT THE WHITE BUDDHA
The large White Buddha is sat facing west and offers panoramic views of the region. It is a very popular spot for sunset, so you can expect crowds at the time.
I visited the White Buddha around 12 pm and there were only half a dozen people there, so it was very peaceful.
There is not much to do at the White Buddha apart from enjoying the incredible views at the top and admiring the large statue itself.
White Buddha Pai
The Big White Buddha
#10 PAI MEMORIAL BRIDGE
The Pai Memorial Bridge is a piece of history dating back to World World II. This antiqued steel bridge is a popular spot on everyone’s list of places to see.
The Pai Memorial Bridge is located 9km south of the center of town on the main road that leads to Chiang Mai.
WHAT TO EXPECT AT PAI MEMORIAL BRIDGE
The Memorial Bridge stretches over the Pai River which was built during World War II by the Japanese army who wanted to have a route from Chiang Mai to Pai to attack Burma.
In 1941, the bridge was built with the aid of elephants that dragged trees from the jungle and villagers who were forced to work.
Nowadays, the Pai Memorial Bridge is no more than a tourist attraction for people to take a few selfies. However, the view of the river and nearby mountains is pretty spectacular! A worthy addition to your list of what to do in Pai!
Pai Memorial Bridge – Photo @mymindsm
WHERE TO STAY IN PAI?
Pai has hundreds of accommodations to choose from, so I have narrowed it down to a few of the best places to stay to suit the needs of budget backpackers, luxury travelers, and everyone in between.
See the list of accommodations below that I personally recommend:
Luxury: Pai Island Resort
This is one of the best 5-star accommodations in Pai with a dreamy setting in the forests. Featuring a pong, well-kept gardens, restaurant and bar, free wifi, and airport shuttle services. Each Suite is fitted with fine beddings and furnishings, gardens, patios, minibar, air conditioning, and outdoor bathtub. Recommended for couples, families, and friends.
Mid Range: Rim Pai Cottage
Rim Pai Cottages are 3-star accommodations framed by beautiful mountains and the Pai River. Centrally located on Pai’s famous walking street, this property features a restaurant, infinity pool, and free wifi. Choose from a double room, family room, villas, or a suite, each fitted with air conditioning, tea/coffee facilities, comfortable beds, private bathroom, and flat-screen tv. Perfect place to stay in Pai for couples, families, and friends!
Budget: Spicy Pai Backpackers
Spicy Pai Backpackers is the most popular budget accommodation in Pai. Great place to stay for solo travelers, couples, and friends! This property is surrounded by mountains and rice fields, featuring a common area, communal kitchen, and free wifi. Choose from either a dorm room, private bungalow, or a quadruple king size room with bed linen and towels. A complimentary breakfast is also included for all guests!
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Another option for accommodation is to stay at an Airbnb, which generally has some great deals on the island.
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GETTING AROUND PAI
The best way to get around Pai is on a scooter to explore all four corners of the region.
Scooters can be rented for a little as 150 Baht per day from one of the many rental stores in the center of Pai.
Alternatively, some accommodations have scooter rentals available for around the same price. A money deposit or passport is generally required for insurance purposes.
If you aren’t confident with riding a scooter, you can hail a songthaew (pick-up truck with bench seats) to get from A to B. Make sure to agree on a price with the driver first before jumping in the back.
BEST TIME TO VISIT PAI
The best time to visit Pai is during the cooler, dry season which is November through to February, though this is also the peak season for tourists.
The wet season in Pai is typically May through to September, but you can expect fewer tourists during these months. Also, the rice fields and waterfalls will be at their best during the wet season.
HOW TO GET TO PAI
There are a few options for getting to Pai and they are either by bus, taxi, or plane.
Check out the 12Go Asia website to search for all transport services to Pai and book online ahead of time to get the best rates.
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MORE THAILAND TRAVEL GUIDES
Thailand Travel Guide: 3 Week Thailand Itinerary
Bangkok Travel Guide: 5 Things To Do In Bangkok
Koh Tao Travel Guide: 15 Things To Do In Koh Tao
Chiang Mai Travel Guide: 10 Things To Do In Chiang Mai
Krabi Travel Guide: 5 Best Beaches in Krabi
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I hope you enjoyed reading this article and if you have any questions about Things To Do In Pai, please drop me a comment below this post and I will get back to you as soon as I can!
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