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What to see in Pai, the city lost among rice paddies (Thailand)

Pai is a town located 125 km from Chiang Mai, to the north, in Thailand.

In the town itself, there are not many things to do, however, the destination receives its popularity thanks to the natural beauty of the surroundings. An environment full of hills, rice fields and thousands of trails in the middle of the jungle.

In the town (especially if you travel in high season) you will find a large number of young people, looking for a party. And although it has the reputation of being a backpacker and party destination, there are all kinds of accommodation and activities for the whole family. So if you want to get to know the area, but want a little more tranquility to stay, you can do it on the outskirts. And at the end of the post I tell you about some accommodation options.

In this post I tell you what to see in Pai and its surroundings.


First of all I tell you that if you want to include Pai in your route it is because you are already touring the north of Thailand. If on your trip you are only going to visit Bangkok, the islands and the southern area... forget about reaching the north just to visit Pai.

The north of Thailand has such spectacular destinations, such as Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, the Golden Triangle, Sukhothai... that just touring the north can take you more than two weeks.

If you are already in Chiang Mai, you have several transportation options to get to Pai.

How to get to Pai from Chiang Mai

You can arrive by private transport, bus, minivan, renting a motorcycle or renting a car.

Rental car

My recommendation to explore the entire north of Thailand is to do it on your own by renting a car. I have already talked about this in some other post, renting a car gives you the freedom to move when you want and where you want, the roads, although some are not great, are generally good, there is no excess traffic and most importantly, rent A car is quite cheap, if you are going to spend a week (for example) in the north of the country, and you have to add the transportation costs from one place to another, it will be quite expensive. Above all, if any journey is made by taxi or private transfers.

On my last trip we managed to rent a car from the airport for 11.50 euros per day, insurance included.

Rental Motorcycle

It may be cheaper than renting a car, but forget about carrying luggage, even carrying your backpack over long distances can be exhausting. If you make such a long journey from Chiang Mai to Pai, apart from the fact that the road is a port of quite busy mountain, not very safe. It is still a country in Southeast Asia where the way of driving is a bit chaotic.

If you decide on this option, the price is usually around 7 euros per day. And many accommodations offer this service. Even in the center of Chiang Mai there are several motorcycle rental shops.

In a minivan

They are usually more expensive than going by bus, but if you do not want to rent a car it is a good option. You can check prices, schedules… from

The journey usually costs about 6 euros per person one way + 6 euros return.

By bus

If you buy the ticket directly at the Arcade Bus Terminal, it will cost you about 4 euros, but keep in mind that unless you can walk there, the bus station is far from the center and arriving by songthaew (public pick ups) this supplement will cost you around 1 euro. So it's almost the same as the minivan, but by bus. It takes longer to get to Pai and the drive through the curves can be hell. Buy your tickets online in advance.


The town of Pai reminded me completely of Ubud. It is a town with few things to see, but with a lot of charm. Full of food stalls, little shops, hotels, hostels, a lot of atmosphere and very good vibes.

Strolling along the riverbank and crossing its bridges is a great option to spend a quiet afternoon getting to know the town. And once night falls, the market comes to life. Here you can eat in the street for a little, browse its craft stalls, souvenirs... walk among the people and if you feel up to it later you can go to a party. There are plenty of bars and pubs that stay open well into the wee hours.


The best of Pai is not the town itself, but the province in which it is located, Mae Hong Son.

To get to know the outskirts, it is best to rent a car or a motorcycle. Renting a motorcycle in Pai is very cheap (about 7 euros per day) and they don't even ask for your driving license. Of course, there is a fine of about 12 or 13 euros, which you will have to pay if you are stopped and you do not have a driving license.

If you decide to rent a car, it is best to do it from Chiang Mai.

There are some organized tours for about 22 euros, where they take you to visit the surroundings and all or some places of interest. These tours cannot be booked online (at least right now) and once you arrive in Pai you can book them in town.

And now yes, these are the places you cannot miss in Mae Hong Son province:

Tham Lot Cave

This cave is located about 50km from Pai. Tham Lot is the largest cave in Thailand, 1,700 meters long. So immense is that place that there is even room for a river inside. It is surrounded by forests and jungles and the road to get here is also beautiful.

The entrance cost about 150 baths per person. This ticket includes a guide and his lamp and the boat ride.

You will really enjoy the walk through the cave, which is full of stalactites, stalagmites and of course, you will see its tenants, the bats.

On the way, you will take a short ride in a gondola made of bamboo along the Nam Lang River that runs through the cave. The river is full of huge fish.

If you visit the cave during sunset (round trip tours can be arranged in the afternoon), you will be able to attend the “changing of the guard”: the moment when the bats come out to eat and the birds go to sleep.

Pai's Canyon

Pai Canyon is one of the most impressive places in the area and you cannot miss it. Access is free and the best thing is to go at sunset. This canyon does not have any security measures, so you must be careful "taking risks" to take a photo. We must have a head, enjoy this wonder, and take advantage of this natural wonder, without putting ourselves at risk. From here the landscape is exceptional, one of the best viewpoints in the area.

The White Buddha (White Buddha)

Along with the canyon, there is a large Buddha located on top of a hill. You have to climb several steps to get there. From here the views are also beautiful and admission is free.

Sai Ngam Hot Spring

In the Pai area there are quite a few hot springs. Sai Ngam Hot Spring. It is a pool with natural hot water. It is best to go first thing in the morning if you can, because there are many tours that include a stop here, and just as we were leaving, a whole bus arrived… Lucky that we were able to enjoy this place almost alone.

It costs about 200 baths. There are some cheaper hot springs, but the cheaper, the more people.


There are many waterfalls to see in Pai, although Mo Paeng is one of the most popular. Its price is 100 Baths (about 3 euros).

Don't expect big waterfalls. They are small and medium waterfalls in which you can bathe.

Other of the most accessible waterfalls are: Hay Chang, Pam Bok and Mae Yem. The path to this last waterfall is a bit more complex. At one point you will have to leave the motorcycle / car and walk about 6 km to get there.

Santichon Village – The Chinese Village

Although originally this town was created by Chinese immigrants who were fleeing the repression that was in China at that time, today this town is totally touristic.

It is close to Pai, about 15 minutes approx. So, if you have time left, you can come and meet him. If it doesn't give you time, you don't miss much.

The Bamboo Bridge – Boon Ko Ku So

To get to the bamboo bridge you will have to go down a road that is not in very good condition and is quite steep. Once you get to this small valley, full of rice fields there is a bridge made with Bambo. The area itself doesn't have much apart from being beautiful. You can walk around the bridge and the surroundings. The truth is that it is a very quiet area and it is ideal to unwind.

The Boon Ko Ku Su Bridge is not there for river reasons, but rather it flies over the rice fields. And the reason for the existence of this bridge is to allow the monks of the most remote temples to go to the towns in the area.

This bamboo bridge is not the only bridge to see in Pai. You can also get to know the "Memorial Bridge", a bridge bombed during World War II.


I personally liked it. It is not a place with spectacular temples, or many things to do. But it perfectly complements your trip through northern Thailand. A couple of days in Pai allows you to enjoy nature, have time to recharge your batteries and get to know another part of Thailand.


In Pai you have many accommodation options. From backpacker budget accommodation to some more luxurious options. Here are some of my recommendations:


I hope you enjoy your trip to Thailand very much and that this article has been useful to you. You can continue reading many more related articles on the blog.

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A hug and see you soon!


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