The small town of Pai packs quite a big punch. Tourists flock here for the adventures, laid-back vibes, and variety of delicious eats. Most plan to stay only a few days here but end up extending their trip to multiple weeks, unwilling to part from the relaxing yet vibrant atmosphere this mountain town is famous for. There are many things to do in Pai, from exploring caves and soaking in hot springs, to sampling exotic food and discovering eclectic cafes. We’ve rounded up the top adventures and sights to see to make sure you make the best of your trip here!
Swim at Fluid Swimming Pool
Fluid Swimming Pool is one of the most happening spots in town for Sunday Funday (or any day, really). This 25-meter long swimming pool attracts visitors to Pai on the hottest of days in the city. It is a great spot to come and cool off and enjoy a few poolside cocktails while sunbathing. Food is also available. Check their website to see if they are having any parties or events while you are in town! To get to Fluid Pool, cross the main bridge over the Pai River and follow the road for about 200 meters. The pool will be on your left!
Location: 6 Moo 1 Mae Hee, Pai District, Mae Hong Son 58130, Thailand — VIEW MAP
Contact: +66 87 186 5320 | Website
Hours: Daily from 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Visit Pai Canyon at Sunset
Enjoy some of the best views that Pai has to offer at the Pai Canyon. This stunning valley is just as beautiful as it is nerve-racking, with slender trails weaving around the beautiful foliage. These footpaths are not the sturdiest, so be sure to wear good walking shoes. It is best to visit at sunset, but be sure to get here early if you want equally as good photographs: all the photogenic places tend to get crowded right before sunset.
Location: Thung Yao, Pai District, Mae Hong Son 58130, Thailand — VIEW MAP
Hours: Daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Venture Down Pai Walking Street
Once the sun starts to set in Pai, most people tend to congregate in one place: the Pai Walking Street. Carts line the street offering nearly every type of food imaginable from fresh sushi and traditional Thai snacks, to authentic kebabs from a rotisserie. Eat dessert for dinner if you’d like and sample some decadent crepes or homemade ice cream. Not only can you eat your way through the street, but you can shop your heart out as well. Buy some flip flops made from tires, or some local handmade jewelry. Most of the shops on the walking street will remain open for your shopping pleasure. If you are looking for a more unique souvenir, check out the dozens of beautiful pieces made by local artists.
Get a Traditional Thai Massage
We’re big advocates of immersing yourself in the local culture, and possibly even bigger advocates of getting as many traditional Thai massages as possible. Luckily for all of us, Pai has plenty of spas to choose from to take a break from your adventuring and partying. If you’re looking for something affordable, head to On Thai Massage. For those wanting to splurge a bit, browse the variety of treatments at Sapaiya Spa and Clinic. If you’d like to learn this trade yourself, check out PTTM School and sign up for a class. Each of these places are sure to stretch, press, and pull you into euphoria
Mad Monkey Insider Tips
- Traditional Thai massages are dry, meaning they will not use any oils or lotions.
- Expect to have your feet washed before your massage begins. Some budget-friendly places will have you wash your feet yourself.
- They will give you a change of loose-fitting clothes that you must wear.
- Be prepared to endure a bit of pain during your treatment. If it becomes unbearable, tell them “jeb mak,” meaning, hurts a lot.
Motorbike Through the Mountains
One of the best ways to experience Pai is by renting a motorbike and taking to the rolling hills. You don’t even need a destination, just enjoy the fresh, mountain air and stunning views. If you’re a planner that prefers a bit of direction, head south on the 1095 highway towards the Memorial Bridge or northwest towards Tribal Pai Backpackers. Both routes offer spectacular, panoramic views of Pai’s gorgeous greenery. You’ll pass dozens of themed cafes and temples you can stop and relax at on your journey. Renting a motorbike will give you the freedom to stop whenever you’d like, and opt out of those day tours, which can save you money. Motorbike rental shops can be found throughout the town center, especially along the walking street with prices starting at ฿100.
Mad Monkey Insider Tips
- Make sure your insurance covers driving a motorbike. More information about this can be found in our Pai transportation guide.
- If you plan on going further distances, like north to Tham Lod Cave, make sure you have a more powerful bike (at least 125cc), especially if there are two people riding.
Visit the Cafes
There’s no better place to watch the world go by than a cafe in Pai. Travelers are spoilt for choice in this mountain town, as quaint cafes line the streets. Whether you’re looking to indulge in a delicious brunch, get some work done, or just enjoy your morning dose of caffeine, there are plenty of options to choose from. While you’re sure to find what you need in the town center (Om Garden and Big’s Little Cafe are our favorites!) be sure to check out some of the themed roadside cafes that are springing up everywhere. Swing your life away at The Co[email protected] or check out the famous Pai views at Coffee in Love.
Enjoy the Nightlife in Pai
While infamous for its hippy atmosphere, you might not expect this little town to have much of a nightlife. Fortunately, Pai caters to every type of traveler and has plenty of bars and pubs so you can drink and party to your heart’s desire. Numerous bars line the walking street, many with live music and plenty of drink specials.
If you’re into something more mellow, check out Edible Jazz to see both local and international musicians. Join most of the other backpackers and end your night at the notorious Don’t Cry Bar, just on the other side of the river. This open-air bar is one of the only spots that stays open past midnight. Black lights illuminate the colorful murals that surround the crowds of party-goers who flock here after-hours. It’s easy to have a good night out in Pai and luckily, the size of this town makes that walk of shame a short one.
Pai is an incredibly artsy town and is equipped with galleries, cafes filled with art, and a night market lined with local artists. There are plenty of galleries to visit that are absolutely free to enter, including Art in Pai, Return to Simple, Thien Art Space, Deep Forest Art Studio, and Pai Siam Shop Gallery. Art in Chai is a vegan restaurant that doubles as an art space and also serves up delicious food. There are plenty of places to unlock your inner creativity in Pai!
Try Your Hand at Muay Thai
As the national sport of Thailand, trying your hand (and fists, elbows, knees, and feet) at Muay Thai is an absolute must. Though it is a small city, there are a number of Muay Thai arenas in which newbies and pro fighters alike can take to to practice this incredibly challenging sport. The top Muay Thai gyms are Charn Chai Muay Thai Gym, Wisarut Muay Thai, and Sitjemam Muay Thai. Sessions start at about ฿300 (about $9) per session for about 1.5 hours. Get ready to get your sweat on!
Charn Chai Muay Thai Gym:
Wisarut Muay Thai: 259, Tambon Mae Hi, Amphoe Pai, Chang Wat Mae Hong Son 58130, Thailand
Sitjemam Muay Thai: Mae Na Toeng, Pai District, Mae Hong Son 58130, Thailand
Visit One of the Many Yoga Studios
Sometimes you just need time to relax and focus on yourself when traveling. Unwind while simultaneously getting a workout by taking a yoga class. There are a few studios to choose from in Pai, most of which give you the opportunity to be surrounded by nature as well. Perfect your chaturangas and warrior poses in the open-air studio at Pai Yoga Shala, or practice your flows with sweeping mountain views at Bom Bowls. Many of the studios have restaurants and cafes attached so you can eat some delicious Thai food or healthy dishes after working up your appetite. Check out our Pai yoga guide for more information.
Cool off at one of the Pai Waterfalls
As can be expected, the mountainous areas of Pai have numerous waterfalls that make for easy day trips. Mo Paeng is the most accessible and fairly easy to get to. Barely a 30-minute drive from the center of Pai, the trip here makes for a pleasant ride up the mountains through the trees. Once you park, it’s just a short walk to the waterfall, which also doubles as a waterslide for visitors. You can find many families and tourists enjoying the pools of water above the waterfall, taking turns either sliding down or jumping into the water below.
If you’re planning on going to the Land Split, you may as well check out Pam Bok Waterfall. Not even 10 minutes west of this tourist hotspot lies another waterfall, ideal for swimming. For those looking for a bit more exercise, trek to the Mae Yen Waterfalls. This one is the most scenic, but also the most difficult waterfall to get to. Visitors must trek through countless rivers and streams for about two to three hours before making it to Mae Yen. Luckily, this hike through the jungle is just as beautiful as the final destination.
Visit the Land Split
When you hear the words, “land split,” you do not necessarily think ‘tourist attraction.’ That is not the case with the Land Split in Pai. Two earthquakes are behind the Land Split in Pai, one that occurred in 2008 and another in 2011. The quakes split what used to be a farm into one of the most popular tourist attractions in all of Pai. When you arrive, the owners greet you with free chips, roselle juice, and even roselle wine. You can climb the short walk to the top of the split, enjoy the impeccable views, or relax in the nearby hammocks.
Location: Thung Yao, Pai District, Mae Hong Son 58130, Thailand
Hours: Daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Admire the Views at Yun Lai Viewpoint
For some dazzling, panoramic views of Pai, head to Yun Lai Viewpoint. Situated about 7 kilometers west of the center of Pai, this viewpoint is an easy 20-minute drive. For only ฿20, you’ll be treated with views overlooking the valley below, and the mountains stretching out in the distance. Admire the rice paddies and sprawling foliage, saturated with color, while sipping on some tea or coffee. Sunrise is the best time to come but is often quite crowded.
Walk Across the Bamboo Bridge Pai
There are not one but two bridges on our list of the top things to see and do in Pai. The first is the Bamboo Bridge. As its name suggests, this picturesque bridge is made of bamboo and will have you walking lightly as it creaks beneath you. It is also known as Boon Koh Ku So and is some 800 meters in length, so wear your walking shoes and bring a reusable water bottle to stay hydrated. The surrounding scenery is absolutely breathtaking, especially during the rainy season when the rice fields below the bridge are lush and green. Entrance onto the bamboo bridge is free, as well!
Location: VIEW MAP
Climb the Steps to the Temple on the Hill
Wat Phra That Mae Yen, otherwise known as the Temple on the Hill, is called this for good reason. In order to reach the top, visitors must first climb over 350 steps. With that being said, the views of the city of Pai below are certainly worth the climb. Entrance is free, and be sure to bring clothing that covers your knees, chest, and shoulders out of respect. Should you work up an appetite after the long climb, be sure to grab a refreshing smoothie or Thai meal at one of the food vendors at the bottom of the temple.
Cross the Pai Memorial Bridge
The Memorial Bridge, also known as Saphan Prawatsart, is a historical landmark dating back to World War II. In the early 1940s, the Japanese wanted an easy route from Chiang Mai to Mae Hong Son to transfer supplies. Thai villagers, alongside elephants, were forced to build this bridge, which was then burnt down by the Japanese as the war ended. The locals rebuilt it, but it was destroyed again by floods in the 1970s. Soon after, the Memorial Bridge was reconstructed, using green steel and is now a common tourist spot for travelers looking to learn more about Thailand’s history.
Location: 1095, Tambon Mae Na Toeng, Amphoe Pai, Chang Wat Mae Hong Son 58130, Thailand
Soak in one of the Hot Springs
Even with high temperatures year-round, it’s hard to resist relaxing in the hot springs of Pai. There are two main hot springs here that tourists tend to frequent: the Tha Pai Hot Springs and Sai Ngam Natural hot spring (also known as “Pai Secret Hot Springs,” although they’re fairly well-known now). The Tha Pai Hot Springs are more easily accessible, thus making it more touristy as well. Visitors must pay a whopping ฿300 to enter (we understand your reluctance). Just eight kilometers south of the center, Tha Pai is a collection of hot springs with an average temperature of 80 degrees Celsius. These therapeutic baths vary in temperature and cool down the further down you go.
If you’re in for a bit of a journey to a more chilled-out and less-touristy (albeit, still fairly crowded at times) oasis, the Secret Hot Springs will be more your speed. Hop on your scooter and head 15 kilometers north through some exhilarating hairpin turns and rollercoaster-like hills. If you’re riding a motorbike, make sure to get a 125cc bike (at the very least!) to endure the numerous climbs. This 30-minute ride will bring you to the shaded, scenic hot springs, which will be a warm welcome after your journey. Entrance is ฿20 per person (plus ฿20 for a moto). These magical pools make for the perfect escape to unwind and soak in peace.
Visit the Chinese Village
The Chinese Village in Pai is a tourist attraction aimed to teach visitors more about the Yunnan population. It is also known as the Santichon Village. It’s no Chinatown, but it is picturesque all the same. The viewpoint offers visitors some of the best sights of the surrounding mountains and has a few neat souvenirs in stock available for purchase. We were in awe of how far you could see into the remarkable northern landscape of Pai.
Location: Unnamed Rd Tambon Wiang Tai, Amphoe Pai, Chang Wat Mae Hong Son 58130, Thailand VIEW MAP
Get a Tattoo
Are you looking to get inked? Then there is no better city to do so than in Pai. First of all, there is plenty of art to choose from if you are unsure as to what it is you should get. Pai Walking Street, for example, is lined with local artists showing off their most impressive pieces that are available for purchase. Simply take one of the pieces to one of the many tattoo shops nearby and get a unique piece that you will cherish forever. One of our favorite tattoo shops is Cross Tattoo Studio Pai. The staff here is kind, the tattoos are affordable, and their artistic abilities are out of this world.
Explore Tham Lod Cave
One of the best day trips that Pai has to offer is venturing to Tham Lod Cave. Just 50 kilometers north of the center of Pai, Tham Lod Cave translates to “cave where the river runs through.” Unlike many touristy caves, Tham Lod remains fairly untouched, with no flood lighting or regular, organized tours flowing in and out. Over 200,000 swift birds and throngs of bats can be seen flurrying around the entrance of the cave, as well as in the caverns. The Lang River flows through the caves and you can pay to ride on a traditional bamboo raft through the caverns, lead by a local guide (prices below).
There are three main chambers, totaling 1,600 meters of explorable terrain. Visitors can discover stalagmites, stalactites, columns, coffins from over 1,400 years ago, and various ancient artifacts. For a particularly fascinating show, come at sunset to witness a whirlwind of swifts migrating into the cave as bats fly out in masses. Additionally, you can come at sunrise to see the opposite winged journey.
- One cave + guide with lantern: ฿100, split between 1-3 people
- Full trip: cave entrance, three caves, bamboo raft, and guide with a lantern
- Full trip one way (take the raft into the caves, walk back out): ฿300, split between 1-3 people
- Full trip + return trip on a bamboo raft: ฿400, split between 1-3 people
More Information About Things to do in Pai, Thailand
Did you love this article about things to do in Pai? Do you want even more information about things to see and do in this Northern, Thai city? Then be sure to check out this comprehensive list of articles we have rounded-up for your reading convenience. We only recommend articles and blogs that we love, as well!
- 10 of the Best Things to do in Pai by Alesha and Jarryd for Nomadasaurus
- Top Things to do in Pai for The Broke Backpacker
- 20 Best Things to do in Pai, Thailand by Christine Kaaloa for Grrrltraveler
- The Top 15 Things to do in Pai, Thailand by Greg Rodgers for TripSavvy