Nestled in the mountainous foothills of Northern Thailand and close to the Burmese border, the laid back town of Pai offers a wonderful retreat in the Land of Smiles. There is an abundance of things to do in Pai, and the cooler climate makes it even more inviting. With nature, culture, and an enticingly chilled out vibe, more and more people are discovering the many charms of Pai.
It can be reached by road, with buses and minivans regularly making the trip between Pai and Chiang Mai. There are many simple and inexpensive places to stay in the town, as well as a number of great restaurants and drinking holes.
Here are some of the best things to do in Pai:
Shop on Walking Street
With the increase of visitors, local vendors have upped the number of great items for sale. There is a pedestrianised walking street with a night market, where you can sample some delicious foods, and buy a selection of handicrafts and souvenirs. There are also interesting offerings from the artistic expat community.
Visit Hill Tribes
There are numerous different ethnic groups living in the surrounding mountains, and many operators offer the chance to visit these villages. Make sure that you book with an eco-friendly and reputable provider, where you know that your money is going directly into the communities that you will visit. Help to support sustainable tourism, and learn more about the different people that live in this area.
Ride an Elephant
There are several different camps offering elephant treks, as well as chances to get up close and personal with these magnificent creatures. Many rides lead visitors through the river, allowing the elephants chance to cool off in the refreshing waters. It is possible to bathe and feed the animals. This is one way that organizations seek to preserve Thailand’s trusted national animal, after the decline of working animals needed, especially in the now illegal logging industry.
Take a Dip in the Hot Springs
The sulphuric bubbling waters are a sight to see, allowing those who can handle the heat (and the smell!) the chance to paddle and swim in the naturally heated waters. In the heart of the national park, there are some good walking spots also nearby.
Pai is liberally sprinkled with delightful cascading waterfalls. Some are suitable for swimming. Some of the best include Mo Paeng Waterfall and Mae Yen Waterfall.
A relaxing few hours can be spent fishing in several privately owned ponds. Some places offer the chance to fish for the fearsome piranha!
Explore the Mountains and Rice Paddies
Hire a bicycle or motorbike and head out into the rugged mountain areas or lush green fields to enjoy some of Thailand’s best scenery.
Marvel at the Canyon
The gaping canyon is an impressive sight. You can see where the ground has literally split at the seams, leaving wide and yawning chasms in the earth.
Laze Alongside the River
The river provides a great peaceful spot to simply kick back and watch the world go by. There are boat trips and other water based activities also available.