If you’re looking to experience authentic Thai culture, Pai probably isn’t the place to do it. Pai is 100% a backpacker town. Yet, it is a truly beautiful area with endless spots to explore.
After going to Pai for a weekend trip while teaching (a long haul), I found it just wasn’t enough time. So I found myself back in Pai where I ended up spending about 4.5 days when I only planned on 2 or 3.
After getting the three-hour van ride from Chiang Mai which consists of about 500 curves (literally the whole way) and stunning mountain views, you arrive in this little piece of paradise. It’s a small town separated into two sides by a bamboo bridge over the river. It’s considered to be somewhat of a hippie town. It’s got a very nice easygoing vibe for sure. After spending a few days here, I didn’t want to leave.
For me, it was the surrounding area that truly captured my heart. The scenery is beautiful and diverse: mountains, caves, waterfalls, hot springs, canyons, flowers and strawberry fields.
Of course, you truly need to rent a motorbike in order to truly see all Pai has to offer. The best part is you pretty much just need to go straight and there’s plenty of places to stop along the way. So here’s a few of my favorite ‘Pieces of Pai’:
1. Pai Canyon:
Pai Canyon is a truly beautiful and unique place. It’s a place that makes you forget you are in Thailand because it is so diverse from the typical landscapes you see throughout Thailand. It’s mildly terrifying when you are up there on some of the more narrow parts with no railings but if you get the chance try and make it there for sunset – you will not be disappointed!
2. Wat Phra That Mae Yen (Temple of the Hill):
Another enchanting tourist spot, the White Buddha sits atop a hill. After climbing many sets of stairs, you will eventually reach this incredible spot. Another amazing place to visit at dusk, you can see this magical White Buddha against the sunset as it turns to moonlight. I felt this overall sense of peace and serenity as I sat in front of the Giant White Buddha and meditated in the moonlight.
3. Love Strawberry Café
Pai is filled with so many cute colorful cafés, and one of my favorites is Love Strawberry. Pai and the surrounding area are the perfect climate for strawberries to grow, and that’s one fruit that is not easy to find in many other parts of Thailand. This cute café sells strawberry everything – lots of delicious options to choose from. Still, I think the best part about this place is the overall atmosphere (did I say how cute it is?)
4. Coffee In Love
Another favorite and super cute café is called Coffee in Love. Not only is this café super adorable, it overlooks one of the most incredible views and is surrounded by mountains and flowers. I was here on the perfect day – sunshine and blue skies. You just have to see this place for yourself – but I’d definitely recommend a stop here if you have the time.
5. Chinese Village (Ban Rak Thai)
I’d definitely recommend visiting this Chinese Village while you are staying in Pai. It’s a really interesting place to experience some Chinese culture while in northern Thailand. Chinese temples and culture are very unique from Thai culture so it’s interesting to get to see a different style of architecture and temple.
6. Why Not Bar… cause why not?
There’s no shortage of cool bars and nightlife in Pai, but my all-time favorite spot has to be the “Why Not Bar” They have live music and a super relaxed atmosphere. See for yourself… why not?
7. Meditation Centers
If you’re interested in learning more about or experiencing meditation, Pai is an amazing place to do it. There’s a lot of different meditation centers in and around this area which offer retreats, meditation classes, and more. What better place to experience a meditation retreat than in the beautiful mountains of Pai?