Adventurer’s Guide to Top Activities in Pai

Do you love running through open fields until your legs give out? Do you chase after the feeling of a racing heart and pumping blood? Are you looking for some adventure to break the monotony of your dull life? If your answer to all these questions is a resounding YES, then Pai is the place for you. Pai has grown to be a favorite among backpackers and budget travelers because of its affordability. Pai has a steady flow of short-term tourists, but you will also find a number of long-term residents here. People fall in love quickly with Pai, and once you arrive here you’ll see why. We’ve put together a long list of our top activities to do in Pai so that you have all the information you need at your fingertips. 

Natural Wonders and Cultural Delights:

A. Visit Pai Canyon:

Pai Canyon is located a few kilometers from Pai village, and it’s an adventurer’s playground. 

The canyon is an awe-inspiring experience, and it’s free so you can visit multiple times during the course of your stay. Soak in the gorgeous sunset vistas at the canyon while resting comfortably on the seating at the top, or hike and explore!

You can hike down to the bottom of the canyon, walk through the narrow trails and then choose a different path to hike back up on. You can also explore the different trails along the rim of the canyon. Be prepared to get your hands dirty, and wear clothes and shoes that you’re willing to sacrifice to the dusty trails.

The canyon is a 5-minute walk uphill and there are no shops at the top. Make sure you carry a bottle of water with you, or buy one from the shops at the foot of the trail. There are also no guards or safety mechanisms in place, so don’t try anything risky!

Cost: Free

Hours: 06:00 to 19:00

Go here now.

pai canyon

B. Visit Big Buddha:

The towering, white statue of Buddha watches over the town of Pai like a guardian angel. You can spot it from almost anywhere in Pai town. The entrance to the statue is a few kilometers from central Pai, but is definitely worth a visit. There are over 300 steps to climb up to get to the Big Buddha, but the view is magnificent. 

The Big Buddha is a pleasant and serene spot for evening meditation. There is also a small but beautiful temple at the base of the stairway, which is a must-see. Most tourists will skip it entirely, but it’s an ornate and detailed piece of Thai architecture that shouldn’t be missed. 

Sunset is the ideal time to make the climb up to Big Buddha because it’s relatively cooler at the time (emphasis on ‘relatively’). You are required to wear suitable clothing in order to be allowed up, so make sure to wear long pants/long skirt and a top that covers your shoulders!

Cost: Free

Hours: 06:00 to 18:00

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C. Ride to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep:

Wat Phra That Doi Suthep is located on the highway leading up from Chiang Mai to Pai. It’s a few hours from Pai, and ideally you would make the stops on the way up to Pai, or down to Chiang Mai. If you’re going from Pai, the road is one with stunning views, and you will find an abundance of attractions on the way to the temple – waterfalls, natural pools, hidden temples, national parks and lots more. We recommend embracing it all, and making a day of it!

Wat Phra That is a famous hilltop temple located on Doi Suthep. This sacred site is renowned for its stunning golden chedi (stupa), adorned with intricate carvings and surrounded by ornate structures. Visitors can climb the Naga staircase, lined with mythical serpent statues, to reach the temple’s main terrace. Inside, they will discover exquisite Buddhist artwork, ancient relics, and a tranquil atmosphere. Wat Phra That Doi Suthep is not only a religious landmark but also a symbol of Thailand’s cultural heritage. The temple is a frequently visited pilgrimage site for devout Buddhists. 

Cost: Free

Hours: 06:00 to 20:00

Go here now.

Wat Phra That Doi Suthep

D. Ride to Wat Pha Lat:

When you visit Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, you must also make sure you visit the magical, hidden temple of Wat Phra Lak, located just a few minutes down the road. This temple is historically known to be a rest stop for pilgrims who hike uphill on foot to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep.

Wat Phra Lak is a hidden gem, as it is situated in a secluded yet serene and beautiful location. The temple grounds are quite large, and it overlooks the valley. There are multiple sanctums here, maintained wonderfully, and each has a small man-made pond or rivulet which keeps the area lush and alive. The temple is over 600 years old, and the overgrown moss and ivy lend an old-world romantic aesthetic to this temple. Unlike its more famous counterpart (Wat Phra That Doi Suthep), this temple has fewer visitors, making it a great place to reconnect with your spiritual practice.

There are many ways to get here, including hiking, Grab and tuk-tuk, but renting a bike is probably the best way to go in terms of time and money.

Cost: Free

Hours: 06:00 to 18:00

Go here now.

Immersive Cultural Experiences:

A. Drink Tea at Malamong Art Cafe:

Step into the artistic haven of Malamong Art Cafe, where you can enjoy a handpicked selection of herbal teas which have been slow-brewed in clay pots over fire. The small café is a gem for those who do not drink alcohol, or prefer a relaxed community space over a loud techno club. Malamong Art Café also hosts artists and musicians here occasionally. The tea shop sells handcrafted clothes and accessories, as well as incense, artwork and crystals. They also sell weed! Malamong is a great place to meet local residents, and have conversation with a steaming cup of tea in one hand and a joint in the other. Could you ask for more?

Hours: 15:00 to 23:00

Go here now.

Malamong Art Cafe

B. Explore Walking Street:

As the sun sets, Pai’s bustling Walking Street comes alive. It’s hard to believe how quickly the quiet street becomes crowded at night. If you’re looking for affordable and authentic food, you will find a range of food carts parked here with everything from Thai food to Lebanese falafel. You will also find a number of local vendors selling handcrafted jewelry, bags, shoes and more. 

Hours: 18:00 to 00:00

Go here now. 

C. Go Tipsy Tubing:

Tipsy tubing is one of the most popular activities for tourists visiting Pai. Essentially, you sit in a rubber tube in the Pai River and float down the picturesque river, while savoring refreshing drinks and embracing the scenic beauty that surrounds you. The entire ride is about 2 hours long, and can be done all year-round except during the monsoon due to rising water levels. To book your spot, just ask the Bodega hostel managers, party reps or reception.

Cost: THB 300 

Hours: Depends on season.

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Natural Retreats:

A. Take a Dip at Sai Ngam Hot Spring:

Unwind and rejuvenate at Sai Ngam Hot Spring, where natural hot springs await. Relax your muscles in the soothing waters, known for their therapeutic properties, and find solace amidst the lush surroundings that surround this natural retreat. This is a particularly attractive activity in the winter, because Pai can get a bit chilly.

Cost: THB 400 

Hours: 08:00 to 15:00

Go here now.

B. Hike to Mai Yen Waterfall:

Embark on an adventurous hike through lush forests to discover the enchanting Mai Yen Waterfall. Refresh yourself in the cascading waters and marvel at the beauty of the area, which offers invigorating swimming spots and a sense of serenity. The waterfall is preceded by a beautiful hike, and the journey is every bit as good as the destination.

The trek is 2-3 hours depending on your pace, and involves a lot of river crossing. Make sure you wear sandals or waterproof shoes because you will need to remove them about 50 times. There are no signboards or directions on the trail, so you will have to rely on your instincts to keep track of the trail. It’s advisable to go with friends if you are a beginner at trekking. The only way to get here is by bike. Follow the Google Maps location below, but remember that you have to ride up another kilometer (approximately) on the dirt road until you reach a signboard with a small river alongside.

Cost: Free

Hours: Always open

Go here now.

Health & Wellness:

A. Get a Massage & Hair Braids:

Pamper yourself with a traditional Thai massage, a true indulgence after your adventures in Pai. Enhance your experience by getting stylish hair braids while enjoying the soothing massage, allowing you to fully unwind and indulge in self-care. We recommend Ruen Keaw Thai Massage for affordable and effective massages. We recommend Pai Suay Barber Salon for hair braids and extensions. Both of these companies are locally owned and have been running for over 10 years. By supporting their business, you are supporting the community!

Cost: Variable. 

Hours: Depends on the shop.

B. Try Ice Bath Therapy at Good Life Dacha:

Indulge in a unique wellness experience at Good Life Dacha with ice bath therapy. Discover the invigorating benefits of cold exposure, rejuvenating your body and mind amidst the tranquil surroundings of Pai.

Hours: Depends on season.

Go here now.

C. Explore Pai’s Vegan Cuisine:

As a result of the growing alternative community in Pai, there is a huge demand for vegan food unlike in most other places in Thailand. In fact, Pai is one of the few places where vegans can really tuck in to local and global cuisine while in Thailand. Pai has a range of exciting options when it comes to food and we have handpicked our favorite vegan restaurants so that you don’t have to. Go to our story here and read more.

vegan food

Final Tip:

Rent a Bike and Explore!

Embrace the freedom of exploration by renting a bike and venturing into the hidden gems of Pai. Experience the thrill of discovering breathtaking landscapes, charming villages, and cultural treasures at your own pace. Even though the village itself is small enough to walk around, the adventure begins once you have a pair of wheels to yourself! We recommend Aya Bike services because they offer standard rates and well-maintained bikes.

Cost: THB 150 to 250 per day

Pai is a destination that caters to the adventurous spirit within all of us. With its stunning natural wonders, immersive cultural experiences, and exciting adventures, Pai offers a diverse range of activities that will captivate every traveler. Whether you’re exploring the breathtaking views of Pai Canyon, immersing yourself in the spiritual ambiance of the Big Buddha, or embarking on the unique experience of tipsy tubing, Pai promises unforgettable memories and exhilarating moments.

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