The Only Way is Up: How to Visit the Pai White Buddha Temple
For the best views of Pai, head to Pai White Buddha Temple.
Aside from the wild parties at Bodega Pai Party Hostel, Pai is the town of relaxation with chilled, laid back vibes and generally taking life slow. The Pai White Buddha Temple is no exception to this rule.
There’s not a whole lot to do in Pai, but that’s the point. It’s the little sister town to the grown up Chiang Mai and offers a pleasant change of pace from what is now quite a bustling city. There are still the dusty streets of old, small boutique shops and a bustling local night market. There are no glitzy malls, no cinemas, no go-go bars. It’s a small scale town with a big heart.
Most people come to simply relax and do, well not a lot except sit, read, do yoga or occasionally learn circus tricks. But there comes a time when everyone needs to stretch their legs and go out and explore the local area.
How to Get to the Pai White Buddha Temple
This isn’t exactly a day trip, in fact it’s only about 2km from Pai town center. Most people opt to take a local taxi or ride a rented scooter to the bottom of the hill and climb from there. You can, of course, walk the distance to the beginning of the trail but bear in mind that once you actually reach the White Buddha Temple area you have to then start climbing.
Almost all visitors turn up for the spectacular sunset that drops behind the surrounding hills and casts beautiful fiery colours about the sky. It truly is a beautiful place to watch the day end. If, on the other hand, you’re an early bird, the sunrise is equally beautiful but it rises behind the Buddha itself and is more difficult to see. That said, you’ll be practically alone if you choose to go up for sunrise.
Hiking to the Temple
This is where you’ll be tested. From the bottom to the top it’s an imposing 353 steps. That said, you can skip many of these by riding your bike (or getting your taxi to drop you off) higher up the road. This isn’t that much more of an easy option as there are still plenty of steps to conquer.
Once you reach the top, you’ll be rewarded with a sweeping view across the local landscape as the flat bowl that Pai resides in climbs steeply into the surrounding foothills. That, combined with the sunset, makes for a memorable experience.
Temple Etiquette and Dress Code in Thailand
Don’t forget that this is a temple and therefore you’ll need to be dressed appropriately. That means no legs on show and no shoulders on show for women. Remember to bring something to cover up with, make sure it’s loose fitting as you’ll build a sweat climbing the hill. If you completely forget, don’t worry, you can rent a sarong from a local at the bottom of the steps.