Barefoot Paradise: The Best Things To Do in Pai
Believe it or not, there’s more to do in Pai than just tripping balls.
Pai is a hippie paradise and a traveler’s dream. While Pai is infamously known as a mountain town with powerful magic mushrooms, there’s much more to this scenic destination. Located in the hills to the west of Chiang Mai, this laidback village offers a view of traditional Thai rural life mixed with all the modern backpacker amenities you could ever need. The climate is good, the locals are friendly and the food is amazing! There are so many cool things to do in Pai that you could stay for weeks and never run out. Here are our picks of the best things to do in Pai.
Note: Magic mushrooms are illegal in Thailand and we do not condone taking them.
Hike the Pai Canyon
When you hear the word canyon you might think of the Grand Canyon, and you wouldn’t be a million miles from the truth. Yes the Pai canyon is on a much smaller scale, but we’re still talking red earth, huge skies, deep valleys and amazing landscapes.
There are plenty of hiking trails to choose from, just make sure you wear proper shoes as some of the slopes are pretty steep and the rock can be crumbly. Sandals don’t really cut it here. Entry to the canyon is completely free so all this will cost you is your scooter rental or a taxi. Our tip is to visit at sunset for a stunning and peaceful Pai experience.
Visit the White Buddha (Wat Phra That Mae Yen)
Thailand isn’t Thailand without a big Buddha or two, and this one is a tourist site and a workout all in one. Take the road out of town to the east, and when you hit the parking lot on the left-hand side then start climbing the stairway. There are 353 steps and your legs will be burning by the time you get to the top!
Again, this is a great place to come for sunset, although most of the rest of the town thinks the same thing so this won’t be a solitary experience. Watch out if you sit down to enjoy the view, this place is famous for biting ants and your butt may not enjoy the encounter!
Soak your troubles away at the Sai Ngam Hot Springs
Although Pai is up in the hills at a higher elevation than Chiang Mai, it’s still subtropical and the Sai Ngam Hot Springs are hidden away in the lush jungle surrounding the town. They’re in the direction of the Tham Lom Cave so you can easily stop off for a dip as part of a day trip.
The hot springs only cost 20 baht entry and there are plenty of food and drinks stalls at the entrance to keep you happy on your visit. Share a songthaew from town for a cheap and cheerful activity!
Bear with us because this is a weird one- you can go piranha fishing in Pai! The town has created a load of man-made lakes which are stocked with nature’s killer fish, the piranha. This is definitely one for the fishermen and not the swimmers amongst us!
Local guides will teach you how to use the rod and fishing net, and will give you tips on the best way to catch the fish. Bread is used as the bait which doesn’t sound very effective but the size of some of the fish you’ll catch might surprise you. It’s an unusual day out in an unusual town!
Stuff yourself at the Pai night market walking street
In a nation of great street food markets, Pai’s walking street stands out as one of the best. The variety of food on offer here is one of the best in the country and you can try everything from traditional pad thai to American steak and burgers, and everything is high quality.
The best way to experience the walking street is to treat it like Thai tapas, slowly wandering along the stalls, trying little bits here and there as you go. Don’t make the rookie error of filling up at the first tasty place you come to. You’ll wish you’d left space for everything else!
Chill out at Fluid pool
Sometimes the sightseeing life gets too much, and you need to find somewhere to just chill out and relax. Fluid pool is a great place to swim in Pai, offering a clean swimming pool, sunbeds and cabanas, good food, background music and a bit of a beach club vibe.
If you’re after an all-day party then Fluid isn’t the place for you, as it prides itself on relaxation rather than shots and drinking games. It’s a lovely location to hang out and stay cool during the day though, and there are plenty of places ready to help you get drunk afterwards!
Nightlife in Pai
After a day relaxing at Fluid pool you’ll have the energy for a night out for sure. Pai punches way above its weight when it comes to drinking, with a ton of cool bars and small clubs where you can stay out till dawn. Our favorite is Boom Bar for the mix of cheap drinks and good music, plus it has beer pong tables so you can party just like at Bodega!
If you’re not ready to go home at midnight then check out Don’t Cry Bar which will keep serving for as long as the last person is drinking. And yes, that is a direct challenge…
Becoming a Yogi in Pai
We can’t talk about Pai without talking about yoga. The spiritual side of the town is the yin to the party-goers’ yang, and there are plenty of yoga studios in Pai which combine beautiful views with high quality instruction. Sawadasee Pai resort is the best-known place in town and offers a mix of styles like vinyasa, hatha and restorative.
If yoga is your main reason for visiting Pai then don’t miss their annual yoga festival held in the spring, where you can try everything from crystal bowl therapy to breathing workshops.
Contemplate life at Sunset Bar, Pai
The last activity on our list is a must-do for most people who pass through town: having sundowner drinks at the Sunset Bar, Pai. There’s little in life as good as the feeling that you get when you find yourself sitting in the warmth of Thailand, cold beer in hand, watching the sun set over a tropical landscape.
Sunset Bar offers you all of that and more, with cushions strewn across the floor as seating and a spectacular view to enjoy. The drinks flow long after dark so this is a good place to get warmed up for a trip to Boom or Don’t Cry.
Nature lovers never run out of things to do in Pai.
A visit to Pai gives you spirituality, excitement, beautiful sights and a cranking hangover. What’s not to love? These are just a few of the best activities in Pai but there are plenty more to discover. Grab your backpack and find out for yourself!