Why You Should Visit The Small Town of Pai in Northern Thailand

Why You Should Visit The Small Town of Pai in Northern Thailand

A place where you can disconnect from the world, Pai is filled with nature’s wonders like mountains, waterfalls, hot springs and canyons.

Thailand is well known for its beautiful beaches and islands, full moon parties, and cheap booze. It is the ultimate backpacker party destination. While I will admit the beaches are absolutely gorgeous, I was put off by the wild party scene, and while there are definitely peaceful islands in the south, I found my peace in the north.

Chiang Mai is the largest city in northern Thailand. It is lively and full of great restaurants, quirky cafes, a bustling night market, and plenty of nightlife. Drive approximately 150 km and 762 curves through the mountains to the northwest, and you will arrive in Pai (pronounced like “pie”).

Image credit: Tetsushi Kimura

Pai is a small but vibrant town tucked into the mountains of the Mae Hong Son district. Even though it is a popular destination among tourists and locals alike, and can be quite busy during high season, the surrounding nature and its hippie vibe give it a calm and peaceful energy. Many people intend on staying a few days and end up staying a few weeks or more, myself included.

Why Pai?

Although Pai is a popular destination, oftentimes people miss the opportunity to go. I have met many who made the trip north only to go to Chiang Mai. It is competing with bigger, more exciting cities and some of the world’s most beautiful beaches and islands.

So why Pai?

Image credit: Tetsushi Kimura

The energy of this place is almost indescribable. It is surrounded by mountains with jungle, waterfalls, hot springs, and canyons. For me, this makes Pai the perfect location to connect with nature, connect with myself and others, and disconnect from the rest of the world. A good friend of mine describes it as a “healing place.” Another says he loves the sense of community, with travellers, expats, and locals alike. The only way to fully understand is by visiting and experiencing it for yourself.

Highlights

Image credit: Tetsushi Kimura

Preserve Natural Forests: A unique elephant sanctuary and forest conservation project. This one-of-a-kind organization rehabilitates elephants from the tourism industry in order to release them into a protected national forest where they live freely.

Pai Hot Springs Resort: Buy a day pass and enjoy the hot spring pools, swimming pool, and gorgeous mountain views.

The Land Split: In 2008, with no explanation this farmer’s land literally split in two, ruining his crops and making the land impossible to farm on, so he turned it into a tourist attraction. Relax on the shady hammocks as you enjoy a spread of local fruits, nuts, and other snacks with a refreshing glass of hibiscus wine. Afterwards, check out the legendary land split and beautiful landscape surrounding it. Free of charge, donations accepted.

Image credit: Tetsushi Kimura

Pai Canyon: Hop on your motorbike and head out to explore the canyon in the afternoon, then stay for the sunset.

Image credit: Tetsushi Kimura

White Buddha: This giant Buddha statue is nestled in the mountains at Wat Phra That Mae Yen temple overlooking the city. This is also a great place to watch the sunset, but go up in the morning if you want less crowds and a more peaceful experience.

Image credit: Tetsushi Kimura

Hiking & Waterfalls: Pai is surrounded by mountains and jungle, so there is plenty of opportunity for hiking and waterfall chasing. Ask the locals or the people working at your hotel or hostel where to go!

Restaurants: Pai has such a huge variety of incredible restaurants, this subject needs its own post! You can easily find cheap Thai food at local restaurants and street vendors, nourishing vegan, vegetarian, and all-natural options, some of the best breakfasts, and an array of international foods. Even after five weeks in Pai, I wasn’t able to try them all!

Are you convinced yet? Make your way to Pai soon to experience it in all its glory.

About Author

Emily Gnefkow
Emily Gnefkow

Emily was born and raised in Kansas, USA and quit her job to travel the world in 2016. She loves exploring new cities big and small, street food, street art, live music, hiking, camping and nature. She used to be shy but travelling solo forced her to break out of her shell; she has made friends from all over the world and is making new ones every day! Find her on Instagram @kansasgirltravelsworld and @_willtravel_forfood_

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