10 AWESOME THINGS TO DO IN PAI – THE ULTIMATE GUIDE

yun lai viewpoint

Pai is a small countryside town in the Mae Hong Son province of Northern Thailand. I spent 3 days exploring the Mae Hong Son province and have created the Ultimate Guide for 10 Awesome Things To Do In Pai including viewpoints, waterfalls, hot springs and more!

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10 AWESOME THINGS TO DO IN PAI

#1 PAI CANYON

The Pai Canyon, also known as Kong Lan, is an incredibly scenic canyon with stunning valley views and it is one of the most reputable locations to catch a Pai sunset. The Pai Canyon should be on the top of your list of things to do in Pai.

WHERE IS THE PAI CANYON 

Pai Canyon is located 8km south of Pai township along the main highway. If you are heading south from Pai, it takes approximately 10-minutes to the Pai Canyon parking lot on the right-hand side of the main road. If you pass the Pai Memorial Bridge, you’ve gone too far.

WHAT TO EXPECT AT PAI CANYON

There is no entrance fee to visit the Pai Canyon, just park your scooter, grab a snack and a cold beverage from the small stall vendors and begin the walk up the paved stair trail.

It is approximately a 5-minute walk up the stairs to the first viewpoint, which tends to be where most visitors gather for sunset, lining up to take photos. However, if you’re game enough to hike along the skinny ridges to farther, less crowded viewpoints, you’ll have a much better adventure and memorable experience at the Pai Canyon.

The ridge trails are very dusty with unprotected drop-offs of up to 30-meters on either side, so please take care and know your limits. I recommend wearing proper hiking boots or closed in shoes when scrambling around the Pai Canyon.

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pai canyon, grand canyon pai,Drone shot of Pai Canyon – Things to do in Pai

SUNSET AT PAI CANYON

Pai Canyon is the most popular, and in my opinion, the best spot to watch the sunset over the mountains as the last rays of light leave the valley. Pai Canyon is also it’s busiest during golden hour so expect crowds.

We decided to hike along a narrow ridge Line to a farther away viewpoint where I could see a rocky platform jutting out from among some pine trees. It was a bit of a scramble to get there but we managed to have this little spot all to ourselves to enjoy the vibrant colours spreading across the sky and get some decent shots! Pai Canyon is definitely up there as one of the best things to do in Pai Thailand.

Full blog post: Pai Canyon

#2 LAND SPLIT PAI

The Land Split Pai is one of the most unique locations I have been to and a fascinating story to go with. Here is all you need to know about the Pai Land Split including how to get there, how much it costs and what to expect!

WHERE IS THE LAND SPLIT PAI

The Pai Land Split is located 7 km south-west of Pai on the same road that leads out to Pam Bok Waterfall and the Bamboo Bridge. The drive to the Land Split Pai should take no more than 20-minutes from the centre of town.

THE STORY BEHIND THE PAI LAND SPLIT

What once was a sustainable crop farm is now somewhat of a large crack in the earth’s surface due to an earthquake in 2018 that tore a local man’s backyard in half. Could you imagine something like this happening to your property overnight? It would be pretty surreal and frightening.  But instead of the local man grieving over his lost crops and income source, he oversaw the fact and has since turned his Split Land into a tourist attraction.

When I arrived at the Pai Land Split I was welcomed by the friendliest Thai man I have ever met. He was quick to offer me a cold cup of homemade hibiscus juice, some banana chips with hibiscus jam, steamed sweet potato chunks and some seasoned nuts. He didn’t ask for money though there is a donation box to pay as you feel. 

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pai land split, land split paiPai Land Split – Things to do in Pai

WHAT TO EXPECT AT THE LAND SPLIT PAI

There is a loop circuit trail around the Pai Land Split that leads through beautiful gardens and fruit tree plantations before arriving at the almighty crack! The Land Split is around 3 meters wide and 11 meters deep and there is the option of walking around the top of the split or down in the bottom of the split itself.

The Pai Land Split may not seem impressive to some but I think the fascinating story behind it and the hospitality of the landowner is more than enough reason to add this location to your list of things to do in Pai.

Full blog post: The Pai Land Split

pai land split, land split paiIn the bottom of the Pai Land Split – What to do in Pai

#3 PAM BOK WATERFALL

An adventure to The Pam Bok Waterfall is one of the best things to do when exploring the mountainous region of Pai. Here is the complete guide of Pam Bok Waterfall to help you plan your trip!

WHERE IS PAM BOK WATERFALL

Pambok Waterfall is 9km south-west of Pai on the same road that leads out to the Bamboo Bridge and Pai Land Split. It is approximately a 20-minute drive to Pambok Waterfall from the centre of Pai.

There is no entrance fee to visit the Pambok Waterfall, just park your scooter in the parking lot and follow the trail up to the falls. The way is a combination of rocky steps, a steel bridge and then a short walk up the stream to the base of Pam Bok Waterfall.

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pambok waterfall, pam bok waterfall, pam bok waterfall paiPam Bok Waterfall – Best things to do in Pai

WHAT TO EXPECT AT PAM BOK WATERFALL

The beautiful Pam Bok Waterfall is surrounded by a canyon of high cliffs with a freshwater rock pool at the base of the falls. It is less touristy than the Moe Pang Waterfall in Pai, meaning you’ll most likely have it to yourself.

There are a few rock jumping points from the cliff walls surrounding Pam Bok Waterfall though be sure to do a depth check first and avoid diving head first into the rock pools.

The best time of year to visit the Pai Waterfalls is in the wet season, July – November, when the rain provides a decent amount of water flow from the mountains to the falls. In the dry season, February – May, there won’t much more than a trickle of water. The Pam Bok Waterfall is a MUST on your list of things to do in Pai.

Full blog post: Pambok Waterfall

#4 BAMBOO BRIDGE PAI

The Bamboo Bridge Pai, also known as Boon Ko Ku So, is an 800-meter long bridge that stretches over a field of lush rice fields in the Mae Hong Son region. You don’t want to miss out on visiting the Bamboo Bridge Pai, as it is one of the top things to do in Pai!

WHERE IS THE BAMBOO BRIDGE PAI

The Bamboo Bridge Pai is located 11km south-west of Pai on the same road that leads out to Pam Bok Waterfall and the Pai Land Split. The drive to the Bamboo Bridge Pai should take no more than 25-minutes from the centre of town.

WHAT TO EXPECT AT BAMBOO BRIDGE PAI

There is a 30 Baht admission fee to be paid at the entrance to the Bamboo Bridge Pai. Once you’ve received your ticket from the lady you are good to go.

There are a few things to do at the Bamboo Bridge Pai such as grabbing some food and coffee from the cafe on top of the rice fields, feeding the fish in the small pond, visiting the Buddhist temple and of course bouncing along the bamboo bridge from one end to the other.

The best time to visit the Bamboo Bridge Pai is when in the rainy season, July – November, when the rice is long and lush. Visiting outside of the rainy season you can expect to see brown and yellow fields but the scenery is still very beautiful nonetheless. The mountainous backdrop at the Bamboo Bridge Pai makes for great photo opportunities.

Full blog post: Bamboo Bridge

bamboo bridge paiBamboo Bridge – Things to do in Pai

#5 MO PAENG WATERFALL

Mo Paeng Waterfall is my favourite waterfall in Pai. This beautiful set of falls up in the hills on the outskirts of Pai has everything you need for a day of fun in the sun!

ARRIVING AT MO PAENG WATERFALL

Mo Paeng Waterfall is located 9km west of Pai. From the centre of town, it is approximately a 20-minute drive.

There is no entrance fee to the Mo Paeng Waterfall, just park in the designated parking under the trees and from here it is less than one minute to walk to the base of the falls.

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WHAT TO EXPECT AT MOR PAENG WATERFALL

Mo Paeng Waterfall has more than just one set of falls, in fact, there is a collective of swimming holes and two or three smaller waterfalls at this one location. Mo Paeng is the closest waterfall from Pai and the most popular among tourists. 

I visited the Mor Paeng Waterfall at around 8:30am after experiencing an unforgettable sunrise at the Yun Lai Viewpoint, another popular point of interest in Pai. There was literally no one else at the falls which surprised me knowing the popularity of Mo Paeng Waterfall. 

mo paeng waterfall, mor paeng waterfallMor Paeng Waterfall – Top things to do in Pai

MOR PAENG WATERFALL

I arrived at the main set of falls at Mo Paeng Waterfall which is where the trail from the carpark leads to first. There is a shallow rock pool at the base of these falls, which aren’t that spectacular, to be honest, so don’t get your hopes up here. It was more just a flow of water running down some boulders into this a freshwater swimming hole. However, I explored further downstream and found a larger waterfall gushing down a smooth rock surface into a more inviting rock pool at the bottom. This is where you can find the natural water slide and the reason why many people flock to Mor Paeng Waterfall on a hot sunny day.

There are grass patches and wooden gazebos which is the perfect setting to laze around and lose a few hours at Mo Paeng Waterfall if you have the time. If you are travelling solo it’s the perfect spot to meet and hang out with some other travellers!

Full blog post: Mo Paeng Waterfall

#6 YUN LAI VIEWPOINT

The Yun Lai Viewpoint is arguably the best sunrise viewpoint in Pai. Located a short 15-minutes from the centre of Pai, the Yun Lai Viewpoint offers beautiful sweeping views of the valley and it’s one of the best things to do in Pai!

ARRIVING AT YUN LAI VIEWPOINT

Yun Lai Viewpoint is located 6km west of Pai. From the centre of town, it is approximately a 15-minute drive.

I arrived at Yun Lai Viewpoint at around 6:30am with 30-minutes to spare before the sunrise. I parked my scooter in the carpark and walked through the beautiful entrance way that leads up to the viewpoint. The entrance fee to Yun Lai Viewpoint is 20 Baht.

See All ∼ Hostels & Resorts in Pai

yun lai viewpointEntrance to Yun Lai Viewpoint – Things to do in Pai

yun lai viewpointDrone shot of Yun Lai Viewpoint – Best things to do in Pai

WHAT TO EXPECT AT YUN LAI VIEWPOINT

Yun Lai Viewpoint is a massive draw for tourists so it was very busy when I went. My guess is that there were around 50 people crowded around on the grass field and bamboo platform waiting for the sunrise. It was a bit overwhelming at first, trying to find a quiet spot amongst the crowds to enjoy the sunrise, so we perused the area and found a trail that leads down to some flower fields directly beneath the bamboo viewing platform and we scored this epic spot all to ourselves.

The Yun Lai Viewpoint itself offers incredible panoramic views of the surrounding mountainous region and the township of Pai. The sun began to rise and filled the valley with golden rays and the low lying fog started to clear, revealing the vast green landscape below!

Regardless of a large number of tourists that visit the Yun Lai Viewpoint each morning, there are still secluded and quieter spots to be found in the flower fields for a better sunrise experience. The Yun Lai Viewpoint was hands down my favourite location in Pai to watch the sunrise, so be sure to add it to your itinerary.

Full blog post: Yun Lai Viewpoint

#7 PAI WALKING STREET

A stroll down Pai Walking Street is one of the best things to do in Pai, especially at night. Every evening there is a night market on the Pai Walking Street. The road gets closed down to motorists and the market sellers line both sides of the street with their food carts. It’s a great experience and the food is very diverse! My recommendation would be to treat it as Tapas style, order a small portion from each stand so you can try half a dozen different Asian cuisines.

Once you have finished indulging on some street food, duck into one of the bars on Pai Walking Street for some live music and people-watching.

Pai Walking Street at night

Fresh sushi at the Pai night market

#8 SAI NGAM HOT SPRINGS

The Sai Ngam Hot Spring is one of my favourite locations in Pai to spend a few hours away from the city centre. Sai Ngam Hot Spring is surrounded by a lush, green forest inside the national park just 25-minutes north of Pai.

ARRIVING AT SAI NGAM HOT SPRING

Sai Ngam Hot Spring is located 17km north of Pai. From the centre of town, it is approximately a 25-minute drive.

As you turn off the main road to head down to Sai Ngam Hot Spring, you’ll be stopped at a checkpoint at the beginning of the national park. There is an entrance fee of 200 Baht per person and a further 20 Baht per scooter/vehicle.

We arrived at the entrance to Sai Ngam Hot Spring and had to pay another 20 Baht per person to go swimming in the natural hot pools.

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sai ngam hot spring, pai hot springsSai Ngam Hot Spring – Things to do in Pai

WHAT TO EXPECT AT SAI NGAM HOT SPRING

The Sai Ngam Hot Spring is a 3-tiered cascading natural hot pool, the top one being the hottest at 34-degrees Celsius. I could have spent hours floating around in this crystal clear hot spring. The water temperature was just perfect! If you have an underwater camera, you’re going to want to put it to use. I don’t think I have ever seen a freshwater spring as transparent as the Sai Ngam Hot Spring.

There is a timber seating area off to the side of the springs to hang out and change rooms/toilets are located at the gate entrance. Also, if you want to buy some snacks and drinks there are some small stall vendors that line the street near the carpark.

Full blog post: Sai Ngam Hot Spring

#9 THE WHITE BUDDHA

The White Buddha in Pai can be seen from almost everywhere in town. The White Buddha, also known as Wat Phra That Mae Yen, is a must-see attraction to add to your list of things to do in Pai.

The White Buddha is 2km south-east of the centre of Pai. It is walkable from the town, but be prepared for a sweat fest as there are 353 steps to the top.

WHAT TO EXPECT AT THE WHITE BUDDHA

The large White Buddha is sat facing west and offers panoramic views of the region. It is a very popular spot for sunset, so you can expect crowds at the time. I visited the White Buddha around 12pm and there were only half a dozen people there, so it was very peaceful.

There is not much to do at the White Buddha apart from enjoying the incredible views at the top and admiring the large statue itself.

Drone shot of the White Buddha – Top things to do in Pai

white buddha paiThe Big White Buddha – Best things to do in Pai

#10 MEMORIAL BRIDGE

The Pai Memorial Bridge is a piece of history dating back to World World II. This antiqued steel bridge is a popular spot on everyone’s list of things to do in Pai.

The Pai Memorial Bridge is located 9km south of the centre of town on the main road that leads to Chiang Mai.

WHAT TO EXPECT AT THE MEMORIAL BRIDGE

The Memorial Bridge stretches over the Pai river which was built during World War II by the Japanese army who wanted to have a route from Chiang Mai to Pai to attack Burma. In 1941, the bridge was built with the aid of elephants that dragged trees from the jungle and villagers who were forced to work.

Nowadays, the Pai Memorial Bridge is no more than a tourist attraction for people to take a few selfies. However, the view of the river and nearby mountains is pretty spectacular!

Memorial Bridge – Things to do in Pai – Photo @mymindsm

BEST PLACES TO STAY IN PAI

Pai has hundreds of accommodations to choose from, so I have narrowed it down to a few of my personal favourite places to stay in Pai to suit budget backpackers and luxury travellers. See the list of accommodations below that I personally recommend:

Luxury: Pai Island Resort

Mid Range: Rim Pai Cottage

Budget: Spicy Pai Backpackers

For all other accommodations in Pai, click HERE to search on booking.com

GETTING AROUND PAI

The best way to get around Pai is on a scooter to explore all four corners of the region. Scooters can be rented for a little as 150 Baht per day from one of the many rental stores in the centre of Pai. Alternatively, some accommodations have scooter rentals available for around the same price. A money deposit or passport is generally required for insurance purposes.

If you aren’t confident with riding a scooter, you can hail a songthaew (pick-up truck with bench seats) to get from A to B. Make sure to agree on a price with the driver first before jumping in the back.

BEST TIME TO VISIT PAI

The best time to visit Pai is during the cooler, dry season which is November through to February, though this is also peak season for tourists.

The wet season in Pai is typically May through to September, but you can expect fewer tourists during these months. Also, the rice fields and waterfalls will be at their best during the wet season.

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