When you think about the northern part of Thailand, most people would only know about Chiang Mai which is not entirely wrong, since this place holds dear to many people for its beautiful mountainous sceneries, culturally rich cities, and a wide range of activities to explore. However, there’s an unseen Northern part of Thailand that deserves more recognition.
Located just a few hours away from Chiang Mai and between Mae Hong Son province, Pai is a more secretive version of Chiang Mai surrounded by walls of mountains, consisting of various temples, towns, and natural sceneries with a more laid-back atmosphere.
As everyone knows, the northern part of Thailand is considered to be the chillier part of the country. This is why the winter season during November – February is the best time to visit this amazing location. You can travel much more comfortably during the day without getting sweaty from walking.
Coming to Pai is a perfect getaway from the noisy crowd of the inner city, where time seems to completely slow down for you to enjoy your favorite cup of joes in the morning.
Located remotely from big cities, Pai seems to have their own unique lifestyles, where nature guides their way of living and breath of fresh air flows through their veins like blood. But not during summer where farmers usually burn their soils preparing for the new season, hence the scarcity of tourists during March onwards.
The permanent residents of Pai are a mix of different ethnic groups. consisting of Thais, Muslims, mountain tribes, creates seemingly different vibes than just any Northern Thai town. It’s not traditional Thai culture per se, but this is a very good example of how different ethnic groups harmoniously blend together, creating this uniquely interesting town.
How to get to Pai?
Most people treat Pai as a secondary location because you have to travel by bus for 3.5 hrs from Chiang Mai to Pai. However, the views over the narrow mountain are pretty photogenic and worthwhile. You can either go by public bus service which is a little slower or opt for a taxi and private driving company if you don’t really care about the scenery that much.
Although, if you are interested in our “Let’s go Pai” touring program, we got you fully covered with a private transportation company of your choice for every size tour party, hassle-free.
Everyone might wonder, why would you want to go to Pai instead of Chiang Mai? The answer is very simple, Pai’s local scenery is very different from its bigger city counterparts. Experience the authentic local lifestyles of northern Thais through its beautiful town, breathtaking natural sceneries with a mix of liveliness in every corner of the city. This is why Pai is arguably one of the most favorite places for backpackers and tourists alike.
One of the best parts of Pai is how easy it is for every tourist, both newbies and veterans to safely explore the city without that much difficulty. You can stroll around aimlessly while soaking up the beautiful mountainous sceneries.
During the first day of our tour, we let you do just that, traverse the city at your own convenience and explore what this gorgeous little village has to offer, maybe picking up some local snacks and drinks along the way. For anyone who loves feeling the wind on their faces, roam around the area with a motorbike is a must! The road is pretty clear and completely safe to drive so would be very easy to ride around both newbies and veterans alike.
Pai shines the most at night! Explore the lively scene of Pai’s night market where you can buy local souvenirs, clothes, food, or beverages while exploring the culture and living of local Pai people for a very reasonable price. You can also find a local bar to hang out and sip a glass of pilsner while enjoying the cold, refreshing breeze of Pai’s night weather.
After a long walk around the village, get back to your hotel and rest at your leisure, because there’s way more waiting for you tomorrow.
After a good night’s sleep, it is in your best interest to wake up a little early to feel the morning weather in Pai. It’s a combination of chilly, refreshing wind and a little moisture from dew would surely turn all your body system green and ready for your second day.
Have your succulent breakfast right at your hotel. Experience both the local culinary and international American style breakfast to get rid of your homesickness and get ready for what’s coming for you.
Leisure activities work best when the environment compliments them. Exploring the town and natural sceneries through cycling is the way to go for everyone. Sightseeing the gorgeous natural landscape of Pai countryside while breathing in clean and invigorating air energize you along the way. The traffic within the village is pretty scarce so you don’t really have to worry about safety, both are allowed to enjoy the activity of grown-ups or youngsters alike. White water rafting along the beautiful Pai river is another great way for you to slow down and enjoy the scenery, soaking in the view of the beautiful clear Pai riverside.
Elephants are the icon of Thailand and in Pai, you have a chance to ride one! Explore nature from the back of a Thai elephant and see the view from the vantage point. This would surely look great for your Instagram story. Sight-seeing wild mountains, rivers, and caves to get a glimpse of the photogenic, lush and complete ecosystem of Pai.
After a long day of activities, pamper yourself with Thai massage therapy of your choice. Indulge in the relaxation that is Thai massage that will surely lure you to come back for more!
Experience the prehistoric scene by visiting Lod Cave and explore the enormous labyrinth of caves while learning about the ancient Pai culture. Some part of the cave is submerged in water, so the best way to traverse is through Bamboo Raft. Explore the 1-kilometer-long cave while taking a glimpse of the ancient remains such as 2,000-year-old utensils and coffins along the way, and don’t forget the beautiful stalactites and stalagmites that took centuries to form. And only looky no touchy sir!
After finishing with the Lod Cave, next on the list is for you to visit Fish Cave where you can experience the fish feet first! This hollow cave is filled with varieties of freshwater fish, which is of the same family as Koi, all so known as carps. No one dares to catch fishes around here as it is locally believed that they belonged to the gods, so keep your hands off those fishes no matter how cute they are! After cave fiestas, experience succulent local dishes at lunch in the most popular restaurant in Pai.
Say goodbye to Pai because it is time for Mae Hong Son, another well-known northern province for you to explore. Ride a bus to Mae Hong Son by mountain road along picturesque scenic routes passing the several beautiful northern mountains and valleys.
Remember the exquisite Pai river? That river extends to Mae Hong Son as well. Take the boat trip along Pai River to visit the world-famous Long Neck Karen Village. Karen is the ancient tribe well known for their unorthodox long neck tradition where women wear several brass rings around their neck area and add in extra rings every year to further extend their necks. Because they think having a long neck is a sign of beauty. The brass ring distorts the growth of their collarbones and makes them look as if they have long necks – which they don’t. This row of brass rings does not actually stretch their necks but in fact squash the vertebrae and collar bones. A woman generally has about twenty or more rings around her neck. This neck ring adornment is started when the girls are 5 or 6 years old. After visiting Keren village, proceed back to the hotel and rest.
Starts the day in Mae Hong Son with breakfast at the hotel, preparing for your last day of the trip. Visit Wat Doi Klong Moo, located on a hill to the west of town, a major provincial landmark where there are two Burmese-style Chedis or pagoda. The larger one was built in 1860 while the smaller one was erected in 1874. A panoramic view of Mae Hong Son can be enjoyed from the site.
Continuing to Wat Jong Klang and Wat Jong Kum, magnificent Burmese-style temples with several interesting items such as wooden figurines of humans and animals depicted several forms of the Buddha reincarnations created by Burmese craftsmen. You can also enjoy the scenery, make merits and pay respect to the Buddha statue for good luck and fortune.
Travel back to Chiang Mai and conclude this amazing Pai trip. We can also check in to some local souvenirs stores for our last visit before heading to the airport.
And that would conclude our tour to Pai, Thailand. If you are interested and want to know more about the tour program, feel free to find out more through the link right here.