Pai Sights and Things to Do

Pai is one of the most naturally beautiful parts of Thailand with spectacular views of mountains and lush vegetation, rice paddies, waterfalls, and its canyon, too.

Most of the popular sights and attractions in Pai are its natural beauty, but there is also the huge white buddha on the hill at Wat Phra That Mae Yen, as well as the Memorial Bridge which offer more insight into Pai’s history and culture.

Chamarel Waterfalls by shankar s.

Pam Bok Waterfall

(Open all day, all year round; but best advised in the wetter season)
Thailand is blessed with hot weather throughout the year, so no matter the season you’ll want to head to one of its many waterfalls to take a cooling dip in the fresh waters.

Pam Bok Waterfall in Pai is one of the most popular and only a 20-minute drive from town on the road heading to Chiang Mai. During the wet season, water gushes from the cliff and into a deep rock pool where you can swim easily and recline on the rocks in the sun.

Along the way, you’ll also pass the land split which is worth a visit as well if you have time and just up the road is also a viewpoint if you want to make a day of it.

Sai Ngam Hot springs

(Open all day, all year round; THB20)
Don’t confuse these with Pai Hot springs, the Sai Ngam Hot springs are our favourite and much less crowded – and you’ll save a good few dollars on entry too.

Here you’ll find not only tourists, but locals bathing in the warm waters, and women congregating downstream to wash their clothes. It’s a beautiful insight into the ‘normal life’ of the village people nearby as well as a therapeutic bath where you can even use the clay under the root of a tree as a cleansing face mask. If you like scootering, you’ll definitely enjoy the drive to get there! Turn off at Moo 10, Ban Sai Ngam, Pai 58130 and follow the road until it ends.

Pai Canyon

(Open all day, all year round; THB20)
Pai Canyon is a great place to spend the early morning or late afternoon when the temperature is at its lowest and you can take in the amazing views over this expanse of rock at sunrise or sunset. Take in the landscape and watch the sun turn the sky its golden pink hues from behind the mountains and reflect onto the dusty terrain.

You’ll want to bring trainers for the canyon – there are dirt-trodden paths you’ll want to follow around the ridges to explore the sheer scale of this incredible wonder of the world. Just don’t look down - some of the cliffs can be quite vertiginous… Half an hour outside Pai town towards Chiang Mai, you can’t miss the big signs on the road.

Pai Memorial Bridge

(Open all day, all year round)
Further on from the canyon you’ll come to Pai Memorial Bridge, a WWII bridge built by the Japanese in 1942 to transport weapons over to Burma (now Myanmar). Visitors like to walk across it and admire the solid iron structure, a sharp contrast to the soft green vegetation that surrounds it with the running river below where you can often see local fisherman on rafts, making for a picturesque scene.

Wat Phra That Mae Yen – Temple on the hill

(Open all day, all year round)
Unlike the rest of Thailand where there are temples around every corner, Pai’s most famous religious attraction is the Temple on the Hill (1km east of the centre) commanding views of the surrounding area.

It’s worth the climb (353 steps!) from the road if you’re going on foot, or you can jump in a taxi and get dropped off at the bottom, to see the huge white Buddha standing at around 35 feet tall. Some like to take their morning meditation up here, or light an offering, so please remember this is a religious temple and be respectful.

We recommend going for sunrise when the temple is at its quietest – you could be one of the only ones there. At sunset the panorama of the area is spectacular but it gets really busy up there.

Pai station guide

Pai - Bus

The bus station in Pai is in the centre of town and on a side street just off Highway 1095. The facility is mostly open air and has a few shelters that offer a respite from the sun. Highway 1095 is the route from Mae Taeng to Mae Hong Son. Chiang Mai is 35kms from Mae Taeng.

Pai is the halfway point between the two bigger towns and its bus station is a stopover for public buses and minibuses travelling between them. Public buses depart four times a day for the Arcade Bus Station in Chiang Mai. The first bus is at 08:30 and the last at 16:00. Journey times average four hours.

The stretch of the 1095 from Pai to Mae Hong Son is tortuous and buses can take more than three hours to cover the 100kms between the two. There are five daily buses to Mae Hong Son. At peak holiday periods, there is significant demand for tickets and it is a good idea to reserve your seat in advance online.

From the same station, there are also minibuses to Chiang Mai and Mae Hong Son. These generally depart every hour and can cut travel times by up to one hour. Drivers achieve this with speed and it is not always a pleasant experience going round the hairpin bends on the 1095 very fast. Pai has a tiny airport two kilometres north of town. One Thai airline operates Chiang Mai to Pai flights three times a week.

Pai’s bus station is right at the heart of the town’s collection of cafés and travellers have plenty of choices for food and drink. The Nai Wieng and the Country Hut are among numerous nearby accommodation options. As well as restaurants, there are supermarkets and 7-Elevens in the town. Most destinations in town can be reached on foot. Motorcycle taxis are available for longer trips.


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