Visit Pai! A Beautiful Hippie Town in the North of Thailand

Visit Pai. Don’t hesitate, just do it when you’re up in Chiang Mai. This small, sleepy, hippie town is located high up in the mountains, a 3 hours drive from Chiang Mai. You can spend weeks here, or just a few days, but definitely go.

backpacking things to realize

Chiang Mai is already very laid back and relaxed compared to, let’s say, Bangkok, but Pai beats it all. It’s a small town, with a population of around 2.300, located in a valley. The mountains surrounding it provide an absolutely stunning scenery. If you want to get away from city life and enjoy a bit more of Thailand’s Northern nature, this is the place to go. The town is filled with bars, restaurants, guesthouses, hostels and the atmosphere is great. Very friendly and laid back people and lots of travelers. Every night the streets are filled with a night market, similar to those all over South East Asia. Some food, some art, some music, some tourist souvenirs.. you know the deal. Its great to roam around! You’ll find many ‘hippies’ in this town, aka dreadlocks, elephant pants, yoga, organic, vegetarian, etc. And good to know: there are lots of mosquito’s around, so get some bug spray!

What’s there to do?

When I asked that question, the owner of my hostel said: “Lots, but then actually nothing”. It is a sleepy small village, so don’t expect fancy touristic attractions. This place is to relax.

visit pai

Exploring Pai By Motorbike

All I did was rent a motorbike and drive it around the valley for 3 days. There are many nice spots to visit and just driving in this beautiful area is a great way to spend your time in itself. You’ll be amazed by the beautiful nature, views and scenery that you’ll pass. Grab a map at your hostel/guesthouse for some popular routes. There are waterfalls, spectacular viewpoints, hot water springs, and much more to visit along the way! Driving around here is cheap and pretty safe. The roads aren’t crowded, and even inexperienced drivers can do it. The only thing that you need to pay attention to is the condition of the roads. Especially up in the mountains there are often just dirt roads and they can be very steep and scary! I once made my way all the way down from the top of the mountain to the village without turning the motorbike on. So, let gravity run its course, but make sure to pull those breaks!
Renting a motorbike can be done in town. Aya seems to be the biggest and most popular renting place. Its a 100 baht a day, and 40 baht for an insurance.

visit pai

Other Things To Do

There are lots of day trips to make from Pai. Ziplining, wild water rafting, and many other adventurous things. You can also visit some hill tribes nearby, or the elephant camps, or just hang out at one of the many waterfalls. Furthermore there are tons of yoga places around, just like organic farms where you could volunteer if you would feel like it. Another special activity is a visit to the circus school in the middle of town, where you can learn various circus acts!

Although its a small town, its definitely not boring at night. Pai is filled with great bars and restaurants where all travelers gather to have a fun time. There’s also a night market every night, pretty similar to the rest of Thailand’s night markets: some food, some music, some touristic souvenirs, etc.

Getting There

Getting to Pai is an experience in itself. The 2 most common options are either taking a minivan from Chiang Mai, or renting a motorbike and driving it all the way up yourself. This last option sounds adventurous and I’m sure it is, but I would strongly recommend to only do this if you’re a very experienced driver. The roads are steep, there are LOTS of turns (762 to be exact), crazy fast driving minivans will pass you all the time and there are very few gas stations along the way. So prepare and know what you’re getting yourself into before you actually do this!

visit pai

Taking the minivan is adventurous as well in a sense that 1) there are a 762 tuns to make from Chiang Mai to Pai, 2) your driver will drive like crazy. The likelihood that you’ll get sick during the ride is so big that an official vomit stop is included half way. They’ll slide the door of the van open right in front of the toilets and everyone will run out and puke. Seriously, no joke. Don’t underestimate it and just take those motion sickness pills! Don’t try to be cool, you will feel miserable. Pills are available at pharmacies in Chiang Mai. Also, going up from Chiang Mai to Pai is better than the other way around so don’t let this fool you.

Where to Stay

I stayed at the Happy Hostel, which was fine. There are literally hundreds of guesthouses around, so just look for one that suits you. As long as its a bit close to the tiny center of Pai, you’ll be good location wise.

Have you been to Pai? How did you like it and what did you do? Let me know in the comments below!

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9 Responses to Visit Pai! A Beautiful Hippie Town in the North of Thailand

  1. Yes! I loved Pai too, it was a definite highlight of Thailand for me. We hired a scooter too and just zipped around for a couple of days exploring. My favourite stops were the viewpoint in the Chinese village and Pai Canyon. My only regret? I wish I had longer to stay there! Such a beautiful and chilled out place.

  2. Thanks for the tip!
    I’m loving Chiang Mai but looking to get out of the city and into nature soon!

  3. Hemant Goyal says:

    Thanks for this. Will definately Visit this place when i visit Thailand.

  4. Thailand is my favorite tourist place. Ko Phi Phi and Phang Nga Bay is my favorite. Thanks dear for sharing this amazing blog with us!

  5. Sophia says:

    I Loved Pai too, I will go to here soon

  6. Alina says:

    Interesting blog article! You know There are so many bloggers who don’t put any personality into their posts.

  7. Jasmine says:

    actually, I am looking for a blog about Thailand! My searching end today! Thanks for sharing useful information on your blog.

  8. JiotV SD HD says:

    so peaceful.Nice shots. I’ve been there for several times. Actually i like it much more than Bangkok.