Travel in Thailand can be exhausting. From the crazy hustle of Bangkok, to island hopping days in the South. If you are travelling in Thailand for any amount of time, chances are you are going to need a place to relax. Insert Pai. Pai is a small town in Northern Thailand, located 135km from Chiang Mai. The drive to Pai is famous for its 762 corners. For this reason, we suggest you invest in some travel sickness pills beforehand and try your best to go to sleep! Kerry found this out the hard way.
We had originally planned on only staying here one night, but ended up staying for four, it’s just one of those places. Here is our list of the top 5 things to do in Pai!
1. Pai Canyon
I have read countless blogs and reviews saying that if you have been to the Grand Canyon, then the Pai Canyon isn’t worth a visit. I can see where they are coming from, this is not the Grand Canyon, but it is absolutely still worth your time. If you can make it here for sunset it will take your breath away. It is a wonderful feeling sitting amongst all the people, but there is hardly a sound to be heard as everyone is too busy watching the magic happening in front of them.
2. Conserve Natural Forests
If you are looking for somewhere to interact with elephants, but want to be sure you are going somewhere ethical, this is the place for you. Granted, they are not Elephant Nature Park. They do not have 40 elephants, in fact, at this point in time we believe they only have one. Their main focus is fighting deforestation, but they take amazing care of their elephants. Our day here was truly one to remember. The drive to the property on the back of a pick up truck provided amazing scenery. You get to spend time with the elephants (on their terms), feeding them and bathing them. In terms of elephant encounters, this is a very laid back and relaxed way to do it. You can spend the afternoon feeding the elephants copious amounts of pumpkin, having a some food or drink from their cute bar/kitchen setup while watching the elephants roam, or even shooting boomerangs. At the end of your visit, you also get to plant a tree, bonus!
When we visited CNF, they had two heavily pregnant elephants, a mother and daughter duo. They were extremely well cared for, and were able to do whatever they wanted, when they wanted. We were sad to hear a few months after our visit that these two had been taken back by their original owner and forced to work when heavily pregnant (this is probably because they saw the $$ that two additional elephants could create when the babies were born). Since this has happened, CNF has vowed to only buy elephants out right. They have purchased one elephant, Mae Kamee. They are currently crowdfunding to purchase another elephant so that their current elephant does not have to be on her own.
You can check out their website here
3.Rent a scooter and enjoy the breathtaking scenery
I usually get annoyed when I see suggestions like this. I always think “where am I supposed to drive to!?”. In Pai, you could drive 30 minutes in any direction and I guarantee you will be blown away by the scenery. Pai town itself is very small, so it won’t take you long to get outamongst the mountains and greenery. Pai was actually the first place on our travels where we were brave enough to ride a scooter. It’s a great place to rent a scooter if it’s your first time. You don’t have the hoards of traffic that you have in places like Chiang Mai and Bangkok. As with anywhere in Thailand though, be careful, drive slowly and with caution.
4.Walking Street Market
We ended up going here pretty much every night when we were in Pai. Compared to other markets in Thailand, it is tiny. Don’t expect it to be like Khao San Road or Chiang Mai’s Sunday Market. We enjoyed going here and trying the different foods that were available. We also wentto a store that allowed you to write, decorate and post your own postcard, which was fun. This is a chilled way to spend your nights in Pai.
5.Tham Lod Cave
Technically this is not in Pai, but it is worth the effort to get here. We drove our scooter, but you can also go on an organised tour. The cave is located about 40 minutes outside of Pai. The scenery alone on the drive there is worth the trip! Once there, you have to pay for the compulsory guide (this is not a cave that you would want to wander into on your own). We also bought some fish food to feed the fish inside. This is not your typical touristy cave, it was just us, our guide, and his lantern. We saw no more than a handful of other people while we were in the cave. Inside the cave is a combination of walking, and riding on a bamboo raft being powered by nothing more than a man with a large wooden stick. We paid 550 baht for the two of us, which included the guide and the bamboo raft. In our opinion, if you are visiting Pai, Tham Lod Cave is a must visit.
There you have it, our top 5 things to do in Pai. Let us know in the comments if you have a must do in Pai that didn’t make our list. We would love to hear from you!