Pai, in Northern Thailand, has a magical air about it. Nestled in a valley just 3 hours from Chiang Mai, with an abundance of things to see and do, its no wonder this place has become a destination for backpackers and holiday makers in the recent years. Some say it’s too touristy these days but I tend to disagree as in my eyes, you can always find a quiet, peaceful haven to hide away from the tourists if you end up there in high season. I personally suggest booking more than 3 nights here to fully understand the hype, but if you only have 24 hours, here’s a list of places to visit on a scooter in just one full day.
☆ Read: How to get to Pai from Chiang Mai ☆
A full day itinerary for Pai
You can rent a scooter or motorbike from any of the bike rental shops along the Pai Walking Street strip. Haggle a price depending on the duration and how many you rent, I only rented my Scoopy 125cc automatic bike for the day and it cost around 200BHT as Colin had his own too which made it cheaper. I would advise you to always choose an automatic for these unstable roads as it makes it much easier to ride – just twist and go! Also, please wear a helmet as the roads aren’t as safe as you’re probably used too.
Ok, so now you have your scooter and your swimsuit, get ready to have an action packed day. I have placed each tourist destination in the order I visited them but would suggest taking a map with your planned route marked on or downloading Google Maps offline to help you to navigate. (☆Do not try to check these maps whilst riding! ☆) Also, I should mention here that you should wear or bring some clothing that covers your shoulders and knees to respect the dress code at the Temples – no shirtless bodies allowed I am afraid lads.
Mo Paeng Waterfall
Mo Paeng Waterfall is the closest to Pai centre – roughly a 20 minute scooter ride. This waterfall is best to visit during and just after rainy season but it’s not flourishing so much in the dry season. Definitely worth the trip, even if it’s just for a quick dip in one of the pools as there are a few available on different levels. I personally enjoyed climbing up and sliding down the big, slippery rock like a slide – endless hours of fun if you like that sort of thing!
Yun Lai Viewpoint
Approximately 5km from Pai Walking Street and 15 minutes from Mo Paeng Waterfall, get ready to drive through a Chinese Village to reach the viewpoint. There is an entry fee of 20 Baht per person to access the viewpoint but you’ll receive a free pot of Chinese tea in exchange for the entry fee – which is even more of a reason to sit and relax for a while in the seats dotted around the grassy area. This viewpoint provides a beautiful panoramic view of the Pai Valley down below, I have heard sunrise or sunset is optimum time to visit.
Coffee in Love
I made a brief stop here to grab a cup of coffee and to check out the most cheesiest attraction in Pai. This roadside coffee shop is a great pitstop to get your caffeine fix with average tasting coffee and a range of tasty cakes to choose from – you can sit and enjoy whilst taking in the views. Don’t miss the chance to have your photo taken in front of the ‘Coffee in Love’ sign. Be prepared during peak season as this place gets pretty busy, being the coffee shop set from films ‘Pai in Love’ and ‘Lost in Thailand’, it attracts an abundance of Chinese and Thai tourists.
Pam Bok Waterfall
After grabbing a coffee from Coffee in Love, you’ll need to drive approximately 15 minutes to reach Pam Bok Waterfall. I was lucky enough to visit when the waterfall was flowing and the pool below had a good level of depth which was welcomed after a long day of riding in the heat. A little harder to reach, you will need to follow the path alongside the river and climb across some boulders but the waterfall will be much more pleasing to the eye than Mo Paeng Waterfall.
Approximately a 20 minute drive from Pam Bok Waterfall, Pai Canyon is a place where you can spend an hour or two exploring the many canyons across the valley. It’s full of thin, narrow paths which are fairly high so wear appropriate footwear and be careful when navigating your way around. Many people choose to watch the sunset here, if you’re keen to do this then I would suggest getting there early enough to explore before the sun starts setting across the canyon.
Wat Phra That Mae Yen
Deciding to do things a little different, I finished the day with a sunset over The Temple on the Hill. Being only 5 minutes from Pai, I also made this choice so that I was not riding far in the dark once the sun had set! However, If you wish to see the sunset over the Pai Canyon, you can fit this one before or after you’ve grabbed a coffee and photo at Coffee in Love.
You can see the White Buddha as soon as you reach Pai so it won’t be news that you have to climb a few hundred stairs to get to the top but I promise it’s worth it. Now, there is a dress code here so ensure your shoulders down to your knees are covered. This was one of my favourite sights of the day and I would recommend viewing at sunset – especially if you manage to be there when the sky is clear.
Other places to visit in Pai
There are a few places that I did not factor into my trip and I only had the scooter for the day. I will endeavour to return to Pai again at some point so I will definitely check these out and update accordingly.
- Bamboo Bridge
- Pai Land Split
- Memorial Bridge
- Sai Ngam Hot Spring
From Pai with love
Have you fallen in love yet? I hope so. If you have been to any other place(s) that isn’t on the my list above and feel like it’s worth sharing, drop me a message in the comments below as I am always keen to add new places to my bucket list and I definitely plan to return to Pai in my lifetime!
Peace & Love