Things To Do In Pai – 5 Almost Free Things To Do

January 28, 2017

You may already be aware that Thailand is one of the most affordable places for travel in the world, but finding things to do for free is even better! We've put together a list of some things to do in Pai that are very cheap or cost nothing at all. Going to Pai Canyon, Pam Bok Waterfall, The Land Split, Wat Phra That Mae Yen, and walking around the Pai Night Market are some of the most fun things to do in this small town in the North of Thailand. There's something for everyone, including those adventurous travelers and those who want the ultimate chill visit.

At the top of our list of favorite destinations in Thailand, there's no shortage of amazing things to do in Pai (Thai: ปาย).

The beautiful natural surroundings of this town alone create the perfect backdrop to just ride a motorbike around endlessly for hours. You can even go on an epic motorbike ride to get to Pai from Chiang Mai.

Pai has been known to budget travelers and backpackers (and "hippie" types) as a popular destination but that isn't to say that there isn't anything to cater to the luxury traveler.

Those seeking a peaceful place with views of lush, green mountains all around can find some high end accommodations and activities here as well. 

I would also highly recommend Pai to those traveling with their families. Not only can you have a great time and spend very little in Pai, the town is small and hassle-free with lots of outdoor activities to get kids moving and having fun.

Pai, Thailand - Top Free Things To Do When Visiting

How to Get To Pai From Chiang Mai

There are several was to visit Pai from Chiang Mai. Here are some of your options:

  • Fly - Cheap flights can be purchased to take you from Chiang Mai International to Pai.
  • Mae Hong Son Loop - This is a multi-day adventure on motorbike.
  • Minibus (Shuttle) - Purchase tickets in advance (about 150 THB). Shuttles depart from the Arcade Bus Terminal every few hours during the day. It takes about 3 hours to get to Pai.

Pro Travel Tip: If you decide to drive or take the bus to Pai, you may want to take some motion sickness medication. The road has lots of turns (762 turns to be exact!). There are also tours available with private transportation that also include overnight accommodations.

If you are short on time you can opt to take a day tour and just see the highlights with a guide. There are some amazing trips you can take from Chiang Mai  just for the day and you can find more on that here.

riding a motorbike around Pai, Thailand

Want more of what Northern Thailand has to offer? Read our article on visiting Chiang Rai.

Traveler Tip: some great budget options for your stay in Pai include Pai Nam Now, Le Mont Resort, and Kuad Khon Thoe Pai Cottage. If you're looking for the ultimate in luxury, though, we recommend Reverie Siam. You can use this to save some money on accommodations when you use

Free Things To Do For The Adventurous Traveler

Pai Canyon (Kong Lan, กองแลน)

One of the most breathtaking views in Thailand can be found at the Pai Canyon.  It's unique ridges and canyons are the artistic work of mother nature over time. It can be enjoyed visually by those who prefer to observe from a safe distance or visitors who are seeking a bit of a thrill.

The randomly "drawn" golden pathways meander through the green sea of foliage and trees. One must be careful not to let the initial appearance fool them. The nature growing out from in between ridges can trick the mind into believing the depth is a lot less than it actually is.

free Things to do - Pai Canyon, Thailand

Those willing to take the risk and walk through this geographical wonder will have to make sure to mind there steps. There are no signs directing you as to which path is safe. Furthermore, you will not have the security of any fences or railings in in case of a miss-step.

The dirt and gravel of these dry trails are not meant for a casual stroll. Careful and calculate steps have to be taken to ensure safety and to keep from slipping or losing one's balance. In some areas, the path can be as narrow as 2 feet, so watching your step (and not the scenery) is a must!

Pro Travel Tips: Rent a motorbike from town and take the 8 kilometer ride south for the ultimate adventurous experience. Make sure to put on some sunscreen and try to get there early in the day. Don't forget to take some water with you, too.

Pam Bok Waterfall

If you're planning on visiting the Land Split (more below), I would suggest taking the 15 minute extra drive down and checking out this waterfall. Pam Bok Waterfall is a short and easy hike through the forest, although getting down to the water requires a bit of maneuvering. On a hot sunny day, it's a great place to go to cool in the shade and soak your feet in the chilled water.

Hike to Pam Bok Waterfall - Pai, Thailand things to do

Not particularly a big or tall waterfall, Pam Bok Waterfall is still a hidden little oasis when visiting Pai. I would not recommend it as a place to go swimming, but to sit on the rocks and have your feet in the water as you enjoy the sound of the water splashing down.

Pam Bok Waterfall - Pai, Thailand free things to do

Chill Things To Do In Pai For Free

Land Split

While The Land Split on it's own is nothing I would go out of my way to visit, additional "amenities" there are what get me to always go back.

The family that owns the land here is extremely warm and hospitable. Due to some natural movement of the earth, they woke up one day to some cracks and shifting of their land. Now, visitors can go and check out this little "canyon" that was created at no charge.

Land Split - Pai, Thailand Free Things To Do

After you're little hike around The Land Split, you'll be able to rest your tired feet (yes I'm being sarcastic here) and lounge in some hammocks under the bungalows. You're be served some tasty snacks that are all organic and grown right on their property.

This is the best part of the whole visit. You can taste some home-made roselle wine and jam as well as papaya, tamarind, peanuts, and banana chips. Take some of that jam back home as a souvenir or for yourself!

snacks at Land Split - Pai, Thailand Free Things To Do

All you have to do is give a bit of donation. Make sure to be as generous as the family is with their hospitality, food and drink.

Watch The Sunset From Temple on the Hill - Wat Phra That Mae Yen

You can probably sense a theme here. Yes, there's lots of views in Pai, so make sure to take advantage of them.

Buddha Statue at Wat Phra That Mae Yen - Pai Thailand Things to Do

Not far from town, this sunset viewpoint is a must regardless of how long you plan on staying in Pai. It's a quick motorbike or Songthaew ride up the hill and doesn't cost anything. There may even be a way to walk here from town. I did notice some steps coming up from the jungle next to the road that leads to this temple. It may require a good amount of energy and an early start so you don't miss the sunset.

The only "price" you have to pay is having sore legs the next day from the stairs you have to climb to get to the Buddha Statue. But it's totally worth it once you see the sun setting over the mountains from here.

Sunset Viewpoint at Wat Phra That Mae Yen - Pai Thailand FREE Things to Do

Pai Night Market - Walking Street

If you've been to the markets in Chiang Mai, the night market here in Pai won't "blow you away" but it's still nice to stroll through and grab a quick bite to eat. You can do some of your souvenir shopping here and you might even find some unique things for yourself!

Pai Walking Street Night Market - free things to do, Thailand

I particularly enjoyed the hot tea served in a bamboo with Thai writing scratched on the outside. It may only be available during the "winter" as I don't remember them selling it last time I visited.

If you get tired of walking around, you can find a chill bar to relax in and have a drink. There are some low-key bars along the walking street, but you can also find more down the road by the Pai River.

 Bonus: Cafe With Magical Views Of Pai Valley

Yet again, we have another suggestion for things to do in Pai that involves an amazing view. You'll pass by this cafe (and more) on your way into Pai from Chiang Mai. There are several places along the road right before you get to town.

Route 1094 Cafe - Pai, Thailand fun things to do

We highly recommend having a coffee or tea and enjoying the views from a cafe called Route 1095, named after the famous highway leading to town. The mountain and valley views are just spectacular here. You'll also be able to have a little fun on the swings at this cafe. This place sure is "Instagram worthy."

We hope this article helps those who are wondering what to do in Pai and not wanting to spend a lot of money. If you like our article make sure to share it!

If you're spending some time in Chiang Mai before you head over to Pai, take a look at our article on the best places to eat street food.

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Taiss Nowrouzi

About the Author

Taiss Nowrouzi

Hi! I'm just a California girl addicted to travel and adventure with a passion for art and dance on the side. Born in Iran, but I consider myself a citizen of Earth, adhering to the belief that "The world is but one country and mankind its citizen." I strive to make a positive impact on everyone I meet and learn as much as possible from them. My degree out of college is in Marketing. However, I entered the hospitality business at an early age and worked my way up to hotel management. After about 13 years in that industry (5 of which I was a hotel assistant manager), I made the decision to move to Thailand and leave the 9 to 5 grind behind. My husband and I set off for a life of living abroad and hopes to continue traveling the world, just 3 months after our wedding. It all started with the two of us, along with our cat, together in Thailand. Can't wait to see where life takes us next!

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I loved Pai Canyon! Amazing view!'
    Taiss Nowrouzi

    Such amazing beauty there! can’t wait to go back 🙂'
Mike Clegg - Travel and Destinations

This is an absolutely fantastic guide. I have been to Chiang Mai before and loved it. I would love to visit Pai and definitely see Pai Canyon which also looks incredible. Thanks for the inspiration.'
    Taiss Nowrouzi

    So glad to hear that this is inspirational to you. Pai is honestly our favorite place to visit in Thailand. Try to get to Pai canyon for sure and make sure to catch the sunset there!'

Thanks for the detailed guide (always good to have the “How to get there”…)!
I’m Thailand-bound this year so it’ll surely come in handy.
    Taiss Nowrouzi

    Glad to hear that you can use this for your upcoming trip! Have a great time!'
Samantha Sparrow

Pam Bok Waterfall looks absolutely stunning! It’s not a place I’ve ever thought to visit, but when I get enough time and money to explore further afield than Europe I’m definitely adding this to my list! Thanks for sharing.'
    Taiss Nowrouzi

    We love waterfalls so we are always seeking them out wherever we go 🙂'
Nomadic Foot

Pai looks such a adventurous place. i would love to visit that.'
Gokul Raj

I am off to Thailand in exactly 20 days. I am not sure if I will get time to visit Pai but thanks for the heads up. Will try to squeeze it in.'
    Taiss Nowrouzi

    That sounds awesome! Hope you enjoy your trip. If you like nature and being outdoors, definitely try to get to Pai!'
Travelgal Nicole

That sunset pic is amazing. I didn’t make it to Pai when I went to Thailand but after reading this I realise what a great stop it would be. Looks like fun!'
    Taiss Nowrouzi

    It’s a really fun place. Make sure to go next time you’re in Thailand 🙂'

wow, what impressions from such a great place! I think the golden pathways would be something really to hit, even though its probably something different than taking a city highway in L.A. or so 😉
The food, especially the home-made roselle wine and jam looks really yummi, I can imagine this is the best part of the trip!'
    Taiss Nowrouzi

    Yes, very different from a highway in LA! 🙂'

Thanks for the tips ???? I didn’t know about the Land Split, we’ll have to check it out tomorrow. And we need to be on time for that sunset on top of the hill ! We found a pretty cool place with a pool in the middle of rice paddies so it’s hard to leave our sun loungers right now haha… And we didn’t see the Route 1095 cafe on the way, how far from Pai would you say it is ?'
    Taiss Nowrouzi

    If you get a chance to go to the land split, grab some of that sour tamarind for me :D!!! Sounds like you guys are doing life right at this moment! That cafe is about 10-15 min on motorbike from town 🙂 ENJOY!'

So gutted I didn’t go to Pai when I was in Thailand, it looks beautiful. I love going to places where the nature gives you so much to see a do and who doesn’t love a freebie!'
    Taiss Nowrouzi

    Aww…you’ll have to plan a visit back to Thailand and check it out!'
Wendy Maes

Looks like a great trip and I loved your pictures!'

Yes! love free things to do. Great pictures too. Do you have to worry about getting sick from eating things in Thailand? I have a lot of experience with traveling in Mexico so just wondering if it’s similar.'
    Taiss Nowrouzi

    In the two years that we’ve been traveling and living in Thailand, we have had amazing experience with food here. We eat street food regularly and never worry about getting sick. The key is to stick with places that get a lot of business and are in popular spots 🙂

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