Searching for Pai travel tips? You have come to the right place! I fell in love with this part of Thailand on my visit a year ago, and it’s a pleasure for me to share my experiences and recommendations with all the readers out there.
But first, some introductions. My name is Emma and I was born and raised in Lincoln, Nebraska. I have been attending the University of Nebraska-Lincoln for the past four years studying marketing and global leadership.
I’m 21 and in my senior year at university about to graduate. I have always had a sense of adventure and spontaneity. I’m known as a traveler! I try to travel as much as I can while being a full time student in college – involved in many extracurricular activities and working a few jobs at the same time.
Since I have been based in Nebraska my whole life, I had this urge to get out and go see the world. I wanted to show my friends and family that traveling is possible as a broke college student, and that there is so much to see and do across the globe – why just stay in Nebraska or America?!
Studying abroad while in college was at the top of my list but I wanted to go somewhere that not a lot of Americans go to study. So I chose Thailand! It was a cheap option and it looked so beautiful. Plus, the country has amazing weather and sounded like an adventure. Perfectly suited for me.
I went to Thailand alone, not knowing anyone or really understanding how the experience would change my life as a 20 year old. I was there from September, 2021 to January, 2022 and went with 10 other Americans who came to study abroad on the same program. Since the pandemic was still a big deal in Thailand at this time, our classes were all done online.
Our program manager put us in a hotel in Chiang Mai at the beginning, while other parts of Thailand opened up more. We lived in that hotel for a couple of months and had the chance to travel to Phuket, Chiang Rai, Pai, Koh Samui, Bangkok and Koh Phangan. The last few months of our time in Thailand, we all moved to a hotel in Bangkok. We stayed in hotels, went all over the country and were able to travel whenever – it was awesome!
Special Memories in Pai
I went to Pai with my 10 American friends for just three days over a weekend. We stayed in a treehouse hostel during our visit. We swam in a waterfall, ate some great food, went out at night, walked around and hiked. My favorite memory from Pai was this hike that we found on AllTrails.
We had drivers with us for our trip, so we could go wherever we wanted. Our driver agreed to take us to the trailhead of the hike. I remember it being a twisty and muddy ride. We almost got stuck a few times and it was honestly a very scary journey. We finally made it to the trail though.
Of course, it started raining when we set off. I was amazed at how beautiful exploring the jungle was – seeing cool plants and wildlife along the way. I think we were the only ones on this hike, other than a handful of locals we passed who were cutting the bamboo. In the end, we couldn’t make it up the mountain to see the waterfall up there because it was getting late.
We didn’t want to come down in darkness, which would have been dangerous. We hiked for probably six hours and were bummed we couldn’t finish it all, but we still had the best time exploring the Pai jungle together!
Besides this adventure, another top memory for me was going out at night. We went to bars and met amazing people. Meeting people from all over the world, as well as locals, was so much fun. They were all so friendly. One night we even got invited back to someone’s cool backyard to hangout. It was quite random but fun! Pai is an incredible place with incredible people.
7 Best Things To Do in Pai
- Stay in a Hostel or Treehouse Hostel: Hostels are the best spots to stay for young travelers in Pai and they make for a great way to meet new people. You will leave with new friends, all of whom will be like-minded to you.
- Visit the Pai Canyon: This canyon is epic! It’s definitely a must-visit. Go during sunset to see the spectacular views of the canyon overlooking the mountains. But be careful though. Some parts of the canyon are narrow and a little bit scary. I recommend wearing closed toed shoes or hiking shoes/boots to keep your feet and ankles supported throughout the walk.
- Find a Waterfall: Pai has many waterfalls to choose from. Cool off in one on a hot day, and admire the views at the falls and on the hike there too.
- Go on a Hike: There are many hiking options around the mountainous area of Pai. It doesn’t have to be a crazy six hour hike like ours was, even a short one hour trek will do the trick. Search on AllTrails or ask locals where to go.
- Experience the Nightlife: Pai has some great bars full of atmosphere. There are a few hippie bars and hidden gems. Go see what you can find!
- Explore the Streets for Food/Shopping: Just walking around Pai is a nice experience. You will always find great street food here. The streets are filled with different vendors selling tasty food and unique local products.
- Meet People: Wherever you go, you will be sure to make new friends.
Authentic Food of the North
The food was similar to other places in Thailand but Pai has more authentic food, rather than restaurants with different types of cuisine. We ate at a lot of little food stands near our treehouse hostel and on the main street. The flavors were delicious and you can never go wrong with Thai food.
Stay at Up2u Guesthouse
I stayed at Up2u Guesthouse. We had a few rooms with bunk beds that were covered in nets because it’s like a treehouse! It’s super cheap – I think it was $4 a night for a shared room. The guest house had a little hangout area with hammocks and benches where we all chilled together. It also had some wonderful views of the mountains. I recommend staying here.
As a general rule, you want to stay at a hostel because you get to meet many people from around the globe. If Up2u Guesthouse is not your cup of tea, you could always stay at another hip nature place since that is what Pai is known for! The place I stayed at was ideal for backpackers in their 20s.
Final Travel Tips for Pai
Be willing to become friends with anyone and everyone. The people who live and travel here are really friendly and overall the destination has a great vibe! A lot of the people I met from other countries decided to live in Pai because it’s such a peaceful environment and truly special. Start a conversation with everyone – you never know who you will meet!