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The Pai Canyon

The Pai Canyon adventure in Thailand

The Pai Canyon near Chiang Mai

The Pai Canyon one of the best things to do in Pai. Pai is one of the best places I visited on my 2 month spent in Thailand, the epic Southeast Asian country. Pai is located north of Thailand and due to its location, a lot of backpackers cross this off their Thailand itinerary. Do not make this mistake! Pai is an ultra-cool place to visit in Thailand for a backpacker or general tourist. There is plenty of top accomodation in Pai and you can also find lots of great restaurants in Pai.

After arriving in Thailand, we decided to make the trip from Chiang Mai to Pai. Then we stayed in Pai for 3 nights and did everything this cool places has to offer. The epic Pai Canyon was one of the places I visited. It is only a 7/8 km scooter ride from the centre of Pai. It’s 100 percent worth a visit and it’s probably the best most unique thing to do in Pai on your visit. The stunning canyon provides a few small hikes around its picturesque cliff curves and surrounding scenery. 

The Pai Canyon
Guide to the Pai Canyon and how to get from Chiang Mai to Pai.

What’s included in this post for you;

  • the Pai Canyon near Chiang Mai guide
  • The sunset and sunrise at Pai Canyon
  • How to get to from Chiang Mai to Pai Canyon
  • summary

Is the Pai Canyon sunrise the best time to go?

Yes, for those of you that love early morning rises and stunning views. 

No, for those of you that are late risers to the day.

I’m kidding, of course it’s worth getting up to see the stunning Pai Canyon sunrise. This is when you will get your best Instagram photo for your travel memories.

Also, sunset at Pai Canyon is another great time to visit. You will get extraordinary scenery and a perfect setting for more photos. Sunrise and sunset are also going to be the coolest time of the day for you to visit the canyon. During the day it can get very hot and sweaty. This maybe an unpleasant time to visit for you if you are not great with the afternoon sunshine. Which ever time you visit Pai Canyon, make sure to take plenty of water with you and maybe even a little food such as fruit. 

Pai Canyon
Pai Canyon cliff photo

Pai Canyon Hike – You can enjoy a good 1 to 2 hours expiring some Pai Canyon hikes. There is a couple of different routes for you to take around the canyon and each one offers you a cool scenery in this unique place to visit in Pai.

Pai Canyon hike
The stunning Pai Canyon hike

You should check out the Big buddha in Pai

Most of the hikes take you to the edge of the Pai canton cliff edges. This is the part that you need to be extremely careful. Pai Canyon cliffs can be high in certain places and a little slippy! I took a few photos at the edge, you have to 😉 but I took my time. 

Pai Canyon sunrise
The Pai Canyon sunrise is epic

I would highly recommend wearing study shoes or trainer. This will make sure there is no unfortunate slips when you are taking those cool Instagram photos. You will also want something comfortable on your feet if you are going to do the hikes. I would wear t-shirt and shorts as well. You don’t want to be burning up in the heat.

Pai Canyon sunset
The amazing Pai Canyon sunset

When you first enter Pai Canyon the best photo opportunity is in front of the first bench you will see. There is the best cliff for you to take a great memorable photo of this sweet canyon. 

How to get to the epic Pai Canyon, including from Chiang Mai

How to get to the Pai Canyon from the Pai town centre?

Pai Canyon is only a 8/9 km scooter ride from the centre of Pai. It’s an easy ride on the highway and it only takes around 10-15 to make there journey. You can also visit Pembok Waterfall which is located along the same highway as the canyon. There is also plenty of quirky restaurant and cafes along the highway. We stopped off and got a mega milkshake, perfect.

Scooter rental in Pai is cheap and very popular. You can hire a scooter for just $3 a day, it’s such a cool way to see all the best things in Pai. 

How to get to the Pai Canyon from Chiang Mai?

You have a few option to get from Chiang Mai to the stunning Pai Canyon. However, you will need to do an overnight stay in Pai to fully enjoy your visit. I would highly recommend staying over for at least 2 nights in Pai if you have enough time. You should make your way from Chiang Mai to Pai, get checked into your accommodation in Pai and then head to the canyon.

We made the journey from Chiang Mai with a hangover. The journey was s**t and I’ve never felt so ill in my life. The roads have so many twists and it’s a stomach turner. But don’t worry it’s worth it to visit Pai. Let’s have a look at your best options to get to Pai.

  1. Taxi – A taxi is an option for you to get to Pai. But this can be a little bit more expensive. We met two backpackers who had paid for the taxi there. This was because they was short on time and wanted to get from Chiang Mai to Pai quick. Your taxi will likely take about 3 hours. 
  2. Scooter – This is a cool option if you are okay to ride a scooter round hundreds of sharp turns. The journey to Pai is not a straight road at all. It’s a constant snake road of twists and turns.
  3. Coach. The time depends on your driving skills, don’t rush though! The mountains between Chiang Mai and Pai get crazy.
  4. Plane – A plane from Chiang Mai to Pai is your quickest to get there. It’s just a 30 minute flight. This is will be your most expensive option. This option will suit those if you that are on a holiday or have a short visit to Thailand and really want to visit Pai. You can expect to pay around $60 for the flight.
  5. Mini van – This was the option we went with and it’s the cheapest. A mini van from Chiang Mai to Pai takes about 4-5 hours. You will do the journey with 6-8 other travellers. We found this way the cheapest and it’s the most popular to get to Pai.

For information check out how to get Chiang Mai to Pai


If you a visiting Pai for a day or even better a few nights, I would definitely put a visit to the Pai Canyon on your itinerary. You don’t have to spend all day here and you can easily get done 3 or 4 of Pai’s best tourist points in one day. 

Pai is an amazing place and it’s one of the coolest places we visited in Thailand. Like I mentioned, so many backpackers cross this place off their Thailand itinerary due to its location. But I can’t stress how cool this place really is. Whether it’s day or night this place has such a cool vibe. 

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2 thoughts on “The Pai Canyon adventure in Thailand”

  1. Looks awesome. I’v only been to Thailand once, Pattaya and some other place, but I plan to go back. This canyon looks beautiful. My only issue is transportation because I don’t have a drivers license so renting scooters is not an option. Sucks.

    1. The canyon is epic 🙂 Pai is a really cool place. I know Pai is probably the strictest place to rent a scooter without a license. I spent 2 months in Thailand this year, it was crazy. When do you plan to go back?

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