Surrounded by mighty mountains and dense jungles, it is worth making your way uphill to catch the sunrise on one of Pai's many perfect viewpoints. Yun Lai is one of the best spots to see the city from above, offering a million-dollar view of the villages buried beneath a thick morning mist. A small shop brews hot Chinese tea to accompany your sunrise appreciation. Also boasting a view to match is Kiew Lom Viewpoint, where Doi Luang Chaing Dao, the third highest peak in Thailand, can be seen from a distance. For a meal with the best views, trek up further to Baan Jabo, where you have Guaytiew Chom View, a gimmicky restaurant that serves incredibly cheap and delicious boat noodles while diners take in majestic views of the valley with their feet dangling in the air.
In November, there is still plenty of water in Pai River from the wet season, making it the perfect spot for adrenaline-driven white water rafting adventures. Tour operators like Pai Adventure and Pai Let's Go Tour offer one to two days of aquatic thrills. For less terrifying fun, visit one of many waterfalls such as Pembok, where you can swim in a lagoon surrounded by a limestone crevasse. For an off-the-beaten-track plunge, visit Sai Ngam Hot Spring (hot is actually an overstatement) and chillax in a refreshing natural pool.
There is more than one piece of Pai
The majority of the population is Thai, but Pai is also a small melting pot of diverse cultures. In the morning, the Shan (or Tai Yai) in Pembok Village, clad in their traditional wear and gather at the newly built Kho Ku So Bridge (means "the bridge of merit" in the Shan language) to give offerings to the monks (you can join them too). The 815-meter wooden platform connects the village to the remote Huay Kai Kiri Temple and is surrounded by scenic rice paddies. For a taste of Chinese culture, head to Baan Santichon, which deceptively features traditional Yunanese-style houses/gift shops made of clay and a Great Wall of China knockoff.
Pai boasts an interesting eating and drinking scene
Though Baan Santichon looks a tad like a Chinese-themed Disneyland, a trip there is worthwhile for the food alone. The rustic restaurant churns out delicious Yunanese fare like fried and steamed Chinese buns, pork knuckles in a thick herbal stew, goat jerky and fragrant black chicken soup. For local breakfast, head downtown for a nice bowl of congee at Uncle's Oad Herbal Congee. A few steps away is a shop house selling crispy pa thong ko (Chinese crullers), the perfect pairing to your delicious rice soup. In the evening, Pai's walking street comes alive, offering various street nibbles for cheap eat. Our favorite place to hangout for the night is Jikko Beer, which offers an eye-popping selection of imported craft beer.