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Pai Canyon is jokingly called ‘the Grand Canyon’ by locals. But the Pai Canyon is not ‘grand’ at all; it’s rather small and has narrow trails with 50-meter drops on either side. Yikes! Armed with a camera, hiking shoes and a bottle of water, we hit the road and witnessed an incredible view over the Pai Valley.

Without high expectations, we parked our motorbike at the entrance of the Pai Canyon. To make things a little more exciting, I told Mariska that accidents occur here on a monthly basis. Stories about backpackers falling into the ravine and collapsing, narrow trails… all jokes, of course!

It's the hot and smokey season - Pai Canyon

Pai Canyon: More beautiful than expected!

A short but steep stairway brought us to the start of the canyon only a few minutes later. The first view was even more beautiful than we had expected. A little dry and barren here and there, but that’s partly related to the time of year (smokey season in March & April).

With hour’s worth of sunlight left ahead of us, we decided to explore!

Hiking at Pai Canyon

Be careful!

I was joking about it, but please do be careful when you’re going on a hike through Pai Canyon. There are stretches where it seems the path is slowly crumbling with each gust of wind (and it probably is) and where you’ll need to balance yourself in between steep cliffs on either side.

But thankfully, you won’t have to cross these sections if, like us, you follow the regular trail, which is only a half hour walk. This will give you a good impression of the beauty of Pai Canyon.

Dangerous path at Pai CanyonSteep drop - Pai CanyonVery narrow trail - Pai Canyon

The sunset in Pai Canyon

The sun was about to set and to our great surprise, we could still see people crossing to other parts of the Pai Canyon along those narrow paths. Perhaps that’s not such a great idea.

We’re not a very brave couple, so instead we decided to look for a nice spot to enjoy the sun setting slowly behind the mountains.

Sunset at Pai CanyonSunset at Pai Canyon

Getting there

Pai Canyon is located several kilometers outside of the town center and can easily be reached on a motorbike. Just follow the road to Chiang Mai (1095) for about 15 minutes. Pai Canyon is also the last stop on most tours. However, we noticed that several different tours arrived too late for the sunet; just as the sun had disappeared behind the mountains, another group of tourists was offloaded… and they weren’t pleased!

Bring a pair of decent walking shoes if you’re planning to go on a hike through the canyon, or walk barefoot. Flip-flops are not recommended.

Start your day in Pai with a mineral bath in one of the hot springs, followed by a swim in one of it’s waterfalls and end your tour in the Pai Canyon.

Tourists catching the sunset - Pai Canyon

Best Hotels Pai

Medio de Pai, Pai

Medio de Pai - $$

Excellent rooms equipped with aircon and a nice swimming pool. But the best part about Medio de Pai is its location: right in the center, on a street parallel to the Walking Street. It also has some spacious, and affordable, family rooms.

Puri Pai Villa, Pai

Puri Pai Villa - $$

Puri Pai is a luxury resort with rooms with panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and Pai’s rice fields. Stay in your own villa with a swimming pool and hammock. You won’t regret this - it is one of the highlights of your trip!

Can you see yourself sitting in the Pai Canyon?


Author Sander

Former elementary school teacher, storyteller, sports enthusiast, and adventurer. Love to do the "impossible", which is usually the exact opposite of what’s expected.

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