Pai (ปาย) is a small town (pop. 3000) in Mae Hong Son Province, Northern Thailand. It is part of the Mae Hong Son Loop, which is route 1095 from Chiang Mai to Mae Hong Son. The city is named after the Pai river.
Set in a particularly picturesque valley north of Chiang Mai, Pai is a predominantly tourism-oriented town, offering a relaxed atmosphere with a broad tourist and backpacker scene. The town's permanent residents are a seemingly harmonious mix of Western hippies and Thai rastas which gives the place a unique vibe which may be appealing to some, even if it isn't traditional.
A sudden boom in guest house and bar construction from 2006 onwards has resulted in a great deal of spare capacity in the off season.— There has been a large increase in Thai people visiting after Pai was featured in a romantic Thai film.  It can be hard to find a room during the busy season (Oct-Feb). There are now around 350 guest houses and hotels in Pai, and the city center has transformed into a tourist centre containing western style restaurants, souvenir shops, live music venues, tattoo parlours, and bars that cater largely to the now significant influx of tourists and package tours.
Whilst the growth of Pai has been rapid and more or less every farm in the valley seems to offer bungalows, development so far has been largely tasteful and the town remains relatively serene during low season.
Route 1095 which connects Pai with Mae Hong Son (50km as the crow flies, but approx. 110km by road) and Chiang Mai (135km) is a very scenic route through the mountains which takes several hours (but worth it). It's a steep and windy drive, with lots of curves, so take a plastic bag and some motion-sickness pills if you need them.
Route 1095 isn't as bad as people make it out to be. There isn't much traffic and you can hear the cars and trucks coming. If you're a little adventurous, rent a motorcycle in Chiang Mai and make the ride up to Pai. You can stop at the waterfalls and small towns along the way, and you'll really enjoy the trip, as opposed to being motion sick in a bus for hours, and being forced to stop at the driver's friends restaurants. Make sure to take some warmer clothing on your bike, as it tends to get a bit chilly in the higher portions of the ride. As a novice rider, expect the trip to take around 5 or 6 hours, including stops at sites and restaurants along the way. aYa Service  offers one way rentals from Chiang Mai to Pai (or vice versa) with luggage delivery for free (as of May 2010). They will keep your passport and send it along with any baggage to aYa in Pai.
Buses and minibuses go to Chiang Mai (Arcade terminal) and Mae Hong Son. Regular public buses take around 4 hours and charge 75-150 baht; minibuses take around 3 hours and tickets (sold by travel agencies) cost about 150-180 baht. One strategy is to get to Pai using the public bus so that you can get an idea as to how winding the road is and then you can decide if you want to splash out and get the mini bus back to Chiang Mai.
To feel less travel sick and save some money take the regular public bus. The scenery is lovely and the winding roads are much easier on one's stomach if you take things slowly.
From Chiangmai: Local Bus from Chiang Mai to Pai leaves the Arcade Bus Station every hour from 6:30 to 17:30. The trip takes some 3 hours and there is a comfort stop at the small half way village of Mae Sae (very good Northern sausages and traditional chicken curry noodle soup available as well as other necessities food water toilets (B3 to use them, as at all bus stations in Thailand!) et cetera). Bus trip costs as at Jun 2012 B72.
Minibuses and Small passenger trucks (song taew) carrying a dozen people also leaves from the bus station as often as there are sufficient passengers or full paying passenger. (cost of private hire is approximately 1200 or share for approximately 150 Baht). The rear seats approximately 10 people and is open air. The view and wind in your face is pleasant, but not the occasional exhaust fumes.
The nearest domestic airport is in Pai. Kan Airlines  operate one or more daily flights between Chiang Mai and Pai, depending on the season. Flying time is 25 minutes. Passengers can make reservations and purchase tickets through the airlines' websites, their call centres or with a travel agent.
The nearest train station is at Chiang Mai.
The town itself is compact and best explored on foot.
For exploring further afield, bicycles (40-100 baht/day) and motorbikes (from as little as 80 baht/day) can be rented from many agents along the main street. As the roads around Pai are steep and obtaining a decent mountain bike with fully functioning gears is surprisingly difficult, motorbike is definitely the better option if you can ride one. aYa Service in the town centre rent bikes for 100 baht (and a 100 baht helmet deposit), plus 40 baht for damage insurance, 40 baht for theft insurance (passport taken as deposit). Suggestions in guidebooks that Ban Santhichorn and Lisu Village might be reached on foot are optimistic.
Motorbike and 4wd taxis are also readily available.
You'll also want a motorbike if you're planning on staying in some of the outlying bungalows in the valley around the town.
The town itself has no special sights; most people come simply for the relaxed atmosphere. Nearby attractions include hot springs and waterfalls, villages and a hilltop temple.
- Chinese village (Santichon). Village settled by Yunnanese hill-tribes who crossed the border in the middle of the 20th century to escape Communist rule. Shops selling different Chinese teas with varying health properties, and other interesting oddities include a human-powered Ferris wheel. Well worth a look, even as a brief stop on the way to Mo Paeng waterfall
- Pai Canyon (Kong Lan), (signposted from the Chiang Mai road; approx 8km from Pai). Somewhat optimistically described as Pai's answer to the Grand Canyon, it could more accurately be described as a narrow red ridges with steep-sides valleys either side filled with pine and dipterocarp forests. The steep 50m drop either side and stunning views over the surrounding countryside are impressive, but you'll need to be careful here - the path is extremely narrow in some places and requires a scramble in others. A set of steps up to a viewing platform provides the safest way to admire the scenery and the canyon makes the perfect spot for a sunset
- WWII Memorial Bridge, (on the road to Chiang Mai, approx 8km from Pai). The original bridge here was built by the occupying Japanese. The current steel truss bridge which sits alongside the present main road was assembled in its current position rather more recently, but as with Pai's "canyon", the bridge invites very loose comparisons with the infamous Bridge over the River Kwai.
- Mae Yen - 7 kilometers out of town with no bikes allowed for the last 6km of that. Head East over the bridge heading out of Pai and follow the signs.
- Mo Paeng, (west of Chiang Mai past Santichon). A little more accessible than most of Pai's waterfalls, this multi-tiered waterfall flows through a verdant green valley and is popular for its pools to swim in. The upper section of this waterfall is a natural water slide during the dry season. The rocks are smooth, just find a small section and slide on down like the locals do!
- Pam Bok - on the road to Chiang Mai before Pai Canyon. Nice secluded waterfall with high cliffs surrounding it, making this a very cool place to escape the heat. Go for a relaxing bathe in the shade during the dry season.
Poi Sang Long is a famous Buddhist children ordaining festival, especially in Mae Hong Son. Thai Yai cultural dance show can be seen at the temple fair, in the night.
Rent a bicycle or motorbike and riding around the countryside seems to be the most popular activity - you can easily create an itinerary to include visits to the nearby waterfalls and hill-tribe villages. Potential day trips include the Tham Lod bat cave 55km away in Pangmapha, best visited when the bats emerge just before sunset.
Pai is also a major starting point for organized trekking tours which are offered by every guesthouse and travel agent.
Go off road through the mountains of Pai on a off-road motorbike tour. Up here it gives you better off road possibilities and against better prices than in Chiang Mai. Ask your guesthouse where to book.
- Pai Zip Line Adventure, tessaban 1, 58130 Pai, ☎ +66895596267 (email@example.com, fax: +66895596267). Taking glamorous adventure in an extensive forest and fog tri-season. The exiting flight with the 14 station canopy 2-2,5 hours is ending at the beautiful Pam Bok waterfall 8 km out of Pai where you can cool down. 850 THB.
- Elephant Trek. For several years now, travellers have enjoyed riding an elephant and concluding the trip with a romp in the Pai River. For this 'adventure', take as little as possible - you'll be enjoyably wet as the elephant is encouraged to shower you. Some operators - and there are several - are willing to take photos of you while you enjoy the elephant antics in the river.
- Sor Wisarut Muay Thai, 259 หมู่1 ต.แม่ฮี้ อ.ปาย จ.แม่ฮ่องสอน, ☎ +66 86 182 6483, . Managed by a friendly Thai/Italian couple, this camp offers professional training. Not far from the center, the camp is surrounded by mountains that make up a breathtaking view. Two sessions a day (morning, evening) with reasonable prices and accepting trainers of all levels.
- Tha Pai hot springs, (signposted from the Chiang Mai road). Bathing here is supposed to have therapeutic properties but you'll want to save it for a cool day. Sulphuric water bubbles out of these hot springs at temperatures of up to 80 degrees celsius and simple baths have been created where the springs meet a stream which cools temperatures to bearable levels. A short marked forest trail takes you through the compact national park more noticeable for its smells than its sights. Last entry to the springs is at 6pm, but you can stay longer as long as you get in before 6pm. If you'd like to enjoy the hot water after sunset as it gets cool, you can bathe in a mineral pool in the nearby Thapai Spa for 80 BHT. 200THB.
- Tubing. Floating down river on an inflated rubber tube has long been a favourite pasttime of South East Asian backpackers, and the gentle current of the Pai river and attractive scenery make this a good spot to try. Unlike the more famous Vang Vieng in Laos, the Pai river isn't lined with raucous bars playing loud music, which some may consider more a blessing than a curse.
- Whitewater Rafting. Some of Thailand's most spectacular rapids are found between Pai and Mae Hong Song, and a few operators offer both one and two day rafting trips.
- Isara Garden`s Cookery School and restaurant, 94 Moo 1 Viengnor, Pai 58130 (10 Minutes by motocycle from the center of Pai, for directions just call Muk, she organizes free pick ups), ☎ +66856230091. Unique asian fusion organic cookery class, run by Muk, a former resataurant manager and bar manager of the Mandarin Oriental Bangkok. The school is located in an eco-friendly, atmospheric open air studio, designed by the owner itself and in the middle of isara garden`s organic veggie garden with a good view over pai valley. 1000 THB.
Pai's burgeoning tourist industry has resulted in a range of cutesy hippie-influenced souvenirs sold in shops throughout the village
Some of the hill-tribe members selling handicrafts in the local market, although what's on offer here pales in comparison to the range available in Chiang Mai
Pai has an abundance of bookshops, some of which carry harder to find titles. Many are along the bus stop road, past Aya services.
For such a small town, there's an astonishing number of restaurants, most of them catering for needs/tastes of foreign travelers but also including a wide range of Thai regional cuisine.
In the evenings, various stalls open at the main street with different offers at different days.
- Art in Chai - Beautiful place built by the artist Otto. Warm cozy atmosphere with great Chai tea and cakes and cookies. Nice atmosphere to play instruments. Free wifi.
- Burger House - The new owner Nat and husband Matt offer 12 different real beef burgers, chilli, sandwiches, specials, dinners, pork chops the size of a Clive Cussler novel, beer, wine, etc. Located 100 meters east of the traffic light on the main road.
- Good Life - Serves organic and vegetarian foods at decent prices. Rice (including brows) dishes with vegetables starting at 40 baht. Breakfasts from 100 bhat. Has a great selection of tea from the tea master TK.
- Kin J - This little vegetarian restaurant between the main traffic light and the afternoon market serves a selection of purely vegetarian food daily. Get there early, as it's mostly sold out by mid-afternoon. It's only 25 baht for brown rice and two dishes.
- Na's Kitchen - Na still works in the kitchen everyday, serving northern food to tourists and Thais. She speaks great English, and will even teach you a bit of Thai if you ask nicely. Na's is always a favourite of the long-stay travellers and the ones returning for a second, or third go at Pai.
- Peace of Pai, (on the edge of town on the road to Mae Hong Son), ☎ 08 9955 4548 or 08 2182 2383. Homegrown organic food is grown here but the main attraction is the postcard-perfect view from the upper floor terrace. Hemp clothing is sold downstairs, which may or may not fully explain the prominent "THC" signs
- <Unknown> - The Thai local restaurant of choice. Find it directly opposite the Pai District Office. Very few westerners to be found, but the menu is in English. Excellent Thai salads and sticky rice.
- Curry Shack - Order a curry served in a coconut!
- Charlie & Lek's - The vegetables used in the cooking are grown fresh on their own farm and the bar has a wonderful relaxed and romantic atmosphere. Located on the road to Chiang Mai, just before the police station. Look out for a sign with the restaurant logo - We Love Lettuce! Thai food is 30-70 baht a plate. They also offer cooking classes for 750 baht a day.
- Witching Well - Wide selection of all types of food, including some great western dishes and amazing shakes. Try the apple pancake, it's to die for.
- Nong Beer Restaurant, (on the corner of first traffic light on walking street). Family owned restaurant that serves "fast thai-food" (Food is already cooking and comes straight from the pot). Very good food and very cheap. Kao-Soi with beef for a price of 40 bhat.
There are many bars, selling beers and cocktails especially along the main street that leads to the Chiang Mai bus stop. There's a wide choice of live music, typically involving Thai bands playing their way through reggae classics. There are also many tea and coffee shops, including herbal brews.
Late night venues are found clustered on the fringes of town - across the bridge on the eastern fringe and on the road to Chiang Mai on the west
- Bamboo Bar, Raddamrong Rd (across the bridge on the eastern edge of town). Bamboo-floored venue perched on the riverside next to the other late night venues. Open until late, cozy atmosphere and good food
- Bebop Bar, (on the edge of town on the main road to Chiang Mai). Offers a range of live music
- Don't Cry Bar, Raddamrong Rd (across the bridge, next to Bamboo bar). Mostly open-air bar with fireshows, reggae music and pool table. Fills up later in the evening.
- Edible Jazz, (about 50m from the junction next to Wat Pa Kam). Varied live music in the evenings in a relaxed atmosphere
- "Park@Pai" live music every night from 9 pm, music lounge with artistic interior design. www.parkatpai.tk
- Reggae Bar is on the road to Chiang Mai, just pust Ting Tong. This hard to find bar is the place for hippie hang outs. Look for the people sitting around a camp fire with acoustic guitars and djembe drums. Live music every night sometimes provided by the customers - feel free to bring along your own instrument!
- Yellow Sun Bar Great hangout with good selection of reggae music, a pool table and friendly owner. The pre-night popular hangout with most of the traveling crowd.
There's an abundance of guesthouses in Pai, most of them in the budget range (a bungalow goes for around 100-500 baht depending on amenities included). Mid-range options are available and there are now even luxury hotels, such as The Quarter.
At the bus station there is a map of Pai. Get this as it will show you the location of most of the guest houses (> 100 places). There is also a discount for motorbike rental.
If your accommodation is far away from the two main streets of bars, be careful if walking alone of the packs of dogs that roam the empty streets at night. They do get territorial and intimidating, so if you come across them then remember to keep a safe distance away and make noise to scare them away.
Heading out of town there are swarms of bungalow setups.
For accommodation with lots of character try out a bamboo hut on the river. Head east from the bus station and either take the first left or continue straight. Either way you'll reach a bamboo bridge. Across the bridge you'll find plenty of cheap accommodation (about 100-400 baht per night).
|This guide uses the following price ranges for a standard double room:
|| less than 500 baht
|| 500-1500 baht
|| over 1500 baht
- Abodaya Guesthouse Turn left out of the bus station & head into the small Soi called Wanchalerm Rd. Abodaya Guesthouse is just a short walk from the junction. Cosy, clean wooden rooms with attached bathrooms, fan, & more power sockets than you'd need. Nice hot shower. & front porches attached to most rooms with couches & cushions provided. Very conducive rustic environment amidst the convenience in location. Both 7-elevens are just less than 5minutes walk away. Just walk a minute to the main road to where all the activities are. Friendly & helpful staff. Rooms at 150baht.
- Eden Guesthouse About 1 km down the road heading towards the hot springs and just past "Spicy Pai". Rooms are a clean bungalow style with private bathrooms, free wifi and hot showers. Beds can be a little hard but just ask for another mattress or comforter. The owner is very friendly, offering discounts for people staying a long time and rides into town on the back of her motor bike if you are staying there alone. The garden in well maintained and beautiful with a relaxing common area, but you are not likely to run into many other guests if you are not staying here in peak season. This place is great for people that want some privacy and solitude. Rooms: 200 baht in the off season.
- Baan Pai riverside At the end of the bus station road just across Media:Example.oggthe bamboo bridge a very friendly Thai family offers simple bamboo bungalows with hot water private bathrooms, mosquito net, and small terrace to sit and read for 150/200 Baht/night. Just on the river, nice view and relaxing. Raised bamboo mat next to water great for morning yoga stretches or just chilling out. Restaurant, too.
- Tacomepai ,+66-861123504 - Tacomepai - Simple bamboo bungalows in an organic food forest. Knowledgeable owner will teach you about sustainable living and farming at daily classes or for a fee (workshops!). You will be invited to actively participate in farm life and to cook in the communal kitchen. 6 km from town on the road that comes from Chiang Mai. Food picked from the farm costs 15 Baht/meal. Free pickup at Bus Station. Free Wifi. 100 baht/person.
- Darling View Point Resort ,+66-895596267 - Hostel across the river at the hillside 400 meter to town. Gorgeous views over Pai , river and mountain with restaurant . Swimmingpool , pooltable , campfire , sunset in the hammocks. Dormitory 150baht / room 400baht / bungalow 400baht / Camping 100 Baht p.P., hot shower, free WIFI / computer, towel, linen. Free pickup.
- Spicy Pai, HOSTEL, , Established in Aug 2011. Dorm room 150 baht. 10 minute walk from town. Call for pickup or ask at aYa minibus center when you arrive. (Tel +66 85211 9467) Warning, will be full in peak season.
- Ever Green Guest House,Wooden Thai Style housing in central Pai. Reasonably priced rooms with hot shower and fan. 5 minutes walk from Bus Station. Free Wifi (even works in rooms). 150baht Single, 200baht Couple. 220 Moo4 Wanchalerm Rd, Pai, (Tel: +66 82619 1390)
- Happy House Guest House, , Large clean rooms for 250 baht/night (500 baht in the busy season). Dorm beds for 150 baht/night. Free pool table. Free wifi. Stove and dishes for cooking your own food. There is a bar down stairs with a sociable atmosphere. It's on the small soi opposite the gas station and 7 eleven.
- Thale Mhog Guest House Pai  Pai, Maehongson 58130, Bungalows: 250 Bht, Cozy Travel Accommodation in Pai Thailand (Tel.: +66 81 901 0346).
- Mountain View Guest house ,+66-861805998 - Located a little way out of town at the top of the hill, opposite Bebop. An unpretentious, peaceful guest house with gorgeous views overlooking Pai. Video room, bar and free entrance to Fluid swimming pool & gym. Bungalows with western bathrooms and hot shower. Free Wi-Fi. Prices start from 150.- Camping available.
- Pai My Home, (1 km from the centre at Ban Mae Yen, near the Wat Phra That.) tel: +66 81 901 0346, email: firstname.lastname@example.org,  Gay friendly guesthouse, cozy, relaxed atmosphere, weekly parties. Room price: 150 baht.
- Phi Chi, East past the main traffic light, past Burger House on the right. 'Phi Chi' is Thai for older brother. Approx. 300 Baht per night. Quiet, clean, hot water showers, western toilets, some rooms have TV and close to everything.
- NOON HOUSE (guest house) - 053699383.Turn right from the bus terminal, then turn immediately right again. It is some 30 metres along on your right (look for the sign). It is quiet, with no outside disturbance noted by the writer. Double/twin B400 fan and B500 aircon. Twin has outside toilet. (prices ss at Nov 2010). Rooms have TV with plenty of channels. Laundry done cheaply also as the writer found. They will hire a motorcycle to you for B120 per day and in our case this was about 3pm until 6pm the next day (volunteered by the owners!) The street in which the guesthouse sits has any number of restaurants in the opposite direction to which you come in, and there is a 711 some 300 metres distant.
- Charn Resort  103 Moo 8, Wiang Tai, Pai, Mae Hong Son, +66 (0)89-1649328, +66 (0)53-698126, located 1 km from the center of Pai. The bus will pass Charn Resort when driving into Pai. Charn Resort offers you not only the opportunity to return to nature, but you will also be surrounded by the beauty of nature and the lovely garden. By staying at this resort you will have a great view of Pai surrounded by many mountains. Charn resort is a colourful resort. There are houses all with different colours. There are fan-cooled and air-con rooms including TV, hot shower and free wifi.
- Amy's Earth House"  99 Moo 5, Mae Kong, +66 (0)53 065 099, located 4 kilometers north of Pai (turn right at the airport). 7 ecological adobe houses and 3 dormitory rooms set in beautiful gardens with a wonderful view over the valley and mountains. Fan-cooled rooms (air-con unnecessary due to the natural building style), TV and Wifi in all rooms. Laundry service and very clean rooms. Pool table. Restaurant with Thai and European food. The owners speak English, German and Thai. Free shuttle service - the bus station will call for you.
- Baan Nern Khao View Pai Resort  183 Baan Mae Yen, Moo1, Mae Hee. +66 (0) 5340 0361 . email@example.com - Twelve cottages and bungalows with contemporary furniture. Double fan-cooled rooms, double and triple Air-con rooms with hot showers and cable TV in all. Overlooking the valley and mountains. The owners are English speakers.
- Violin House and Garden Tel +66 08-98504968,+66 08-71746896 , Located north of Pai just up the hill from the crossroad at Mae Khong, Violin is the name of the owner Kim's daughter. Kim's English is a bit limited but she is a meticulous innkeeper and lovingly cares for a collection of charming and very tidy bungalows. It's a few km from town, past the airport, but the setting is serene and the sunset views to the mountains are sublime. Rates range low season 490-1390b and high season 600-2000b (1b/1ba-2b/1ba). Wifi and aircon included.
- Pai Laguna Tel +66 (0)81-7339055 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, . Located to the west of the City about a 10/15 minute walk from the center, the Pai Laguna offers excellent individual bungalows for two people with a separate bathroom, and balcony overlooking the lagoon and with exquisite mountain views. Prices range from around 500-900 baht a day, with reduced rates for those looking to stay on a longer basis. Shh! You will also find discount vouchers for Pai Laguna if you eat at Charlie & Lek's restaurant (see Eat above).
- Rim Pai Cottages, 99/1 Moo 3; +66-26730966 (fax. +66-22119656) is one of the more "upmarket" options in Pai and offers several kinds of wooden cottages starting at about 500 baht (double) including breakfast, which is served on a nice open terrace overlooking the Pai river.
- Bann Nong Tao , Phone: +66081-328-3431, Email :email@example.com. 136 Moo 6 Bann Huaypoo, Tambol Veangtai, Amphur Pai, Mae Hong Song 58130 Thailand. Cozy and comfortable houses with a eye-catching mountain view and warm atmosphere. Rooms are from 1,200 Bath(Oct-Jan) with breakfast / 500 bath (feb-sep) without breakfast. Tent rental and Bamboo Rafting along Pai River is also avaible.
- Baan Suan Rim Pai  108 Moo 3, T.Viengtai, Pai, Maehongson 58130, rooms: 1600-2800 Bht, air-cond bungalow in Pai Town.
- Baantawan Pai, 117 Moo 4 Vingtai (By the river), ☎ +66-53698116, . Peaceful location close to town and tourist attractions. Bungalows and rooms (fan or air conditioned), . Wifi available, also offers guided motorbike tours. from 400-2500 baht per night.
- Butterfly Homes, Pai , Tel: +66 53 115-270; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. A Teak private 3 villa connected compound & 3 Mud House for daily or weekly rental. Located right in Pai town just up the road from Pai Hospital and walking distance to the evening walking street. All made of teak with 2 of the villas serving as bedrooms with king-size beds and the large villa is the living and lounge area. Bathrooms in all villas with outdoor showers in both the bedroom. Staff on-site to provide daily cleaning. Hin, Din & Sai are 3 mini mud-villas in a creative cob-style built from the soil, sand and stones of the local area. Located in a single compound, the design reflects the contemporary flair and artiness of all what Pai is about. Resort in same compound serves and delivers authentic delicious Thai food. A fantastic option for anyone interested in chilling with privacy yet right in town and yet luxurious. Rates from Baht 1,800-8000/room/night.
- Wang Chang Puek Resort , 18 rooms: 1800-2800 Bht, Fan and Air-cond bungalow, in Pai Town, 50 meters from the Pai river.
Pai has several Internet cafés, most on Thanon Ratchadamnoen and Thanon Rangthiyanon. They are a uniform 30 baht/hour for ADSL. There are some places with free Internet for customers of food and drink. There is also one place that accepts donations for use of a wireless connection. The Internet supply has improved in Pai at last.
|This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!