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The small village of Pai is located in the province of Mae Hong Son. With its popularity, Pai has created a separate identity, and became a major attraction for tourists on its own right. Pai can be thought of as a cleaner and more peaceful version of Bangkok’s Khaosarn Road, known for its edgy and chilled out attitude. Equipped with remarkable natural surroundings, from hot springs, rivers, and enchanting waterfalls, this small mountainous villages has become a delight for any nature lovers.
Pai is also celebrated for its many well-known boutique retreats and chic cafes, so popular that these places have become part of the town’s alluring attractions. The most famous spot being ‘Coffee in Love,’ where you will see police officers controlling the ongoing traffic during peak season.
The fastest way is to fly from Chiang Mai to Pai, served by Kan Airlines, the journey takes about 25 minutes.
Pai is ideally situated almost in the middle of the route from Chiang Mai to Mae Hong Son. Mini vans and air-conditioned buses serve the route several times a day. The trip takes between 3 to 4 hours due to the very winding roads along a fascinating mountain wilderness.
To get around town, you can easily walk or rent a bicycle. For further distance, renting a moped or a motorcycle is recommended.
Among the calmness of the gorgeous green rice paddies or a river that runs through the line-ups of charming boutique resorts, Pai city center almost has an inner-city chic vibrancy. During the day you can enjoy the town’s many cafes, eateries, and charming little shops. By nightfall, visitors will be introduced to one of the very first models of a buzzing night market. You will find Pai exclusive souvenirs, cool bar hang-outs, and stalls after stalls of local delicacies. A night of food sampling up and down the main street, then a little shopping fun after dinner is highly recommended.
The park is famous for a gorgeous sunrise viewing spot over a sea of fog, even though it’s only for a few minutes, but the experience will be inspiring and worth getting up early for. The park is also renowned for its abundance of winter flowers, making it a favorite destination for photography lovers and those yearning for cool weather. There is also an educational trekking trial and waterfalls within the park.
The area is also home to the Lisu tribe. Nearby attractions include Tha Pai Hot Springs and Mae Yen Waterfall. Camping is allowed but visitors have to bring their own food and camping equipment.
This is a popular multi-level waterfall with beautiful pools suitable for swimming. There are parts of the waterfall where many visitors love to jump off or slide down for some thrilling fun, despite plenty of accident records.
This is another attraction worth seeing, about 10km out of town, it is recommended to take a motorcycle/ moped to get there. The road to the waterfall is quite scenic and once you get there, it is just a short trek to enjoy this nice secluded fall surrounded by high cliffs. Have fun dipping in the cool water on a hot day and stop by the nearby Pai Canyon.
Tha Pai Hot Spring is surrounded by a lush green forest in the area of Huai Nam Dang National Park. The hot sulphuric water has a temperature of up to 80 degrees, where you can bring some eggs and boil for a fun activity and a nutritious snack. There are smaller ‘onsen’ pools where the river flows and merge with the hot springs, providing a pleasant bathing temperature where guests can enjoy the therapeutic benefits of soaking in the mineral water. The fee to the hot springs is 200 baht.
River is a big part of Pai and there are several water activities you can enjoy.
Bamboo rafting is a way to have a tranquil flow down the river and enjoy the local countryside, generally a bamboo raft carries between 2-4 passengers with a guide who propels the raft along with a long pole. Tubing is another relaxing activity for guests to chill in the Pai River, read a book and enjoy your favorite cold drink.
For visitors who like a more adventurous expedition, there is an organized white water rafting trip on spectacular rapids between Pai and Mae Hong Son. The experience involves rafting on a large inflatable rubber raft, with some maneuvering through rocks and branches on the river.
A ‘serenity on a hill’ temple is known as one of the best places to adorn the sunset, and the incredible views of Pai valley and surrounding rice paddies. There is also a big Buddha statue on the temple, with such an impressive scale that it can be seen from any neighboring area. The hike up to the big Buddha is steep, with a lot of stairs (353 steps,) but will totally be worth the effort! The temple is open until 7 pm, and is about 10 minutes from town and easy to get to by motorcycle or scooter.
The cascade is best for the hardcore trekkers, a hike which takes 3-5 hours starting from Pai town through the jungle to reach the waterfall and back. The journey requires crisscrossing the Mae Yen stream multiple times, with the occasional knee deep water: so wear the right shoes, bring lots of water, and prepare to get wet!
On the way to Mo Paeng waterfall located a village called Santichon, a nice little Chinese community where visitors can stop over and witness a simple way of life of the Yunnanese hill tribe and their Chinese-descent culture and architecture. It is a nice place to taste and buy locally grown tea with various health benefits, and experience the tribe’s fun activities like a human-powered Ferris wheel, horse riding, or archery. The village also offers a stunning view of Pai Valley.
An interesting and unusual site in Pai, a miniscule version of a Grand Canyon – like landscape. Pai Canyon offers a stunning view of the surrounding countryside, making it an ideal spot to view the sunset. Visit for a fun exciting hike and an awesome photo opportunity. Wear good traction shoes as some walk ways are tiny with vertical drops on both sides, and can be quite slippery. Pai Canyon is also a recommended spot for bird watching.
The weather in Pai is ideal during winter, with a pleasant day-time temperature of 20 to 24 degrees celcius. As Pai lies a little higher than Chiang Mai, the weather at night from November to February can be quite cool. From March to June temperatures can rise up to 35 degrees. While during the rainy season, from July to October, the temperature is around 25 to 30 degrees. During this time, the waterfalls may not be open to public.