THAILAND > Pai
Pai District is in The Mae Hong Son Province in the northern part of Thailand.
The northern part of Pai District is adjacent to Burma. The eastern and southern parts connect to Chiang Mai.
Pai Town is in between Mae Hong Son and Chiang Mai. 110 kilometers from Mae Hong Son and 135 kilometers to Chiang Mai.
The route between Mae Hong Son and Chiang Mai is steep and has 762 curves through the mountains
Northern Thailand is a land of natural resources rich in mountains, tropical forests and a variety of culture including Sukhothai, Lanna, and a diversity of ethnic groups such as Akha, Karen, Lahu, Lisu, and Lolo.
Before it declined this decade, Northern Thailand was continental tourist destinations of ethnic tourism in hill tribe trekking tours.
In the last decades of the 20th century, Chiang Mai was a center for ethnic tourism popular among young western backpackers,
The decline in ethnic tourism this century was a result of national socio-economic changes and changing composition of tourist populations
Pai is a town in the Mae Hong Soon Province of northern Thailand. It sits in a valley on the banks of the Pai River. It's known for its nearby gorges, hot springs like the Tha Pai Hot Spring and waterfalls like Mo Paeng Waterfall. Downtown, food stalls and handicraft shops line Pai Walking Street. West of town lies Baan Santichon, a traditional Chinese village with clay houses and eateries serving Yunnan cuisine.
Pai was featured in two popular Thai-made romantic movies,
1- Movie : The Letter จดหมายรัก Jod Mai Rak 2004
2- Movie : The Memory รักจัง Ruk Jung 2006
After the two movies, Thai tourists to Pai began catching up in numbers since 2006. Prior to 2006, only western foreign tourists predominated.
During high season, Thai and foreign tourist numbers swell to the point that Pai experiences traffic jams, as well as shortages of electricity, water, and petrol.
The results showed there were three tourism configurations constructed in Pai District.
The first one was constructed in 1980s as ethnic tourism expanding from tourism in Chiang Mai. After the area had been named in tourist guidebooks, the number of backpackers in the area had increased and they began to build their own community inside the area. The dense networks of these backpackers provided new norms and vision on Pai District. In this tourism configuration, Pai District was defined as the destination for relaxation and enjoying live music, international foods, and nature. Pai town, the center of the district, gradually turned into a hub for backpackers in 1990s.
In 2006, Pai District was used as a location for Thai romantic-comedy movie. The image of Pai District was shaped by the movie‘s story line which impacted Thais‘ perspectives on the destination.
After that, Pai District has been focused by domestic tourists as the romantic destination and the number of domestic tourists in the area was incredible increased. The new tourism configuration was constructed by having Thai tourists as focal actors.
China Town of Santichon Village (Yunnan Culture Center)
Pai District used to be a backpacker hub 20 years ago, by now has progress from rural area trekking to a destination for filmic mass tourists.
Ban Santichon's China Town (Yunnan Chinese Cultural Centre)
A popular tourist attraction, which has more than 1,000 Chinese hill-tribe villagers.
The popular dishes in the restaurant in Culture Centre – braised pork’s leg with Chinese bread. Support the community by buying local souvenirs. Take a horse ride for sightseeing.
Mud houses for two are for rent at Bt1,000 per house, two-bed houses for four at Bt1,500 and six-bed houses for 12 people is at Bt4,000.
PAI BUS STATION
Pai Bus Station is a small station located in the centre of Pai town. This is the terminal for mini-buses (converted vans) to and from Chiang Mai. The ticket booth is on the left hand side.
Many restaurants alone the road around the bus station.
Pai Bus Station is at the centre of Walking Street (Night Market)
Taxi Cabs/Songthaews/Tuk-Tuks driving on the street aren’t common in Pai.
Prempracha Transport operates service between Chiang Mai, Pai and Mae Hong
Their minibus (van) was modern, clean, comfortable and air conditioned. The buses stop halfway for toilet and snacks.
Minivan Service Between Pai, Chiang Mai and Mae Hong Son
Prempracha Transport is a leading transport operator in Northern Thailand, servicing the routes between Pai and Chiang Mai, Pai and Mae Hong Son, and between Chiang Mai and Mae Hong Son routes.
Prempracha Transport mainly uses minivans to transport passengers.
Each minivan can take up to 14 passengers.
Prempracha Transport is the only authorised transport company that services the Pai district.
The minivan from Chiang Mai to Pai operates hourly from 7.30 am to 5.30 pm daily, while the minivan from Pai to Chiang Mai operates hourly from 7 am to 5 pm daily. The minivan from Chiang Mai to Mae Hong Son operates hourly from 7.30 am to 2.30 pm; from Mae Hong Son to Chiang Mai hourly from 7 am to 5 pm. For routes between Pai and Mae Hong Son, there is only one departure per day. The minivan departs from Pai to Mae Hong Son at 8.30 am daily, and from Mae Hong Son to Pai at 4 pm daily.
For routes between Pai and Chiang Mai, and Pai and Mae Hong Son, ticket prices are at 150 THB, and the trip duration is 3 hours. Routes between Mae Hong Son and Chiang Mai is priced at 400 THB and the trip duration is 6 hours.
Return Tickets Chieng Mai to Pai to Chiang Mai
| Bangkok City | Chiang Mai | Pai Town |
Artist Village in Pai
All About Coffee CafeArtist's Home
Ban Yai Nang
MAE HONG SON COMMUNITY COLLEGE
Morning in Pai
MOSQUE IN PAI
TEMPLE IN PAI
Tham Lod (Through Cave)
Chinese Yunnan Culture Center, Pai
...new village home of artists around the world...
Pai town in Thailand
Pai is a popular destination for travellers as it is a small rural town located in the northern parts of Thailand and has a casual and relaxed vibe.
The small Pai town is easy to walk around with majority of guesthouses, bars and restaurants clustered.
thatched-roof bamboo huts, Buddhist temples and a Muslim mosque.
Pai is in Mae Hong Son Province. 50 miles/80 km north of Chiang Mai. A misty town on the Myanmar Border. At 600 meters above sea level, surrounded by high mountains. It lies along the Pai River with a population around 3,000.
Pai Town in Mae Hong Sorn Province, North Thailand
Pai district is situated about halfway between Chiang Mai and Mae Hong Sorn, Pai offers one of the most fertile and beautiful nature in the North of Thailand, clean air and no pollution. People from many different tribes live here peacefully together and still maintain their traditional way of living.
Temple in Pai
MAE HONG SON COMMUNITY COLLEGE
ALL ABOUT COFFEE - an artist's cafe
(Business moved to Chiang Mai in 2015)
Watcharee and her husband together with several friends are artists from Bangkok who run several of the shops. "All about Coffee Cafe" was an exceptional example of functional installation art.
This coffee shop was a detailed wood structure, refurbished with rustic sophistication. Every bit of furniture had been built by Wat and her husband with hand tools during the low season. The artwork was hung with quiet precision that reflected their grace and good taste. Across the street was the Tea shop and the Mit Thai boutique that had works by the proprietor.
The serene Pai river runs from the northern border with Burma through Pai
town and along virgin jungle to Mae Hong Sorn. Hardy adventurers use this route
for exciting rafting.
How to get to Pai?
Start from the main tourist hub: From Chiang Mai on route 1095 towards Pai it is 132 kilometer. The bus from Chiang Mai Arcade bus station takes about 4 hours.
Buses from Chiang Mai to Pai:
7.00, 8.30, 10.30, 12.30, 16.00
Buses from Pai to Chiang Mai:
7.00, 8.30, 11.00, 12.30, 16.30
From Mae Hong Sorn town: Along this route pine trees and wild vegetation line both sides of the gently rising road passing nice scenery along the way. In Mae Hong Sorn are motorbikes and jeep available for rent.
Population of Pai
Mainly Thai Yai (from Burmas Shane state) and hill tribes (Lisu, Lahu, Karen). In town mainly Thai, Thai-Chinese, some Thai-Muslim and some foreign residents.
Occupation in Pai
Agriculture - mainly garlic, rice, fruits, lychee, cotton
Climate in Pai
Cool season: 12º C - 28º C from November - March
Hot season: 24º C - 35º C from April - June
Rainy season: 24º C - 32º C from July - September
Tourist Attractions in Pai and around
Wat Nam Hu
Wat Phra That Mae Yen (mountain temple)
Wat Klang and Wat Luang (temples where Thai Yai / Burmese architecture is preserved)
Wonders of nature:
Ta Pai hot spring
Pong Duad hot spring
Mo Paeng waterfall (near Lahu village)
Mae Yen waterfall
Lod caves (these are beautiful and ancient caves on a large area where graves of prehistoric civilization was found. The area is a national park with lots of different birds.
Activities in Pai
padelling rubber boat along Pai river
adventure rafting and canoe along Pai river
explore caves or go mountain trekking
elephant riding through jungle
mountain bike cycling or motorbike-trekking (Nop's bike shop offers 2 - 3 - 4 days motorbike trekking with 250 ccm trail bikes around northern part of Mae Hong Sorn province. Guide available or on your own. Also available Honda Dream, good maps and other information.)
jungle-treks: Pai is well known as a base camp for trekks to hill tribes. Walk through green jungle and spend the night in a hill tribe village to experience their traditional way of life. In Pai there are local or hill tribe guides and porters available.
Herbal Sauna and Thai Traditional Massage as well as herbal medicine or Burmese Massage
Reading (Nop's book shop)
Thai cooking course at Peter's and Wandee's Hut in Mae Yen
Culture in Pai
Both local Thais and hilltribes still keep their traditions alive by their traditional dressing, house style, food and entertainment.
Here are some of the highlight festivals:
Loy Kratong (full moon night in November)
fireworks competition at Wat Luang (beginning of November)
Kin Wo (hill tribes New Year, February)
Thai New Year (13 - 15 April)
bamboo throwing festival (to ask for rain, May)
Facilities in Pai
Pai is a small town but can offer enough facilities such as a post office, hospital, long distance call and fax service. Accommodations and food are good and cheap. Most of the guest houses are in town and the scenic most beautiful ones are along the river. Local restaurants and western style restaurants are available (e. g. Chez Swan Restaurant, Thai Yai Restaurant) with home made brown bread.
Good Morning Pai
Photo above : See the simple life in this town when you wake up a bit earlier than normal. Morning at the main road of Pai town. One can feel another kind of peace. Morning in Pai when a bare footed monk on his way for food offering from and a Muslim girl on her way to market on bicycle.
Mosque in Pai
... whose speakers fill the town with the call to prayer several times a day.
Artist in Pai Town
Pai - a small quiet town in Mae Hong Son province - always crowded with Thai and Foreign artists and backpackers. A number of artists stay here, enjoy themselves drawing, painting, writing and ...
Adventurous foreigners on tight budgets were the first group to be lured by Pai's charming isolation. Its idyllic setting, tranquility, laid-back atmosphere and warm-hearted residents made it a sort of Utopia for those seeking to escape the pressures of city life.
Pai, a tiny town halfway between Chiang Mai and Mae Hong Son.
Halfway between Chiang Mai and Mae Hong Son, the mountain road makes a winding descent into a large green valley carpeted with rice paddies and fruit groves.
Mountains rise on all sides and butterflies flit along the streets. Here you'll find a tiny town called Pai, named after the river that runs through the valley.
3 hours drive from Chiang Mai along scenic Highway 1095, with its endless bends, this popular tourist destination only a decade ago was an insignificant rest-stop on the gruelling journey onwards to Mae Hong Son.
What was once a hamlet in a picturesque, lushly forested valley is now a burgeoning little town which seems more than ready to shed its backpacker-haven image and embrace mass tourism.
It wasn't until 2006, when Pai was featured in a popular romantic-comedy
film, that it began to attract large numbers of domestic holidaymakers who today
comprise the vast majority of visitors.
Now seen as a gold mine for entrepreneurs and land speculators, the place has undergone a series of major infrastructure upgrades, wreaking a transformation which has precipitated something of a crisis of identity. Scores of hotels, guesthouses, restaurants, coffee shops and bars have sprung up along with Internet cafes, travel agencies and car-rental firms. There are 24-hour convenience stores on the main street, banks and currency-exchange booths all over. An increasing number of small and medium-sized luxury resorts plus live-music venues has brought colour but also sweeping change.
During the peak season one has to deal with noisy traffic, crowded streets and all the commercial hue and cry of a boomtown. It's time to admit, perhaps, that those seeking peace and quiet might be better off going elsewhere.
Despite all the unpleasant changes, however, the locals still display unconditional generosity and remain as friendly toward visitors as ever. Ironically, what little remains of Pai's former bucolic charm is to be found in venues opened by artistically minded entrepreneurs who have preserved some aspects of the local culture and architecture. Rows of traditional wooden homes now house stylish coffee shops, art galleries and boutiques selling creative souvenirs and quaint ornaments and decorative items.
Pai still offers a wealth of outdoor activities and travellers can choose to explore the countryside by bicycle, motorbike, car - on elephant back, even - or on board one of the bamboo rafts which ply the Pai River. Venture beyond the outskirts of town and a multitude of attractions await, from sites of historic interest and religious structures to waterfalls and hot springs.
Situated about three kilometres west of the town centre, Wat Nam Hoo is a must-see. The temple's ordination hall houses a 500-year-old, bronze Buddha image called Un Muang, revered by locals because of a supposedly miraculous feature: the statue's hollow topknot can be opened to reveal naturally occurring "holy water" within.
Another old temple that has stood the test of time is Wat Phra That Mae Yen, built on a hill east of town. From its tranquil compound one gets a panoramic view of the whole district, making this an ideal vantage point from which to watch the sun rise and set.
Pai's proximity to the Burmese border makes it a great place to gain insights into other cultures, too, since Lahu, Lisu and members of several other ethnic minorities have settled in nearby upland areas. Descendants of Haw migrants from Yunnan also live in the neighbourhood and their villages boast houses built in a traditional Chinese style, mouth-watering Yunnan delicacies, handicrafts, tea shops and a wooden, non-motorised ferris wheel.
Mass tourism has had both positive and negative effects on the lives of Pai's original residents. And while some observers see all this development as "progress", believing that it will inevitably lead to a new age of prosperity for all, many view it as the sad loss of a traditional way of life and point out that much of the profits are going to outside investors. But whatever one's point of view, it is hard to deny that Pai remains a rather special town, a place to which people are tempted to return again and again