Pai is a popular and quirky town in the province of Mae Hong Son and whilst it is known for being a sleepy and laid back town, there is certainly no shortage of things to do. Furthermore the options are as varied as they are plentiful and whatever it is that you into from relaxing in natural spa’s to trekking through the jungle, there is something to suit every interest.
Pai is situated within a valley and a long and windy road through the mountains must be travelled in order to reach it. These mountains are covered in jungle with many hidden natural wonders that are waiting to be discovered and explored. Mae Hong Son is known for its abundance of waterfalls and hot springs, where Thai’s and tourists alike enjoy indulging themselves in the natural water. Some guesthouses and resorts in and around Pai have even been able to tap into this hot spring water to provide their guests with natural hot water and pools. The surrounding mountains are also home to a number of hill tribe villages and jungle treks will often involve visiting one or more of these unique villages. Another top attraction of Pai is the Wednesday market where all kinds of handmade products can be purchased.
Pai was once upon a time in the not so distant past a very small and sleepy village where a mixture of cultures, religions and nationalities have come together to form a vibrant town. Until just a few years ago, Pai was a simple Shan market village in amongst stunning natural surrounding and relaxed and laid back atmosphere. Today it has managed to keep much of it’s original charm but now has become a great deal more set up to cater for tourists and backpackers. The development of the small village into the popular tourist destination of a town that it is now has been very successful and the economy is now largely supported by tourism.
The town of Pai remains to be very small with just one main street through the centre and a few streets leading off from it. The surrounding nature remains as beautiful as it ever was with natural hot springs, waterfalls and jungle all around and ready to be explored. There are now a sufficient amount of restaurants, guesthouses and bars to cater for the buses of tourists who arrive during the high season and they each have their own style and charm.
One of the most extraordinary things about the town of Pai is the ways in which different cultures have come together in order to create one friendly, chilled out and laid back town. The cultures that you are likely to find on your trip to Pai include Burmese (Shan), Chinese, Thai Mong and traditional Thai due to its close proximity to Myanmar and China. They have successfully mixed their individual traditions and cultures to create a town that has it’s own unique atmosphere and lifestyle. This is reflected in just about everything from the food to the handcrafted items available in the colourful and quirky markets.
It is probably the way the people have come together to develop what was once a small market town into a thriving backpacker town that makes Pai so special. Anyone who is visiting the north of Thailand and has a few extra days on their hands should definitely make the trip to Pai and it will not be an experience that is quickly forgotten. There are regular buses from Chiang Mai, you could go by bike or car or there is even now a small airport so it is possible to take a flight.
Pai is small town and a popular tourist destination not far from the city of Chiang Mai. There are a number of different modes of transport that can be taken in order to reach the sleepy and culturally rich town and it all depends on your preference and a love for the open road. Buses are probably the most common option as there is mini van service that provides a fairly comfortable travel experience. The buses are very frequent between Chiang Mai and Pai are also probably the cheapest option. They are air-conditioned and full of like-minded people so are a great option if you are travelling alone and hoping to meet people.
For those who prefer to take things into their own hands, renting a motorcycle and enjoying the wind on your face as you wind you way through the mountains is a great experience. Pai is known for the abundance of curves and bends on the main road to get there so caution needs to be taken at all times, especially on a bike in wet weather. It’s a great chance to enjoy the scenery whilst you are on your way and it truly is a beautiful part of the country.