Pai is a small town of mountains and rivers

  • bamboo bridge at Pai river
  • hill tribe woman
  • monks at walking street
  • trek in nature
  • signs to local villages
  • Pai panorama
  • bikes for rent in Pai
  • Pai valley
  • Pai River
  • hill tribe people
  • pai overview
  • morning mist
  • local Pai market
  • food stall at walking street
  • hill tribe salesperson
  • Sign at Pai canyon
  • Pai canyon
  • Pai hot springs

Pai is indeed a paradise hide-out 3 hours drive from Chiang Mai town. This tiny village located in the Mae Hong Son province has become a great artists haunt, the perfect antidote to the hustle and bustle of modern Thai living. With burbling streams, manicured rice fiends, and mountains enveloped in early morning mist, Pai is a small town of mountains and rivers, refreshing and with lots of activities for all ages and pockets.

Pai valley

Pai valley

It is possible to visit Pai at any time of year, provided you make the necessary arrangements. Some warm clothes and reserving your accommodation might be a good idea in the high season that runs from November to April. Despite its remote location, Pai has many facilities: hotels, ATMs, 7/11, shops, bicycle and motorcycle rental, coffee shops, gift shops and restaurants can all be found in the village. Pai is also home to a well-known, every day night bazar called Pai Walking Street.

Where should you go? What should you do?

trek in nature

trek in nature

This is all great, but what if you have limited time? Here are a few suggestions to get the best out of Pai.

Day 1: Rent a bicycle and get a feel for the town and surrounding area. On your way, visit local temples: Wat Nam Who, Wat Klang and Wat Phra That Mae Yang.  Walk along the historical bridge, and end the day with a rejuvenating visit to a hot spring. Enjoy a candle lit meal in one of Pai’s many restaurants. Let us advise the best in town:

Day 2: Wake up early to enjoy the cool mountain air and the mist, and admire the Pai scenery. Views across the river are particularly good at this time. After breakfast, a host of activities await. Choose between an elephant ride or white water rafting on the River Pai. In the afternoon, visit some of the many waterfalls such as Mah Paeng Waterfall, Pambok Waterfall and Kong Lanne (or Pai Canyon as it’s called by tourists). Spend another evening enjoying some more great food and shopping at souvenir shops and at the Pai Walking Street.

Day 3: A great way to spend your final day is the ever popular activity of bamboo rafting. The rafting begins at the Karen village of Mae Ping. It’s a fun way to relax and enjoy the amazing river scenery, especially if you have come to Pai to escape the hustle and bustle of city life. The rafting will last 2 hours and ends at Bann Thai Yai Sop Pham.

hill tribe woman

hill tribe woman

So, if you thought you needed a long holiday to enjoy Pai, think again. Book a room, pack a bag and go for the weekend! Have fun!

About Pai:

Pai is located about 120km north-west of Chiang Mai, Thailand’s largest northern city and International hub. It is a breathtaking 3 hours and 762 curves by local bus or private minivan. The harrowing 90-degree angle curves are all worth it when you arrive in this precious little haven of Shan culture and northern style. Pai is not just a Thai town; it is a place rooted in Shan culture which has a mix of long term stay foreigners, Thai and foreign short term tourists, and a strong local hill-tribe community which adds to the flavor and uniqueness of this mountain town.

Check out AsianItinerary articles on Pai:

Where to sleep:

What to visit:

What to eat:



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About the author

Thomas has a university background in the UK and in Latin America, with studies in Languages and Humanities, Culture, Literature and Economics. He started his Asian experience as a publisher in Krabi in 2005. Thomas has been editing local newspapers and magazines in England, Spain and Thailand for more then fifteen years. He is currently working on several projects in Thailand and abroad. Apart from Thailand, Thomas has lived in Italy, England, Venezuela, Cuba, Spain and Bali. He spends most of his time in Asia. During the years Thomas has developed a great understanding of several Asian cultures and people. He is also working freelance, writing short travel stories and articles for travel magazines. Follow Thomas on

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