October 2012
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Pai is a small town in Mae Hong Son Province, Northern Thailand – Part 2

Pai is a small town in Mae Hong Son Province, Northern Thailand.

Overview of Pai

– It is a part of the Mae Hong Son Loop.
– This loop is route 1095 from Chiang Mai to Mae Hong Son.
– The city is named after the Pai River.
– Pai is set in a particularly picturesque valley north of Chiang Mai.
– Pai is a predominantly tourism-oriented town.
– Pai offers 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.
– A sudden boom in the 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 “Pai in Love”.
– It can be hard to find a room during the busy season, which is from Oct-Feb.
– There are now around 350 guest houses and hotels in Pai.

Places to see in Pai

Mae Yen Waterfall
• This is about 7 kilometers out of town with no bikes allowed for the last 6km of that.
• It is heading East over the bridge heading out of Pai and follow the signs.

Mo Paeng Waterfall
• It is to the west of Chiang Mai past Santichon.
• It is 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 to have fun.

Pam Bok Waterfall
• This is on the road to Chiang Mai before Pai Canyon.
• It is a nice secluded waterfall with high cliffs surrounding it.
• This makes this a very cool place to escape the heat.
• Go for a relaxing bath in the shade during the dry season.

Wat Phra That Doi Kong Mu Temple
• Erected by the first governor of Mae Hong Son, this temple reflects the strong influence of the Burmese.
• The highlights of this attraction are the two lavishly decorated pagodas.
• This hilltop temple affords an exceptional aerial view of the city and surrounding mountains and valleys.

Tham Pla – Pha Suea National Park
This comprises the following attractions:
Tham Pla
• This is about 17 kilometres from town.
• It is a popular attraction in Mae Hong Son.
• The surrounding areas are brooks and cool hilly forests.
• A special feature is the hollow cave filled with numerous freshwater fish known as Pla Mung or Pla Khang.
• These fish are of the same family as the carp.
• The fish are quite safe from being caught as they are believed to belong to the gods.

Namtok Pha Suea Waterfall
• This waterfall is in Tambon Mokchampae which is about 26 kilometers from the provincial seat.
• It is a large fall with its water source in Burma.
• It runs full during the late rainy season.

Ban Rak Thai Village
• This village is situated 44 kilometers from Mae Hong Son via Namtok Pha Suea near the Thai-Myanmar border.
• This village was founded by Kuomintang Chinese soldiers.
• The village is famous for its views and tea cultivation.
• There is an annual Tea Tasting Festival is held at Ban Rak Thai in February.

Wat Nam Hoo
• This is at Tambon Wiang Tai which is located 3 km from Pai hospital.
• This temple housed Phra Un Mueang which is a sacred Buddha image in Lanna style.
• It is about 500 years of age, in the attitude of Subduing Mara (victory over Mara).
• The head of the image could open and it always appears to have water seepage inside.

Huai Nam Dang National Park
• This is 65 km from the district town has excellent views of the sunset, sunrise and misty mountains.
• Cherry blossom which is during January adds charm to the attraction.

Bua Tong Fields at Doi Mae U-Kho
• The Dok Bua Tong (may be classified as wild sunflowers) blooms during November.
• They paint the entire hilly area of Doi Mae U-kho in colorful yellow which draws flocks of visitors to Khun Yuam district.

Namtok Mae Surin National Park
• This was given national park status in 1981.
• This natural wonder, which straddles Mueang and Khun Yuam districts, encompasses a wildlife and botanical reserve.
• There is a huge waterfall and a terraced mountain.

Wat Chong Kham
• This is located on the bank of the swamp Nong Chong Kham.
• It was built in 1827 by Thai Yai artisans.
• The pillars are gilded with gold flakes.
• The temple houses a large Buddha statue with a lap width of 4.85 meters that was cast by Burmese craftsmen.

Best time to visit / climate

• Pai is best avoided during high season from November to January.
• This is when most accommodation prices double and sometimes even triple.
• Thailand is largely tropical.
• It’s hot and humid all year around with temperatures in the 28-35°C range (82-95°F).
• From November to the end of February, it doesn’t rain much and temperatures are at their lowest.
• From March to June, Thailand swelters in temperatures as high as 40°C (104°F).
• From July to October, although it only really gets underway in September, tropical monsoons hit most of the country.

Location on Google Maps

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How to get there?

1. By Plane
• 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.

To reach Mae Hong Son
• Nonstop 30 minute flights from Chiang Mai are available from Nok Air and Kan Air
• There are also two direct flights per week from Bangkok with Happy Air
• As of Aug 2012, there was only NokAir flying from ChiangMai to MHS. No flights directly from Bangkok to MHS.

2. By road
• 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
• It’s a steep and windy drive, with lots of curves.
To reach Mae Hong Son
• There are two road options from Chiang Mai, both taking 5-6 hours by car.
• Route 1095 via Pai (280 km) is the most scenic drive.
• Route 108 via Mae Sariang (350 km) is an easier drive.
Mae Hong Son is located 924 kilometres from Bangkok.
Drive from Bangkok to Chiang Mai and then choose the following routes to Mae Hong Son.
– Chiang Mai, Hot, Mae Sariang, Khun Yuam, Mae Hong Son (Route 108) with 1864 curves, a distance of 349 kilometres.
– Chiang Mai, Mae Malai, Pai, Mae Hong Son (Route 1095), a distance of 245 kilometres.

3. By Bus
• Regular bus services connect Mae Hong Son with Chiang Mai (Arcade bus terminal) and the entire trip will take at least 7-8 hours.
• A better option is the minibus, also leaving from Arcade in Chiang Mai, which only take 5.5 hours but cost 250 baht.
• If you’re going by bus, you can choose the northern (Pai) or southern (Mae Sariang) route.
• The northern route is a little faster.
• The new bus station is about a 15 minute walk from the center of town to the southwest.
• The bus station is set on a seemingly deserted street that runs parallel to the main road in town.
• There is also an overnight bus to Bangkok’s Northern Bus Terminal (Moh Chit) which takes about 15 hours.
• Sombat Tour, operates an air-conditioned bus which runs directly from Bangkok to Mae Hong Son every day.
• The bus departs from Chatuchak (Mochit 2) Bus Terminal at 3, 5 and 6 p.m. with a fare of 718 baht.
• Sombat Tour’s site lists a bus leaving Bangkok at 7.45 p.m., but in December 2011 this bus wasn’t running.

4. By Train
• The nearest train station is at Chiang Mai.
• One can travel from Bangkok to Chiang Mai by rail and then continue to Mae Hong Son by bus.
• For more information, call 1699, 0 2223 7010, 0 2223 7020.

Some Travel Books about Thailand

Lonely Planet Discover Thailand Thailand PhotoMazing Thailand

Places to stay (hotels / restaurants along with website / contact numbers)

Hotels at wikitravel.org
Hotels at tripadvisor.com
Hotels at hotelthailand.com

Blogs / Sites about Thailand – Pai

Blogs at wikipedia.org
Blogs at travelblog.org
Blogs at travelfish.org
Blogs and reviews at lonelyplanet.com

Images and photos of Thailand – Pai

Images at google.com
Images at traveljournals.net
Images at tripadvisor.in
Images at trekearth.com

Videos of Thailand – Pai

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