October 2012
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Pai is a small town in Mae Hong Son Province, Northern Thailand.

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.
The city center has transformed into a tourist center containing:
– Western style restaurants
– Souvenir shops
– Live music venues
– Tattoo parlors
– Bars
• The city center caters largely to the now significant influx of tourists and package tours.
• The growth of Pai has been rapid and more or less every farm in the valley seems to offer bungalows, development
• The town remains relatively serene during low season.

Mae Hong Son Loop
• The provincial capital of Mae Hong Son town is only one part of this vast and beautiful mountain province.
• Explore the rest of the province by taking the popular Mae Hong Son Loop route.
• This route travels through the province on a circuit that starts and ends in Chiang Mai.

Places to see in Pai

• The town itself has quite a variety of sights even though most people come simply for the relaxed atmosphere.
• Nearby attractions include hot springs and waterfalls, villages and a hilltop temple.

Chinese village (Santichon)
• This is a village that is settled by Yunnanese hill-tribes.
• These tribes crossed the border in the middle of the 20th century to escape Communist rule.
• Shops selling different Chinese teas with varying health properties, and other interesting oddities which include a human-powered Ferris wheel is notable.
• It is well worth a look, even as a brief stop on the way to Mo Paeng waterfall.

Pai Canyon (Kong Lan)
• It is signposted from the Chiang Mai road and is approximately 8km from Pai.
• It is somewhat optimistically described as Pai’s answer to the Grand Canyon.
• It could more accurately be described as narrow red ridges with steep-sides valleys either side filled with pine and dipterocarp.
• The steep 50m drop either side and stunning views over the surrounding countryside are impressive.
• The path is extremely narrow in some places and requires a scramble in others and hence it is best to be careful.
• A set of steps up to a viewing platform provides the safest way to admire the scenery.
• The canyon makes the perfect spot for a sunset.

WWII Memorial Bridge
• This bridge is on the road to Chiang Mai and is approximately 8km from Pai.
• The original bridge here was built by the occupying Japanese.
• The current steel truss bridge which sits alongside the present main road was assembled in its current position rather more recently.
• With Pai’s “canyon”, the bridge invites very loose comparisons with the infamous Bridge over the River Kwai.

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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