Pai – About Pai in Thailand

A small town near the border with Myanmar in the northern Thai province of Mae Hong Son, Pai used to be an unassuming remote and rural town. However, in recent years, it has begun to appear on the radars of travelers to northern Thailand. Once a perfect example of what rural Thailand was like, now Pai offers a combination of great scenery with a new and strong focus on tourism.

The town is set in a gorgeous valley to the north of Chiang Mai and is now a very popular backpacker destination. The atmosphere is vibrant and the spirit progressive and alternative. Pai is inhabited by western hippies, muslims and Thai rastas alike. It offers a fascinating mix of cultures and ways of living—which is why it appeals to young backpackers so much—but it is by no means a representation of traditional Thai life anymore.

Pai has been featured in two highly successful movies—one in Thailand and one in China—which has resulted in a huge influx of travelers from Southeast Asia, in addition to the westerners who already visited the town on trips from Chiang Mai. This tourist boom has resulted in the construction of many more tourist facilities such as hotels and restaurants.

Things to Do

Pai itself lacks major attractions. Instead, it is the superb beauty of the surrounding countryside and the welcoming and laid-back atmosphere of the town that attracts visitors. Popular things to do are almost all active.

Visitors can go mountain biking, trekking and hiking, elephant riding, motor biking, bamboo rafting, zip lining and tubing.  In town, partying, eating and drinking are the main pastimes.


For such a small town, there is an overwhelming offer of dining venues. There are several restaurants that serve local Thai cuisine, but the majority of the eateries cater toward foreign travelers. The main street is lined with street food stalls in the evenings, offering delicious and cheap food. Beers, cocktails and other alcoholic beverages are found in the bars that line the main street; bars that usually also have live music. Cafés serving tea and coffee during the day are also found all over town.


Just like restaurants, places to sleep are extremely abundant in Pai. Many of them are budget accommodations catering toward backpackers. The offer is truly incredible. In addition to budget guesthouses, Pai is home to mid-range hotels and even luxury resorts as well.


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