Location : Pai (district), Mae Hong Son (province), Thailand
PAI is a small and quaint hippie town nestled on the mountains of Mae Hong Son Province through paved winding roads 3 hours by van northwest of Chiang Mai. It has seen increased popularity in the last few years amongst backpackers looking for a chill and laid-back destination with a lot of country and nature to offer. The place itself is teeming with budget and trendy restos, cafes and hotels. The counter-culture ambience permeates throughout the town with it new age, tattooed and dreadlocked denizens. In the last few years, Pai has also seen the rise of Chinese tourists. The town has become a 3-language destination with signs and food menus in Thai, English and Chinese. Cost is cheap specially during the low season.
Pai Blogs by TheLoneRider
Overnight in Pai with Mike(Jan 1, 2019) New Year's day, Mike and I left Wat Pa Tam Wua Forest Monastery to head back to Chiang Mai. En route, we stopped-by Pai for an overnight. Pai hasn't lost its quaint hippie charm. We met many people from the monastery as Pai was a logical destination for a decompression from all that meditative bliss from the wat.....more »»
Exploring Pai, Thailand
(May 19-24, 2016) From what I hear about Pai from the travelers I come across with, it's a small mountain town that serves as a backpacker destination when in Thailand. More specifically, it's a hippie town. It's cheap, people are nice, and the vibe is very chill. With my Thailand sojourn coming to a close, it's a destination I had to experience. The 6 days I spent there has been memorable, fun and somehow hinted that I was traveling alone too long..more »»
Visiting the Land Split in Pai, Thailand
(May 23, 2016) In 2008, a farmer's land in Pai split 2 meters wide and 11 meters deep from an earthquake. Through the years, the split has become wider and longer as more earthquakes hit the area. How does a crack on the earth look like? Time to check it out....more »»
Trekking the Ridges of Pai Canyon
(May 23, 2016) Pai Canyon is an interesting geological formation - narrow rock ridges with a deep vertical drop form an intricate web system where you trek and explore....more »»
Climbing up the White Buddha (Wat Phra That Mae Yen)
(May 21, 2016) Wat Phra That Mae Yen, more popularly referred to as the 'White Buddha on the hill' requires 353 steps up a hill offering a panoramic view of the Pai and the surrounding landscape. It's one of the nearest attractions from town, you can walk it. Admission is free....more »»
Pai FYI / Tips
- the tourist area where most of the hotels, restaurants, ticket offices, tour operators are, is clustered near the bus station. You're not too far away from anywhere in Pai
- November through March is high season
- late December to early April is burning season (wide areas are burned to clear land for the planting season, but the air becomes heavily polluted)
How to Get to Pai from Chiang Mai
- Pai is one of the most common destination from Chiang Mai and they have developed a system around it. At the Arcade Bus station in Chiang Mai (platform 13), there are vans leaving for Pai through these transport companies - Prempracha and Aviabooking (3 hours of winding road, B150). You will be dropped-off at the Pai bus station. It's walking distance to the hotels from there.
- Chiang Mai to Pai vans take hourly trips beginning 6:30 am to 5:30 pm
- Pai vans to Chiang Mai take hourly trips beginning 7:00 am to 5:00 pm
Things to do, Places to go in Pai
- Pai Canyon (Kong Lan) - 8 km from Pai with nature walk and open lookout with panoramic view
- White Buddha on the Hill (Wat Phra That Mae Yen) - 353 step leading up to the White Buddha on the hill, overlooking the valley below
- The Land Split - in 2008, the land cracked and opened 2 meters wide and 11 meter deep...the widening continues through the years. Donation-based to the farmer who makes hibiscus drinks. Along the way to Pembok Waterfall
- Pembok Waterfall - drive out to kilometer marker 93, you will find a sign that points you to Ban Pam Klang on your right. If you take that road & drive for 8 kilometers you’ll find Pam Bok Waterfall on you right hand side just before reaching Pam Bok village
- Tha Pai Hot Spring - 8 km from Pai in the Huai Nam Dang National Park, just 2 kilometers off Route 1095. Water temperature at 80° Celsius. B200 for foreigners. Best to use the private spas for B100
- Charn Chai Muay Thai Gym - located within the city, the place to learn Muay Thai, Thailand's national sport. 174 m.1 Chaisongkharm Road, Pai, Thailand 58130
- Mor Paeng Waterfall - 3-tier waterfall with chance to slide off rocks into the pool...but be very cautious as the 2 tiers are not doable
- Nam Yang Kung Fu - study Kung Fu and practise meditation in a retreat format
Pai Cost Index(US$1 = Thai Baht 35.691 = Php 46.791 as of May 22, 2016)
- B55 small bottle of Leo beer
- B40 standard price for a soup noodle or rice topping dish
- B40 hot coffee in a decent cafe
- B200 one hour massage
- B50 bicycle rental, 24 hours
- B20-30 coin operated laundry
- B150 van to Chiang Mai, 3 hours
- B100 dorm room, shared toilet during low season
- B10 one hour, internet cafe
- B30 haircut
- B14 1.5 liter drinking water
Travel Tips for Thailand
How to Get a 60-Day Thai Tourist Visa and then Extend by another 30 Days
- Bring the following to the Thai embassy:
a) proof of money (bank statement will suffice)
b) flight booking to Thailand
c) onward flight back to your country from Thailand
d) filled-in tourist visa form
e) 2 passport pictures
f) hotel booking in Thailand (they didn't ask me for this but better be safe)
g) passport with at least 6 months validity
- After handing over all the documents, they will ask you to come pick your passport with the visa the following day from 4 to 5pm. That's it!
- NOTE: after 2 successful attempts, I was already questioned the 3rd time.
60-Day Thai Tourist Visa
NOTE: There is no need to go back to your country to get the Thai tourist visa. Any major city with a Thai Embassy will do. Apparently there is also no need to have an invitation from a Thai establishment to justify the visa.
- bring the following to the Immigration Office:
a) passport (make sure your Tourist Visa hasn't expired yet)
b) Baht 1900
c) photocopy of your passport + visa duration date stamp + TM6 card (white immigration card) and sign all the copies
d) completed TM7 visa extension form (available at the Immigration Office)
e) one 4cmx6cm passport picture
- submit the above to the Front Desk. They will give you a stub with your number on it. Take a seat and wait for your number to be called
- when your number is called, your picture will be taken. Then go back to your seat. They will call you again.
- when they call you again, they'll give you your passport with your extended visa. That's it!
- when there are no lines, the whole process can take only 10 minutes
NOTE: When your 60-day visa is close to expiry and you want to extend your stay. No need to leave Thailand.
General Travel Tips
- avoiding scams - as a general rule, I ignore the touts or anyone I don't know who call out to me. The calling comes in many forms - "Hi! Where are you from?", "Excuse me! Excuse me!", "Where are you going?". I don't look them in the eye and I remain non-verbal with them. If you reply to them, you just gave them an 'in' to hound you. In order not to look rude, I smile and wave the 'not interested' hand to them, without looking at them.
- power bank - hand-carry your power bank. Do not check it in. You can be called in when you are already inside the plane to go all the way to the loading dock so you can personally remove the power bank...and chances are, you'll have to surrender it to them. And you might delay the plane departure!
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