Pai (not “pie”, pronounce as “baai”) is a small town in northern Thailand’s Mae Hong Son Province, near the Myanmar border, about 80 km north of Chiang Mai on the northern route to Mae Hong Son. It lies along the Pai River. Tucked into a quiet valley amidst northern Thailand’s jungle drenched mountains, Pai is a peaceful town of laidback charm and simple character.
From Chiangmai, one needs to go though a steep and winding drive (3-4 hours journey), with 762 curves. Tourism were hindered by the inaccessibility. However, in recent years, Thai tourists are catching up in numbers, particularly after Pai was featured in a few popular, Thai-made romantic movies such as The Letter: Jod Mai Rak, Ruk Jung, Happy Birthday and Pai in Love. Hence, Pai symbolizes LOVE and it is a very popular destination for a romantic getaway. It is also a very popular Nothern Thailand destination for Hong Kong, China and Taiwan tourists.
When to Go:
Pai is significantly cooler than many of Thailand’s surrounding regions. The cool season from October through February is the best time to visit Pai. The hot season lasts from March through May with April being the warmest month of the year. The rainy season which lasts from May through October, is a more challenging time to visit.
Information from here.
Getting to Pai:
1)Mini Bus (150 baht per person, departing 730 am to 530 pm anytime)
Shuttle service will be served at guest house and hotel about half an hour before leaving. Please check your area for free shuttle service here. Jouney time about 3hours from Chiangmai to Pai. Distance about 137 kilometers. 15 minutes for breakpoints. Motion sickness pills will be provided for customers who need it.
Ticket reservation can be made here: http://www.ayaservice.com/aya-ticket.php
2)Kan Airlines (1890 baht one way, flying time 25 minutes)
Fly from Chiangmai: 1020 am
Fly from Pai: 1100 am
Kan Airlines operates flights between Chiang Mai and Pai in a twelve seater Cessna Caravan. The frequency varies with demand according to the season. Visit http://www.kanairlines.com for more information.
Getting Around Pai:
1) Motorcycles Rental
Bicycles (40-100 baht/day) and motorbikes (from as little as 80 baht/day) can be rented from many agents along the main street. Aya Service in the town centre rents motorbikes for 100 baht (and a 100 baht helmet deposit), plus 40 baht for damage insurance, 40 baht for theft insurance (copy of passport taken as deposit). You also have the option to return the bike in Chiang Mai.
2) Minibus Rental
Minibus with 10-13 seats are available for rent too (200 bath per day).
10 Things to do in Pai
#1 Going through a scenic route with 762 curves
The drive from Chiang Mai to Pai is known as one of the more scenic routes with 762 curves through green mountains in just over 3 hours of driving.
#2 Make a pit stop at Le Vintage
This quaint all-white French-style Le Vintage guest house-cumcafé is a great place to camwhore, while enjoying a tall glass of iced mocha for some perk me up or passion fruit juice – an effective remedy for nausea.
National Highway 1095, Mae Taeng, Chiang Mai, Thailand.
#3 Enjoy the view at Hua Nam Dang National Park
The weather of Huai Nam Dang is cool all year and the scenery is spectacular in each season. The charm of Huai Nam Dang is the sunsets over the pine forests. It is very exotic and romantic. In addition, the distinctive point of Huai Nam Dang is the sunrise in the midst of white mist. Remember to visit Doi Kiew Lom viewpoint, the most popular viewing spot in the park.
The Huai Nam Dang National Park is located on highway. 1095, km 65-66. Start from the city of Chiang Mai along Highway 107. Go through the gate of Tang Chang Pauek. Head to Mae Rim and Mae Tang District. Before reaching Mae Tang District, turn left to Pai District, Mae Hong Sorn Province on route no. 1095, km 65-66. You can see the junction to Huai Nam Dan National Park.
#4 Coffee with a view – Coffee in Love
Coffee in love is one of my favourite romantic destinations in Pai. It became so famous because the movie “Pai in Love” was shoot here. There is a lovely house on one side of the property, and a cottage on the other, with a coffee shop sitting in between and situated overlooking the valley and the mountains in the distance. We even spotted some couple taking their pre-wedding photos here.
92, Moo 3, Chiang Mai-Pai Road, Tambon Thung Yao, Amphoe Pai, Mae Hong Son, 58130, Thailand
#5 Take a human powered ferris wheel in Chinese Village (santichon)
Chinese village (Santichon) is a vlilage settled by Yunnanese hill tribes who crossed the border in the middle of the 20th century to escape Communist rule. There are different shops selling various Chinese food products and ornaments. Our local friends highly recommend their dried strawberries and dried cherry tomatoes. Remember to take the human-powered Ferris wheel and take some nice photos at the little great wall here.
1095, Wiang Tai, Pai, Mae Hong Son 58130, Thailand
#6 Have a nice Thai dinner in Pai town
There are many restaurants serving authentic Nothern Thai cuisine in Pai town, along the walking street. Baan Pai Terrace is one of the more popular restaurants amongst the locals and tourists like. Tik’s Kitchen or Na’s Kitchen are some of the local’s recommendations.
Rungsiyanon Rd., Wiang Tai, Pai, Mae Hong Son 58130 Thailand.
#7 Retail therapy at Pai walking street
Every day at 6pm, Walking Street turns into a night market. Everything from handmade crafts, printed t-shirts, vintage goods to clothings, snack food and fried insects are available here. You can even print your own photos, make it into a postcard and write down your wishes here.
Rungsiyanon Rd., Wiang Tai, Pai, Mae Hong Son 58130 Thailand.
#8 Take a dip into one of Pai’s many natural hot springs
Pai Hot Springs with its sulphuric water bubbles and temperatures of up to 80 degrees Celsius is well known for it’s healing properties. It opens daily from 7am to 6pm. Entry price is 200 baht for adults and 100 baht for children.
We spent a night at the Pai Hot Springs Spa Resort, a oriental chalet spa resort sits on the riverbank of Pai. There are two big pools filled with mineral hot springs water. Guests can also take a dip in their room’s private tub. I really love the quaint and serene surroundings of this resort. Definitely a good place for some R&R!
#9 Cafe Hopping
Cafe hopping in Pai is a fun thing to do. Pai is well known for it’s many themed cafes and Jinko Cafe is one of them. It is difficult not to notice Mr Postman and the huge tiffin carrier model outside the restaurant. I can easily spend one afternoon here, having a cuppa while playing with the cafe’s resident cats.
Walk across the main road from Pai Memorial Bridge
#10 Walk across Pai Memorial Bridge
WWII Memorial Bridge was originally built by the Japanese during the war to connect Chiang Mai to Myanmar and the bridge was replaced by the steel truss bridge in 1976.
on the way to Chiang Mai, approximately 8 km from Pai
Of course, there are so many other attractions such as Love Strawberry Pai, Pai Canyon, water falls, white water rafting and etc. I found myself drawn to Pai because of its easy going atmosphere and small town feel. I will definitely be back on a cooler season!