Pai, Thailand

Beautiful sunrise over the valley of Pai, Northern Thailand
Beautiful sunrise over the valley of Pai, Northern Thailand

Famous for its location at the top of 762 bends on a mountainous pass, hidden in the mist and lush green forest of the Mae Hong Son province of Thailand, sits the small town of Pai. Often missed by those travelling the country of white sandy beaches, Pai is where rural traditional meets young bohemian. It is a climb of 146km (91 miles) between the city of Chiang Mai and Pai, with the climate being much cooler in comparison to Bangkok and even Chiang Mai. Elevated almost 500 meters (0.3 miles) above sea level, the trip is usually accomplished by a mini-bus or for those motorbike enthusiasts, this is sure to be a thrilling ride. Pai is situated in the north-west of Thailand, fairly near to the border of Myanmar – formerly Burma – and is one of the seven overland crossings to its neighbour.

Pronounced locally ‘bye’ not ‘pie’, the picturesque town is growing in popularity, particularly amongst Thais and foreigners who are looking for a cooler climate and a different, ‘hippy-styled’ break from the big cities of Chiang Mai and Bangkok. Despite the crowded periods, usually in December and January, Pai does not lose its charm of a natural, laid back and friendly little town. The locals are themselves cosmopolitan, many originating in Pai and broader Thailand, whilst others from countries as far as Scotland having made Pai their home, as in the case of the owner of the Pai Siam Bistro. For the European traveller, if not for most worldwide, Thailand’s weak local currency, the baht, makes for an inexpensive getaway, with one Euro equating to about 40 baht.

A comfortable overnight train ride from Bangkok’s Hua Lamphong Railway Station to Chiang Mai will cost approximately 450 baht and is the perfect way to see the gradual change in Thailand’s landscape, as well as mingle with Thais. From Chiang Mai Railway Station, a modified van will take you at a small fee to the bus terminal, Arcade, where the best bet is an air-conditioned Prempracha mini-bus at 150 baht. Upon entering the small bus terminal in Pai, ask the driver for a drop off at your accommodation as there are far less taxis – whether in the form of motorbikes, tuk-tuks or motorcars – as compared to the big cities. Alternatively, head straight to one of the many outlets that hire scooters, which together with a tank of fuel, will cost very little.

The range of accommodation is from high-end to budget backpackers; there is something for any traveller’s budget and need. Guest houses and backpacker lodges ‘ downtown’ locate you in the middle of the hustle and bustle of the walking street market, where trade takes place from day into night. With a scooter, one can venture a few kilometres (miles) and book accommodation outside of the main street. This is where Pai opens up into a maze of rice paddies and little huts on street corners where one can buy anything from fresh dragon fruit to Chang beer. Postcard moments are had here!

While there are a number of waterfalls dotted around the outskirts of the centre of town, Nam Tok Mo Paeng is the most popular for good reason. A scenic ride to the waterfall takes you through the heart of Pai’s nature, setting the scene for the large waterfall which has numerous pools to cool off in after a hot day. Be sure to take a costume, mosquito repellent and of course, your camera. On your way back, make the small detour to China Town, distinguished by its large red archway, where you can browse shops and have a sundowner at the view spot which looks right across the valley.

On the road travelling back towards Chiang Mai, 9km (5.5 miles) outside Pai, a small piece of history can be walked over as it crosses the Pai River. The Memorial Bridge was built in 1942 by Japanese soldiers to transport weapons and provisions to Myanmar during World War II. It is a quick sight-see as part of a trip out of town, at which point you can also visit the Pai Canyon. It is a small canyon, as canyons go, but it is worth the walk up the long flight of stairs where you will be met with an exhilarating view of the valley in which Pai sits. A must at sunrise or sunset is a walk along the ridge top, enjoying the quiet of nature.

No matter where you are in Pai, the Temple on the Hill or Wat Phra That Mae Yen is in sight and will leave the traveller intrigued until a visit is made. There is a long walk up to the top of the hill but it is well worth it, both for the view of the valley and the magnificent sight of the enormous White Buddha. It is currently under construction and once complete, will be golden like the rest of the smaller Buddha statues found around the temple.

The restaurants in Pai reflect its people. Both diverse in décor and food, the hungry traveller can find anything from German eisbein to pad thai from a street vendor. Most of the eateries and vendors are found along the path of the walking street market, some busier and noisier than others. Close to the Pai River is Edible Jazz, which caters for Western and Thai tastes, and has a laid back feel with hammocks to relax in while listening to live music from local musicians.

Fine Rice Thai Cooking School has cookery courses throughout the day and night, and is also open to patrons who feel less like doing the cooking and more like eating the delicious, often spicy Thai food. Be sure to ask for a coconut for a thirst-quenching drink with your lunch. Locals are often found here, an indicator of the authenticity of the cuisine. It is found at the top of the walking street.

Without question, Pai should be on the list of every traveller taking to Northern Thailand. It is a perfect spot to rest and catch your breath before diving back into the busy cities.

Tucked away in the Mae Hong Son province of Northern Thailand is the small town of Pai. If you’re looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life, Pai is the perfect place for you. This little town has a lot to offer, from its beautiful scenery to its unique culture. Keep reading to find out more about what makes Pai so special.

Pai is a small town with a population of just over 2,000 people. It’s located 762 kilometers (475 miles) north of Bangkok, making it the perfect getaway for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of city life. The town is situated in a valley surrounded by mountains, giving it a very picturesque setting. In addition to its natural beauty, Pai is also known for its unique culture. The town is home to many different ethnic groups, including the Shan, Karen, and Hmong. As a result, there is a great deal of cultural diversity in Pai. Visitors can experience this diversity by attending one of the town’s many festivals or by visiting one of its many temples and museums.

Pai is also a great place to enjoy some outdoor activities. There are numerous hiking and biking trails in the area that offer stunning views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. And if you’re looking for something a little more adventurous, you can go rafting or kayaking on the Nam Paeng River.

Pai is a hidden gem that should definitely be on your list of places to visit. Whether you’re looking to enjoy some stunning scenery or experience some unique culture, Pai has something to offer everyone. So what are you waiting for? Start planning your trip today!

The Top Five Things to Do in Pai, Thailand

Pai, Thailand is a small town nestled in the mountains of Northern Thailand. Although it is a relatively small town, there is no shortage of things to do. From exploring waterfalls and hiking through rice fields to getting a Thai massage and visiting hot springs, there is something for everyone in Pai. Here are the top five things to do in Pai, Thailand.

1. Visit the Mor Paeng Waterfall

The Mor Paeng Waterfall is one of the most popular attractions in Pai. The waterfall is three tiers, and each tier has its own swimming hole. Visitors can cliff jump or relax in the pools. There are also restaurants and cafes nearby, making it the perfect place to spend a day.

2. Hike Through the Rice Fields

Pai is surrounded by rice fields, and one of the best ways to see them is by hiking through them. There are several different routes that vary in difficulty, so there is something for everyone. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes and bring plenty of water, as it can get hot during the day.

3. Get a Thai Massage

A Thai massage is a must-do while in Thailand. There are several spas and massage parlors located throughout Pai, so you will be able to find one that suits your needs. A Thai massage will not only relax you but will also help relieve any muscle pain you may be feeling from all of the hiking you will be doing.

4. Visit Hot Springs

There are several hot springs located near Pai, and they are definitely worth a visit! The hot springs are said to have healing properties, so if you are feeling sore from all of the activities, spending some time in the hot springs may help alleviate some of the pain. There are also restaurants and cafes nearby if you need to grab a bite to eat afterwards.

5. Go Elephant Riding

One of the most popular activities in Thailand is elephant riding, and Pai is no exception! There are several companies that offer elephant riding tours, so you can choose one that fits your budget and schedule. Just be sure to do your research beforehand as not all elephant riding companies treat their elephants well.

Whether you want to explore nature or relax at a spa, there is something for everyone in Pai, Thailand. Be sure to add these top five activities to your list when planning your trip!

Things to remember to take with

1. Passport and Visa

The first thing you’ll need for travel to Thailand is a passport that is valid for at least six months from your date of entry. You will also need to obtain a visa before travel. US citizens can apply for a tourist visa online or at a Thai embassy or consulate.

2. Plane Tickets

Once you have your passport and visa in hand, you’ll need to purchase plane tickets to Thailand. There are a number of airlines that fly to Thailand, so be sure to shop around for the best deal.

3. Travel Insurance

It’s always a good idea to purchase travel insurance before embarking on an international trip. Travel insurance will protect you in the event of lost luggage, cancelled flights, or medical emergencies.

4. Money

You will need Thai Baht (THB) to pay for goods and services in Thailand. The best way to get Thai Baht is to exchange currency at a bank or currency exchange office before you leave for Thailand. You can also withdraw cash from an ATM once you arrive in the country. Be sure to have some US dollars on hand as well, as some places may accept US currency.

5. Packing Essentials

There are a few essential items that you’ll need to pack for your trip to Thailand, including: comfortable walking shoes, sunscreen, insect repellent, a hat or sunglasses, and loose-fitting clothing. If you’re planning on spending time at the beach, don’t forget to pack your swimsuit!

6. Camera

Don’t forget to bring along a camera so you can capture all your memories from Thailand! A digital camera is a good option as it will allow you to easily download and share your photos with friends and family back home.

7. Guidebook

A guidebook can be a helpful tool for planning your trip and learning about the various attractions and activities available in Thailand. Be sure to pick up a guidebook before you leave so you can start familiarizing yourself with the country.

8. Maps

Maps will come in handy as you travel around Thailand, whether you use them to plan your route or simply navigate your way around when you’re out and about exploring. You can pick up maps at most bookstores or online before your trip.

9 . Phrasebook

If you don’t speak any Thai, it may be helpful to bring along a phrasebook so you can learn some basic phrases that will come in handy during your travels. Phrasebooks are widely available at bookstores and online retailers.

10.  Travel Plug for Thailand?

Different countries use different types of plugs and voltages, so it’s important to do your research before you go. In Thailand, the standard voltage is 220 volts AC, 50Hz. That means you’ll need a travel plug that can handle 220 volts. As for the type of plug, Thailand uses the European standard C and F plugs. So if you have a device that uses a different type of plug, you’ll need to get an adapter.

Once you have the right travel plug, there are a few other things to keep in mind when using electronics in Thailand. First, the quality of the power can be inconsistent, so it’s a good idea to bring along a surge protector. Second, many hotels in Thailand only have two-prong outlets, so if you have a device with a three-prong plug (like some laptops), you’ll need a plug adapter for that as well.

With a little bit of research, it’s easy to make sure you have the right travel plug for Thailand. Just remember that the standard voltage in Thailand is 220 volts AC, 50Hz; that the country uses European standard C and F plugs; and that outlets are often two-pronged. With those things in mind, you’ll be able to use your electronics worry-free on your next trip to Thailand!

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