The town of Pai is located almost halfway between Chiang Mai & Mae Hong Son on route 1095, it’s a mountainous journey made famous by teeshirts locally printed emblazoned with “Pai 762” on them meaning the amount of corners there are between Chiang Mai & Pai!.
Over the last few years the town has grown in popularity considerably with both foreign tourists and Thai’s alike not only because of its idyllic and bohemian atmosphere,but also because a couple of recent “Thai soaps” have been set their, turning Pai from being a remote “stopover” destination to being one of northern Thailand’s hippest & coolest places!.
Similar to Mae Hong Son, Pai’s original settlers were Shan immigrants from northern areas of Burma(Myanmar). Residents of this remote village were not bothered with the politics elsewhere in the Lanna Kingdom, nor for the rest of Thailand, for that matter & despite various skirmishes with troops from the Lanna Kingdom over the centuries life carried on very much as it always had done.
During World War II, the Japanese constructed new sections of the road that linked Chiang Mai to Mae Hong Son to create efficient equipment and troop transport for their troops in Burma including a steel bridge in Pai, believe it or not the Thai Government did not complete the road until the mid 1990’s.
Pai’s main economy is now driven firmly by tourism, cheap Places to Stay abound & a mixture of backpackers, trekkers & nature lovers frequent the town because of its relaxed atmosphere, great trekking location and to experience the culture of Thailand’s Northern Hill Tribes .The main tourist season runs from November-April with nice sunny & warm days, but with cooler nights after which the Rainy Season sets in until the end of October.
Pai’s Wednesday Market is a very popular attraction, as it brings large amounts of “locals” from all over the Pai Valley to the village, to sell their hill tribe articles.
It’s very easy to “lose all sense of time” in Pai, visitors will arrive with all good intentions of just “staying a couple of days”, but they very quickly fall undet the spell of this most enchanting town, and stay longer usually at the expense of other parts of their Thailand visit. The town also has quite an expat population, which are basically the people who visited, fell in love & never left!.
Getting There – the journey by road from Chiang Mai is quite long, but very beautiful & very recently a single daily flight has been introduced reducing the 4 hour drive down to just a 35 minute flight!.
If you have been to Pai or spent time there before, and have really great memories of places to stay, visit, or just fun things that happened, please share your Pai Memories here.