Weekend in Pai

Pai is a small village in Mae Hong Son province, Northern Thailand. It’s very well known to visitors, and most of our friends had been for a long weekend already. Now we have the convenience of a car, we packed a bag, the dog and some snacks, and took a road trip!

Located just over the Chiang Mai – Mae Hong Son province border, this little village is surrounded by mountains. It’s a pretty small, you can drive through it in less than 5 minutes! But then the village isn’t really what you are here to see, is it? In every direction mountains frame your view. Pai is in a really pretty location, and although it’s already really popular and growing, it’s still small enough to allow the natural beauty centre-stage. Even the road to Pai is picturesque!

the road to Pai

Pai is also a famous as a hippy hangout – a very laid back, hammock swinging, organic tea drinking, nature loving vibe. There are multiple vegi restaurants in town, as well as meditation, yoga, massage, reiki, cooking and even home fermentation courses! The other hippy reputation is the original reason why this town was visited in the first place. It happens to be along the Myanmar trade route – so you will likely encounter police and army check points along the way. For tourist transport they mostly just look at you, but I’m told they are always in place to discourage trafficking of any kind. 

There are plenty of activities to keep you entertained, if relaxing isn’t your thing (?!) Tubing, white water or bamboo rafting down the river, ATV tours, trekking, elephants, hill tribes, waterfalls, temples, Chinese village, a Wednesday market specialising in Hill tribe goods, hot springs and even it’s very own canyon and circus school. The pictures below were taken from the viewpoint up above the Chinese village – worth the 20 bath entrance fee as it’s got amazing views over the whole valley, and there were only 2 other people there when we went! (I love clouds).

Pai viewpoint

Accomodation is abundant in this tiny village – I’d hazard a guess that the locals are greatly outnumbered most of the the time! In peak season it’s advisable to book ahead as we’re told it’s ridiculously busy and there aren’t many other options in villages nearby. It was rainy season when we went and the village still seemed pretty packed to us! (I’ll write about where we stayed next time). 

Driving from Chiang Mai it takes about 3 hours to get to Pai, depending on what slow moving vehicle you get stuck behind on the road! The route is pretty easy, just take the 107 north from Chiang Mai then turn West onto the 1096 and follow it until you reach Pai – that’s it. The road climbs up through the mountains, windy and steep in places but nothing an average car can’t handle…. Because you are basically driving over a mountain range, the views are super spectacular, it’s just a shame there aren’t viewpoints to stop and take it all in!  

If you are making your own way, buses and minibuses run from Chiang Mai Arcade bus station hourly 07:00 until 16:00 ish for about 150 baht. For all travel related details check out Travelfish here as they have more info on transport from Pai. It’s a great little trip if you’re in the area, especially for nature lovers! (Ooh, just for your reference the location I’ve pinned is the Chinese village viewpoint)!

pai village

Geotag Icon Show on map