The valley of Pai

The small town of “Pai” is part of the Mae Hong Son province
Just a short three hour’s drive (149km) northwest of Chiang Mai and roughly half way to Mae Hong Son, lies the quaint bohemian town of Pai. Tucked into a quiet valley amidst rice paddies and fruit groves and surrounded on all sides by northern Thailand’s jungle drenched mountains, Pai is a peaceful town of laidback charm and simple character. Situated on the shores of the River Pai, this tranquil town has a way of making visitors wish they would never have to leave.

Pai’s remote location makes it an ideal stopping point for any adventure traveler. Whether you prefer a more laid back adventure such as bamboo rafting, elephant riding or kayaking or choose to get a little more down and dirty with rock climbing, trekking or white water rafting, opportunities abound in this picturesque northern town.

Aside from adventure travel, Pai offers a wide pallet things to see and do. Located in a region sprinkled with an abundance of caves, waterfalls hot springs and temples dating back to the 1800’s, Pai is pulsing with opportunities for natural and cultural exploration alike.

Facts and figures

Seasons & Climate
The high mountain ranges and surrounding misty jungles help to keep Pai significantly cooler than many of Thailand’s surrounding regions. There are three main seasons in Pai with an annual average temperature of 25º C / 77º F.

In the cool season, October through February, Pai experiences a large contrast between daytime and evening temperatures with morning temperatures averaging 21º C / 70º F, and nighttime temperatures dropping as low as 6º C / 43º F. December and January are the coldest months in Pai.

In the hot season, which lasts from March through May, the temperature averages from 17º C / 63º F in March to 36º C / 97º F by late May. With April being the warmest month of the year, the best time to visit Pai is during the transition from the cool season to the hot season as early March offers the most refreshing weather.

Although the rainy season, which lasts from May through October, is a more challenging time to visit, this time can also prove to be well worth enduring the occasional downpour to see Pai during it’s most beautiful and lush time of the year. The raining season brings also the most thrilling moments for our white water rafting expeditions down the Pai river!


Road distances
Distance from Chiangmai city to Pai: 149km
Driving time is 2 1/2 to 3 hours by private vehicle. 4 hours and more by public bus.

Distance from Pai to Mae Hong Son: 150km
Driving time with a private vehicle is 2 1/2 to 3 hours. 4 hours and more by public bus.

by bus
Buses depart Chiang Mai’s Arcade bus station several times per day for the three hour winding journey to Pai.
From Mae Hong Son five buses leave daily for the three to four hour trip to Pai.
The bus company is called Prempracha, and they also provide a minivan services.
See their website Prempracha Transports

By Air
As of May 2014, only one airline is flying from Chiangmai to Pai.
A scenic short flight of 20 minutes, flying low over the mountain.
The company is called Kan Airlines, and see the link: Kan Air for more info, or contact our office.

By car or motorbike
Taking the scenic three hours drive from Chiang Mai to Pai is undoubtedly the best way to arrive in this quaint town, meandering across a stunning mountain range through winding roads, until finally descending into the picturesque Pai valley. Make sure you have the precious Mae Hong Son loop map from before you hit the road. The map contain loads of information, road details and recommendations on Pai city. Perhaps the map will be helpful in the decision of doing the loop on your own wheels. The Mae Hong Son loop is certainly the most interesting self-drive tour in the North, and best of it is that we can easily fit one of ActiveThailand’s organized Pai river rafting trip within your individual program.

Getting Around
Most of Pai is accessible on foot and bicycles or motorcycles can be rented at several locations around town. Motorcycle taxis can be hired from the taxi stand at the bus stop.

Organized tours in Pai
ActiveThailand offers a range of tours and activities departing in Pai city, in collaboration with our local partner Thai Adventure Rafting. Various day trips to multiple-day trekking, as well as the safest and most fun river rafting descent down the Pai river.

Fore more information about hotels and accommodations in Pai and Mae Hong Son, find out about our selection on Asia-Hotel-Direct website.

Have a look at our exciting tour selection below:

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