Pai. Photo by Canva

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Pai is a small town in the Mae Hong Son Province of northern Thailand. It is well known for its stunning landscape and laid-back atmosphere, which sets it apart from other popular tourist destinations like Bangkok and the south of Thailand, where high visitor numbers have long since driven up prices.

In the past, the Shan people, a Tai ethnic group from Southeast Asia, lived in the peaceful village of Pai. Pai’s main source of income today is tourism, which has led to significant infrastructural improvements that have transformed the once calm farming community into a bustling tourist destination with a wide range of activities.

How to Get to Pai

Pai Canyon in Pai, Thailand. Photo by Canva
Pai Canyon in Pai, Thailand. Photo by Canva

The easiest way to get to Pai is to take a flight, train, or bus to Chiang Mai. Being the second-biggest city in Thailand, Chiang Mai is easily accessible and has excellent connections to the rest of the nation. Once you arrive in Chiang Mai, you have a few alternatives for getting from Chiang Mai to Pai: public transportation, motorbike rentals, minibusses, or vans.

I have just used a minivan for transportation thus far, and I really enjoyed it. The ticket can be purchased online or in person at the Arcade bus station in Chiang Mai for 200 Baht, or $5. The gorgeous scenery as you ascend towards this remote but lively region of Thailand makes the two-and-a-half-hour drive delightful.

My Personal Journey to Pai

In August of 2023, I was living in Europe, working remotely, and going about my daily business while at the same time noticing how inflation in Europe was increasing day by day, limiting the number of things that I could afford in life with the cash I was earning. One day in the same month, I woke up thinking of traveling to Thailand to have a change of scenery and spend some time relaxing.

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To cut a long tale short, I came to realize that my original goal to visit Pai for just one month as a tourist would really transform into a more serious plan to stay and explore how my life would unfold here. Thus, here I am, seven months later, still taking in everything that this beautiful place has to offer.

Read on to learn the top five reasons why I love this wonderful northern Thailand region.

1. Housing and Low Rent

Pai Bamboo Village, an eco friendly structure in the Mae Hong Son province.  Photo by David Brnelich
Pai Bamboo Village, an eco-friendly structure in the Mae Hong Son province. Photo by David Brnelich

Pai, Thailand, is home to a blend of modern and traditional architecture that pays homage to the town’s rich cultural past. The following are some typical building types that you may come across:

Bamboo Bungalows

These buildings are rustic and eco-friendly and are usually surrounded by beautiful nature. You will hear birdsong when you get up and go to sleep here. For a reasonable price, you can reserve an entire bamboo house for the duration of the month.

Upon my arrival, I discovered a stunning lodging option that cost $250 per month. You can review the deals on websites such as and A place where I stayed and that I would highly recommend is “Good Morning Pai.”

Guesthouses and Hostels:

Pai is well-known for its reasonably priced guesthouses and hostels, which appeal to tourists and backpackers on a tight budget.

Thai-style Houses:

This traditional Thai architecture consists of wooden homes decorated with elaborate carvings. The good news is that after hanging around and getting to know the locals, you’ll hear of even more affordable accommodation opportunities via word-of-mouth.

After searching AirBnB for lodging for three months, I was assisted by a local Thai acquaintance in locating a Thai-style home approximately 2 kilometers from the town center for 4000 Baht (which includes power, hot water, and wi-fi)—roughly $108.

2. Amazing Cuisine

Local fruits for a good and healthy breakfast. Photo by David Brnelich
Local fruits for a good and healthy breakfast. Photo by David Brnelich

I think it’s safe to say that everyone is shocked by the sheer volume of processed food available today, particularly in the West. Finding high-quality organic foods may be very challenging, and maintaining a healthy diet sometimes means spending a lot more on food.

Pai’s tropical environment allows a wide variety of fruits to thrive due to the land’s exceptional fertility. Since this list can be quite lengthy, I’ll just include my top picks.

Ma-Muang, or mango, is renowned for its sweetness. Ripe mangoes can be eaten raw, sliced, or combined with sticky rice for dessert. Mango smoothies are my favorite! In certain restaurants, they mix and blend the mangoes with organic coconut, which is grown nearby, and the result is incredibly delicious and healthful!

Visit Local Markets

Mango ice-cream in Pai
Mango ice-cream in Pai, Thailand. Photo by David Brnelich

If you go for a tour around the local markets in Pai, you can buy a big mango for 30 Baht, which is around $0.80. One of the best places to have a really good smoothie made of local mango and coconut is one of my favorite restaurants, “Charlie and Lek’s,” where you can buy one for the price of 45 Baht, which is the equivalent of $1.20. Another must-try is the coconut and mango ice cream!

Gao Mung Gorn, also known as dragon fruit, is frequently consumed raw or combined with other salad dressings. It is also frequently used to create wonderful juices and smoothies. Because of their great flavor and the addition of fresh lime or mint, I truly like the dragon fruit juices.

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Papayas, which also thrive in the warm climate of this region, are sweet and grow everywhere. They also have many health benefits, so you can never have too many of them, especially when they are so cheap!

Bananas—well, everyone knows what they are! The only exception is that here they are visible on every other tree; you can either purchase them for a very low cost at the local markets or simply harvest them off a neighboring tree!

Speaking of popular dishes that you can find literally at every corner, I am going to include a few here:

The traditional Northern Thai dish Khao Soi is created with egg noodles in a creamy coconut curry broth, garnished with a variety of natural herbs and spices. The flavors of this dish are perfectly balanced between sweet and spicy. Any restaurant will have it, and it normally costs 70 Baht, or around $1.9.

Som Tam (Papaya Salad) is a spicy yet refreshing salad made of papaya, tomatoes, green beans, peanuts, garlic, chilies, and lime juice. This is another dish that you can find everywhere, and the cost is around 60 Baht, or around $1.63.

When it comes to meat, there are several local meat options available in Pai, which the residents frequently incorporate into their meals. You may find local meat from the area, such as beef, buffalo, chicken, and pork. A popular dish is Moo Yang (grilled pork), and you can buy it at any corner for as little as 50 Baht, or $1.36.

3. Pai Has a Lively and Harmonious Community

Good Life Dacha, where the market is organized on every Saturday.
Good Life Dacha, where the market is organized on every Saturday. Photo by David Brnelich

The community in Pai is, in my opinion, the nicest aspect of living there. There is a great deal of respect for one another even though there is a great deal of diversity and people from all over the world. Here, native Thais and visitors to Thailand work together harmoniously and build solid relationships based on mutual respect.

“Good Life Dacha” comes to mind as an excellent place. The facility provides spa services, yoga instruction, and various workshops where people can come together on a daily basis. You will find a workshop to join almost every day, be it meditation, painting, or sound healing journeys. The list of activities is varied and interesting.

Every Saturday, locals and visitors from abroad gather at the market on that same street to spend a pleasant day together. People selling food and various handicrafts can be seen.

Read More: Why Airalo is My Go-To eSim When Traveling Abroad

4. Health Care in Thailand

In Pai, you’ll find medical facilities to serve both locals and tourists. This includes the Pai Hospital, clinics and pharmacies, alternative medicine, and wellness centers.

Although I have not yet engaged in the business of getting health care insurance, I can tell you a brief story just so you get an idea of the price you would pay for a service at the hospital. A while ago, I had a small accident on the road with my motorcycle. Luckily, I had no serious injuries, but the accident left me with three wounds that I needed to take care of.

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I went to the main hospital without health insurance, and my bill was 1400 Baht, or around $38. The services I received included an x-ray, cleaning and closing of my wounds, and medicines against skin infection.

The main hospital is modern and well-equipped, with friendly an professional staff. As you can see, the healthcare system is good and affordable. I won’t go too much into health care insurance, but different companies offer this service at an affordable price.

Read More: Why You Need International Travel Insurance When You Travel

5. Natural Beauty of Pai

Beautiful temples are all over Pai. Photo by David Brnelich
Beautiful temples are all over Pai. Photo by David Brnelich

This location is ideal for those who enjoy the outdoors! Pai’s breathtaking scenery and natural attractions are major draws for visitors from all over the world. Riding my motorcycle and taking in the scenery while traveling on calm roads is one of my favorite things to do in my own time.

Gasoline is inexpensive as well. Filling up your motorcycle’s tank for about 100 baht ($2.72) will easily allow you to ride it for up to two days. If you don’t like riding motorcycles, you may easily find a driver for a tuk- tuk, a car to buy or rent, or a bicycle.

My Recommendations for What to See

Pai Canyon (Kong Lan) is a stunning canyon that offers breathtaking views and is good to visit at sunset or sunrise.

The Pai Hot Springs are located outside of Pai town and are perfect for relaxing. The water is known for its richness in minerals and healing properties.

Pam Bok Waterfall and Mor Paeng Waterfall: These waterfalls are beautiful and a must-see. The entrance fee is 100 Baht ($2.72), and you can spend the whole day there.

Along the route, you’ll see many Buddhist monasteries in addition to breathtaking scenery. They are typically seen in the outdoors and are magnificent to see. These old buildings have such a serene atmosphere, and their architectural splendor is simply amazing!

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Author Bio: My name is David. I was born in Croatia, and I have lived in other countries, including the Netherlands, the UK, Portugal, and Thailand. I have studied IT and have a diverse professional background. At the moment, I am living in Thailand and exploring this beautiful and diverse region of the world. I love exploring new cultures and writing about my experiences.

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