The town of Pai (ปา), which for years has been considered a sleepy and isolated town, and still requires a little effort to reach, has undoubtedly taken its place on the tourist map as one of the most sought after destinations in northern Thailand.
In the 1970s, this area was considered very dangerous because it was controlled by the Kuomintang, the Chinese National Party, and was considered an important transit point in the production of opium.
In the 1980s, when the road was paved and the getting there became easier, the Thai government began to impose order in the whole region, which became cleaner in that respect. The Kuomintang were offered rich farming areas if they “behaved well” and were pushed quite elegantly northward so that they would not pose a threat, and the area could finally be open and accessible from a tourist point of view.
If you spend time in northern Thailand, you will eventually hear the comparison between the town of Pai and Khaosan road in Bangkok. Of course, such a comparison is exaggerated in every sense, but in recent years the town of Pie has started to resemble entertainment areas like the Khaosan or the islands, without the beach of course. Guesthouses sprang up everywhere, many tourist agencies and restaurants spread throughout the area. Even nightlife became more lively with an emphasis on live music.
The Resort Town of Thais
But unlike the entertainment spots in Thailand, Pai is also very popular with the Thai people themselves. During the cool season (December, January), thousands of Thais from Bangkok flood the town, making parts of it feel like the familiar weekend markets around Thailand. Traffic jams are not unusual during this period, and accommodation can be very difficult to find.
Despite all this, the popularity and density in certain seasons, have not been able to hurt the perfect picturesque atmosphere of the valley against the backdrop of the breathtaking mountains of the region. There are still quieter and more private places, just outside the main town areas. Many relaxing activities related to nature and the wild environment, a vibrant art and music scene, and areas that preserve the glorious Thai culture in the form of temples, authentic markets and romantic side streets that are suitable for excursions.
The town of Pai is relatively accessible from all the tourist centers in Chiang-Mai, and today it is an important part of trip to northern Thailand. Backpackers and adventurous enthusiasts flood the area in search of challenging treks, and breathtaking views. Many attractions can be found in the area such as rafting on a bamboo raft, stunning waterfalls, tubing, elephant trekking, bicycle trips and field trips on a scooter.
Some Interesting Info
The town of Pai is small and has a very simple layout. Everything is close and accessible, the main road of the town is Chaeesongkran which extends from the river, passes the bus stop, until the junction where the Rangsianon road continues westward towards the exit from the city.
The area between the river and the bus station is the most lively, with many guesthouses, cafes, restaurants, travel agencies, shops, bars and scooter rentals. Even in the less central parts of the town you can find more quiet and relaxed cafes and bars.
Most of the banks are along the main street, the Chaisongkran Road, as is the police station and ATM machines. The post office is at the western end of the town, in addition to the nice day market and the hospital.
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