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Backpackers love Pai for its affordable lodging and you only need to walk twenty feet down the street to see hundreds of signs advertising rooms for just THB100/USD3 a night, including a pool, AC (a big hit!), and free breakfast in many.
One of the most popular places to stay is Purple Monkey, just down the road from the Walking Street at 294 Moo, which is one of the more social places to stay, brimming with solo-backpackers reclining in hammocks, or swimming in the pool.
Five minutes out of town, turning left off Raddamrong Road, you can find the Famous Pai Circus Hostel, which – true to its name – offers circus lessons and free yoga, too. It’s another of the more ‘party’ hostels and a great place to meet new travellers. The view from the infinity pool over the mountains is also hard to beat – and all at just THB100/USD3 a night.
Pai’s guesthouses won’t break the bank either and you can easily spend around THB400/USD12 each if you are sharing the price of a double room.
If you want to stay central then you can’t get more convenient than Huan Saran Guesthouse, right on the night market street near Tesaban Road. Its rooms are simple, but clean, and the location is hard to beat.
Just off Raddamrong Road, by the school, you’ll also find Baan Tawan on the banks of the river with affordable rooms at just THB1000/USD30 – including breakfast. Its wooden chalets are set in a lush tropical garden with verdant views of the river and overhanging trees - and with no neighbours it promises a good night sleep while being minutes from town.
But if it’s a pool you want then just 1 minute from the Walking Street on Chaisonkram, is the stylish Sylvana Resort with balcony rooms from THB800/USD25.
Those with a bit more cash to splash can also make the most of Pai’s affordable luxury. In recent years, the town has seen more ‘high-end’ options popping up to cater for the more up-market holiday-maker.
Oia Pai Resort is perhaps one of the fanciest, with its Mediterranean architecture, eco-friendly accommodation, and man-made saltwater lake. It’s a stunning resort and promises to enhance your Pai experience so rooms can be as much as THB16,000/USD450 a night for a private sunset villa.
Located in a green valley just 3km from Pai town (130 M. 5 T. Mae Na Theung) is Puri Pai Villa, so if you’ve come to enjoy northern Thailand’s natural beauty, the resort’s quiet mountain location makes it the place to stay. Commanding views of the surrounding area, its large airy rooms, quiet seclusion, and swimming pool make this luxury resort one of our favourites. And with rooms from THB5,000/USD150 a night, we’d say it was worth it!
Pai station guide
Pai - Bus
The bus station in Pai is in the centre of town and on a side street just off Highway 1095. The facility is mostly open air and has a few shelters that offer a respite from the sun. Highway 1095 is the route from Mae Taeng to Mae Hong Son. Chiang Mai is 35kms from Mae Taeng.
Pai is the halfway point between the two bigger towns and its bus station is a stopover for public buses and minibuses travelling between them. Public buses depart four times a day for the Arcade Bus Station in Chiang Mai. The first bus is at 08:30 and the last at 16:00. Journey times average four hours.
The stretch of the 1095 from Pai to Mae Hong Son is tortuous and buses can take more than three hours to cover the 100kms between the two. There are five daily buses to Mae Hong Son. At peak holiday periods, there is significant demand for tickets and it is a good idea to reserve your seat in advance online.
From the same station, there are also minibuses to Chiang Mai and Mae Hong Son. These generally depart every hour and can cut travel times by up to one hour. Drivers achieve this with speed and it is not always a pleasant experience going round the hairpin bends on the 1095 very fast. Pai has a tiny airport two kilometres north of town. One Thai airline operates Chiang Mai to Pai flights three times a week.
Pai’s bus station is right at the heart of the town’s collection of cafés and travellers have plenty of choices for food and drink. The Nai Wieng and the Country Hut are among numerous nearby accommodation options. As well as restaurants, there are supermarkets and 7-Elevens in the town. Most destinations in town can be reached on foot. Motorcycle taxis are available for longer trips.