Coming from Chiang Mai, you reach the village of Pai, located almost on the Burmese border, after 272 turns on a winding mountain road in the region of Mae Hong Son. Bear in mind that it will take a good 3 hours and plenty of concentration to avoid motion sickness! However, the trip is worth all this. There are no imposing cities, just four little intersecting roads, a night market that ends at 9:00pm, the mountains in the background, and a very serene atmosphere, which is quite the change after having visited all the major tourist sites.
Quite peaceful, Pai is best known for the Australian and English backpackers who like to stop here before and after trekking in the surrounding areas. The mountains and the jungle are very close.
Crossed by the river of the same name and which follows its course all the way to Burma, Pai is located near different villages belonging to ethnic groups of the north. You should explore the surrounding nature up to Sappong if you have the time.
Other than the Burmese-style temple, Pai doesn't have any particular monuments, which isn't very surprising given the size of the village.
The real attraction of Pai is the nature that surrounds it: a beautiful forest and mountain for walks and trekking. On top of that, you can even discover and meet the northern tribes of Pai.
Small and quiet, the nights spent in Pai are not as entertaining as the ones spent in Chiang Mai or Chiang Rai. Pai's 'night market' should be called 'sunset market' as it ends almost as soon as the sun goes down. It closes at around 9:00pm, at the latest. Try to go before 8:00pm.
Just like anywhere else in Thailand, you will be considered rude if you raise your voice or get mad.
The culinary specialities of Pai, located on the Burmese border, are very different from the cuisine of the south, just like throughout the northern region. Even though the tourist restaurants are generally consistent when it comes to the menus, not taking into account the regional cuisine that is very much appreciated by the Western clientèle, the servers also have good tips and advice.
You can purchase different ethnic handicrafts in the villages located on the territory of the northern tribes.
The night market in Pai, which ends at around 9 o'clock in the evening, also has artisanal crafts made by the northern tribes, as well as Western products aimed at the many backpackers: coloured t-shirts, saddlebags, backpacks, etc.