Is it worth going to Pai village in Mae Hong Son, Thailand?
If you are in Chiang Mai and looking for things to do in the mountainous northern part of Thailand, you probably have come across Pai village on Google and wondered whether it's worth spending four hours going to this little town? Well, I'm not going to give you a definite answer because it depends on personal taste. I'm going to share with you my personal experience with the journey to Pai and Pai itself and hopefully you'll be able to make a decision.
726 curves to Pai
Located approximately 130 km from Chiang Mai, Pai village is a popular tourist destination in the mountainous Northern Thailand thanks to its gorgeous view over the valley, the vibrant night market with a number of shops and restaurants and a number of attractions to visit. The journey to get there, however, isn't the easiest and most pleasant as the road leading to the village is long and winding with 726 curves, one after another. The steep and twisting road will you make feel every single turn. I'm not going to lie. It is vomit inducing. Many people, myself included, puked on the way to Pai.
I never threw up on a car before visiting Pai. I was confident that I would be fine but half way into the trip, I found myself getting sick. My niece and nephew were also car sick because of the continuous sharp turns.
In short, you probably won't survive the journey to Pai without getting sick. If you get motion sickness really easily then the chances are you will definitely throw up.
The more important question now is 'Is it worth going to Pai?'. The journey isn't going to be pleasant. It's about 4 hours (yes, you didn't read it wrong. It's 4 hours because there are so many turns and the road is steep).
In all honesty, I think it is worth it although I know others who may beg to differ. I spent one day and one night in Pai and I absolutely loved every second there and I wish I had more time there.
Things to do in Pai
There are so many things you can do there even though Pai is such a tiny place. Let's get started on how to get to Pai and what to do when you're in Pai, shall we?
Situated on a completely white staircase, Chedi Phra Thai Mae Yen is a huge white Buddhist statue that overlooks Pai. You can have a very good view of the valley and it's a good idea to catch the sunset from there. If you decide to do so, don't forget that it's a holy place and you need to be respectful.
Coffee in Love
It's a cafe that is so well known in Pai that has become a big tourist attraction. The cafe has nice seating areas that overlook the valley and have a very good view of the mountain ranges. The decorations throughout the cafe are nicely laid out and set up, creating many Instagrammable spots for those who love photography. I found food and drinks there ok and a bit more pricey than other places (which was expected because of the view).
Catching sunset in Pai canyon is one of the most popular activities in Pai. The trail to the canyon was pretty linear and fairly easy. No hiking gear is required. Some comfortable shoes would do the job. It takes about 10 mins to ascend to the canyon and it's such a nice view of sunset from the canyon. Remember that it is usually crowded and full of tourists during sundown. If you want to avoid the crowd and enjoy a sunset, consider going to the white Buddha statue as mentioned above.
You probably know that Thai people love night market and there seems to be one in every town. Pai is no exception. Even though the town is small, the night market is surprisingly good and amusing. There are many food stalls, clothes, accessory and souvenir shops as well as restaurants and pubs.
All in all, it was worth it to me. I didn't feel worth it going from Pai to Mae Hong Son though. Have you been to Pai? What do you think of it?
If you're looking for an itinerary for the Northern Thailand, check out my blog post on "how to spend 7 days in Chiang Mai and Northern Thailand" here.