The Captivating Natural Beauty of Pai in Thailand

The Captivating Natural Beauty of Pai in Thailand

The air is cleaner and fresher and the pace of life is much slower here, with all the ambiance of a congenial, small mountain town. Myanmar is only 40 kilometers (25 miles) directly north of Pai, though you would have to travel much farther to get there by road. The provincial capital of Mae Hong Son, with a population of just over 6,000, is 108 kilometers (67 miles) west of town.

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If you’ve ever been to Big Sur or Carmel, California, to Boulder, Colorado, or indeed to any small, artist-oriented town, you have a sense of what is found in Pai. There are many art galleries in town, meditation and yoga are popular activities and locals are accepting towards people from all walks of life. Classes are offered in everything from martial arts to alternative healing. Community-minded Pai residents are involved in reforestation projects and helping disadvantaged minorities in the region.

One of the attractions of Pai is that as a foreigner, it’s possible to live a small town, Southeast Asian lifestyle without having to fully assimilate into Thai culture. English speakers will have few problems here, as many local Pai residents have learned the language and adapted graciously to the increase in tourism and foreign residents.

Pai’s rural setting offers other advantages, as well. It’s far enough away from any large city to provide peace and quiet and all the amenities that come with living in a small mountain town, but it’s only a four-hour drive to Chiang Mai. Some of the best medical care in Asia is easily accessible from Pai, as well as an abundance of shopping, dining, and cultural opportunities.

Pai is a jewel in the center of one of the most attractive landscapes in Thailand. Several waterfalls and natural hot springs are located just a few kilometers from town. There are some excellent caves, camping and trekking opportunities, and a few elephant camps just a short drive away. Bicyclists can enjoy comfortable rides through the countryside, and motorcycle enthusiasts can pass endless hours of pleasure exploring the rural and mountainous roads which lead out of town in every direction.

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