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Guesthouses, hotels and resorts

Since they are so numerous we've divided places to stay into three sections: in town, and east and west of Pai.

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Pai town

At last count Pai district had 400 or so resorts, guesthouses, hotels and homestays including those in town itself, scattered along the river bank or situated in outlying villages. High season from November to February gets very busy and popular options will be full despite many spots doubling, tripling or even in some cases quadrupling their prices from the low rainy season price.

Many locations east and west of town have short cuts through the fields to reach town – even if the access roads seem lengthy - but some more distant locations can be a problem if you don’t have your own transport.

Finally, since there is such a huge surplus of rooms for much of the year, guesthouses and resorts -- often the remoter ones -– can close at short notice and get pretty rundown with minimal facilities out of season.

West of Pai

This starts from the edge of town on the Mae Hong Son Road, where there’s a string of riverside resorts plus an eclectic collection of spots out by, and past, the airport. Up the hill there’s Nam Hoo and Mor Paeng villages, both of which have a variety of accommodation, plus south and north of the Mae Hong Son Road large 'country resorts' scatter the mostly bare hills. We've left aside most of the latter since many cater mainly to Thai tourists and are not awfully attractive. (All are pretty much in the middle of nowhere and lack decent gardens.) A couple of the more farang-orientated guesthouses aren't bad though if you want to get away from it all in the sticks.

On either side of the Chiang Mai road between Pai town and the Memorial Bridge you’ll also find a variety of resorts, though again many are targetting the domestic and Asian market, so their aesthetic may not be to Western tastes. The cute Mountain View deserves a mention though. Some of these options are a long walk from town, with the busy main highway to cross or walk along, so we’ve concentrated on places within a shorter walk of town -- the remoter ones are perhaps only worth a look during very busy periods or if you have your own transport.

East of Pai - Over the bridge, by the river

This is the area to the east of the Pai River. It starts with the riverside resorts immediately opposite town and extends north to Wang Nua village and south towards the hot springs area.

Crossing over the bridge at the end of Raddamrong Road and turning left along the river bank will bring you to a string of mostly simple bamboo hut guesthouses lined up one after the other, with a second row behind jostling in vain for a riverside position. (Some of these are more easily reached by crossing the footbridge at the end of Chaisongkran Road.) Most of the bamboo hut locations -- generally in the backpacker range -- have been around for a while. While they are all fairly similar in layout, design and price, a couple do stand out mainly by virtue of better maintenance and service. If our suggestions are full or you don't quite agree, just toddle along the riverbank footpath to the next one. This is certainly a good location, with easy access to the town and plenty of splash-about-in-the-river spots around, but at worst it can get very crowded with a lot of huts, and backpackers, crammed into a relatively small area. Being convenient and riverside they are also the first to fill up.

To the right of the bridge are a couple of new and very large village-style resorts, which mainly cater to local and Asian tourists. If you follow the road rather than turn left to Wiang Nua, sidetracks lead up to a low ridge that separates the river valley from a raised plateau of farmland that stretches off to the foot of the hills. This is traditional farmland but is now dotted with resorts and guesthouses. The sealed road, upon running into the ridge, makes a T-junction with the right fork, parallel to the river, leading to Mae Yen village and on to the hot springs, while the right turn also runs parallel to the river in a northerly direction towards Wiang Nua. Both eventually swing round to meet up with the Chiang Mai-Mae Hong Son highway on either side of Pai. Take any of the several dirt tracks leading across the farmland from the T-junction and you'll hit a whole range of guesthouses that don't stop until the foothills are reached. Sticking a few chalets in the midst of flat bare paddy can produce desolate results, so the best ones up here are the ones where more effort has been made with their gardens. There are a couple of excellent spots up here.

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