Photo: Pai valley views.


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

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.

Breeze of Pai
Backpacker - Under 600B
Between Chaisongkran Rd and the Pai river, Pai
T: (081) 998 4597

The popular and long-standing Breeze of Pai offers clean, decent-sized rooms; simply decorated, comfortable and, very unusually for Pai, excellent value for money in both low and high seasons. There's a block with rooms or detached bungalows in the garden to choose from, with either fan or a/c but all with private bathroom and hot water. The place has something of a Mediterranean feel to it, with... Read our full review of Breeze of Pai.

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Pai Village
Midrange - 1,500B to 4,000B
88 Tesaban Road, Pai
T: (053) 698 152

Located at the Chaisongkran end of Tesaban Road, Pai Village is an excellent spot and within its price category one of the best deals in the centre of town. It's central but quiet with good rooms, friendly staff and excellent facilities. The reception area is spacious and nicely done out with a teak finish and they have one of the town’s better and more popular guesthouse restaurants out front,... Read our full review of Pai Village.

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Baan Sangheuan
Backpacker - Under 600B
35/3 Moo 3, Chaisongkran Rd, Pai
T: (053) 699 859, (086) 180 4443, (084) 807 8563

Baan Sang Heaun remains a peaceful spot despite being set smack bang in the middle of town. You'll find it at approximately the halfway mark on Chaisongkran Road, right next to Wat Pha Kham, and set far enough back from the main road in a spacious and shady garden with mature trees -- it's a prime location. Friendly, cosy and intimate, but with only half a dozen, excellent value chalets, it can... Read our full review of Baan Sangheuan.

Family House @ Pai
Backpacker - Under 600B
55 Moo 3, Viengtai, Pai
T: (053) 064 337, (081) 992 3786

Family House Guesthouse had been around a while in Pai as a half-decent backpacker spot but in its new location reinvented itself as a smart little midrange resort — and added an @ to its name. It’s in a quiet location opposite the Pai River, just a little further down the same lane past Wat Pa Kham than the old site, so it’s very close to the centre of Pai yet peaceful and with no through... Read our full review of Family House @ Pai.

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Li Lu
Flashpacker - 600B to 1,500B
Rungsiyanon Rd, Pai
T: (053) 064 351-2

Li Lu falls into the great deal in low season but forget it during high season category. This mini-hotel just near the junction of Rungsiyanon and Raddamrong roads is tastefully decorated in a kind of minimalist, polished concrete style, which looks better than it sounds. The cafe and bar area is a pleasant spot to sit, the food reasonably priced and staff helpful. Well appointed and spotlessly... Read our full review of Li Lu.

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Pai in Town
Backpacker - Under 600B
Rungsiyanon Rd, Pai
T: (053) 699 085, (081) 031 6026

Pai In Town has set up right next door to Li Lu with clean and comfortable, though simpler, rooms at substantially better rates and without such a huge low and high season disparity. It's set in a good position on Rungsiyanon Road but set slightly back so it remains quiet enough. Reception and their cafe are in a nicely restored old wooden house next to the street, then rooms in a new but... Read our full review of Pai in Town.

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Pichai House
Backpacker - Under 600B
Rungsiyanon Rd, Pai
T: (053) 699 388, (086) 188 0039

A relatively new guesthouse as of 2015, Pichai’s winning formula of a good location, clean rooms and low prices has made it an instant hit with budget travellers and even in low season is often full. Pichai is on Rungsiyanon Road, so it's a five-minute walk from most spots in the centre of Pai. You enter through a vaguely Lanna-style gateway into a courtyard. There’s no room for a garden and... Read our full review of Pichai House.

Pravee's House
Backpacker - Under 600B
99 Chaisongkram Rd, Pai
T: (053) 699 368, (086) 189 4533

Pravee has a great garden and a good central location. It is another fairly cramped spot but their efforts with the garden, decoration and friendly atmosphere result in more of an overall impression of intimacy than claustrophobia. Two kinds of rooms are hidden away among the manicured jungle: individual chalets and rooms in a larger block. All are well maintained, clean and come with ensuite hot... Read our full review of Pravee's House.

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Rim-Pai Cottage
Midrange - 1,500B to 4,000B
99/1 Moo 3, Wiangtai, Pai
T: (053) 699 133

During low season this is three-star accommodation at budget prices and with a prime location is well worth considering -- though prices decidedly shoot up during high season. Beautifully decorated and well appointed wooden chalets are set in a lush riverside garden where shaded paths wind through ornamental ginger and heliconias. Staff are three-star resort standard too; efficient, helpful and... Read our full review of Rim-Pai Cottage.

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The Palm House
Backpacker - Under 600B
3 Rungsiyanon Rd, Pai
T: (098) 786 8520

For a budget guesthouse, Palm House is great value. It boasts clean, generouly sized rooms and bathrooms with hot showers for once not directly above the toilets. Balconies lead out to a small but pleasant garden, all set far enough off the road to bring some peace and quiet. Palm lies between Rungsiyanon Road and a smaller parallel road behind, so conveniently has two entrances. You have the... Read our full review of The Palm House.

Baan Tawan Guesthouse
Flashpacker - 600B to 1,500B
117 Moo 4, Pai
T: (053) 698 116, (081) 883 1083

Set down a quiet lane off Raddamrong Road, Bantawan is well signposted and easy to find -- just walk past the school on the way to the bridge and take the first right. Rooms are pleasant, but the fantastic garden is the guesthouse’s main plus. The chalets are set amid lush tropical gardens which merge into lawns as they lead down to the river. Despite the rural feel the guesthouse is only a... Read our full review of Baan Tawan Guesthouse.

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Huan Saran Guesthouse
Flashpacker - 600B to 1,500B
Chaisongkran Rd, Pai
T: (087) 988 155

This two-storey wooden building at the river end of Chaisongkran, near the junction with Tesaban Road, is a very popular spot both in high and low seasons. There’s not much to the place: a small reception area with a few tables outside, an upstairs row of wooden rooms and a downstairs row of concrete rooms, but it clearly works. Location is a big plus and rooms, while nothing flashy, are clean,... Read our full review of Huan Saran Guesthouse.

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Mr Jan's Guesthouse
Backpacker - Under 600B
68/6 Tesaban Rd, Pai
T: (053) 699 951

A little bit hard to find lying as it does down a side street off Chaisongkran Road, Mr Jan's is well worth the effort to seek out. Chalets are dotted around a delightful garden which is decorative as well as functional since it's primarily used for growing herbs used in their herbal saunas and for massages. It's in a quiet location and has good but very cheap chalets, all with ensuite bathrooms.... Read our full review of Mr Jan's Guesthouse.

Pai River Villa
Midrange - 1,500B to 4,000B
123, Moo 3, Wiangtai, Pai
T: (053) 699 796

Pai River Valley is another opportunity to stay in an upscale resort at budget prices -- as long as you're there during low season, though their high season rates are better than many of their competitors considering the quality of their accommodation. Well designed, well equipped and nicely decorated rooms are set around a large lawn leading down to the river with an equally pleasant restaurant... Read our full review of Pai River Villa.

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Reverie Siam
Midrange - 1,500B to 4,000B
476 Moo 8 Wiangtai, Pai
T: (053) 699 870

Reverie Siam is a relatively recent addition to Pai’s upper range selection and possibly the plushest within the town itself, yet they do offer some quite reasonable low season rates and internet deals so if you have a bit of cash to splash it’s worth considering. The hotel is smart, with white-painted, two-storey buildings looking out over manicured gardens (including a maze), and pools... Read our full review of Reverie Siam .

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Sylvana Pai Boutique Resort
Backpacker - Under 600B
96 Moo 3, off Chaisongkran Rd, Pai
T: (053) 699 840, (085) 529 5430

Down the lane from Wat Pa Kham leading to the river and just past Edible Jazz, Sylvana has a good central, though relatively quiet, location. This used to be the location of Family House which has re-invented itself as a mid-range spot, so Sylvana was lucky to have a ready-made, spacious garden with mature trees and plenty of shade to settle into. They’ve set our their new swish chalets around... Read our full review of Sylvana Pai Boutique Resort.

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Abodaya Guesthouse
Backpacker - Under 600B
16/1 Chaisongkran Rd, Pai
T: (093) 181 9291, (095) 698 1719, (085) 865 9589

Conveniently located Abodaya just eight large, clean wooden rooms set in a cute but cramped garden. The location is close to the bus station, just off the main street down the alley before the 7-eleven, so it's relatively quiet. Service is efficient and friendly (at least in low season), and their restaurant, one of the better guesthouse eateries in town, is a pleasant spot to sit with a morning... Read our full review of Abodaya Guesthouse.

Charlie's House
Backpacker - Under 600B
9 Rungsiyanon Rd, Pai
T: (053) 699 039, (081) 881 5022

Being one of the oldest and best known guesthouses in town, renowned Charlie's has seen better times but remains very popular. It does have a central location and some of the cheapest rooms in Pai, if that's what you're after, though it is fairly lacking in charm or atmosphere. The bottom range shared bathroom options can be a fair way from said bathrooms, so this isn't the place to stay with a... Read our full review of Charlie's House.

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.

Flashpacker - 600B to 1,500B
132 Moo 1, Wiangtai, Pai
T: (053) 699 366

Chalets at Brookview are set in a beautiful garden which extends out to the rear of the resort with lawns stretching as far as the Pai River. Two types of chalet are on offer, six brick ones scattered around the edges of a courtyard and 10 well-designed spacious wooden ones circling the garden looking out across the Pai valley. All are tastefully decorated, air-con and come with ensuite hot... Read our full review of Brookview.

Belle Villa Resort
Midrange - 1,500B to 4,000B
113 Moo 6, Huay Poo Rd, Pai
T: (053) 698 226-7

Belle Villa is a great resort with a splendid garden, very comfortable restaurant serving decent food and a good pool, so if you are feeling lazy, it's a good spot to decamp and just hang out. Rooms are spacious, tastefully decorated and come with all the fittings and services that you’d expect for the price. There’s the option of rooms in a small hotel-style block or individual private... Read our full review of Belle Villa Resort.

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Baan Mai Konmuang
Flashpacker - 600B to 1,500B
117 Moo 1, Pai
T: (053) 699 499

Very friendly staff and a delightful location overlooking the valley from a pleasant garden setting make this an address to remember. Baan Mai Konmuang is slightly out of town on the Mae Hong Son road but far enough off the highway to keep the noise down, and close enough to town that a brisk 10-minute walk will bring you within reach of most destinations in Pai. They have fan-cooled wooden... Read our full review of Baan Mai Konmuang.

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Ban Nam Hoo
Backpacker - Under 600B
Ban Nam Hoo, Pai
T: 053) 698 172, (087) 189 3044

You won't find much more peace or quiet in these parts than at Ban Nam Hoo, where a half-dozen or so chalets are scattered amid a well-cared for garden. The chalets are well spaced out and come with attached bathrooms and there's a cafe with minimal food service and internet available. Service was slack when we visited during the low season but that goes for a lot of places at that time of year.... Read our full review of Ban Nam Hoo.

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DO NOT USE North of Pai -- Mae Khong and Wiang Nur

This covers the loop north of town from the airport round through Mae Khong village and over the river to Wiang Nur, and the collection of small Shan villages to the northeast of Pai. You're never very far from Pai on this loop and the Shan villages are mostly quiet and cute and there is some good accommodation in this area. It's quite a nice area for hiking as well, since you're close to the hills to the north of the valley. As with many outlying areas though there's no public transport to speak of so if you haven't hired any transport you would be a bit stuck. Though there are some very nice places to stay, unfortunately the best ones such as Ubud Guesthouse and Amy's Earth House are a fair way from town -- especially late at night on a motorbike after a couple of beers, so bear that in mind. If you want to hang out, party and meet people then maybe stick to town, one of the riverside spots or one of the excellent places just over the bridge within walking distance of Pai. If you want peace and quiet and to avoid the party scene however, then do go for one of these further flung satellite villages. On the basis that it needs to be good to get you all the way out there we have been a bit more ruthless with our recommendations.

DO NOT USE South of Pai - Hot springs and Tha Pai Village

You're getting pretty out of the way by the time you get down here -- a 10- or 15-minute motorbike ride from town, and you can forget about walking. There's not really much in the way of attractions to keep you down here either, apart from a hot spring and a row of low-key elephant camps, which are probably better done as a half-day trip. This means your accommodation's going to have to be something really special to make the stay worthwhile. (Though Pai Canyon is worth a trip -- see activities section.) A string of mostly mid- to upper-range resorts runs along the ridge to the right of the road as you go down from Mae Yen. These have good views over the valley, but cater to mostly Thai weekenders. Then there's a bunch of mostly new and large resorts, again mostly catering to the Thai trade, by the river as you cross back over the bridge on the main Chiang Mai - Pai road. Lastly is an eclectic collection of resorts situated around Tha Pai village and the springs themselves. Hot springs are ten a penny in northern Thailand, and these are no more than average ones, though a couple of the resorts have constructed hot bath facilities. Same goes for the elephant camps (also see activities section), which are not the most exciting ones in the region either. The majority of the resorts aren't very exciting either so we don't even need to be ruthless to prune the accommodation list down. If you want budget options, go back to the river or try Sun Hut or Eden in Mae Yen.

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.

Pai Country Hut
Backpacker - Under 600B
190 Moo 1, Mae Hee, Pai
T: (087) 779 6541, (088) 261 2760

Heading along the riverbank from Baan Pai Riverside is a string of mid-range guesthouses. Among the second row of guesthouses, slightly set back yet just a stone's throw from the river, Pai Country Hut is a clear fave. The garden is very cute and well maintained (always a good sign), with bamboo chalets arranged around the edge. And these are not just any bamboo huts -- they are delightfully... Read our full review of Pai Country Hut.

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Flashpacker - 600B to 1,500B
98 Moo 1, Mae Hee, Pai
T: (053) 698 065, (089) 431 3511, (081) 595 4974

Pairadise Resort -- it's not a typo, but rather the owner's joke -- boasts attractive individual chalets laid out around a large fish pond and small swimming pool. The accommodation, all with ensuite bathroom and hot showers, is well designed and maintained and comes in standard and deluxe flavours. Both are a mixture of teak and concrete and all have small balconies. The service is friendly and... Read our full review of Pairadise.

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Pai Chan Cottage
Backpacker - Under 600B
191 Moo 1, Mae Hee, Pai
T: (081) 180 3064

Pai Chan is such a good spot and a good deal, but with only a dozen chalets it means that even in low season it can be full. Set just on top of a rise overlooking paddy fields behind and across the valley to Pai in front, it's a short walk from the bridge and access to the delights of Pai town. A very tastefully decorated restaurant and chalets set in a great garden with a small swimming pool... Read our full review of Pai Chan Cottage.

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Pai Klang Na
Midrange - 1,500B to 4,000B
199 Moo 1, Mae Hee, Pai
T: (083) 304 3300

Chalets at Pai Klang Na are about as expensive a bamboo hut as you will find in Pai but they are very stylish indeed. Just seven of them are set in a line with paddy behind and in front and while they may appear somewhat basic from afar, get closer and you'll notice the thoughtful touches of decoration and craftsmanship, plus the interiors are spot on. They come with air-con, fridge, cable TV,... Read our full review of Pai Klang Na.

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Pai Lanna
Flashpacker - 600B to 1,500B
169 Moo 1, Mae Hee, Pai
T: (089) 691 3367

Not far down the lefthand fork after the bridge and next door to Pairadise, Pai Lanna is well situated with a good view over the river and valley and a mere 10-minute walk from town. The garden is immaculate, with lovely sitting areas, and the wood, bamboo and thatch chalets are well designed and comfortably fitted out with great little balconies. Pai Lanna is firmly in the flashpacker range... Read our full review of Pai Lanna.

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Pai Tree House
Flashpacker - 600B to 1,500B
103 Moo 3, Wiangtai, Pai
T: (053) 065 727, (081) 911 3640, (081) 373 1820

Pai Tree House boasts an array of accommodation types to suit most budgets, spread across a well kept garden with Pai River marking the edge. A bewildering range of room types and prices are on offer, ranging from a fan-cooled treehouse at 700/1,000 baht (low/high), through to two-room luxury chalets with their own saunas for 4,000/7,000 baht. The treehouses are a lot of fun if you're not scared... Read our full review of Pai Tree House.

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Pura Vida
Flashpacker - 600B to 1,500B
65 Moo 3, Vieng Nua, Pai
T: (089) 635 7556

This Dutch-Thai-owned spot has excellent chalets in a very cute garden with good service, sharp organisation and bargain low season prices. The resort is found before Vieng Nua Village on the road leading north from the Pai bridge and they will willingly shuttle you into town every now and then -- but if you're going to spend any time out here you are ideally going to need transport or else a... Read our full review of Pura Vida.

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The Countryside Resort
Flashpacker - 600B to 1,500B
90/2 Moo 1 Mae Hee, Pai
T: (053) 698 133, (087) 172 6632

The Countryside boasts unusual octagonal chalets, each with a rooftop sunset viewing deck reached by ladder. Though this was formerly a fairly bare patch of paddy they have done a good job with their garden plus added a swimming pool. All chalets come with hot showers and are clean and well decorated. The downside is the location, down the lane running across the fields towards Mae Yen Waterfall,... Read our full review of The Countryside Resort.

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Baan Pai Riverside
Backpacker - Under 600B
190 Moo 1, Mae Hee, Pai
T: (088) 404 9211, (088) 672 8406

There’s a long string of bungalow resorts stretched along the east bank of the river and Pai Riverside is our favourite in the backpacker to flashpacker ranges. It's a large resort, so it may get a bit too much in high season, but it does have a great location right by the river and it's at the end of the row of resorts, so it's a bit quieter than ones in the middle. They offer quite a... Read our full review of Baan Pai Riverside.

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Pai Circus School & Resort
Backpacker - Under 600B
T: (085) 144 2662

A relatively new and unusual entry to the Pai accommodation scene, the hugely popular Pai Circus School (and Resort) is neither a school nor a resort, but basically a cheap backpacker guesthouse with frills -- lots of frills, including an infinity pool, trampoline, pool table, juggling and fire-breathing lessons. There are bamboo huts as well as a dorm, plus a cafe serving basic Thai and Western... Read our full review of Pai Circus School & Resort.

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Twin Hut
Backpacker - Under 600B
Mae Hee, Pai
T: (081) 028 0843, (081) 035 2013

Set back from the river somewhat means Twin Hut has a quieter location than other places to stay, albeit without the view. There are only eight or so huts, so it's never going to get crowded here and the atmosphere is accordingly more intimate than some of the 50-chalet resorts on the riverbank. The simple bamboo chalets are well, simple, but a decent size, well maintained and come with bathroom... Read our full review of Twin Hut.

Where to next?

Where are you planning on heading to after Pai? Here are some spots commonly visited from here, or click here to see a full destination list for Thailand.

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