Photo: Warm up.

Hot springs

Our rating:

Sulphurous hot springs emerge out of the ground at numerous spots across north Thailand and Pai district is no exception. The most conveniently accessible ones are around 12 kilometres southeast of town in Mae Hee district.

The principal site, Pong Nam Ron Tha Pai, is a collection of springs and scorching ponds set near the entrance to Huay Nam Dang National Park. Along with these, some nearby sources on private land have been channelled to provide hot mineral baths at the predictably named and very fancy Pai Hot Springs Spa Resort. If you prefer a more natural setting to take the waters, then the national park is a very attractive option, with a series of springs and steaming pools rising in steps amid a grove of natural forest. Certain ponds are suitable for bathing while others reach near boiling point, so do be careful before taking the plunge. They are indicated in English but even so a mistake could be very nasty!

Pay attention to the signs. Photo taken in or around Hot springs, Pai, Thailand by Mark Ord.

Pay attention to the signs. Photo: Mark Ord

Trails lead further on into the woods, so the site holds potential for nature lovers but since it is only a national park sub-station, there are minimal facilities and information. The principal park entrance and buildings are located around 40 kilometres southeast off the highway leading back to Mae Malai. Huay Nam Dang actually incorporates over 1,200 square kilometres of forest and hill country stretching from the Burmese border all the way to Chiang Dao and Mae Taeng districts in Chiang Mai province. There are changing rooms/showers for bathers but the visitor’s centre contained zero information in English when we visited. If you can locate an English-speaking park warden then they may be able to suggest some longer hiking trails to take.

Otherwise the main problem with whiling away an hour or two at this picturesque site is the rather steep entrance fee for foreigners: 300 baht for adults, 150 for children, plus 20 baht for a bike. It’s a shame though it does mean the springs avoid the hordes of sunbathing, Chang-swilling backpackers that Mor Paeng, for example, suffers from. It was very quiet when we visited on a rainy season mid-week day, though during a high season weekend it can get very busy with bathing and picnicking Thais, who only have a 50 baht fee to cough up.

A more stylish approach. Photo taken in or around Hot springs, Pai, Thailand by Mark Ord.

A more stylish approach. Photo: Mark Ord

Note that Pai day tour prices include entrance fees to the national park, so agents are obviously getting local rates as the entire day tour only goes for around 500 baht. During low season there are only the predictable eggs for sale (if you like your little soldiers with a sulphur tang) and a very basic cafe, but busier times should see snack and drink stalls by the carpark.

If a natural setting isn’t a priority—or indeed if you prefer a boutique spa feel—then the Hot Springs Resort isn’t actually as expensive as it looks, and provides an attractive manicured garden location. Access to the hot baths is a reasonable 100 baht per person with a whole menu of additional spa treatments on offer.

Pai HotSprings Spa Resort: 84/2 Moo2, Mae Hee; T: (053) 065 748-9;
Pong Nam Ron Tha Pai: Huay Nam Dang National, Park Mae Hee district; open Mo–Su: 07:00-18:00.

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How to get there
Huay Nam Dang is eight kilometres from Pai and can be reached either by continuing south on the Mae Yen Road or turning left after the Memorial Bridge off highway 1095. Pai Hot Springs Spa Resort is off the rural road a short distance north of the park entrance and is well signposted in English.

Location map for Hot springs

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A selection of some of our favourite places to stay in Pai.

What next?

 Browse our independent reviews of places to stay in and around Pai.
 Check prices, availability & reviews on Agoda or Booking
 Read up on where to eat on Pai.
 Check out our listings of other things to do in and around Pai.
 Read up on how to get to Pai, or book your transport online with 12Go Asia.
 Do you have travel insurance yet? If not, find out why you need it.
 Planning on riding a scooter in Pai? Please read this.
 Browse tours in Thailand with Tourradar.

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