Pai River in Mae Hong Son

The Pai River is a 180-km-long waterway originated from Daen Lao Range in Mae Hong Son Province of Thailand, The river is very famous for its whitewater rafting

The Pai River is a 180-km-long waterway originating from the mountains of the Daen Lao Range to the north of the Pai district in Thailand. The river has become a natural attraction in the region ever since some major developments in 2006.

Pai river travels in all directions from the source; first towards the south, and after a long journey, it starts traveling towards the west. All along its path, the river changes direction in several harsh terrains until it reaches Pai District, and then travels to reach the western borders of Mae Hong Son. Lovers of nature and traveling may want to put this destination on their list of travel destinations both as an adventure and as a relaxing time in nature. (Video Credit: Her Way to Travel)


The Legend About The River

There is a story about the history of this river and the reason behind naming this river as Pai. It is said that king Tilokaraj, ruler of Lanna, ordered one of his cousins to attack Ban Don. Prince Ci Chaiya gathered his soldiers and elephants for the attack, meanwhile, one of his elephants escaped to swim in the river. It is believed that “Pai” refers to the word “Plai” meaning the “male elephant”.


Pai River Activities

Pai River Rafting 

The Pai River is a very good spot for whitewater rafting and bamboo rafting with its various areas offering a wide range of difficulties along its path. You can select from class 1 to class 4 river difficulty in these areas, depending on your preferred lever and experience. The average depth of the river goes about 7 meters, which is perfect for rafting, but only when you keep safety as a number one priority.

Pai River cruise

If it is not a thrilling experience that you are after, then perhaps you can try the Pai River cruise. It is much safer but if you are looking for some adrenaline and excitement, you will get bored by the calm and relaxing environment around your boat. In any case, if you want the boat ride, you will need to go to Baan Huai Dua Pier located 5 km away from Mae Hong Son. You can go to Mae Hong Son from Pai district through the 1095 route, which is a 110 km journey.

Walking & Camping Beside The River

As soon as you feel like you want to go for a walk, all along the river are the green forests and mountain ranges. If you have the necessary gear and a good guide, you can spend some time walking or even go camping in the woods. You can enter the woods at any of the villages along the path of the river. Selecting a perfect spot depends on your needs and expectations which are better discussed fully with an experienced guide.

Other Activities Around Pai District and Pai River

Other than rafting, tubing, and getting the cruise ride, you can also visit the numerous waterfalls, hot springs, villages, and other attractions such as the WW II memorial bridge and Pai canyon.

There are good markets in Pai district if you feel like shopping and spending some time in the town, as well as a good number of resorts along the river and on the mountain. As time passes, there are more and more developments in the infrastructure of the whole region, making it easier and better to travel to the Pai River.



You can choose from economic places such as huts and houses for rent to top hotels and resorts in the area. Bed and breakfast choices, as well as huts, can cost you from 8$ to 15$ per night for less expensive options. As for villas and houses, the price can go up to 40$ per night.

There are also hotels and resorts along the river which can have higher prices with better facilities along with free Wi-Fi. The price for such accommodations can start from about 50$ a night up to 150$ per night depending on the availability of the rooms as well as the time of your visit. In low seasons you can always get more and more discounts on even the most luxurious places in the Pai district and near the Pai River.


How To Get To The Pai River?

As mentioned earlier, you can take a ride on route 1095 to and from Pai. Besides, you can take a minibus or a public bus, which should be checked earlier to see the arrival and departure times.

The mini-bus is a safer and more pleasant ride since the drivers are much better on this road, but if you are considering an economic trip, the public buses are not that bad either. Since the road has many curves and ups and downs, it will take some getting used to; therefore, if it is your first trip, you may want to have a plastic bag with you…

Besides, the ground access routes you can also take a plane from Chiang Mai to Pai and from the town to any other area you desire. The planes will take about 30 mins maximum to take you to the district, but you need to check if they are available since they change schedules all the time.


The high season for tourists of Pai River is from November until March. During this period, you may also get more optional tours or special offers which are worth the time and money. Do you have any more information to add? Feel free to leave your comments and thoughts. Besides, if you need more detailed information, make sure to be in touch with us using the comment section.

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