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  1. The "city of three mists" in the northwest corner of Thailand, capital of the province. Remote and mountainous, nestled in a narrow valley just a few kilometers from the border with Myanmar. About 260 km from Chiang Mai, 5.5 hours by minibus because of the 1,864 curves in the road. Pai lies about halfway and draws most of the tourists, making Mae Hong Son an excellent destination to escape the hordes. Temperatures ranged from an afternoon high of 37 to an evening low of 15. ARRIVAL I didn't care to spend 5.5 hours (each way) on a minibus, so I took the Bangkok Air prop plane from Chiang Mai, a 30 minute flight. Fares will remain competitive as long as more than one airline services the airport. Alternately, Kan Air uses the more modern jet aircraft Stayed at the Panarama Hotel, centrally located, 600 baht during high season, clean but basic. The elderly woman that runs it is very friendly and helpful. Wat Jong Kham Situated on the lake in the middle of town. A helicopter dropped some para-gliders Street vendors appear at sunset as folks gather to picnic or for a leisurely stroll around the lake. Tried a few restaurants on the lake. Sunflower was just OK but the Salween River restaurant, near the police station, was better. Featuring Sham and Burmese food, as well as Thai, I ordered this chicken casserole, portion was more than I could finish, for 70 baht. Wat Phra That Doi Kong Mu Towering over the valley, the twin stupas aren't that impressive but do offer some nice views. You can ring the bell without having to buy everyone a round. Su Tong Pae, The Bamboo Bridge About 12 kilometers north of town, a lovely 900 meter bamboo bridge spanning rice paddies, connecting the village of Ban Kung Mai Sak with temple Wat Pu Sama. There's actually two bridges, one for just crossing the river This couple caught out in the sun too long Some other interesting characters about Nightlife The Crossroads biker bar stays open "late" (i.e. midnight). At the town's busiest intersection, by 11 PM there's vehicle every 3-4 minutes. Two hot young farang women were leaving just as I was arriving, noticed them earlier by the lake, slamming down large bottles of Chang. I took a seat at the open air bar and ordered a drink just as one of the girls dropped her pants, squatted, and took a pee in the street. It's not that there wasn't a woman's toilet in the bar, but maybe it was out of order? Next Up: Pai Minibus leaves at noon, 150 baht either to Pai (106 km) or Chiang Mai (260 km). See my Pai picture report. http://www.pattayatalk.com/forums/topic/64434-pai/
  2. Pai (Population about 3,000) is a small town about 80 km north of Chiang Mai, as the crow flies, and about 140 km when you ride the snake, on the road to Mae Hon Son. The journey takes about 3 hours by minibus because of the 762 curves in the road. Bring your air sickness bag, as the Chinese woman sitting next to me was throwing-up all the way. We passed a spot where a motorbike rider had just gotten nailed by an SUV, and our driver stopped to lend assistance until the ambulance arrived. It's not the road to Hana, but still quite scenic. There aren't many attractions in Pai, just a few waterfalls and hot springs outside town. So why go there? It's all about the vibe: serene, tranquil, relaxed. I rented a bamboo hut along the river for 400 baht. Temps were hot during the day but dropped to 18 degrees at night. The main street in town is Walking Street. There are no GoGos or freelancers but you may be able to score a teenybopper. See my Chiang Mai trip report here: http://www.pattayatalk.com/forums/topic/63643-a-week-in-chaing-mai/
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