Trekking & Adventure
Small trekking companies, operated by locals, are at every guesthouse and all along the main streets. It is hard to choose from the many options, but Duang Trekking (at Duang Guesthouse, across from the bus terminal; tel. 05369-9101) has a good reputation. Also look for Outdoor Explorer (15 Chaisongkhram Rd.; tel. 05369-9815; www.outdoorexplorer.info), which has a strong eco-tour and educational focus. Group treks go for 3 days and 2 nights to Lisu, Karen, Tai Yai, and Lahu villages in the hills around Pai for 1,500B per person (some trips include bamboo rafting). Trekking offices can tailor any trek or provide private guides according to need.
The Pai River is really the most exciting attraction going. Overnight rafting trips take you through some exciting rapids as well as more scenic lazy spots, through canyons walled with prehistoric fossilized lime and shell, and through a wildlife sanctuary. A pioneer of the rafting business here, longtime resident Guy Gorias runs Thai Adventure Rafting (Rangsiyanon Rd., in the town center; tel. 05369-9111; www.activethailand.com). There are regular trips from June to January. Two-day adventures begin and end in Pai, at a cost of 2,500B per person. There are many imitators in town, but Thai Adventure is the best outfitter by far, with high safety standards and quality equipment, and a good base camp on a hill above town in Pai (ask about affordable rooms for rent). They can also make the necessary arrangements for pickup and drop-off in Mae Hong Son.
You can also go on elephant treks out of Pai, from where there are a number of hourly, all-day, and multiday programs to choose from. In addition, a number of elephant camps are on the ridge overlooking town; the best is Thom's Pai Elephant Camp (5/3 Moo 4, Rangsiyanon Rd.; tel. 05369-9286; www.thomelephant.com/Flash).