Lying amid the beautiful hills of the Mae Hong Son province of northwest Thailand is a region boasting many natural hot springs and geothermal parks; this unique place, called the Pai Valley, is a top destination for nature lovers visiting the country.
Taking a dip in the hot springs can be quite a treat, as they are soothing to say the least. As you get ready to go enjoy these hot springs in Pai, our Guide will reveal, among other things, the top ones to visit for an awesome soaking experience in the Valley.
Origins of Pai Hot Springs
If you’ve ever wondered how they come about, hot springs such as those in Pai are formed when underground water is heated by pockets of magma. The heated water, which is rich in dissolved minerals, at some point bubbles to the surface.
Pai is rich in hot springs due to the unique geology of the area, which causes lots of tectonic activities to occur. These activities result in not only hot springs, but also geysers, landfalls, canyons, and the strangely-shaped hills, all of which give the region its picturesque appearance.
Best Natural Hot Springs in Pai
While there are several hot springs within Pai, some are not all that accessible. The following are three of the most visited hot springs which occur naturally in Pai.
Sai Ngam Hot Spring
With its crystal-clear waters, moderate temperatures, and scenic surroundings, Sai Ngam is regarded – especially among the locals – as the most popular of all the hot springs in Pai.
This spot features a main pool with pleasantly warm water, ideal for relaxation, and a hot river in which one can bath. The views here are amazing, and you can also have a great time capturing them while you enjoy the beautifully natural feel of the waters.
How to get there
Sai Ngam is located 20 km from central Pai, right next to a quiet road, and can easily be reached even on a songthaew. Just follow road 1095 towards Mae Hong Son; after driving for 20 minutes you’ll see a clear sign directing you to take a right turn. Once you have paid the entry fee at the gate, continue driving for about 5 km on the winding road till you reach the springs.
200 baht for adults, 100 baht for children, and 20 baht per motorbike. Locals pay 20 baht.
Sai Ngam stays open from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. If you’d like a more peaceful experience, visit in the early morning hours.
Ta Pai Hot Spring
Another one that is very popular among the hot springs in Pai, is the Ta Pai Hot Spring. This spot looks and feels magical, with steam from the spring wafting between the overhanging vines, and tree roots spread all around.
At 80°C, the main spring water here is warm enough to boil an egg (though you’re not allowed to do so); but the same path that leads to it will also take you to various baths with much more human-friendly temperatures ranging between 34°C and 38°C.
How to get there
Ta Pai lies approximately 8 km south of Pai’s town center. Just drive from this center towards the prominent White Buddha, along a road that will take you past rice paddies, few elephants maybe, and cool lookouts over the Pai Valley.
For 300 baht you can enjoy the hot spring at Ta Pai.
7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Muang Paeng Hot Spring
In a rural valley less than 30 km outside of Pai County, at a quite secluded spot, is where you’ll find what is commonly called the Muang Paeng Hot Spring.
This large hot spring is surrounded by trees and hills; at 95°C, the water is the hottest of all the hot springs in Pai that we’ve discussed so far; you can see the steam escaping from in-between the rocks and grasses; and you’re even free to boil eggs and eat as you relax on one of the bamboo service booths.
Due to its secluded nature, you will like the hot springs at Muang Paeng if you desire serenity.
How to get there
Follow Highway No. 1095 (Pai-Mae Malai); then switch to the Highway No. 1265 instead. Once you get to the Mae Ping Forest Reservation Department, look out for a sign, and when you get to the end of the road, cross the small wooden bridge and walk for about 150 meters right to the hot spring.
View on Google map.
The Muang Paeng Hot Spring can be freely visited by locals as well as tourists.
There are no official visit times for this hot spring, however we recommend the morning hours as that is when it looks loveliest.
Health Benefits of Pai Hot Springs
The hot springs in Pai, and indeed hot springs in general, are not just good for relaxation – they have surprising health benefits as well due to the plethora of minerals in them, including sulfur, calcium, chloride, sodium, potassium, magnesium, manganese, iron, zinc, fluoride, and phosphate.
The waters and steam can:
- soothe the skin;
- eradicate skin problems;
- enhance blood circulation;
- reduce stress;
- provide pain relief;
- help relieve the stiffness or pain of arthritis; and
- combat mineral deficiency when absorbed.
Before you head out to enjoy a rejuvenating soak in one of the refreshing hot springs in Pai, a word or two on safety.
- Swim or soak only in recommended pools/springs, and verify the temperature first.
- Avoid the geysers as these usually shoot out super-heated, scalding water.
- If you go with kids, supervise them carefully at all times.
- Though our featured Pai hot springs have relatively low sulfur levels, limit your stay in them to about 20 minutes per session as the vapors can make you dizzy over time.
A trip to any of the natural hot springs in Pai is a wonderful opportunity to relax and nurture your body while relishing the soothing sound of the waters, the song of birds in the trees, and the refreshing feel of the light wind on your skin. Beyond soaking, you can also explore your surroundings and make exciting discoveries. So don’t miss it!