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Mae Hong Son/Pai

If you were to name one place in Thailand that is the favorite of budget travelers, backpackers, and ecotourists, it would have to be Pai, in northern Thailand.Once a very sleepy, hidden gem of the natural world, it is now a lot less sleepy but still charming oasis of tourism.  With only about 3,000 permanent residents, there are often more visitors than locals in town, especially since it featured prominently in a romantic Thai movie a few years ago.

It is still very much worth a visit, and despite the long and winding road to get there, it is only about 85 miles from Chiang Mai, surrounded by mountains, streams, wildlife, and ethnic mountain villages.Pai is one chilled out place to relax, unwind, and enjoy some great music with like-minded souls.Should you get restless, the whitewater rafting trips will certainly burn off any excess energy.And with the scores of new guesthouses that have sprung up over the past five years, you’ll have no problem finding very comfortable, beautiful, and low-cost accommodation.