The riverside town of Pai, about 50 mi/80 km north of Chiang Mai, was once a sleepy Shan village, but it has since been transformed into a backpacker's mecca of budget hotels, bars, travel agencies and, increasingly, luxury resorts. Still, the pristine mountain setting makes a for a pleasant, if not exactly remote, short stay, especially for anyone planning rafting or hill-tribe-trekking adventures. Some beautiful waterfalls and hot springs are also a short distance from town. On Wednesday, locals and tribal people from all over the Pai valley gather there for a lively market.

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