Pai airportPai airport is going to get bigger!

Due to an increase in the number of tourists exploring the mountainous district of Mae Hong Son, officials have proposed a plan for expansion of Pai airport to cope with demand. The airport upgraded the runway in 2007, the last overhaul the airport has had. However, now the time has come for an expansion program headed by the Pai Tourism Business Association, and in conjunction with a leading airport consultancy firm.

At present, Pai Airport covers 78 rai of land and has a 900 metre long runway. In a recent survey carried out, Pai airport welcomed 309 flights, carrying mainly backpackers who wanted to explore the area. Currently Kan Air is the only provider, servicing flights between Chiang Mai and Pai. It is encouraging that more and more people are heading to these “off the beaten track” destinations, a sign that despite current opinion, Thailand is a popular destination for tourists from all over the world.

Due to the size of the project, government officials are exploring the options of making a joint investment plan under the PPP (Public Private Pai airportPartnership).

Pai is a small town in the Mae Hong Song Province of Chiang Mai, near the Myanmar border. It is highly regarded for it’s influx of backpackers. The area is deep in cheap guesthouses, tourist souvenir shops as well as many restaurants. Pai has many elephant camps and spa’s, all high on the list of things to do for all visitors. Further outside of town, there are several waterfalls and a number of natural hot springs varying in temperature from 27-39 °C (80–200 °F). Some resorts tap the hot springs and feed hot water into private bungalows and public pools. As Pai lies at the foot of the mountains, many tourists use it as a base for trekking and visiting many hill tribes such as Karen, Hmong, Lahu and Lisu. Wednesdays is a popular day with the locals as it is market day, traders from all around come to display their goods to all who visit the market.

So with the planned expansion to Pai airport, the future looks promising for both tourists as well as locals, and maybe the future of pai will develop into a thriving community and a sought after destination among travelers.