Secret Hot Springs in Pai – Sai Ngam
Getting There: Pai is best explored by motorbike, rent one for ฿150 from one of the many rental shops in town.
Costs: ฿20 for motorbike parking, ฿20 for entrance to the National Park
Nearby Attractions: head to Pai Canyon for sunset after spending a couple of hours soaking in the warm baths.
There are two hot springs in Pai, the touristy one: Tha Pai Hot Spring which costs ฿300 and is always fairly busy and the secret hot springs of Sai Ngam cost which only cost ฿40 are peaceful, a little bit magical and a delight to spend a few hours. In my opinion, the Sai Ngam are hands down the better option of these two hot springs for the price as well as being less frequented by tourists! They aren’t quite as secret as their name alludes to because they’re on google maps, and all the locals know about them, but they are significantly cheaper and much less crowded!
Finding the hot springs is fairly easy, about an 11km drive out of Pai winding around nicely paved roads through the peaceful countryside. Take the main road 1095 and keep driving, you’ll pass over 2 cement bridges the first one 5km out and the next one a further 5km. After the second cement bridge keep going for another 1-2km and you’ll see a blue sign for the hot springs, take the next turn on the right and you’ll reach the forest commission wooden shed where you pay the entrance fee for the National Park.
Next comes the fun part! Once past the wooden shack you’ll need to drive an additional 3-4km on a bumpy, steep and adventurous track. The road is paved to a decent quality but if you aren’t an experienced motorbike rider it can be very sketchy. The roads were some of the steepest I’ve seen in Thailand, so much so that the bike couldn’t get up one of the inclines with two people on it. On our return trip back down the brakes weren’t strong enough to actually bring us to a complete stop and it was a dodgy adventure to say the least!
Once you’ve survived the roads you’ll find the three levels of hot springs beneath the forest canopy; these springs are in a completely natural lagoon with warm 40°C bath like water where you can easily spend a few hours relaxing. There will be a few westerners here but predominantly I saw Thai families with small children playing in the warm spring water. They were constructing a further pool beneath the lagoon creating another level, so the springs are clearly expanding a bit, but it is still one of the best kept secrets of Pai.
I found these hot springs to be magical with the sun streaming through the canopy and the warm and crystal clear waters. You don’t hear any bustling street cars or noises aside from the laughter of the local children playing in the pools! This is the perfect escape and an amazing experience that you must try if you’re visiting Pai!