Pai, one of several small towns and villages scattered throughout the mountains of northern Thailand, is a pretty, off-the-beaten-track outpost. It boasts a laid-back lifestyle, welcoming residents, some of the finest scenery to be found anywhere in Southeast Asia and an unbeatably low cost of living. This is one of the most affordable places in the world to enjoy a rich, full and comfortable retirement.
Pai is a world apart from Thailand’s better-known retiree destinations, such as Bangkok, Phuket and Chiang Mai. This large, mostly rural province stretches from just west of Chiang Mai to the Myanmar border. Pai, located in a fertile valley surrounded by some of the tallest mountains in Thailand, is situated at about 1,800 feet above sea level, meaning the weather here tends to be cooler in the hot season than it is in the lowlands to the east.
In Pai, a foreigner is able to enjoy the best of small-town, Southeast Asian living without having to assimilate fully into Thai culture. English-speakers will have few problems in Pai, as many local residents have learned the language and adapted graciously to increases in tourism and the numbers of foreign residents.
Pai is far enough away from any large city to provide peace and quiet, but it’s only a four-hour drive to Chiang Mai, where you can access some of the best medical care in Asia, as well as shopping, dining and cultural distractions.