This is a special Pai Hot Springs page from allaboutpai.com, which has lots of information about Pai, a town in the mountains of Northern Thailand.
This local treasure has been run by locals and available for free to all locals for centuries. It has even been free over the last 12 or so years, when it has been under the local Forestry officials' care.
These outrageous prices, and this outrageous price discrimination, which are not just limited to Pai, have been alienating tourists and tour operators for years, spawning a flood of complaints about park fees all across the country.
On 22 November 2007, the Department of National Parks finally began to acknowledge the problem when they introduced a new pricing scheme which reduced fees for some parks. Tha Pai Hot Springs, which is part of Huay Nam Dang National Park, went to 200B for foreigners and 40B for Thais.
200B is still completely, utterly, totally ridiculous. For christ's sake, it's a little muddy hot creek with one little bathroom they have to clean! Give me 200 B per person and I will clean the bathroom myself! Even if you believe the nationwide 200-400B "national park fee" is justified for the high costs of maintaining large national parks, 200B is completely out of line for Tha Pai hot springs and can only be ascribed to greed and corruption. For some perspective on 200B, it costs 400B (8.50 Euros) for all-day admission to the Louvre in Paris! Even if you believe farangs should pay more, 5x more is not reasonable by any stretch of the imagination.
The order to charge came from Bangkok and I'm willing to bet the vast majority of the cash goes straight there.
Perhaps the real problem is that Tha Pai Hot Springs is priced along with the rest of Huay Nam Dang National Park. In reality, Tha Pai Hot springs is nowhere near the entrances to Huay Nam Dang, and cannot even compare with the facilities of Huay Nam Dang, which include luxury rental bungalows, a visitor center, restaurants, fancy baths, interpretive trails, miles and miles of hiking trails, etc. Tha Pai Hot Springs is just a little creek with no trails connecting to the rest of the park.
You can do this when you are in Pai visiting the nearby private hot springs, or you can even help via mail or email. Here's all you need to do:
Print and sign the following bilingual note (for email, just cut and paste it!):
Now deliver the note in as many ways as you can:
Huay Nam Dang National Park
National Park Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department
61 Thanon Pahonyotin
Kwaeng Lat Yao
National Park Conservation Area 16
153 Thanon Charoen Prathet
Tambon Chang Klan
Amphoe Muang Jangwat Chiang Mai
Huay Nam Dang National Park
Tambon Kit Chang
Amphoe Mae Taeng
Jangwat Chiang Mai
In order for this to help, we have to do protest Thai-style, which is very different from farang-style. Here's how it works:
Very Important: The note must be sealed and addressed to the management!
Why is this? It's because of a surprising facet of Thai culture. Remember, the gate guard is just a grunt with no ability to change the policy. Our goal is to get him to hand this note up the chain of command instead of throwing it away. While our note is very polite, it has a confrontational subject matter. In Thai culture, those who are subordinate (including junior forestry officials!) feel a strong desire not to confront their superiors or even be the bearer of confrontation. If the letter were not sealed, the gate officer would read it and throw it away so as to "shield" his boss from confrontation. A sealed letter, on the other hand, is a completely different matter. The gate officer can claim he doesn't know what's in the letter (and even if he does, and even if his boss knows he knows, it still counts!). Plus, he is duty-bound not to open his boss's letters and to deliver them! Weird, I know, but that's how it is in Thai culture.
In the PDF and Microsoft Word files above, I have made it easy for you to seal your letter by simply folding it as shown:
Or if you have staples or tape you can get all high-tech :)
Unfortunately, these places are not natural like Tha Pai hot springs, but at least they don't gouge foreigners. They charge between 40-100B for use of pools.
This will be your reward for helping to take back the natural hot springs from the Bangkok bureaucrats!