Northern Thailand has a lot to offer. If you haven’t ventured to this part of Thailand, you are seriously missing out. Nestled in the middle of rolling hills and waterfalls is a popular hippie village named Pai. Although Pai is slowly becoming very touristy, it doesn’t mean that it’s not charming. Between its lush greenery, quaint shops and bars, and of course, the ever so popular “hammock culture” that everyone is part of, Pai is definitely a place where you can unwind and relax. Given its popularity, traveling from one place to the other is pretty common. Here are few options on how to get to Pai from Chiang Mai.

Editor’s Note: Heading to Pai? Check out our guide on where to stay in Pai for top recommendations!

pai thailand

Chiang Mai to Pai by Plane

Although the road between the two is a mere 3 hour drive, some people opt to fly instead of traveling by land. We have never personally flown to get there but if this option is something that you are consider, Kan Airlines offers short flights from Chiang Mai to Pai. The local airport of Pai (PYY) is about 2km north of the town itself. The flight itself takes only 30 minutes and is the fastest way to get from Chiang Mai to Pai. You do have to note that the flights don’t run every day so it would be best to go directly to the airline to check their schedule.

More information: Sometimes you can also Check flights here

Cost:  Roughly around $50-60 (2,100 BAHT)

Trip length: 30 minutes

Editor’s Note: Exploring Pai? Download our FREE app, Get Stoked to help you find awesome things to do in the area.pai-activities-button

chiang mai to pai

Bus from Chiang Mai to Pai

Aside from flying, you can also take the public bus which runs for around 4 hours, depending on the traffic. There are roughly about 5 trips every day which run from the Arcade Bus station which is located in the North-eastern part of Chiang Mai. Unlike the minibuses, there is no need to book your tickets in advance but do beware of holiday and peak seasons. We generally like to get to the bus station at least 30 minutes before hand to ensure that we are able to get tickets. Due to the size of the buses, they tend to go a lot slower but they often are crowded as taking a bus to Pai is one of the cheapest options to travel to the area. Bus tickets for Pai (and other destinations on the Mae Hong Son route) are sold from their own dedicated ticket counter to one side of the main bus station so ask around if you can’t find it.

More information: Check bus times here

Cost: Anything from 80- 100 BAHT

Trip Length: 4 hours

chiang mai to pai

Chiang Mai to Pai by Mini Bus

Vans or mini buses are the most common way for people to get from Chiang Mai to Pai. You can book a trip here from almost every travel agency. If you’re feeling extra lazy, you can even ask your hostel or guesthouse and they will happily oblige. There are two different kinds of mini buses. One that is air-conditioned and government run and the other is a tourist van. Both vans can get quite cramped and due to the zig zagy nature of the roads, a lot of people get car sick for this journey. Unlike the government mini buses, the tourist van offers a pickup service from your guesthouse in Chiang Mai. One company which offers this is AYA Bus Service. They will pick you up from your hotel in Chiang Mai’s Old City anywhere from thirty minutes to one hour before your set departure.

Insider Tip: If you easily get dizzy, do yourself a favour and take any type of motion sickness pill. The windy roads and cramped conditions can get the best of you.

More information: Check mini-van times here

Cost: Government mini bus: 150-180 BAHT, Tourist Bus: 180-200 BAHT

Trip Length: 3 hours- 3 ½ hours

Our Chiang Mai to Pai Top Choice: Renting a Motorbike

Now comes our favorite means of transportation. Renting a motorbike and traveling from Chiang Mai to Pai is one of the best ways to do it. The scenery, combined with the thrill of driving down this bendy road is an exhilarating feeling. Tom has driven this route multiple times and enjoys the experience each time. It is best to go this route only if you have a bit of experience as the turns in Route 1095 can be quite unforgiving with all its 762 bends. I’m not even kidding you. The scenery during this route is pretty unbelievable and is definitely worth doing!

Read: Riding the Mae Hong Son Loop Review

Editor’s Note: Download our FREE app, Get Stoked so you can instantly message activity providers to reserve a slot or ask a questionpai-activities-button

motorbike rental thailand

Trip Length: 4 hours with stops

Cost: Price really depends on what type of bike you rent.

Insider Tip: For those looking to rent a bigger bike for this epic road trip, we recommend getting it from Tony’s Big Bikes in Chiang Mai. There bikes are in top notch condition and the whole business is very professional run. The owners are lovers of riding and adventure as well so don’t be afraid to ask them for their insider’s tips on the best roads.

Directions: From the old city of Chiang Mai take the north exit out and head north towards 107. Follow the signs for Mae Rim and then the signs for Pai. After about an hour you will see a sign for 1095 (Pai), turn left and follow road 1095 all the way.

Things to Remember when Renting a Motorbike in Thailand:

  • Always wear your helmet
  • Bring identification with you (an international license is the best)
  • Be mindful of your gas (and be aware where you can fill up)
  • Always let trucks and buses pass you- don’t be a stuntman!
  • Cover up- we’ve seen way too many road rashes and scrapes.

For a more comprehensive guide on renting bikes, check out: Renting a Motorbike in Thailand

No matter how you choose to travel from Chiang Mai to Pai, after your arrival, the only thing left to do is grab a cold Singha, lay on a hammock, and enjoy the next couple of days. Happy Travels!

Read: Guide to Planning Your Dream Trip to Thailandpai to chiang mai


Looking for more activities to do in Thailand? Check out these fun articles

Inspired? Pin it!Unsure how to get to Pai from Chiang Mai? Here is our guide on how you can do it.

  • Awesome, thank you for sharing these, I wish I’ll be able to travel to Pai very soon!
    xxx

    • I love Pai!! Let me know when you get there- i’m sure you will have a blast!

  • Nam

    Wow – I visited Chiang Mai in March and I certainly didn’t know about Pai! The hammocks look so cozy – and I like how you say it’s getting touristy but still charming.
    Although I would probably have to take a bus, I don’t have a drivers’ license!

  • This is such a great, comprehensive guide – I love that little representation of all the curves on the street! I just got back from Pai, which I adored. What a beautiful little mountain/hippie spot to, as you say, unwind and relax. Amazing vibes there. I took the minibus up from Chang Mai to Pai, and a lovely Italian girl puked almost the entire way up, her vomit flying past our window for 3 hours. Luckily we’d taken our 3 baht anti-sickness pills from 7-11. Haha. There’s always one!

    • Hahahaha! Wow. 3 hours of puking. I can only imagine. Well done on you for having the foresight of taking sickness pills! I absolutely love Pai and I’m happy to hear you enjoyed your time there.

  • Brittany Kulick

    OK! I need to go back to Thailand! I wanted to visit Pai, and met many travelers just returning, but it just seemed too complicated for a couple-day trip.

  • For a 4 hours journey I would not take a flight for sure. I think you choosing a motorbike was a really cool option. You got to stop whenever you wanted for pictures and go in your own rhythm. Is it really such a curvy road, like in the drawing? 😀

  • Luxitality

    I’m moving to Chiang Mai in October so this was actually really helpful! I had no idea about Pai but am planning to check it out and if we can get the hang of the motorbikes, we’ll be renting them for the ride….or I’ll be caving in an taking some dramamine 🙂

    • Wohoo! We should still be there by October. Good luck with the move and definitely try to ride a bike up to Pai.

  • If I had to choose I’d pick the motorbike too. Must have been an amazing trip. Pai sounds to be a nice place.

  • Stephanie Raley

    I took the minibus and I felt quite worse for wear after….So many bends! A friend of mine rode a motorbike from Chiang Mai to Pai. It sounded like a great adventure but I thnk I’m too much of a wuss!

  • Sally

    I’ve actually never heard of Pai, interesting to know it is becoming a touristy area!

  • Looks like amazing place and worth the 4 hour ride.

  • Renting a motorbike sounds like so much fun – although I would be so nervous to do it on my own! I loved when you said don’t be a stuntman -so true!

  • Melody Pittman

    I haven’t been to Thailand at all so the whole itinerary is foreign to me but looks like a great deal of fun. I’m so glad to have bloggers like you steer me in the right places for my unexplored travels. Love the photo of you in the swing!

    • Thank you Melody! The whole place was very picture blogger friendly!

  • Wow great photos- that place looks gorgeous!! Thanks for the tips 🙂

  • Veronika

    Thanks a for comparing various ways to get to Pai, it’s always nice to have options. I agree with you that motorbike is the most enjoyable way to travel in Thailand. I am a bit afraid of those curves though – it must be very bumpy and with the other cars also a bit dangerous:) An adrenaline boost!

    • It can be dangerous which is why we only recommend it to skilled drivers!

  • Thanks for sharing the options to travel from Chang Mai to Pai – it sounds like a great place to visit and the windy road sounds like an experience in its own right!

  • TravelingWellForLess

    Great post! Loved how you detailed all the ways to get from Chiang Mai to Pai, complete with how long everything takes and the cost. Have bookmarked this post for my visit.

  • I like how clear and easy to read this article is. The motorbike sounds fantastic, but I’ve never been on one, so I’m not sure it would be a good idea. I think I’d have to take the bus!

  • Girl Unspotted

    I’ve been to Thailand many times but always failed to go to the north. Trust me, I know I’m missing out! Going back in two weeks for a quickie but I doubt if have enough time to explore north! In the next few months thought because the ice heard such greaT things!

    • You definitely need to make time for it. It’s beautiful up north!

  • We loved this route! The scenery is gorgeous but those 762 curves require a lot of attention. And yes, always cover up, depending on the season can get really cold and it’s good to protect your skin from the tarmac, just in case…
    Cheers!

  • The road route looks great – Any idea what it would be like to cycle along there?

    • Should be fairly standard. Just watch out for big trucks and buses.

  • That’s a cool guide. Never been to that part of Thailand, so it’ll definitely come handy.

  • Bernard Tan

    Thanks for sharing! This is such a indept guide! I totally love the picture from the Singaporean Backpacker, It is just so funny and depicts getting lost in Thailand!