Wondering how to get to Pai from Chiang Mai? Read our full guide breaking down how exactly to get to this beautiful Northern oasis.
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!
Best Way to Get to Pai from Chiang Mai:
In short, to answer your question, the best way to get to Pai is via motorbike (if you have a proper license) or a minivan. Keep on reading this article as I will get into more detail on how exactly to book a ticket online which will save you tons of time.
Alternatively, you can also check exact bus and minivan schedules using this search widget below. You can check online using Bookaway or using the widget from 12go below.
Chiang Mai to Pai by Mini Bus
More information: Check mini-van times here
Cost: Government minibus: $6
Trip Length: 3 hours- 3 ½ hours
Vans or minibusses 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 but this can be time-consuming. We recommend that you book your tickets online instead.
When booking tickets, it’s important to remember that there are two different kinds of minibusses. 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-zag nature of the roads, a lot of people get car sick for this journey. However, a visit to Pai is worth it so even though the journey there can be arduous, we still highly recommend it!
Insider Tip: If you easily get dizzy, do yourself a favor and take any type of motion sickness pill. The windy roads and cramped conditions can get the best of you. You can also opt to get one of those menthol inhalers in any 7-11 store!
Motorbike from Chiang Mai to Pai
Trip Length: 4 hours with stops
Cost: Price really depends on what type of bike you rent. Typically, you can rent a scooter for $7-8 a day. For bigger bikes, expect to pay around $24-30 a day.
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.
My partner 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!
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.
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. Their 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.
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
Bus from Chiang Mai to Pai
More information: Check bus times here
Trip Length: 5 hours
Apart from the modes of transport mentioned above, you can also take the public bus which runs for around 5 hours, depending on the traffic. There are roughly about 5 trips every day which runs from the Arcade Bus station which is located in the North-eastern part of Chiang Mai.
If you are traveling during peak season, it is best to book your buses ahead of time. 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 transport times here
Cost: $118-120 for the entire vehicle
If you’re looking for a convenient way for your entire group to get to Pai, hiring a private car could also be an option. The perks of traveling via private car is that you can leave whatever time you want. There are even taxis that you can book from the airport that can take you straight to Pai.
This is obviously the most comfortable option but can get a little bit pricey. However, if you are traveling with a group, it isn’t too bad.
[No Longer Available] 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 considering, 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.
Cost: Roughly around $50-60 (2,100 BAHT)
Trip length: 30 minutes
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!