How to Get to Pai from Chiang Mai 2024(+ Tips on How to Book Tickets)

written by local expert Anna Faustino

Anna is a co-founder of Adventure in You and has been traveling the world for the last 9 years. She has spent time living in Thailand, Mexico, Indonesia, and Spain and is our local expert in these areas. Her expertise on travel, gear, and building businesses have been featured on Foundr, Business Insider, Yahoo Travel, and more.

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.

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Chiang Mai to Pai by Mini Bus

More information: Check Bus Times here Via 12go or Bookaway

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!

Click Here to Book Minivan Tickets

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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.

Caution: Whenever you’re renting a motorbike, please make sure you have travel insurance. We’ve seen so many accidents while on the road. For monthly insurance plans, we personally recommend Safety Wing.

pai motorbike 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

Looking for things to do in Pai? Check out our complete Pai travel guide featuring what to do, where to stay, and the best places to eat!

Bus from Chiang Mai to Pai

More information: Check Bus Times here Via 12go or Bookaway

Cost: $5-7

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.

Private Car

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.

Click Here to Check Private Cars
pai thailand river

Chiang Mai to Pai by Plane [No Longer Available]

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

Comparison Table on How to get from Chiang Mai to Pai

Transport TypeDurationCostSee Options
Mini Van4 hours$6via 12go
Bus5 hours$5via 12go
Private Taxi4 hours$120via 12go
Motorbike4 hours$7-10Private Rentals in Chiang Mai

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!

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

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Unsure how to get to Pai from Chiang Mai? Here is our guide on how you can do it.
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35 thoughts on “How to Get to Pai from Chiang Mai 2024(+ Tips on How to Book Tickets)”

  1. 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!

  2. 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…

  3. 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!

  4. 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!

  5. 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.

  6. 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!

  7. 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!

  8. 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!

  9. 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!

  10. 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 🙂

  11. 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? 😀

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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!


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