Located about 80 miles out of Chiang Mai along a windy road that is famously known for its 762 bends, you will probably be asking the question ‘how to get from Chiang Mai to Pai?’
Once a sleepy village high in the mountains of northern Thailand, Pai has become a well known and loved tourist hotspot.
Attracted by the combination of hot and dry weather, fresh mountain mornings, the slow paced hippy vibe, sunrises and sunsets that are not to be missed as well as a deep rooted sense of culture and connection to nature.
Pai is not a desination to be missed off your Thailand itinerary, in this ‘how to get from Chiang Mai to Pai’ guide I will take you through all of your different options, how much they cost and how to book each one!
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How to Get from Chiang Mai to Pai
If you are confident on a scooter and feel up to the challenge of the windy road to Pai, then this is by far the nicest and most scenic route to take.
Scooting yourself to Pai takes around 3 hours but doing it this way you can make a day of the travel, stopping off and exploring as you go rather than just sitting in a minibus.
Starting off on the highway leaving Chiang Mai, the road then turns off towards the mountains, here you will gradually climb higher and higher into the clouds and start to follow the famous windy road.
There are plenty of cafes and viewpoints along the way, don’t forget to stop off every once in a while and admire the phenomenal views around you.
How to Book
I recommend using Aya Travel Services, they are one of the main companies that offer bike rentals to and from Chiang Mai.
The best way to book is to head to their office in Chiang Mai and explain what you would like to rent and how long for, there are plenty of different scooters to choose from and you can rent it for the whole time you plan to visit Pai, then ride it back again or just for the journey up there.
‼️ If you decide to rent the bike for only one way, Aya Travel will charge you 250 baht (£5.50) to transport the bike back.
You will then be advised to come back in the morning of the day you want to travel, I recommend getting there early to secure the bike you asked for, I have heard from some people that the bike they wanted was given to someone else because they arrived too late.
All bikes are priced separately so the prices will vary massively depending on which one you choose and how long you want to rent it for and the insurance you choose.
We chose to ride a big bike up there due to the hills and there being 2 of us but we knew we didn’t need it while in Pai as we’d be able to rent a scooter there that was cheaper.
💡 Aya Travel also transport your backpacks or suitcases! For 100 baht per piece of luggage, you can leave your bag at their office and they will put then on a minibus to Pai. Just make sure to drop them off by 1pm and they will be in Pai at around 5pm.
Aya Travel Services Chiang Mai:
- 60-60/1 B13-14 Kham Thiang Plaza Soi Srimongkol Muang Chiangmai 50300
- WhatsApp : +66869208666(aoy)
- Phone number : 0869208666 , 0933086688
- Open Hour : 8.00 AM. – 21.00 PM.
Aya Travel Services Pai:
- 22/1 Moo 3, Chaisongkram rd., Pai, Maehongsorn
- Whatsapp: + 66871778453
- Mobile : +66612598488 ,+6687 1778453 , +6653699888
- Open Hour : 8.00 AM. – 21.00 PM.
If you do not feel confident enough to scoot to Pai, which I really wouldn’t blame you for, then the most popular form of transport between Pai and Chiang Mai is by minibus.
‼️ If you get travel sick then this can be a very difficult journey with the 762 bends, and most of the drivers will of done this drive over and over and over. They know the bends, they know the roads and they aren’t afraid to take corners a little faster than you might like. Just bear in mind that this can also be a form of transport that may not be for the faint hearted – make sure to pack some travel sickness tablets if you need them!
Costing between £5-10 depending on who you book with this journey will take 3-4 hours, the minibus will usually stop once half way through the journey at a cafe so you can get a drink or use the toilet.
Most minibuses also drop you off to your chosen location in Chiang Mai centre, for example we stopped all around the city dropping people off near the old town before we were dropped at the airport.
How to Book
Booking these minibuses is very easy and can be done from many places around Chiang Mai and Pai.
You can either visit a travel agents located in town, here they will book your tickets for you.
💡 Just make sure to book in advance as the mid morning and afternoon slots often get booked up quickly.
The cheapest form of transport is the public bus, departing hourly the public buses cost around £3/4 but, the journey will take 4/5 hours depending on the traffic.
Because these buses are much bigger than the minibuses you are also not likely to get as carsick, as they often travel at a much slower speed and take the many bends at a little gentler.
However, due to the nature of the public buses it is also not guaranteed that you will have a seat for the duration of the journey.
How to Book
If you would like to use the public bus service to reach Pai then head to the Arcade Bus Station also know as the New Terminal, this is located in the northeastern side of Chiang Mai.
I wouldn’t recommend purchasing your ticket from anyone other than the staff at the bus terminal, you can get a ticket on arrival and pre-booking elsewhere often means you have been ripped off and someone has pocketed the difference!
Last but not least, is the most convenient way of transport and perfect for those travelling in a group – the Taxi.
This way you are picked up from your accommodation, dropped off at your accommodation, you have all of your bags with you and you can just sit back and enjoy the view in a nice air-conditioned car.
Usually costing from £75 each way this form of transport will definitely make a dent in your budget but is often the easiest and most reliable way of getting from Chiang Mai to Pai.
How to Book
You can either speak to your accommodation who may be able to recommend a Taxi company for you or you can book online.
Lanna Expert Driver is a very well reviewed Taxi company, they offer services not only from Chiang Mai to Pai but also to many other surrounding areas.
They give you many different car options and will tailor your journey to suit you, I would recommend booking a few days in advance to get you chosen car and time slot.
Best Time to Visit Pai
Pai like the rest of Thailand experiences a dry and rainy season.
The best time to visit Pai is from November to February when the temperature has dropped to around 30 degrees and there is the least rainfall.
March and April can often be cheaper as they are the lead up to the rainy season, there isn’t too much rain but temperatures can soar up to 37 degrees.
May through to October is when Pai gets most of its rain, with temperatures sitting around 30 degrees again, but you can expect an average of 20 days rainfall per month.
‼️ Due to its location high in the mountains Pai might be 30 degrees during the day but as soon as the sun drops, so does the temperature. Make sure you pack an extra couple of layers for your trip to Pai or pick something up in the famous walking market.
Where to Stay
Well known not only for backpackers, Pai has something to offer everyone from party hostels, to romantic getaways and the perfect chilled spots.
Below are some of the best accommodations in Pai either ones we stayed at, or wished we had!
Best party Hostel: Revolution Hostel Pai
If you are looking for somewhere to chill in the day by the pool and to party all night, look no further. Revolution is perfectly located just outside of bar street along the river bank, offering a mix of dorm and private rooms, join them here for tipsy tubbing, day trips, pub crawls and so much more!
Best location in town: Pai Village Boutique Resort
This award wining eco resort welcomes you into its green gardens nestled right in the heart of Pai. This is the perfect location for those who want some luxury just steps away from the hustle and bustle of Pai’s vibrant streets.
Best romantic retreat: Hideaway 3 @ Pai River, Tan Jed Ton Village.
Located on a small creek along the Pai river this little oasis is surrounded by banana leaves and nature, you can sit out in the balcony listening to the water, the birds and the cow bells from the neighbouring farmers fields, it is pure bliss. Just a 15 minute drive outside of Pai this Airbnb has everything you need for an amazing stay, there is a small kitchenette, living area and private bathroom.
Best chilled hostel: Butterfly Hostel
This hostel is perfect for those who don’t want to be too far from town but want something that is a bit more relaxed and chilled. Butterfly Hostel is perfectly located overlooking rice paddies and the Pai mountains. There is an incredible Jerk Chicken restaurant on site and they have plenty of spots around to chill out and watch the day go by in either hammocks and loungers.
How to get from Chiang Mai to Pai is something that will be very personal to you, it will depend hugely on the kind of experience you want and your budget!
Personally we scooted there and minibused it back, for us this meant that the way there was a great way to start our Pai adventure and the way back was an easy and, sometimes, relaxing journey as we rounded up our stay in north Thailand.
So what do you think, how will you get from Chiang Mai to Pai?
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