Pai is a popular destination for travellers as it is a small rural town located in the northern parts of Thailand and has a casual and relaxed vibe. Getting from Chiang Mai to Pai is easy, with a number of options available.
Whether you choose to hire your own car, drive a scooter/motorbike, take a bus or take a flight, there are a number of options to consider based on your budget and time constraints.
How to get from Chiang Mai To Pai by Mini Bus, Flight or Motorbike/Scooter
A mini-bus journey takes around 3.5 hours and costs a cheap 150 THB. The buses have air-conditioning and stop once along the journey for a toilet and food/drink stop. Tickets can be bought on the day at the bus stop as there are many regular trips throughout the day starting as early as 7am. If you purchase from a ticket agent ahead of time, the price is only 180THB but may also include transfer from your hotel (clink the link below). Travellers should note that if you get motion sickness, you may feel ill on this journey as the route is very windy with constant twists and turns for most of the 3.5hr journey.
There is another bus option which makes the journey much slower. The local or Government bus move slowly around the bends and crawl up the inclines of the mountains which makes the journey much slower at 4.5 hours, however you are less likely to get car sick. Tickets are a cheap 70 THB and the bus stops at the halfway point at a rest-stop with toilets and coffee. These buses are not air-conditioned. Tickets can be bought at the Arcade Bus Station and these buses apparently now only leave once per day at 7am. Make sure to get there at least 30 minutes early to get a seat as they are notoriously overcrowded.
There is a flight that departs from Chiang Mai to Pai Airport (PYY) which only takes 25 minutes, however it only runs one flight per day on Fridays, Saturdays and Sunday. The cost is around $60 AUD and the flights are run by Kan Air.
Those who want to make the journey themselves, can take a motorbike or scooter as the journey is only 150kms. That said, the 150kms is a hilly, windy road with many accidents occurring on a daily basis. So this journey is only advised if you are an experienced rider.
Click the link below to book your bus ticket to Pai including transfer from any hotel in the old city. If you are not staying in the old city, it is advisable to select a pickup point just inside the moat that is closest to your hotel. If buying your tickets direct from the bus station, you will have to arrange transport to and from the bus station back to your hotel. Therefore it can save you time and money to book tickets online that include a transfer.