Pai to Chiang Mai

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Overview Compare Motorbike Minivan

How to get from Pai to Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai is northern Thailand’s largest city. It is well-known for its local foods, Thai culture and historical sites. When visiting Chiang Mai be sure to check out the amazing night market for Thai cuisine, local fare, and handmade souvenirs.

Kao Soi noodles, also known as Chiang Mai noodles, are a favourite in this area and we recommend trying this dish while there. You can also check out one of the many ethical elephant sanctuaries or make a trip into the mountains to meet the local long neck tribes of Chiang Mai.

2 ways to get from Pai to Chiang Mai

Transport modeDurationCostsAvailability
Motorbike3-4 hours100 THB ($3)

Read article for more info

Minivan3-4 hours210 THB ($6)Check Minivan Tickets

The distance from Pai to Chiang Mai is 130 km (80 miles). In this post, we compare the 2 options to travel from Pai to Chiang Mai: by motorbike (3-4 hours), or by minivan (3-4 hours). Ticket prices range from 100 THB ($3) to 210 THB ($6).

If you’re skillful in driving a motorbike, we suggest renting a motorbike and driving at your own pace from Pai to Chiang Mai. This is a very scenic route that is best enjoyed with the wind blowing on your face. The travel time usually takes 3-4 hours and the rental fee starts at 100 THB ($3).

If you are not into that kind of adventure, you can comfortably ride a minivan. Fare starts at 210 THB ($6) for the 3-4 hours of minivan ride from Pai to Chiang Mai.

Wisdom Airways used to offer flights from Pai to Chiang Mai, but they stopped operating because of the pandemic. The last time we checked (October 2022), their flights are still unavailable, as well as the public buses on this route.

Itinerary from Pai to Chiang Mai

Pai to Chiang Mai by Motorbike

Duration: 3-4 hours
Cost: 100 THB ($3)
Duration: 3-4 hours
Cost: 100 THB ($3)

Renting a motorbike is the best way to enjoy the ride from Pai to Chiang Mai. The drive allows you to travel at your own pace and take in all the sights along the way.

The rental fee for motorbikes starts at 100 THB ($3) per day and the ride usually takes 3-4 hours.

The road from Pai to Chiang Mai, however, can be extremely dangerous. It has 762 hairpin turns, which can be quite challenging if you are not an experienced driver.

We had very good experiences with renting a bike at Bamboo Bikes Chiang Mai. Another popular shop that we recommend is the Aya Service. To see more information about these two companies, visit our page from Chiang Mai to Pai.

For Motorbike rental in Pai, unfortunately, we don’t have any recommendations.

Important Things to Remember When Renting a Motorbike

  • You need an international or Thai driver’s license (motorbike category) to drive a motorbike in Thailand. Keep this document with you at all times as this can also serve as your ID at random checkpoints along the road.
  • Be sure to wear your helmet at all times, for safety purposes and to obey Thai laws.
  • Motorbikes have a full tank of fuel when you pick them up from the shops and you are required to return them with a full tank.
  • Be mindful of the fuel level throughout the journey so that you don’t run out in the middle of the mountains.
  • All vehicles larger than a motorbike have priority. This means you have to give way to buses, trucks, minivans, and cars along the road. Always stay on the left side of the road.
  • Always drive with care. Driving through the twists and turns can be exhilarating and fun, but be sure to tone down on the adrenaline and prioritize safety.

Pai to Chiang Mai by Minivan

Duration: 3-4 hours
Cost: 210 THB ($6)
Duration: 3-4 hours
Cost: 210 THB ($6)

Although there are several local buses in Pai, it is not easy to find a bus departing from Pai to Chiang Mai. We suggest taking a minivan for the 3-4 hours of journey.

Government-regulated Prempracha offers hourly minivan trips starting at 07:00 until 17:00. A seat costs 215 THB ($6.50). Aya Service also offers trips every other hour from 08:31 to 15:30 for 210 THB ($6).

Departure and arrival stations

The Prempracha minivans depart from Pai Bus Station which is located within the city centre of Pai. On the other hand, the Aya Service minivan departs from Aya Service Office along Chalsongkram Road.

The Prempracha minivans arrive at Chiang Mai Bus Terminal 2 (Arcade Bus Station), located 5km northeast of the Old City in Chiang Mai. On the other hand, Aya Service heads to Aya Service Office Srimongkol Road, about 5km east of Old City of Chiang Mai.

From these arrival points, you can take a songthaew or taxi to explore Chiang Mai. If you want to go to Chiang Mai Old City, it will just take a 15-minute ride.

Minivan schedules from Pai to Chiang Mai

Bus OperatorDepartureDurationCosts
Prempracha Transport11x a day, every hour
between 07:00-17:00
4 hours215 THB ($6.50)
Check Minivan Tickets
Aya Service6x a day, every hour
between 08:30-15:30
3 hours210 THB ($6)
Check Minivan Tickets

Prempracha and Aya Service are both well-known companies for the Pai to Chiang Mai route. However, some travellers have complained that their drivers tend to drive too fast.

Tip: Due to the endless number of turns along the Pai to Chiang Mai route, many people suffer from motion sickness. We recommend taking an anti-motion sickness tablet before making this trip to prevent any queasiness.

More routes to Chiang Mai

Bangkok to Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai Airport

Chiang Mai Railway Station

Chiang Rai to Chiang Mai

Luang Prabang to Chiang Mai

Sukhothai to Chiang Mai

More routes from Pai

Pai to Chiang Rai

Most popular routes in Thailand

Bangkok to Chiang Mai

Bangkok to Koh Phangan

Bangkok to Koh Tao

Bangkok to Phuket

Chiang Rai to Chiang Mai

Koh Samui to Koh tao

Koh Phangan to Koh Tao

Phuket to Krabi

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About the author(s)

Based in Bali, Maarten’s passion for travel is undeniable. In 2016, he decided to quit his job as a stock analyst and started doing what he always dreamed of: travelling through South East Asia and helping other people plan their trips. When he is not working on Gecko Routes, you’ll find him surfing in the ocean or exploring the best gems of Indonesia.

Abby is a writer who finds joy in mountains, beaches, and road trips. She considers her solo backpacking trip to the rice terraces of Bontoc one of the most fulfilling moments in her life. She’s loyal to the islands of her home country, the Philippines, but Thailand’s beaches also have a special place in her heart.