Chiang Rai to Pai

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Overview Compare Bus + Minivan (Combined Tickets) Bus + Minivan (Separate Tickets) To Stay

Pai is a backpacker’s paradise in the North of Thailand. Although a very small town, there are tons of things to do here during the day, especially for nature lovers. If you’re in for some water activities, there are many waterfalls and hot springs to visit, and you can also go white water rafting and river-tubing.

Pai is not lacking in the nightlife division, too! When the sun sets, its streets come alive with music and dance. The vivid streets in the town of Pai offer lots of bars with live bands, small shops, and many food stands to choose from and enjoy!

How to get from Chiang Rai to Pai

The distance from Chiang Rai to Pai is 300 km (185 miles). In this post, we discuss the options to travel from Chiang Rai to Pai: by booking combined (9 hours) and separate (6.5-8 hours) bus and minivan tickets. Ticket prices range from 435 THB ($12) to 510 THB ($14).

2 ways to get from Chiang Rai to Pai

Transport modeDurationCostsAvailability
Bus + Minivan
(Combined Tickets)*
9 hours620 THB ($17)Read article for more info
Bus + Minivan
Separate Tickets)**
6.5-8 hours435 THB ($12)Read article for more info
*Including 1-hour transfer time **Excluding transfer time

When travelling this journey from Chiang Rai to Pai overland, you have to travel to Chiang Mai first. For the first part, you can take a bus ride from Chiang Rai to Chiang Mai for 3.5-4 hours. You can then continue with a 3-4.5 hour minivan journey to Pai.

Booking a combined bus and minivan ticket from Chiang Rai to Pai is a convenient option, but note that this is a self-connect trip. Travel duration takes 9 hours including a 1-hour transfer and waiting time for the connecting bus. Combined tickets cost 620 THB ($17).

Alternatively, you can book your tickets separately. Booking separate tickets start at 435 THB ($12) and travel time is about 6.5-8 hours, excluding transfer time.

Taking the flight is not a realistic option for this route as Pai does not have an airport. You can only take an indirect flight for the first part of the route, between Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai. However, this will take much longer than the 3.5-4 hour bus journey to Chiang Mai.

Itinerary from Chiang Rai to Pai

Chiang Rai to Pai by Bus + Minivan (Combined tickets)

Duration: 9 hours incl. transfer time
Cost: 620 THB ($17)
Duration: 9 hours incl. transfer time
Cost: 620 THB ($17)

Travelling from Chiang Rai to Pai takes a bus and a minivan ride. You first need to take a bus from Chang Rai to Chiang Mai. From Chiang Mai, you can transfer to a minivan and continue onward to Pai.

It is convenient to book a combined ticket from Chiang Rai to Pai to avoid tickets being sold out. There is only 1 trip per day departing at 09:00 offered by Prempracha and Green Bus companies.

You can book combined bus and minivan tickets in 12GoAsia for 620 THB ($17). Just remember that this Chiang Rai to Pai option is a self-connect trip. Upon arrival to Chiang Mai, you have to switch terminals to board the bus going to Pai.

The total travel duration for this route is about 9 hours including the 1-hour transfer time.

Departure and arrival stations

The Prempracha minivan departs from Chiang Rai Bus Terminal 1, located beside the Pai Night Market in the city centre. The minivan from Chiang Rai completes its journey at Chiang Mai Bus Terminal 3.

From Chiang Mai Bus Terminal 3, you need to switch bus stations and proceed to Chiang Mai Arcade 2 to board the Green Bus heading to Pai. These two bus stations are just a 5-minute walk from each other.

Note that you have to wait for about 1 hour for the next departure going to Pai. The final bus stop is at Pai Bus Station. From this terminal, you can reach Pai city centre in 5 minutes by taxi.

Bus + Minivan Schedule from Chiang Rai to Pai

Bus OperatorScheduleCosts
Prempracha + Green Bus*09:00-17:50620 THB ($17)
Check Bus Tickets
*Self-connect trip and includes 1-hour transfer time

In case tickets are sold out, you can also check with the local travel agency in Chiang Rai for a connecting trip. Some companies cover the entire route from Chiang Rai to Pai, which means you don’t need to switch or book two different buses.

Chiang Rai to Pai by Bus + Minivan (Separate tickets)

Duration: 6.5-8 hours
Cost: 435 THB ($12)
Duration: 6.5-8 hours
Cost: 435 THB ($12)

Another option is to book separate minivan and bus tickets for the Chiang Rai to Pai route. You will also have to make a stop at Chiang Mai. The only difference is that you will have to take care of your next transfer upon arrival and time it accordingly so that you don’t miss your connecting bus.

Booking separate tickets from Chiang Rai to Pai allows a later departure and is even slightly cheaper than the combined trip. The travel duration for this option is 6.5-8 hours excluding the transfer time.

There are several trips per day so make sure you align your schedules. We have provided a step-by-step guide below for the separate booking.

Step 1: Chiang Rai to Chiang Mai by Bus

Duration: 3.5-4 hours
Cost: 225 THB ($6)
Duration: 3.5-4 hours
Cost: 225 THB ($6)

Green Bus is one of the most popular bus companies on the Chiang Rai to Chiang Mai route. This company offers several trips from Chiang Rai to Chiang Mai daily, with several departures from 08:30 to 16:00.

We recommend booking a morning bus for the trip to Chiang Mai, so you can continue the journey in the afternoon from Chiang Mai to Pai. The bus fares start at 225 THB ($6) and the journey takes about 3.5-4 hours.

Green Bus departs from Chiang Rai Bus Terminal 1, located in the city centre just next to the Chiang Rai Night Bazaar. Finally, the bus arrives at Chiang Mai Bus Terminal 3. From the terminal, you can easily reach the Old City by taxi in 5 minutes.

Bus schedule from Chiang Rai to Chiang Mai

Bus OperatorScheduleCosts
Green Bus
225 THB ($6)
Check Bus Tickets
Green Bus
350 THB ($9.50)
Check Bus Tickets

For more info about this route, check out the page about Chiang Rai to Chiang Mai.

Step 2: Chiang Mai to Pai by Minivan

Duration: 3-4.5 hours
Cost: 210 THB ($5.50)
Duration: 3-4.5 hours
Cost: 210 THB ($5.50)

Prempracha and Aya Service are the two well-known companies that operate on this route. There are multiple trips per day. The earliest departure is 06:30 in the morning and the latest is at 17:30.

Upon arrival at Chiang Mai Bus Terminal 3, you can take a 5-minute walk from the terminal to reach Chiang Mai Bus Terminal 2 (Arcade Bus Terminal) if your connecting minivan is booked with Prempracha. Head to the minivan parking area to find the next minivan leaving for Pai.

On the other hand, if your connecting trip is booked with Aya Service, you can take a 10-minute taxi ride from the terminal going to Srimongkol Road to board the minivan going to Pai.

The buses arrive at Pai Bus Station for Prempracha and at Aya Service Office for Aya Service.

We highly recommend booking your ride online to assure yourself of a seat. The minivan from Chiang Mai to Pai fare starts at 210 THB ($5.50) and this journey takes about 3-4.5 hours.

Minivan schedule from Chiang Mai to Pai

Bus OperatorDepartureDurationCosts
Prempracha Transport12x a day, every hour
between 06:30-17:30
4hr 20m215 THB ($5.50)
Check Minivan Tickets
Aya Service5x a day, every hour
between 09:30-14:31
3 hours210 THB ($5.50)
Check Minivan Tickets

We recommend travelling to Pai during the day as the roads have a lot of twists and turns. If you are prone to motion sickness, you may also want to have your medicine ready prior to departure.

Keep in mind that the drivers do two round trips per day and will drive quite fast. So this trip can be a little scary at times.

You can read more about this route on the page about Chiang Mai to Pai.


Our favourite places to stay in Pai

Pai Yard Guesthouse

Rustic, endless nature and a cosy bungalow... it doesn’t get much better than this! Pai Yard Guesthouse feels like a jungle retreat surrounded by nothing but greenery and stunning views. The spacious bungalows offer privacy and your own deck to really appreciate these views. There's also a barbeque and terrace for guests to enjoy - a perfect way to end your day. 

  • Private bungalows
  • Stunning mountain views
  • Barbeque and terrace
  • Comfortable beds

Single bunks start at $11 per night 

Read more

The Nest House

If you want to be at the centre of the action, you can't get a much better location than here. The Nest House is only 300m from Pai Night Market. Surrounded by beautiful gardens, you won't even realise you're this close. Every morning you can sit on your private terrace, enjoying your delicious breakfast, and take in the quietness.

  • Ideal location
  • Surrounded by nature
  • Breakfast included
  • Wonderful staff

Private room starts at $21 per night

Read more

Pai Princess Resort

Peace, tranquility and serenity are what Pai Princess Resort is all about. Every room has their own private balcony with a hammock. Sit back and admire the mountain views as the sun rises. A tasty breakfast is also included in your stay, made by the incredibly friendly owners.

  • Perfect location
  • Stunning natural surroundings
  • Private patio
  • Peace and quiet 

Private rooms start at $36 per night 

Read more


More routes to Pai

Chiang Mai to Pai

More routes from Chiang Rai

Chiang Rai to Chiang Mai

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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