Chiang Rai to Pai

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Overview | Bus | Secret Escapes

How to get from Chiang Rai to Pai?

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. It’s not lacking in the nightlife division too! When the sun sets, its streets come alive with music and dance.

There is only 1 way to travel the 300km distance from Chiang Rai to Pai: this is an indirect bus ride that takes 6.5 hours. Fares start from 415 THB ($13.50).

Bus + Van from Chiang Rai to Pai

Transport modeDurationCostsAvailability
Bus + Van6.5 hours415 THB ($13.50)Read article for more info

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 to Chiang Mai for 3.5 hours and for the second part, you can continue with a 3-hour van journey to Pai.

Don’t expect an airport here. That means your options are limited to overland travel when you want to visit this picturesque town.

Itinerary from Chiang Rai to Pai


  • Chiang Rai
  • 3.5 hours
  • Chiang Mai
  • 3 hours
  • Pai
Bus icon

Chiang Rai to Pai by Bus

Duration: 6.5 hours
Cost: 415 THB ($13.50)

There are no direct buses operating from Chiang Rai to Pai. To travel this route, you first need to take a bus to Chiang Mai. From Chiang Mai, you can transfer to a van and continue onward to Pai. Total travel time is around 6 hours.

Step 1: Chiang Rai to Chiang Mai by Bus

Duration: 3h 35min
Cost: 220 THB ($7.50)

Green Bus runs several trips from Chiang Rai to Chiang Mai daily, with almost hourly departures from 06:15 to 18:15.

We recommend to book 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 ticket costs 220 THB ($7.50) and the journey takes about 3.5 hours.

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

Green Bus

  • Departure from Chiang Rai Bus Terminal 1 in the city center
  • Arrival at Arcade Bus Station, from here you can transfer to a van to Pai

Green Bus is one of the most popular bus companies along this route. They provide a good service with regular departures throughout the day.

Check Available Bus Tickets

Step 2: Chiang Mai to Pai by Van

Duration: 3 hours
Cost: 195 THB ($6.50)

When you arrive at the Arcade Bus Station in Chiang Mai, head over to the van parking area to find the next van leaving for Pai.

We highly recommend booking your ride online to assure yourself a seat. The van to Pai costs 195 THB ($6.50) and this journey takes about 3 hours. The most well-known van operator for this route is Prem Pracha, which has departures every hour from 06:30 to 15:30.

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

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.

Prem Pracha (van)

  • Departs from the Arcade Bus Station in Chiang Mai, 5km northeast of the Old City
  • Arrives at Pai Bus Station in the city center, near Pai Walking Street

Prem Precha is well-known for the route between Chiang Mai and Pai. They provide good service with regular departures throughout the day.

Check Available Van Tickets

To help you with planning this trip from Chiang Rai to Pai, check out our sample itinerary below so you could complete the trip within one day:

Method of transportTimeDurationCosts
Bus from Chiang Rai to Chiang Mai06:15-09:50
3h 35m
3h 30m
3h 10m
3h 30m
3h 30m
3h 10m
220 THB ($7.50)
260 THB ($8.50)
360 THB ($12)
260 THB ($8.50)
260 THB ($8.50)
360 THB ($12)
Waiting timedepends on bus taken
and arrival on station
Van from Chiang Mai to Pai10:30-13:30
3h195 THB ($6.50)

Our favourite places to stay in Pai

Pai Yard Guesthouse

Rustic, surrounded by nature and a private bungalow... it doesn’t get any better than this! The Pai Yard Guesthouse is surrounded by lush greenery, gardens, and stunning views. The spacious bungalows offer privacy and your own deck for relaxing on. There are a barbeque and terrace here for guests to enjoy and the excellent mountain views are the perfect way to end your afternoon. 

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

Single bunks start at $11 per night 

Read more

The Nest House

Fantastic location, just 300m from the Pai Night Market, The Nest house is the perfect choice for travelers.  Breakfast is included with your stay and there is a shared kitchen for guests to use as well as a beautiful garden for relaxing. Take in the stunning scenery from your accommodations or take a short walk across the beautiful Bamboo bridge into the center of Pai. 

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

Private room starts at $21 per night

Read more

Pai Princess Resort

Peace, quiet, serenity and the most beautiful, relaxing surroundings you can find, the Pai Princess Resort is one of the most amazing places to stay when visiting the area.  Just a short 500m walk to the Night Market, restaurants, shopping and bars, it’s also a perfect location. Breakfast is included with your stay and each room is equipped with a private patio.

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

Private rooms start at $36 per night 

Read more


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