Last updated: Dec 08, 2019


Overview | Motorbike | Van


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 favorite 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.

There are 2 options to choose from when travelling the 130km distance from Pai to Chiang Mai: you can rent a motorbike and drive yourself in about 3.5 hours or hop on a van and relax for the 3-hour journey. Fares start at $6.50.

If you’re an experienced motorbike driver, we highly recommend renting a motorbike and drive 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 on a motorbike.

If you are not into that kind of adventure, you can comfortably ride a van. A seat costs $6.50 for the 3-hour van ride.

There was also an option to take a scenic flight with Wisdom Airways. However, the company has already stopped operations.

Transport modeDurationCostsAvailability
Motorbike3.5 hoursdepends on the motorbike rentedCheck article for more info
Van3 hours200 THB ($6.50)Check van tickets


View itinerary from Pai to Chiang Mai


Motorbike icon

Pai to Chiang Mai by Motorbike

Duration: 3.5 hours
Costs: depends on the type of bike rented, starts at 99 THB ($3.30)

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 road, however, can be extremely dangerous as 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“. Other popular shops are Aya Service and Tony’s Big Bikes.

To see more information about these two companies, visit our page from Chiang Mai to Pai.

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, vans 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.


Bus icon

Pai to Chiang Mai by Van

Duration: 3 hours
Costs: 200 THB ($6.50)

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 van for this 3-hour journey.

Government-regulated Prem Pracha offers hourly van trips starting at 07:00 until 16:00. A seat costs 200 THB ($6.50). Aya Service also offers trips every other hour from 7:30 to 17:30 for 210 THB ($7).

Prem Precha and Aya Service are both well-known companies for this route. However, some travellers have complained that their drivers tend to drive too fast.

You can book van tickets for these companies online. This costs a little more but guarantees you a seat.

We have provided the schedules below for your reference:

Bus OperatorDepartureDurationCosts
Prem PrachaEvery hour from
7:00 to 16:00
3h200 THB ($6.50)
Aya ServiceEvery other hour from
7:30 to 17:30
3h210 THB ($7.20)

Prem Pracha

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

Aya Service

  • Departs from Aya Service Office along Chalsongkram Road in the city center
  • Arrives at Aya Service Office along Srimongkol Road, 5km east of the Old City

Check Available Van Tickets

Pai to Chiang Mai by Vans via Local Travel Agencies

Vans operated by local travel agencies normally include pick-up service from your hotel. Expect to pay approximately 185 THB ($6.10) to 200 THB ($6.50).

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

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