Want to know how to get from Pai to Chiang Mai? In this post, we’ll share a summary of the two ways to get there and compare each option on duration, costs and level of comfort. For each option, we go into more detail to help you decide which transport provider to book with and where to buy your tickets.
What to expect when visiting Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai is Thailand’s northernmost city, an intriguing fusion of new and old. Its hundreds of temples, striking Old City and delicious local dishes tell the story of Chiang Mai’s culture and history. On the other hand, its cafe culture, friendly coworking spaces and nightlife attract digital nomads from across the globe.
Surrounded by mountains, the city offers plenty of adventures with nature. But if you can, we recommend travelling to Chiang Mai in time for one of its many festivals — like Loy Krathong (Lantern Festival) in November and Songkran (Water Splashing Festival) in April.
2 ways to get from Pai to Chiang Mai
There are two ways to travel the distance of 130 km (81 miles) from Pai to Chiang Mai: by minivan (3-4 hours) and motorbike (3-4 hours). The journey takes between 3-4 hours and the quickest way is by minivan. The lowest priced tickets start from 100 THB ($2.80) for the motorbike.
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
Starts from: 210 THB ($5.50)
Duration: 3-4 hours
Cost: 210 THB ($5.50)
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 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 ($6.00). Aya Service also offers trips every other hour from 08:31 to 15:30 for 210 THB ($5.50).
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.
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.
Chiang Mai can be tiring exploring all of the temples and going on day trips, so there’s nothing better than coming back to a luxurious and beautiful hotel. Rimping Village feels like a mini resort nestled in the middle of Chiang Mai.
The exceptional breakfast served in the gardens each morning is likely to be one of the highlights of your trip. What a way to start the day! Then go for a dip in their beautiful outdoor swimming pool or head back to your spacious room.
Everything about POR Daowadung feels like a top-quality luxury hotel. Whether it’s the ultra-modern but comfortable designs of the rooms or the outdoor swimming pool and sunloungers actually in the pool!
The hotel is in a great location, every room has its own balcony and a delicious breakfast is included every morning. Can you ask for much more from an accommodation?
The star of the show at Chada Mantra Hotel has to be its outdoor swimming pool, which is extremely refreshing after a day spent exploring the city. Located within Chiang Mai Old City, just 700m from the Pae gate, this hotel is perfectly located.
The hotel offers free breakfast, wifi in all rooms and common areas, as well as an onsite bar. Here you’ll find beautiful clean rooms with city views and very comfortable beds. The staff are well known to be extremely helpful, always going the extra mile to assist their guests in any way possible.
It’s hard to believe that Asa Hotel is a budget-friendly accommodation, but a night here will cost you less than $30 for two people. The hotel is ultra-modern with a beautiful outdoor swimming pool and sun loungers for you to enjoy.
The staff are incredibly friendly and will help you with anything. The hotel also offers free coffee, tea and water in glass bottles to reduce the use of plastic. Here you’re a 15-minute walk from the Old Town.
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.