Last updated: Apr 08, 2020


Overview | Bus | Secret Escapes


How To Get From Pai to Chiang Rai?

When travelling the 300km journey from Pai to Chiang Rai, you have 2 options: you can take a direct trip for 7.5 hours ($20); or divide the journey into two legs for 6.5 hours ($13.50). Both options include a minivan trip to Chiang Mai and a bus trip to Chiang Rai.

The direct trip from Pai to Chiang Rai is a good option if you want a hassle-free journey. With this method, you won’t have to worry about your connecting bus trip from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai.

If you want to save a few bucks, you can divide the trip with a short stopover in Chiang Mai. Travel time is about 6.5 hours, excluding transfers.

Pai does not have an airport, which means you have to fly from Chiang Mai. However, there are no direct flights from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai and even if there were, it wouldn’t save you much time as the journey by bus is only 3.5 hours.

Transport modeDurationCostsAvailability
Van + Bus6hr 40min415 THB ($13.50)Check van tickets
Check bus tickets


View itinerary from Pai to Chiang Rai


Bus icon

Pai to Chiang Rai by Bus/Van

Duration: 6 hours and 40 mins
Costs: 600 THB ($20) or 415 THB ($13.50)

There is only one direct trip from Pai to Chiang Rai. This is a minivan operated by Terminal Green. A ticket costs 600 THB ($20) and the journey takes 7.5 hours.

The minivan takes you to Chiang Mai, where you are to transfer to a bus heading for Chiang Rai. The advantage is that the staff takes care of your transfer. The disadvantage is that there are very limited seats, so you have to book tickets well in advance.

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

Check Available Direct Van Tickets

Another option is to make an indirect van and bus trip to Chiang Rai. You will also have to make a stop at Chiang Mai, the only difference is that you will have to take care of your own transfer and time it accordingly so you don’t miss your connecting bus.

We have provided a step-by-step guide below.

Step 1: Pai to Chiang Mai by Van

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

To travel from Pai to Chiang Mai, you can take a van for the first leg of the journey. There are also buses, but we don’t recommend this as the road is full of hairpin turns. This can be a very unpleasant journey in a larger vehicle.

We recommend travelling this route during the day due to the curvy roads and poor lighting in the evening. Also, keep in mind that drivers maneuver this trip twice a day and might drive extremely fast, which can make it a scary journey.

Tip: If you are prone to motion sickness, you may want to take some anti-motion sickness pills for the first part of the journey from Pai to Chiang Mai.

For a complete overview of this route, visit our page about Pai to Chiang Mai.

If you want to travel with a reliable bus company between Pai and Chiang Mai, we recommend to book with Prem Pracha.

Van with Prem Pracha

Prem Pracha operates hourly trips from 7:00 – 16:00 daily. The journey to Chiang Mai takes about 3 hours and expect to pay 195 THB ($6.50) for the van ride.

The final stop is at the Arcade Bus Station, which is the same station where the buses to Chiang Rai depart from.

Prem Pracha

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

Prem Pracha is well-known for van trips along the Pai-Chiang Mai route.

Check Available Van Tickets

Step 2: Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai by Bus

Duration: 3h 40min
Costs: 220 THB ($7.50)

Once you arrive at the Chiang Mai Arcade Bus station, make your way to the Green Buses in the parking area. This is where you will find the buses heading to Chiang Rai.

We recommend booking your tickets for the bus to Chiang Rai in advance as tickets sell out quickly. Booking your bus ticket online costs at least 220 THB ($7.50).

If you haven’t purchased your bus ticket in advance, you can head to the Green Bus ticketing counter to purchase your ticket.

For more details, read our article on going from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai.

Green Bus

  • Departs from the Arcade Bus Station in Chiang Mai, 5km northeast of the Old City
  • Arrives at the Chiang Rai Bus Terminal 1 in the city center, next to the Chiang Rai Night Bazaar

Green Bus is known for its good service along the Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai route.

Check Available Bus Tickets

Here is what your itinerary may look like:

Method of transportTimeDurationCosts
Van from Pai to Chiang Mai07:00-10:00
3h195 THB ($6.50)
Waiting timedepends on bus taken and arrival30-40m
Bus from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai07:15-10:50
3h 10m -
3h 40m
220 THB ($7.50) -
360 THB ($12)

My favourite places to stay in Chiang Rai

Chiang Rai Accommodation

Backpack Hostel

Centrally located in Chiang Rai, within walking distance or a short drive to the sights, the Backpack Hostel is a great choice for all types of travelers. Walking street and the night market are also just a few minutes away on foot.

The hostel is very clean and comfortable and the owners are well known to be very welcoming and friendly. The rooftop patio is the perfect place to relax with a cold drink at the end of a long day exploring and soak in the sights! 

  • Great location
  • Rooftop patio
  • Walking distance to sights
  • Clean and comfortable

Private rooms start at $16 per night

Read more

Chiang Rai Accommodation

Goodtime Resort Chiang Rai

Set just a few kilometers from the main sights, this location is ideal for those looking for some quiet and relaxation.

Take advantage of the bike rentals to get out and explore the town and sights and enjoy the lovely terrace area for guests in the evenings.  The resort is extremely clean, the beds are very comfortable and the staff is wonderful.

  • Great location
  • Bike rentals
  • Terrace
  • Clean and comfortable

Private rooms start at $30 per night

Read more

Chiang Rai Accommodation


Just a 1-minute walk to the Clock Tower and a 2-minute walk to the Night Market, this hotel is all about location!

Breakfast is included with your stay and the rooms are equipped with air conditioning, satellite TV and a refrigerator. Near Walking Street, bars, restaurants, and all amenities. The staff is known to be very friendly and welcoming.

  • Perfect location
  • Friendly staff
  • Extremely clean and comfortable
  • Walking distance to numerous sights 

Private rooms start at $38 per night

Read more


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