Pai is a small town located in Mae Hong Son province in Northern Thailand. It has became increasingly popular among backpackers and travelers as years go by due to its picturesque sceneries and laidback ambiance. A famous Thai movie also propelled its popularity among locals and foreign visitors alike.
Getting to Pai from Chiang Mai is quite easy and there are plenty of transportation options to choose from.
Getting to Pai by Mini Bus
There are plenty of mini buses or mini vans plying the Chiang Mai to Pai route and it usually cost 180 Baht. If you book it through your hostel, it might cost a little bit more. We booked ours with our hostel and we paid 200 Baht per person including the pickup songthaew from our hostel. There’s also a mini van at the Arcade Bus Station and it cost 230 Baht per person. Travel time is around three to three and a half hours. There’s a 15 minute toilet break as well and it usually stops at a local store so you could also buy some drinks and snacks. The road to Pai is full of bends and curves and it’s said to have around 762 curves. If you have motion sickness, be sure to take some meds before you board the van. It might also help if you prepare a plastic bag just in case you throw up. Luckily, no passengers in our van threw up when we went to Pai.
Getting to Pai by Bus
There are local buses that goes to Pai from Chiang Mai and it cost approximately $3. It’s definitely cheaper than the mini buses but it’s said to be slower (takes 4 hours). Departure time starts at 7AM and up to 4PM. I highly recommend that you go to Pai in the morning so you’ll have enough time to look for accommodation before it gets dark.
Getting to Pai by Motorcycle
This is a popular option among those who are experienced drivers. You can rent a motorcycle in Chiang Mai and take it with you to Pai. The cost varies depending on where you rent it so be sure to shop around for the best deals. And also, make sure to check all gears to make sure that it’s working properly. I’ve seen a couple of tourists walking on th road with their motorbikes, my guess was that it broke down along the way.
If you’re not an experience driver, do not attempt to drive a motorbike from Chiang Mai to Pai. It’s risky and dangerous. I’ve see a handful of people i Pai with lots of bandages on their limbs and bruises due to motorbike accidents.
Getting to Pai by Plane
If budget is not an issue then you can also take a 25 minute flight to Pai via Kan Airlines.