Getting from Chiang Mai to Pai – easy and cheap!

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Despite the close location, Chiang Mai and Pai are cities in the north of Thailand, which are largely unlike each other. Therefore, many of those who travel to Chiang Mai – the cultural capital of the country – want to visit and Pai – a small cozy town, which you can fall in love at first sight. Getting from Chiang Mai to Pai can be very inexpensive and easy, and the road number 1095, which passes most of the way between cities, has become widely known as the most winding road in the world. In this short article you will find information on the easiest ways to get from Chiang Mai to Pai and back, the cost of transportation and the features of a trip between these cities.

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Features of the road between Chiang Mai and Pai

The direct distance between Pai and Chiang Mai is about 85 kilometers, but the distance along the shortest road between the city centers is about 150 km. This is due to the fact that the highway number 1095 is one of the most winding roads in the world. For example, between the cities of Chiang Mai and Pai, you must overcome 762 turns (on the road, even the corresponding pointer is there). At the same time mountain serpentines make up only half of the route, and in the remaining part it is an ordinary Thai route, along which it is possible to move at a speed of up to 100 km / h. Therefore, all those who want to quickly get to Pai from Chiang Mai, should understand that the road in any case will take about three hours, and sometimes more.

A large number of turns on the road from Chiang Mai to Pai is accompanied by frequent ascent and descent. All this not only slows down the movement, but also makes such a trip not very comfortable for people with weak vestibular apparatuses. If you can be are shaken in a car, on a bus or boat, it is better to take a special pill beforehand from motion sickness in advance. Then the road will bring you only positive emotions, because in many places there are special observation platforms, from which an unforgettable view of the green mountains opens. And even a simple bus ride will allow you from the window to admire the bright nature of northern Thailand and the picturesque mountains.

A typical landscape when traveling from Chiang Mai to Pye along serpentine

One of the features of traveling to Pai is the lack of direct transport to this city from the popular resort areas of the country, with the exception of the city of Chiang Mai. And even if you found an excursion from Bangkok or Pattaya to Pai, you have to make a transfer to Chiang Mai. The route that connects Pai and Chiang Mai is often called Chiang Mai-Mahongshon (a city on the border of Thailand and Myanmar). At the same time, the town of Pai is located approximately in the middle of the route, so that regular buses can be passing, and it is often impossible to buy tickets for them in a few days. But there are routes directly from Chiang Mai to Pai and back, because this small town enjoys increasing popularity with foreign tourists. By the way, on the page From Bangkok to Chiang Mai – transport, schedule and fares! you can find out how you can get to Chiang Mai from the capital of Thailand and back.

From Chiang Mai to Pai and back by minibus

The easiest way to purchase tickets for minibuses between Chiang Mai and Pai is to use the service of transport in Asia. The link will open the English version of the service and the Chiang Mai-Pai route. To see the timetable of the minibus company Prem Prach and the cost of the trip for your date, change it in the search bar (at the top of the page). There you can choose the number of passengers you need. During the high season (autumn-winter), 10-12 minibuses are sent daily between cities. In this case, the first minibus departs from Chiang Mai at dawn, and the last – before sunset (most of the way will be done in the dark). Also you may notice that the timetable shows the time on the road for more than 4 hours (usually 4 hours and 20 minutes). In reality, a minibus overcomes the distance between cities faster, in about 3.5 hours (with a sanitary stop in the middle of the route lasting 10-15 minutes).

But the travel time can really be more than 4 hours during the rainy season, when due to a large number of turns, descents and ascents, the speed of the minibus drops, because it is unsafe to drive quickly in the mountains on a wet road. Although even on bright sunny days on the road 1095 there are many sections where minibus moves at a speed of 20-30 km / h and can not accelerate faster. If you are looking for a minibus schedule from Pai City to Chiang Mai, you can see them on this direct link to the route. There you can buy a ticket online, which can be relevant during the high season. The cost of minivans at the beginning of 2018 is 195 THB or 6 USD per person. Because of the fact that on the way back, slopes prevail, i. The minibus is moving downward rather than climbing the mountains, the return trip from Pai to Chiang Mai usually takes less time.

Location of the bus terminal in Chiang Mai

The minibuses of Prem Pracha company between Chiang Mai and Pai depart and arrive in places convenient for tourists – in the area of ​​the central bus stations (although in the case of the city of Pai this definition may not be entirely appropriate). If you purchased an online ticket and want to quickly find a landing to the desired minibus, you need a new bus station in Chiangmai – Chiangmai Arcade Bus Station. It is located across the street from the Chiangmai Bus Terminal 3 to Soi Kaeo Nawarat 5. You can see the location of the bus station on the city map by clicking on the departure point on the search page (in the figure below is marked with a yellow marker). Get here from anywhere in Chiang Mai will not be difficult on local transport.

Clicking on the point of departure (in the figure marked in yellow) you can see it on the map

The bus terminal is large, so to save time on finding the point of landing in a minibus, follow the far part of the bus terminal. The entrance to the transport company’s office is located outside the building, in the area between the bus platforms No. 12 and No. 13. As a rule, there are always branded red-white minibuses nearby, and the office itself is marked by a large signboard Prempracha Transport (red logo and black letters on a white background). Landing on the minibus Chiang Mai – Pai is carried out from the platform number 13. If you purchased a ticket for a minibus online, you need to show the printout in the office. At the same time in ofice you can get give a ticket of the usual type, which must be presented during the landing in a minibus.

Ticket office of Prempracha in Chiang Mai Bus Terminal

Since the direction is popular, you can find other local bus companies that also deliver passengers from Chiang Mai to Pai. The prices for the trip will be almost similar, and if you do not want to purchase a ticket for a minibus or a large bus in advance, you can, if you have free time, to research prices and choose the option you like. Travel time will also be comparable due to a difficult route, and a trip on a large bus can take even more time. Currently, you can purchase tickets for the Chiang Mai-Pai bus and for back way online only in the manner described above. In any case, during the trip from Chiang Mai to Pai and back, use seat belts in a minibus and hold tight on the corners of the road.

Location of bus station in Pai

Since the population of the city of Pai is about 2500 people, and the number of bus routes is limited, there can not be a classical large bus terminal in the city. Therefore, most transport companies bring passengers to their corporate offices. The company Prempracha Transport, whose office is located in the central part of Pai city, is also an exception. It is located at Rural Road Mae Hong Son 4024, Wiang Tai, Mae Hong Son 58130. In fact, this is a small square near which the company’s ticket office is located. Find this small bus station is not difficult, because it is located on the local Walking Street. Nearby there are a large number of bars, cafes, a night market, inexpensive guesthouses and a 7Eleven store.

Ticket office of Prempracha Transport Co in Pai

A good landmark is the company’s indexes of the transport company, made in red and white. On the same information boards, located on both sides of the site with buses, it says “Pai Bus Station”, so finding a place is not difficult. Opposite the ticket office there is a small kiosk of Kasikorn Bank with an ATM. To hide from the sun or rain on this mini bus station is almost nowhere, so it’s better to spend time before landing in a minibus to Chiang Mai in one of the local bars or inexpensive cafes with Thai food.

How to get to Pai from Chiang Mai in rented transport

Despite the low cost of traveling by minibus from Chiang Mai to Pai, many travelers prefer to use a rented car or motorbike for a trip between cities. Connectedly this is with their desire to get the maximum degree of freedom in the journey and visit all the main attractions in the vicinity of Pai (waterfalls, hot springs, mountain viewpoints, strawberry farms, etc.). After all, even during a trip on a winding road to Pai there are very beautiful places where many would like to stay for a while (make a beautiful photo or video).

You can find small bus station in Pai in Walking Street area

Since renting a car in Pai is not very good, it’s better to rent a car in Chiang Mai, using the Rentalcars service to find the best price, where you can find all rental offices in the city and you can rent a car at the best price (you conclude a rental agreement on your native language). As a rule, the widest offer of cars for rent is presented at the airport of Chiang Mai. There and the lowest prices, sometimes 1.5 times lower than renting a similar car in the city center. Therefore, if you want to rent a car online in Chiang Mai cheap, it is better to do it at the airport, even if you came to Chiang Mai by train or bus. The trip to the airport will not be too tiring and expensive, because the international airport of Chiang Mai is located within the city – just three kilometers from the center.

While driving on the road №1095, observe the speed limit and try to drive on the left side of the road, without leaving on the oncoming lane (especially at corners). And to more easily cope with long lifts and descents, it is better to rent a car with an automatic transmission. Also, it will not be superfluous to fill the fuel tank with as much fuel as you need for a trip to Pai and back, as well as trips to natural attractions in the vicinity of Pai. Well, of course, it is better, with other things being equal, to choose rental offices with a minimum level of deductibles (for more details, see the “Car rental Phuket – fares, advices, best places” page).

As for renting a motorbike in Chiang Mai, then this also has no problems. Like everywhere in Thailand, there are a lot of motorbike rental offices in the city. The cost is about 150 baht (5 USD) per day and above. As I repeatedly advised, try to find an office in which you do not need use your passport like a deposit. Especially if you want to go on motorbike from Chiang Mai to Pai (without a passport, settling in a hotel may be impossible). There is a possibility to rent motobike in Chiang Mai online. The cost also starts from 5 USD per day, and the original passport is not required. In addition, you can often cancel your reservation without penalty for 48 hours before the date of rental (for example, if a trip to Pai or even to Chiang Mai for any reason was canceled).

If for you the most important thing in the trip is comfort and safety, you can order a taxi transfer from Chiang Mai to Pai. The option is not the most budgetary, but if you travel not alone and with a lot of things, you can comfortably get directly from Chiang Mai airport to your hotel in Pai city or order a similar transfer in the opposite direction and get from Pai to the airport doors in Chiang Mai . I wish you pleasant and safe trips!

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