Getting to Pai

Getting in  By road
Route 1095 which connects Pai with Mae Hong Son (50km as the crow flies, but approx. 110km by road) and Chiang Mai (135km) is a very scenic route through the mountains which takes several hours (but worth it). It’s a steep and windy drive, with lots of curves, so take a plastic bag and some motion-sickness pills if you need them.

By motorcycle
Route 1095 isn’t as bad as people make it out to be. There isn’t much traffic and you can hear the cars and trucks coming. If you’re a little adventurous, rent a motorcycle in Chiang Mai and make the ride up to Pai. You can stop at the waterfalls and small towns along the way, and you’ll really enjoy the trip, as opposed to being motion sick in a bus for hours, and being forced to stop at the driver’s friends restaurants. The scenery is absolutely gorgeous and being on a bike makes you feel like part of the mountains. The locals will think you’re crazy, and the construction crews get really excited when you come through. Make sure to take some warmer clothing on your bike, as it tends to get a bit chilly in the higher portions of the ride. As a novice rider, expect the trip to take around 5 or 6 hours, including stops at sites and restaurants along the way. aYa Service [2] offers one way rentals from Chiang Mai to Pai (or vice versa) with luggage delivery for free (as of May 2010). They will keep your passport and send it along with any baggage to aYa in Pai.

By bus
Buses and minibuses go to Chiang Mai (Arcade terminal) and Mae Hong Son. Regular public buses take around 4 hours and charge about 80 baht; minibuses take around 3 hours and tickets (sold by travel agencies) cost about 160 baht. One strategy is to get to Pai using the public bus so that you can get an idea as to how winding the road is and then you can decide if you want to splash out and get the mini bus back to Chiang Mai.

To feel less travel sick and save some money take the regular public bus. The scenery is lovely and the winding roads are much easier on one’s stomach if you take things slowly.

From Chiangmai: Local Bus from Chiang Mai to Pai leaves the Arcade Bus Station, five trips during a day (07:00, 08:30, 10:30, 12:30, 16:00). The trip takes some 3 hours and there is a comfort stop at the small half way village of Mae Sae (very good Northern sausages and traditional chicken curry noodle soup available as well as other necessities food water toilets (B3 to use them, as at all bus stations in Thailand!) et cetera). Bus trip costs as at Nov 2010 B150.

Minibuses and Small passenger trucks (song taew) carrying a dozen people also leaves from the bus station as often as there are sufficient passengers or full paying passenger. (cost of private hire is approximately 1200 or share for approximately 150 Baht). The rear seats approximately 10 people and is open air. The view and wind in your face is pleasant, but not the occasional exhaust fumes.

By plane
The nearest domestic airport is in Pai. Kan Airlines [3] operate one or more daily flights between Chiang Mai and Pai, depending on the season. Flying time is 25 minutes. Passengers can make reservations and purchase tickets through the airlines’ websites, their call centres or with a travel agent.


Posted on January 29, 2012, in Living in Pai Thailand and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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