This past month I visited a mystical, beautiful and upcoming destination known as Pai Thailand. Founded by two backpackers, it’s known for it’s hippie vibes and is commonly referred to as the island town in the mountains. A backpacker hotspot, most travelers (myself included) plan on going for a night and end up staying a week. The magic of Pai is making it an increasingly popular destination for backpackers and luxury travelers alike. Since I loved Pai so much, I am devoting a series of posts on how to get there, what to do, and where to stay! Since it’s important to actually make it to the destination, I start my blog series with how to get to Pai!
How to get to Pai Thailand:
You can fly from Chiang Mai to Pai using Kan Airlines daily at 10:20 with prices starting at 2,190 Thai Baht/$62 USD. The flight is quick, around 25-30 minutes. The limitations to flying into Pai Mae Hong Son is that you can only depart from Chiang Mai International Airport. If you are anywhere else in Thailand, you must make it to Chiang Mai first.
This is the most commonly preferred method to get to Pai from Chiang Mai. You can book through your hotel or hostel and prices start at about 200 Thai Baht/$6 USD. However, you can book directly with Aya Shuttle to save about 50 Baht/$1.50. The ride itself is roughly between 3 – 4 hours and is very, very windy. I highly recommend taking an anti-motion sickness pill, like Dramamine, 15-30 minutes before you leave. Also, bring a bag with you just in case you are prone to car sickness since they do not provide them on the bus. The shuttle does make a stop about half-way through for about 15 minutes to allow you to use the bathroom or to buy food and drinks. The shuttle leaves at various times throughout the day and the most popular times are: 7:00, 10:30, 12:00 & 14:30.
I ONLY recommend this method of transportation if you have tons of experience on bikes or motorcycles, meaning you use this method of transportation back home. The road to Pai is very windy and has consistent construction along the way. Thai drivers are also kind of crazy (very fast, don’t follow sides of the road, don’t honk to alert bikers…) so I recommend erring on the side of caution and highly consider the safer options, such as a shuttle or flying.
Scooter outside my bungalow at Phu Pai Art Resort
Take Away Tips:
- Most common methods of transportation to Pai Thailand is via Chiang Mai. You can go from Chiang Rai, but it’s in your own hands, meaning you’ll need to ride a motorbike or rent a car to get there.
- The road to Pai is extremely windy and can cause car sickness. I don’t usually suffer from motion sickness and even I felt nauseated upon arrival. Don’t let this stop you from visiting this beautiful area, take a Dramamine (or two!) 15-30 minutes before departure and bring a bag just in case. If the drive is concerning, you can always fly!
- The shuttle/mini bus takes you to the main part of town near the walking street. I negotiated with my driver to be dropped off at my hotel for an additional 50 Baht.
- Don’t let the the trek stop you from visiting Pai because it is one of the best places in Northern Thailand, alongside Chiang Mai.
I hope this helps you plan your trip up to Pai. Subscribe to my email list and I’ll be sure to update you with my latest tips & tricks for all Pai travel. Stay tuned for my series on Pai, which will include what to do and where to stay!