Bus Timetables from Chiang Mai to Pai

Pai Mae Hong Son

IMPORTANT UPDATE! since writing this article the slow characterful red buses no longer ply this route. It is a shame as the slower pace of these buses gave you time to enjoy the scenery along the route (and were probably safer than the higher speed tourist minivans!)

Most people will use Chiang Mai as their jumping-off point to the small town of Pai. Pai is a relatively short 130 km from Chiang Mai but most of the route passes through the mountains so journey times are usually over the 3-hour mark. Pai is well connected from Chiang Mai by bus with a few different options. Timetables do change frequently but departures are very frequent (especially for the minibus services) Most public buses will continue onto Mae Hong Son via the small town of Bang Mapha

There are three main choices for the bus from Chiang Mai to Pai:

1. Government Licensed “big ordinary bus” – These buses are usually old and red with plenty of Character 🙂 They move slow;ly especially up some of the steep inclines on the road to Pai the journey takes around 4 hours. These buses depart from Chiang Mai Arcade Bus Station. The current fare is a very cheap 72 baht. The bus stops halfway for a 15-minute toilet and coffee break (no toilet onboard). Tickets can be bought on the day or in advance at the ticket office at Arcade Bus Station. Bus tickets for Pai (and other destinations on the Mae Hong Son route) are sold from their own dedicated ticket counter to one side of the main bus station. If you can not find it then ask around, and you will be pointed in the right direction.

The slow "ordinary bus" which runs the route Chiang Mai - Pai - Bang Mapha - Mae Hon Son
The slow “ordinary bus” which runs the route Chiang Mai – Pai – Bang Mapha – Mae Hon Son

2. Government Licensed  Air-con Minibus – The 13 passenger seat minibuses which run this route are definitely a bit cramped when full, but air-con is provided (but not always that effective! especially with 13 warm bodies aboard). These buses are quicker than ordinary buses and take around 3 hours, however, the drivers do have a reputation for driving like lunatics! These minibuses depart from Chiang Mai Arcade Bus Station. The cost of a ticket is a very reasonable 150 baht and tickets can be bought from the same ticket counter as the ordinary bus.

Government licensed minibuses at Pai Bus Station
Government licensed minibuses at Pai Bus Station

3. Tourist Minibus Service – The tourist minibus service is fast and efficient and usually operates with 13 passenger seat minibuses and are very similar to the government licensed minibus service. The main difference is that the tourist service includes pick up from your hotel and guest house in Chiang Mai. Tickets can usually be purchased at your own hotel or guest house or pop into the Travel Hub office at Thapae gate as we also sell this service. Journey time is around 3 hours and the fare is 170 baht

Ordinary Bus Time Table from Chiang Mai to Pai

Chiang Mai
07:00 11:00
10:30 14:30
12:00 16:00
14:30 18:30

Public Mini Bus Timetable Chiang Mai – Pai – Bang Mapha – Mae Hong Son

Chiang Mai
Bang Mapha
Mae Hong Son
06:30 09:30 10:30 12:30
07:30 10:30 11:30 13:30
08:30 11:30 12:30 14:30
09:30 12:30 13:30 15:30
10:30 13:30 14:30 16:30
11:30 14:30 15:30 17:30
12:30 15:30 16:30 18:30
13:30 16:30 17:30 19:30
14:30 17:30 18:30 20:30
15:30 18:30
16:30 19:30
17:30 20:30

Tourist Mini Bus Timetable Chiang Mai – Pai

Chiang Mai
08:00 11:00
09:00 12:00
10:00 13:00
11:00 14:00
12:00 15:00
13:00 16:00
14:00 17:00
15:00 18:00
16:00 19:00
17:00 20:00

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27 Thoughts to “Bus Timetables from Chiang Mai to Pai”

  1. Lucy

    Hey i have come across a few people that have seen this amd used it for local info as it is the most recent on the Internet. Just to let you know the local bus only goes at 7 now.

    1. bfadmin

      Thank you Lucy!

      I have not been to the bus station to verify this but i will make a note on the post above just in case

      1. The ” ordinary ” bus no longer runs at al. They’ve stopped that service. The only option is the mini van. You are best off booking this from your accommodation. We arrived at the bus station at 6 and had ro wait until 9.30 to get on a van with seats together.

  2. Brit O'Neill

    DO the buses leaving Pai back to Chiang Mai run a similar schedule? Thanks

    1. bfadmin

      Yes you can expect the same frequency of buses returning back to Chiang Mai from Pai

  3. joe

    hey mate, awsome post. i have taken the ordanary bus many times before and actually prefer it. much slower and nicer ride. but i just spent an hour trying to line up a ticket or just find out where it picks up at the station. showed photos of the bus and even translated “ordinary bus to pai 7am” and just got sent to the tourist mini bus line. this isnt the first time this has happened. the thais have always been good to me but this particular bus they are of no help and it is on purpose. i dont want this bus because its cheaper. i want it because its slower. the mini bus is awful. im just gonna show at 6am tomorrow and pretty sure the bus will be there. just want to know if you know where it picks up? bay number? last time i took it was 2 years ago. and please dont say ask someone. cheers

    1. bfadmin

      Yes i fully understand about the minibus! The old red bus is slower (but safer!) and it also allows a bit more time to enjoy the scenery as you pass through the mountains. Sorry to hear about the experience at the bus station, but i assume the Thai staff will assume us tourists prefer air-con and speed over the slower bus.

  4. There are actually several different options if you plan to travel from Chiang Mai to Pai. Whether you want to go it alone on a motorbike, or travel with a group of friends via bus or flight, there is no shortage of available methods.

  5. hg yang

    do the ordinary big bus take bicycle as well, we plan to go to pai sometimes in february 2017.
    how many bicycle can load up to the bus.

    1. Travel Hub

      I am not too sure. From what i have seen of the ordinary buses they do not have roof storage so my guess is probably not. However the minivans make be able to carry a couple of bikes as they do have a roof rack.

  6. Jessie

    Hello!Thanks for your detailed post!I wonder if we can book the ordinary bus online?

    1. Travel Hub

      I do not think that the ordinary buses can be booked online. Normally for the ordinary buses you have to go to the Chiang Mai Arcade Bus Station. You can buy the tickets there before travel.

      1. Jessie

        Got it!Thanks!Do you know when the Arcade bus station opens in the morning?

        1. Travel Hub

          Buses are coming and going near on 24 hours per day so the bus station is always open but the ticket offices do open and close at various times. Each bus company has their own ticket office at the bus station . My best guess is that the ticketing office/desk selling bus tickets to Pai will be open at least 30 minutes before the first bus departs, so maybe around 6:00am

          1. Jessie

            You are quite considerate. Thanks a lot:)

  7. Felix

    The 80 Baht bus still exists. It runs at 7am, 11am or 4pm.

  8. Christopher

    80 Bhat for a pick up with a cabin on the back, (same as all the other taxis in chiang mai. Pick it up from the bus station and tickets from the same place you get the AC bus from. Nice ride.

  9. Jack

    Dear Jessie,

    Is it acceptable to bring quite a large suitcase on one of the tourist minibuses please?

    I will be spending half of my holiday in Pai after staying in Chiang Mai and will have a suitcase for luggage, not a giant rucksack!

    1. Travel Hub


      Yes suitcases are OK. They do allow space for luggage (usually on the roof) whether it be a suitcase or rucksack

      1. Taj Dhaliwal

        Hey Jessie,

        Same question as Jack, but on the slow red bus instead?

        Kind Regards

  10. nicky

    Do busses run on weekends? leaving chiang mai on a friday and returning on a sunday to catch flight. how often would they run on weekends?

    1. Travel Hub

      Yes all buses run on weekends to the same frequency as weekdays

  11. Jasmine

    I was in Chiang Mai a couple of weeks ago, they said the ordinary bus stopped operating a year ago.

    I got a minivan to and from Pai and luckily the drivers drove carefully. But if you are prone to motion sickness this ride will be.. exciting to say the least 🙂 The roads are EXTREMELY winding!

  12. Jasmine Stigenhag

    I was in Chiang Mai a couple of weeks ago aand they said that the public bus stopped operating a year ago.

    Luckily the drivers drove carefully both to and from Pai. If you are easily motion sick, this trip will be interesting to say the least.. The roads are EXTREMELY winding!

    1. Lianne

      Hi Jasmine

      I go to Pai on Friday and I’m pretty apprehensive ref the journey…you sound like you were lucky to have good drivers both ways. Do you recall which company you booked with?

      @travelhub…great into…thank you!

  13. Rebecca Tesseyman

    The “ordinary ” bus no longer runs. They’ve stopped that service. Your best option is to bookthe mini van from your accommodation. We arrived at the bus station at 6am and had to wait until 9.30am to get a van with seats together.

  14. […] autobuze locale ce fac zilnic ruta Chiang Mai – Pai, o călătorie fiind 150 baht. Găsești aici orarul […]

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