Chiang Mai to Pai happened to be our first long drive in Thailand as we left on our Mae Hong Son Loop Bike Trip. After hiring a scooter from Chiang Mai and tying our bags to our 150 CC Yamaha PCX, we left from Chiang Mai (to return after 7 days covering close to 1000 kilometers) . Chiang Mai to Pai is a a pretty drive and you set on a plain road once you leave the city traffic. Slowly as gradient increases, you start feeling the change in climate, scenery and also the sharpness of curves.
In total, it is a 4 hour ride but our suggestion would be to reserve a complete day for your Chiang Mai to Pai ride. There are multiple attractions on the way that you should not miss at all. Here are the places that we visited on the way and would suggest anyone taking Chiang Mai to Pai Ride –
- 762 Curves to Pai: Sharp and Treacherous Scooter Ride
- Bua Tong Sticky Waterfalls – Walk up and down the waterfall
- Experience Scenic Mork Fa Waterfall Chiang Mai
- Visit Chiang Dao at least for a day – Caves, Hot Springs and Mountains
- Enjoy Thermal Spas at Pong Duet Geyser
(Go to the Top) Yes !! 762 very sharp curves with high gradient at times making you even take a U-turn while negotiating curves and slopes. You will feel a sign of relief once your would reach Pai after this treacherous ride. On our 8-day drive across Mae Hong Son Loop, this was certainly the toughest drive. Though road is well paved and yellow signs are prevalent to guide you at all curves, still you have to be cautious all the way.
Till you take left turn on 1095 Expressway, road is very much plain and flat but gradient starts after few kilometers into 1095 Expressway, and suddenly you start feeling the challenges of slope and curves. Beautiful views on the way, however, provide big relief as you can take breaks at regular intervals, soak natural beauty and then again move on with cautious eyes and alert mind.
(Go to the Top) Bua Tong Waterfalls ( น้ำตกบัวทอง ) in Chiang Mai is a super unique natural phenomenon. Also known as ‘Sticky Waterfalls’, you can literally walk up and down the waterfall slope with full grip and water gushing through your feet. Located at the fringe of Sri Lanna National Park and set amid lush green forest, Bua Tong Waterfalls offers an awesomely beautiful landscape and incredible fun-filled experience. Almost an hour drive from Chiang Mai, this is one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Thailand that you could visit. These waterfalls are a bit detour from main highway (~25 kilometers) but these are, for sure, worth extra kilometers and efforts. Strongly recommended.
You may read more about our trip to these waterfalls here – Bua Tong Sticky Waterfalls
(Go to the Top) Mork Fa Waterfall is an amazingly beautiful waterfall enroute Pai, around 70 kilometers from Chiang Mai (just 2 kilometers detour from 1095 Highway). This is a huge but equally beautiful waterfall situated amid the jungles of Doi Suthep-Pui National Park. Though water flows through out the year but if you go here during the rainy season or immediately after, you will get it in full flow. Visit to Mork Fa Waterfall is not only about enjoying the beauty of waterfall but you also get to experience a natural trail on the side of water stream. So, do not miss this beautiful waterfall !!
You may read more about our trip to these waterfalls here – Mork Fa Waterfall Chiang Mai
(Go to the Top) Usually people head to Pai from Chiang Mai while going on Mae Hong Son loop but we decided not to miss Chiang Dao. Chiang Dao (เชียงดาว), an impressive mountain town, is a hidden gem in North Thailand with its unique flavour. Best suited for nature lovers and solitude seekers, you will find an authentic flavour of Thai culture in this far north town. Do consider to spend at least a day in Chiang Dao. We are sure you will be tempted to extend your stay after first day.
Chiang Dao Caves, Wat Tham Pha Plong, Hot Springs and Tuesday Market are the top attractions of this city. You may read more at our Chiang Dao Trip here – Chiang Dao Things to Do: One Day Trip Itinerary
(Go to the Top) On way from Mork Fa Waterfall to Pai are situated Pong Duet Geyser, 6 kilometers off expressway. The hot spring is pretty impressive with bubbling, boiling water and a walk through the woods. Entry fee for foreigners is incredibly high – 300 Bahts per person which dissuades most people from heading to Pong Duet Geyser. We were short of time and also found fee too high 🙂 thus deciding to give a skip to these geysers. You may decide to visit in case you have spare time.
Tips for Chiang Mai to Pai Drive
- Get your gas/petrol full – There are very few gas stations once you take a turn to 1065 Expressway.
- Do not take 125 cc Scooter – Would strongly recommend 150 cc. You will need power and control on Pai’s sharp curves.
- Be cautious at curves – The sharpest curves we got all along Mae Hong Son Loop. Go slow and do not rush.
- Keep left and no overtaking on curves – Yes be cautious all the way. Do not yes please do not try to overtake at slopes and curves.
Chiang Mai to Pai Road Condition
Road is very nicely paved and even at a normal speed, it will take you 3 to 4 hours to reach Pai from Chiang Mai [ in case you do not stop on the way at above recommended places 🙂 ]. There are yellow sign boards to guide you at slopes all along the way. Best part is the awesome driving sense of Thai people. They ensure to keep left, not to speed and give right signals while overtaking. By the way, no horn unless you need it to use.
Enjoy your journey and drive safe not only to Pai but all along Mae Hong Son loop. Do drop us a comment in case our post helps you plan your trip better or you come to know about new things on your trip that we missed and can include here.