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The 762 Turn Chiang Mai To Pai Scooter Trip & Info On The Chiang Mai to Pai Bus, Thailand [UPDATED FOR 2024]

Nic (The Roaming Renegades) - Last updated on January 15th, 2024 at 4:06 pm

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What Is Pai And Why Is It Worth

After riding the length of Vietnam on motorbikes they became our favourite method of transport around South East Asia and wherever possible we would jump at the chance to do another trip. After such a long gruelling trip in Vietnam though we searched out day trips on bikes as well as shorter multi-day bike trips on some incredible roads. The hippy backpacker town of Pai in the very north of Thailand was somewhere we’d had on our radar since we began planning our time in Thailand. But when we discovered that the winding mountain road that leads from Chiang Mai to Pai is one of the best in the country, with an amazing 762 twists and turns, breathtaking scenery and another unforgettable experience… we knew we had to do the Chiang Mai to Pai scooter trip, a Thailand backpacker rite of passage and a perfect alternative to the vomit-inducing Chiang Mai to Pai bus but you’ve also got to question “Is it safe to scooter from Chiang Mai to Pai” before taking it on?! Here’s our ultimate guide on how to get to Pai and considerations for the Chiang Mai to Pai motorbike trip!

Chapters

  1. What Is Pai And Why Is It Worth The Effort Of Making The Trip Up Into The Mountains? 
  2. Taking The Chiang Mai To Pai Scooter Trip:
  3. Is It Safe To Scooter From Chiang Mai To Pai And Should I Do The Trip This Way?
  4. Should I Do The Chiang Mai To Pai Scooter Trip?
  5. Advice and Tips: Practical Information On The Chiang Mai to Pai Scooter Trip.  
  6. Where To Stay In Pai
  7. How To Get From Chiang Mai to Pai: Other Methods Of Transport
  8. Can You Take A Day Trip To Pai!?
  9. Rent A Car Instead of A Bike
  10. Coming From Elsewhere?

What Is Pai And Why Is It Worth The Effort Of Making The Trip Up Into The Mountains? 

Pai is the most incredible place, a hippy town in the mountains where nothing seems real and your time there will forever be looked back at as a bubble of surreal happiness!! This backpacker paradise is located in the beautiful Mae Hong Son Province close to the Myanmar border which is about 130 km north of Chiang Mai. Whether you ride or take the Chiang Mai to Pai bus the journey is well worth the effort. 

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It’s not Pie, Thailand it’s Pai!! We do think someone is missing an opportunity for a pie shop though!

The atmosphere here is totally unique and the surroundings and air of exploration combine to make it a place that you never want to leave… and when you do, you’ll surely return!! Some describe it as a Thai Island in the mountains, but it’s so much more than that! With quirky cafes, surreal roadside sculptures, amazing landscapes and all surrounded by like-minded people searching for that same sense of complete freedom and peace Pai just seems to emanate, it really is a truly magical place.

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Chiang Mai – Pai: Well worth the effort to visit this mysterious and magical place!

One of the most wonderful things about Pai is that many people get here on a scooter or at least rent one when they get up here. It means that all the different things to do and see up here despite being slightly spread out are very accessible and really it is a must if you want to truly experience Pai and just adds to the sense of escapism and freedom that Pai is all about. However, you do need to ask yourself if is it safe to scooter from Chiang Mai to Pai if you’ve never been on a bike before as it’s a common place to have an accident! 

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READ MORE: See Our Time In Incredible Pai Here


Our Favourite Backpacks

Osprey Fairpoint/ Fairview

We’ve used the Osprey Fairpoint/ Fairview for all our backpacking adventures over the past 5 years and highly recommend them!

The main area of the pack opens like a suitcase, which is great for using packing cubes to keep everything organised and they even come with a detachable day pack!


Taking The Chiang Mai To Pai Scooter Trip:

An Incredible Experience On The Winding 762 Turn Road!

By the time we took this Chiang Mai to Pai scooter trip, we had managed to build up quite a bit of experience on two wheels all around Asia and since then we’ve done even more trips in almost every country in Southeast Asia. So with this in mind, we wondered how the road and this trip would stack up against some of our other unforgettable experiences exploring on a bike, our favourite method of transport in South East Asia! It’s also a perfect alternative to taking the Chiang Mai to Pai bus which is well known to be one of the most brutal in terms of inducing travel sickness!

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Setting off on this trip with some experience riding scooters was one of the things that made this trip so enjoyable. We were confident riding and for us, this was a comparatively short journey but one that was long enough to really engross us. It really meant that we could concentrate on enjoying the wind in our hair and the mountain atmosphere rather than not falling off our bikes! If it’s your first time on a bike then you should consider if is it safe to scooter from Chiang Mai to Pai for your experience level!

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The road to road to Pai, Thailand is incredible but tricky!

Leaving Chiang Mai is hectic, busy and probably the most stressful part of the journey, but soon after that, you are straight into the mountains to tackle the famous 762 turns. The road itself is smooth and in great condition as it winds its way like a mystical serpent up towards Pai. For motorbike and scooter enthusiasts the road itself is incredible to ride but combine that with sweeping panoramas over this mountainous landscape and it becomes one of the best roads in the world. For us it was comparable to that of the Hai Van pass in Vietnam and the Transfagarasan Highway in Romania, two well know best-driving and riding roads in the world!

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Do you fancy taking the bus Chiang Mai to Pai or a bike?

READ MORE: See Our Guide To Transport Around Southeast Asia Here


Is It Safe To Scooter From Chiang Mai To Pai And Should I Do The Trip This Way?

One of the biggest concerns about taking the Chiang Mai to Pai scooter trip is safety, not only on the road up here but also on the roads around the town too and in particular towards Lod Caves. Many people have accidents up here and clearly, they should have considered whether it is it safe to scooter from Chiang Mai to Pai if it’s your first time!

The roads here are winding, challenging and slick. It was a running joke in Pai just how many people we saw battered, bruised and covered in bandages, it was beginning to look like the set of “The Mummy!”. Joking aside however there have been many people injured riding up here and some of them seriously.

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The minibus from Chiang Mai to Pai isn’t fun on these roads!

Riding a scooter is harder than it appears at first and unfortunately being automatic they come across as easy! We won’t lie, our second time on a bike was riding in the countryside around Phnom Penh in Cambodia and we ourselves had a minor accident! It happens and in a sense, it’s all part of the backpacker experience, but up here the risks are higher and the environment much more challenging than just short trips around town!

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Generally speaking the traffic on the road isn’t too bad, if you’ve ever experienced the roads in Vietnam as an example then this one seems like a dream!! However, if you’re new to riding in Asia then it might be a little intimidating. The route isn’t too popular with heavy vehicles but you do get some buses, trucks and many cars. Some of these do often cross over onto the other side of the road when taking the corners but most are quite safe. A good tip is to stick to the far edge of the road rather than wandering towards the middle and let others pass if you’re asking yourself “is it safe to scooter from Chiang Mai to Pai”.

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READ MORE: See Our Hai Van Pass Adventure Here


Our Favourite Travel Camera & Lens

Sony A7IV & Sony FE 24-105 f4

The Sony a7IV is the perfect travel camera. Offering incredible image quality, great portability and a varied lens selection.

Our favourite travel lens is the Sony FE 24-105 f4. it’s a great all-rounder, super sharp and a perfect focal range for travel.


Should I Do The Chiang Mai To Pai Scooter Trip?

It all comes down to you and your confidence levels. By all means, take the journey, it’s absolutely amazing but here’s our honest advice about getting from Chiang Mai to Pai on a bike –

Firstly, rent a bike beforehand somewhere less challenging, if you know you’re coming up here and you’re in Asia then rent a bike somewhere flat and quiet first and just get used to riding. Even if you’re already in Chiang Mai then take a bike out around town, ride up to Doi Suthep (still quite challenging but not as far) and the outskirts of the city just so this isn’t your first experience on a bike.

You could also opt for renting once up there in Pai, the roads are still challenging if you go far enough out as we said but you can also be more selective and also build up some confidence just around the village and some closer attractions.

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The Chiang Mai scooter tour to Pai takes you on roads like this!

Secondly. Be sure to use a reputable company and if you can avoid it be sure not to put down your passport against the scooter as well as taking photos of the condition beforehand.

We’ve never had any problems at all, even when we did fall off and scrape the bike in Cambodia because honestly most of these bikes are pretty beat up to begin with.

But if you can choose to put a cash bond against the bike then do that rather than your passport! Expect it to be around 1000 – 2000 baht but it can be more if you take a bigger bike out. A reputable company will let you do this! 

However, most companies in Chiang Mai do also offer insurance at an additional cost per day which isn’t too common with Thailand scooter rental around the country. 

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Is it safe to scooter from Chiang Mai to Pai? Here is a particularly challenging section of the road!

Thirdly, make sure you have travel insurance just in case. Even the best riders make mistakes or as quite often is the case with bikes, other people make the mistake but the biker comes off worse! We recommend using Safety Wing and being sure you are covered for riding a scooter which might also mean having a license for a bike in your own country too. Just be aware of the risks in getting from Chiang Mai to Pai on a bike before you go and what you are covered for.

Safety Wing Travel Insurance

The Best Insurance for Nomads

No one likes buying insurance, but equally everyone hates skyhigh medical bills! Get yourself covered so you can enjoy your trip worry free!

Here at The Roaming Renegades we love Safetywing Insurance because it’s designed for nomads, you can buy it when you’re already abroad and it’s kickass!

Click the button below to get a quote on your insurance provided by Safetywing.

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A section of the mountainous Chiang Mai to Pai road! A perfect Chiang Mai motorbike tour.

Advice and Tips: Practical Information On The Chiang Mai to Pai Scooter Trip.  

What Is The Chiang Mai To Pai Scooter Time And Distance?

The Chiang Mai to Pai scooter route should take roughly 4 hrs but give yourself longer to enjoy it more and the distance from Chiang Mai to Pai is roughly 130 km.

Be sure not to rush and instead take your time, have regular rest stops to take in the views or explore the villages along the way too. The thing to realise here is that the journey is very much the experience and not just the destination. Set off early and give yourself pretty much the whole day to get up there and be sure to be off the road before dark as it gets VERY dangerous. The road from Chiang Mai to Pai is officially Route 1095 once you turn off the highway. 

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How far is Pai from Chiang Mai? Around 130 km

Can I Do The Chiang Mai To Pai Scooter Trip One Way?

Most of the rental companies in Chiang Mai expect it to be a two-way trip and that you’ll return the bike back to them. However, Aya does allow for one-way trips for an extra 300 Baht surcharge.

However, one thing to consider is that from Pai the only place onwards from here is really Mae Hong Son which is another great bike trip and can be done as an epic Chiang Mai motorbike loop.

However, if you get up to Pai on the bus and want to ride back down then this is possible but will incur an extra charge and might be harder to arrange but it could be a good way to build confidence riding before heading back down from Pai from Chiang Mai.

Two of the best companies to go with are Mr Mechanic and Aya, our hostel also had many other options too and we booked through them with the bikes being delivered to the hostel.

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How Much Does The Chiang Mai To Pai Scooter Trip Cost?

We paid for one bike, a 125cc scooter (we wanted to share one to reduce the cost) for a week and paid extra for insurance each day on our first trip.

On our second trip, we hired two 150cc manual bikes with added insurance. We were able to put down a cash deposit rather than using our passports which is always a much better idea if you can.

We were able to extend our rental period at any time by contacting the company to extend. With insurance included for a 125cc scooter, it will cost around 200-250 Baht (£5- 6.50 / $6.50-8) a day.

Other bikes such as smaller manuals like that we had will be around 400-500 Baht (£10- 13 / $13- 14.50) a day, large manuals around 700 Baht (£18 / $22)

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Chiang Mai to Pai distance: 130 km with many being on the famous 1095 route.

What Do I Do With My Bags?

The Aya rental service can include baggage transport so you are free to ride up without trying to carry large and heavy bags. This is useful especially if you’re on one bike!!

However, we did go with another company and instead we were able to store our large bags at the hostel and just took up our smaller bags. We also spoke to Mango, our rental company, and they did say we could have also left our bags there too.

This was great on the one hand as it was less to worry about but on the other, we would have liked to have had all our gear up there for extending our time or just in case we forgot anything!

Who Offers The Best Motorbike Rental In Chiang Mai?

There are a few options in the city but for us, the one that comes out top is Mango Bikes. We’ve used them twice whilst in Chiang Mai and each time we’ve been totally impressed by their service. The Irish-owned company takes low deposits instead of passports, services all their bikes and has a wide range on offer from small scooters to bigger engined bikes and manuals. They were also able to do us a small deal on two bikes for the week.

Two others worth mentioning are Mr Mechanic and Aya service Chiang Mai/ Aya Service Pai which are some of the best Thailand motorcycle rental companies.

Scooter rental in Chiang Mai is very common but there are also some pretty dodgy companies out there with unsafe bikes and scammer tactics. It really does pay to research Chiang Mai scooter rental companies instead of just going with who your hostel is affiliated with!

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Motorbike Rental Chiang Mai: The Best Way To See The Area

Problems With The Police!

One of the problems you might encounter is the police on the outskirts of Chiang Mai who have set up a checkpoint targeting tourists on bikes.

In my initial post, I described this as a “scam” but on reflection, I’ve come to realise that actually, most people are in fact riding illegally in Thailand and being pulled over, fined a small amount and allowed to drive on it actually not a bad compromise! If you want to rent a bike in Thailand you have to come to terms with that!

Most people will be fined because of a lack of an international driver’s licence with a bike endorsement. Make sure you wear a helmet at all times to avoid further fines and of course, for your safety too.

Be sure to ask about the locations of the police checkpoints before you set off from the rental company and at your hostel, they are usually around the old fort as well as some of the main roads out of the city. This map here is also a good resource. We’ve also heard rumours that the police pack up here later in the day and at weekends but I can’t say for sure.

UPDATE:

On our second trip, it seemed that the situation in Chiang Mai had developed somewhat. This time there were more checkpoints and more police “trouble”, however, there also seems to be a more standardised response to foreigners on bikes that is an inconvenience but not a disaster!

The checkpoints do move and the city walls and main road out towards Pai are places where the police will definitely be. However, when you are riding to Pai you only really have the main highway to worry about whereas riding around the city, for example, towards Doi Suthep, there are more checkpoints and they move more often.

The checkpoint out on the highway to Pai will almost definitely pull you over if you’re not a local. They will pretty much 100% fine you unless you have an international licence with bike endorsement… something most travellers don’t have. However, the fine is now a standard 500 Baht ( £13/ $16), this will basically give you a “pass” to ride for 3 days which you could show to other police officers if you did get pulled over and they won’t fine you again. Make sure you get some paperwork off them but try to be courteous, once you’re pulled over the fine is inevitable and the days of bartering or talking your way out and over! Just be polite, pay up and be on your way!!

However most people only get stopped on the way out of Chiang Mai and the police don’t usually set up on the other side of the road back into the city,  you will also have no problems with the police after this point or in Pai.

It’s annoying on the surface because it does add a significant amount on top of your trip especially given how cheap  Thailand is, but on reflection paying £13 for essentially illegally riding a bike and being allowed to just carry on is a bargain compared to what would happen if you did the same thing in most western countries.

The Green Marker Point To The Known Police Checkpoints On The Way Out Of Chiang Mai to Pai. It Is Possible To Wind A Route Around But It Is Time Consuming!

Can You Avoid The Fines?

There are still ways to avoid the fine and actually, we didn’t pay any fines whilst riding around Chiang Mai or Pai and that was because we took longer ways around to places, winding around the back streets instead of going onto the main roads. We joined the highway after the checkpoint but it was a convoluted process where we had to keep checking maps and it took longer than just getting stopped!

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One of the traditional bamboo houses in the rural Pai district. If you go for the motorbike hire Chiang Mai it’s easy to see places like this!

Where To Stay In Pai

Best Budget Backpacker: Chilling Hill Guesthouse

At around £5 a night for a private room here the Chilling Hill Guesthouse offers great accommodation on a backpacker budget. it’s also only a 15 min walk from town.

  • Thai-style cottages
  • Comes with own balcony
  • Free breakfast

Best Mid-Range Option: The Countryside Pai 

The Countryside Pai is a collection of purpose-built rustic Thai cottages surrounded by rice fields and mountains. Here you can indulge in the true Pai experience.

  • Swimming pool
  • A roof terrace on each cottage
  • On-sight restaurant

Best Reasonably Priced Treat Option: Pai Village Boutique Resort

Situated in an ideal location along the river but within walking distance to the town centre of Pai this tropical paradise is the ideal place to base yourself.

  • Traditional Thai-style cottages
  • Pool and wellness centre
  • Restaurant, gardens and a bar

Search For More Options For Where To Stay In Pai Here:

Book Your Accommodation

The Best Place to Book Your Next Stay

Every traveller loves themselves some awesome accommodation.

Whether that’s a kickass hostel with epic facilities, a luxurious hotel for chilling out or even a guest house or homestay for a unique experience.

Here at The Roaming Renegades we book any and all of our stays via Booking.com. We love their range of accommodation types, safety features and loyalty program.

Click the button below to find an unbeatable place to stay!


How To Get From Chiang Mai to Pai: Other Methods Of Transport

Information On Taking The Chiang Mai To Pai Bus Instead 

How to get from Chiang Mai to Pai without a bike? The most popular was is the minibus/ minivan/ bus to Pai option. Be warned though, the Pai bus isn’t fun!

The bus from Chiang Mai to Pai is well known for being a rough ride for even those with a strong stomachs. The famous turns on the road from Chiang Mai to Pai that make it a dream to ride also make it a nightmare on a cramped-up minibus!

We saw plenty of evidence of this with many buses pulling over to let passengers off to be sick! But the bus to Pai from Chiang Mai does serve its purpose!

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One of the reasons many people consider riding up despite how challenging the route is is to avoid travel sickness! But remember, being sick is better than crashing your bike and as we all know, transport in Southeast Asia is all part of the challenge of visiting the area. So if you’re unsure then pop some anti-sickness pills and get on the Pai bus instead!

Pai Bus Online Booking Here

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Take A Private Car With A Driver

An alternative to taking the Pai bus without getting a bike would be to get a driver, this isn’t the cheapest option but you can make sure your driver takes it easy and stops for a break whenever you like. The great benefit to hiring a Chiang Mai driver is their local knowledge of the area, great places to stop along the way and convenience.

It’s an ideal way to travel from Chiang Mai to Pai for families or also if you have a lot of luggage!

Can You Take A Chiang Mai To Pai Flight?  

Believe it or not there is actually a Chiang Mai to Pai flight but it’s a rare thing and I don’t know anyone who has actually taken it. The flights from Chiang Mai to Pai use a small propeller plane and the views are supposed to be quite spectacular on a clear day.

 I’m not too sure I’d feel safer on a tiny plane than a bike or any less sick on the Pai to Chiang Mai bus!

At the current moment, I can’t see online any options to book a Chiang Mai-Pai flight. I have heard prices of around 1700 Baht per person one way being quoted, that’s £45 / $55 for a 25-minute flight!! Let us know if you do get on a Pai to Chiang Mai flight, we’d love to know about your experience!

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Can You Take A Day Trip To Pai!?

Yes you can do a Pai tour from Chiang Mai but you’ll only get a small taste of what the town is about.

The drive from Chiang Mai to Pai is at least 2.5- 3 hours one day and there is a lot to do up here for just one day bearing in mind you’ll spend 5-6 hours of it on the road just getting there and back. However, you can book a day trip to Pai from Chiang Mai with many operators and it’s a good alternative if you really want to visit but are short on time.

Another alternative is to get on one of the two-day trips up to Pai from Chiang Mai, this way you can make the most of the trip and your time here. With a two-day trip you can pretty much fit in all of the highlights and it means you don’t have to deal with that road twice in one day!

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Rent A Car Instead of A Bike

how to get to Pai from Chiang Mai without a bike, bus or driver? If you’re really not taken on the idea of riding a scooter in Thailand or taking the bus from Pai to Chiang Mai then car rental is also possible. It is also ideal if you intend to come straight from Chiang Mai airport to Pai too as you can pick up cars from arrivals.

Many companies and options are available for renting a car in Chiang Mai and as well as local companies you also can rent from the bigger international rental companies too which is ideal for peace of mind. Generally speaking, there are more formalities with renting a car than a bike, especially with a bigger company, but the benefit is that you are usually not targeted by police and it is of course much safer than a bike.


Coming From Elsewhere?

Bangkok to Pai

Travelling from the capital or from Pai to Bangkok then you will have to go via Chiang Mai as it’s the most direct and easiest route. Luckily there are many daily budget flights from Bangkok to Chiang Mai as well as options such as buses and night trains.

Pai to Chiang Rai/ Chiang Rai to Pai

There isn’t a direct route from Pai to Chiang Rai and vice versa that doesn’t involve going through Chiang Mai. Unfortunately without a Chiang Rai to Pai bus, this means taking a bus and a minivan in one day making it a long journey through the mountainous region of Northern Thailand.

Unless you are an experienced rider and very organised we don’t believe you would have time to take the bus between Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai and then get a bike rented out and ride up here in a safe time and manner. Either way, we recommend spending at least a day in Chiang Rai to see the White Temple.

READ MORE: See Our Guide To The Chiang Rai White Temple Here

Your first port of call would be the cheap and frequent green bus from Chiang Rai to Chiang Mai. These leave throughout the day but it would be best to book ahead as they do sell out and also to get on an early bus if you intend on making it the whole way in a single day.  This journey takes around 3.5 hrs and gets a little winding towards the latter half.

From there you will then need to organise a minivan or other transport from Chiang Mai to Pai. This takes another 3 hrs in a minibus.

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Travelling from Chiang Mai to Pai? What is your preferred method of transport?

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40 comments

  1. Ketki Gadre says:

    You had me at Thai Island in the mountains! Pai looks like an amazing place with so much to do. I would probably just chill at one of the quirky cafes. I’ve definitely added Pai to my Thailand list.

    1. Ha ha, yeah this place is one of those places that really draws you in and you never want to leave!

  2. diapersinparadise says:

    This looks like so much fun! My husband and I are both sport bike riders, and this road looks like a dream. Probably not something we would do with our babies on the back, though! Oh well. I loved the “good luck” sign! Haha.

    1. That’s awesome, yeah you guys would love this road and the one further on to Lod Caves, both are incredible! Ha ha, maybe get a sidecar!!

  3. mohanaandaninda says:

    762??!!! That’s a lot of curves and turns! But you guys seem to have had a great adventure! Thanks for the detailed guide and the maps…we’d love to do this.

    1. Yeah its just a few eh!! It’s such a fun road and an incredible place to visit! Cheers!

  4. pinkcaddytraveloguegmailcom says:

    This sounds so crazy!! But so much fun! I honestly never thought of riding scooters as difficult, but I’ve also never done it. I just hate when I get stuck behind one while driving my car on a busy roadway haha. I’d definitely want to practice before I attempted this route!!

    1. Yeah its a wild ride! Riding a scooter isn’t hard technically but theres more to it than people realise like reading the road and knowing how a bike reacts differently especially on corners than a car! Plus crashing is way more serious!!

  5. Having ridden a motorscooter in Vietnam before, I can attest it is the WAY to travel, but not without risk. Like entering a roundabout where direction of travel and lanes are merely a suggestion and one that only tourists attempt to adhere to. 😉 This sounds like an amazing adventure and Pai sounds simply magical. One day.

    1. Riding in Thailand is at least a lot calmer than it is in Vietnam and its not too busy on this road!

  6. We must admit that we’ve never heard of Pai, but then again we’ve never visited Thailand neither. It’s really good to know all these informations though, so that we we visit someday we’ll know how to travel from Chiang Mail to Pai! Thanks for sharing this!

    1. It’s one of those places we didn’t know about before we headed over to Thailand and got talking to some people! It’s a great place to visit.

  7. Alison says:

    After living in Ubud for a while and trying to learn to ride a scooter, I lost my nerve! BUT this looks like a fabulous adventure so that I might have to give scootering a try once more. To get to a hippie town ( my fav) called Pai in northern Thailand might just be too much to pass up! Thanks for all the details!

    1. I loved riding around Bali on a scooter, it’s pretty chilled! Thailand is not too bad either for traffic, it’s Vietnam that’s the worst!! It’s totally worth the effort and the risk to get up there!

  8. cynthiagraner says:

    This looks like such a fun place to visit!! However, I have absolutely no experience on a motorcycle or scooter and get incredible car sick especially on busses, so with 762 turns (!) … I might need to start practicing my scootering skills if I want to go here!

    1. Yeah that road is so bad in a bus!! Going on a scooter is so much better but you will need to practice first!! Have fun!

  9. james says:

    Great place & fun i like riding bike on the places like this so i will try to be there once In my life so thanks for sharing this information with us

    1. Yeah it’s a really great place to ride up to and the best way to get up there for sure.

  10. Emily says:

    Well some of those bends look more than a little hairy! I can’t ride a bike but it definitely looks like a lot of fun, and while I’ve been to Chiang Mai I haven’t been as far as Pai. Great tips on watching out for police (!) scams…

    1. Ha ha, yeah they take a bit of caution and practice to get used to but its well worth the effort!

  11. Kevin | Caffeinated Excursions says:

    Now that I’m based in Vietnam, I absolutely want to make it over to Chiang Mai sooner than later! I have never heard of Pai but it looks like the journey out there was both scenic and adventurous! That section of the road with all the switchbacks looks so intense. Also, what does it mean to put down your passport as insurance against the bike?? Like if it’s ruined, they won’t give you your passport back until you pay for it? That sounds concerning!

    1. Yeah Chiang Mai is one of our places across Asia and Pai is one of the most fun for sure. If you’ve ridden a bike in Vietnam then you’ll be fine on the road, the traffic is so much more chilled out! Yeah a lot of places, not just in Thailand but all over Asia, you give them your passport and then you can rent the bike. If you damage it they basically hold your passport against it until you pay what you owe, it’s pretty dodgy. But from our experience there are a few scenarios. Firstly, many places don’t accept anything else so its pretty much that or don’t get one. Secondly, we’ve had a minor scrape on a bike and they literally didn’t notice, usually most of the bikes are pretty beat up and they don’t check at all when they pick it up and the issues come if you were to really badly damage it or it was stolen. Thirdly, some places offer a cash deposit instead or a drivers license. This is ok if there are two of you and the driver still has there, for us British drivers licenses are pretty cheap and easy to replace so it wouldn’t be the end of the world if we lost them!

  12. sajal tiwari says:

    hi there,
    Thanks For Sharing This Article And Up The Good Work.

  13. Wow, that’s an incredible mountain road! Riding a motorbike is quite daring, I think I would stick to a good quality car. When I think of Thailand, I tend to think of beaches first. But there is so much beauty in the mountains, thank you for sharing this experience!

    1. Yeah, it really is a great place to motorbike and we loved it. But yeah it’s not for everyone but we love how quick and easy it is to rent a bike with no hassle and we’re also pretty used to riding them now. Yeah this part of Thailand is amazing and shows how much diversity there is over there.

  14. I love the section called: Is it safe to scooter? I have wondered this a million times and love that you wrote from this perspective!

    1. Ha ha, yeah I don’t think enough people actually ask that question or take it seriously enough! It’s a perfect place to ride a bike but people forget it’s also dangerous too!

  15. Leah says:

    Really interesting read, we’ve been tempted a few times to rent bikes in Indonesia but opted to hire a local driver instead. I fully understand Thailand implementing fines for tourists who ride without a licence considering it’s against the law like you say but it’s nice to see they’ve found a compromise.

    1. Indonesia is even more chill in a lot of ways, no passport or deposit, would 100% recommend getting a bike there we hated it with a driver when we visited again with family!! Yeah, it’s not a bad compromise really, next time we should have an actual bike licence so hopefully no need to avoid the checkpoints!

  16. Rhonda Albom says:

    I’m not much of a scooter person so I think I’d get a car (to see all those places spread out around Pai). The views from the road look incredible.

    1. Each to their own but you have to at least have a bit of a go on one up here, it’s a rite of passage!!

  17. uoprincess says:

    I just started reading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. In it the author speaks about how you are so much more present in the environment on a bike than a car (or bus). I don’t know if I would have the guts though.

    1. I will have to have a read of that, yeah I can totally agree with that. We’ve done a lot of other bike trips around Asia and ridden the length of Vietnam twice on bikes, it’s the best way to see a country for sure. You just need a bit of practice then it’s not scary at all!

  18. What an epic ride! The road looked quite hairy in places – so many hairpin bends. Definitely a trip you’ll always remember and good that you focus on the safety aspects.

    1. Yeah it can be quite a tricky road but it’s quiet and all the bends have good barriers too and good quality surfaces.

  19. Cat Motors says:

    Great review guys! But I have three small points to make.

    Firstly, the helmets that I see in your photo will not help you in case of an accident. I call these helmets “suicide caps”. I would avoid motorcycle rentals that care less about customer safety.

    Secondly, perhaps I read inattentively, but I did not find a mention of the fact that a foreigner can get a driver’s license in Thailand within one day, because the rules are very simple, and the issuance of a driver’s license takes place on the day of the exam. This will cost about 1,000 baht (payment of a health certificate to any local doctor at any clinic, fee for issuing a driver’s license, fee for issuing a residence certificate at the immigration police).

    Also, it should be noted that if a foreigner has a driver’s license, he can get a Thai driver’s license without passing the exam. Be sure to write about it.

  20. Jam Jenny says:

    Good you explained everything in detail it has been a great help. Thanks for sharing the Useful and Informative Blog.

  21. Paul Shelford says:

    Hi

    Just wanted to say this is one of the most helpful and easy to follow blogs I’ve come across. We have done lots of independent travel and will be in Chiangmai in Jan 2024. Your blog with helpful hints and tips has been brilliant in helping our planning 👍🏼👍🏼

    1. Thanks for that. Hope you have a great trip.