A Travel Price Comparison for Thailand Pai vs. Chiang Mai for Vacations, Tours, and Honeymoons

Should you visit Pai or Chiang Mai?

Which city should you visit? Read on to compare the prices of travel for Pai and Chiang Mai. We’ll break down costs for accommodation, food, transportation and more to help you learn more about these two destinations. Then, you can figure out if either of these two places are accessible based on your travel budget. So, let's dig into it.

Pai

As the lush green mountains adorn the blue horizon amidst its creamy clouds, Pai, in northern Thailand, works as one of the many hubs for some of the world's most exciting cultural adventures and natural wonders. Within this small town just north of the Mae Hong Son Province, near the Myanmar border, Pai lays on the Pai River and holds a population of no more than 2,500. Despite its geographical insignificance, this town attracts a wide array of tourists. From breathtaking waterfalls to relaxing hot springs, you will find yourself astonished at how much this little city holds within its borders.

Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai is both the cultural center of northern Thailand and a launching point for trips into the rural areas, small towns, and lush jungles of the country's northern regions. Known for great food, historic temples, arts and crafts, and a lively night market, Chiang Mai is a very popular destination for travelers. In some areas, tourists and ex-pats dominate, but it's quite easy to get away from the tourist scene and into the real culture of Thailand, as Chiang Mai (and the surrounding countryside) is quite large.

Which city is cheaper, Chiang Mai or Pai?

These are the overall average travel costs for the two destinations.

The average daily cost (per person) in Pai is $54, while the average daily cost in Chiang Mai is $38. These costs include accommodation (assuming double occupancy, so the traveler is sharing the room), food, transportation, and entertainment. While every person is different, these costs are an average of past travelers in each city. Below is a breakdown of travel costs for Pai and Chiang Mai in more detail.



Accommodation

For a normal double-occupancy room in Pai, $24 is the average cost for a hotel room. Also in Pai, the typical price for a place to stay for one person is $12, such as in a hostel.

For a normal double-occupancy room in Chiang Mai, $44 is the average cost for a hotel room. Also in Chiang Mai, the typical price for a place to stay for one person is $22, such as in a hostel.


  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Pai $12
    Chiang Mai $22
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Pai $24
    Chiang Mai $44

Local Transportation

To get around in Pai, the average visitor spends $31 per day, per person. This includes the costs of taxi rides and private drivers as well as public transportation, which tends to be much more affordable.

To get around in Chiang Mai, the average visitor spends $3.09 per day, per person. This includes the costs of taxi rides and private drivers as well as public transportation, which tends to be much more affordable.


  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Pai $31
    Chiang Mai $3.09

Typical Local Transportation prices in Chiang Mai

Some typical examples of transportation costs in Chiang Mai are as follows:


  • Tuk Tuk Ride
    $1.16
  • Moped Rental
    $5.22

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Chiang Mai

Also for Chiang Mai, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:

  • Zipline Adventure at Chiang Mai with Return Transfer: $200
  • Transfer in Chiangmai: $27
  • Transfer from Chiang Mai Hotel to Chiang Mai Airport: $24
  • Transfer from Chiang Mai Airport to Chiang Mai Hotel: $24
  • Thai Massage Treatments - Luxury Spa with Hotel Transfer: $53
  • Thai Luxury Spa Packages with Hotel Transfer: $57
  • Sukhotha Private Transfer To Chiang Mai Town: $200
  • Siam Dragon Cabaret Show : Ticket + Transfer Service: $24
  • Private Van: Chiang Mai Airport Arrival or Departure Transfer: $26
  • Private Transfer: Chiang Mai to Chiang Mai International Airport (CNX): $22
  • Private Departure Transfer: Hotel to Chiang Mai International Airport (CNX): $13
  • Private Car: Chiang Mai Airport Transfers: $22

Is it cheaper to fly into Pai or Chiang Mai?

Prices for flights to both Chiang Mai and Pai change regularly based on dates and travel demand. We suggest you find the best prices for your next trip on Kayak, because you can compare the cost of flights across multiple airlines for your prefered dates.





Food

Pai food costs typically run travelers around $18 per day. Eating every meal in a nicer restaurant will drive the cost up, and grabbing fast food or casual meals will help you save money.

The average traveler spends about $8.68 per day in Chiang Mai for food, but obviously this is dependent on the type of restaurant and the amount of food ordered. To save money you can grab a lighter lunch or dinner, or you can try fast food or street food.


  • Food Meals for one day
    Pai $18
    Chiang Mai $8.68

Typical Food prices in Chiang Mai

Here are some examples of typical meal expenses from previous travelers to Chiang Mai:


  • Sit Down Dinner (for One)
    $5.66
  • Roti Snack (Bread)
    $0.70
  • Casual Breakfast
    $1.16
  • Casual Lunch (for Two)
    $5.81
  • Mangoes
    $0.87
  • Coffee
    $1.45

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Chiang Mai

For Chiang Mai, here are some samples of tours and activities related to meals and dining experiences:

  • Evening Thai cooking class by Aromdii Cooking School: $27
  • Half Day Cooking Class Including Market Tour from Chiang Mai: $28
  • Private Dining: Thai family dinner in Chiang Mai: $28
  • Thai Khantoke Dinner & Cultural Dance Show with Transfers: $29
  • Traditional Khantoke Dinner & Cultural Dance Show Tour: $29
  • Khum Khantoke Dinner and Cultural Show at Chiang Mai Admission Ticket: $29
  • Khum Khantoke Dinner and Cultural Show in Chiang Mai Admission Ticket: $29
  • Authentic Lanna Dinner and Shows (Khan Toke) in Chiang Mai: $30
  • Khum Khantoke Dinner and Cultural Show at Chiang Mai Admission Ticket: $34
  • Traditional Khantoke Dinner and Show from Chiang Mai: $34
  • Khantoke Dinner with Show: $35
  • Full-Day Cooking Class Including Market Tour from Chiang Mai: $35

Entertainment

In Pai, the costs for things to do, activities, admission tickets, and other sightseeing expenses are on average $34 per person, per day.

In Chiang Mai, the costs for things to do, activities, admission tickets, and other sightseeing expenses are on average $11 per person, per day.


  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Pai $34
    Chiang Mai $11

Tours and Activities in Pai

For Pai, here are a few prices for actual activities, tours, and tickets provided by various companies:

  • Private Like-a-Local Tour of Rome: $65
  • Private Rome City Tour with Expert Local Guide: $130

Typical Entertainment prices in Chiang Mai

For Chiang Mai, here are some examples of average entertainment and activity prices from previous travelers:


  • Thai Cooking Class
    $38
  • Doi Suthep Entrance Ticket
    $1.74
  • Kratong Lessons
    $2.90
  • Pedicure
    $4.35
  • Chiang Mai Museum (for Two)
    $5.22

Tours and Activities in Chiang Mai

Also, here are some specific examples of entertainment, tickets, and activities for Chiang Mai.

  • 1 Day Doi Inthanon Private tour ( Hiking and Sightseeing ): $118
  • 1 Day Private Sightseeing Tour at Doi Inthanon: $115
  • 1 Day Private Tour Morning Buddhist Almsgiving , Doi Suthep ,White Temple: $144
  • 1 Day Private Tour The Best Temples and Northern Food Style in Chiang Mai: $94
  • 1 Day Private Tour to The Best Hidden Trekking and The Temple: $134
  • 1 Day Sukhothai Historical Park from Chiang Mai Private Tour: $180
  • 1 Day Tour - Samoeng Loop Highlights: $241
  • 1 Day Tour – Doi Inthanon, Riding High: $255
  • 1 day Private Tour to Unseen Temple in Lampang: $122
  • 1-Day Bike and River Kayak Adventure from Chiang Mai: $66
  • 2 Day Trekking Tour: $100
  • 2 Days 1 Night Pai+Lod Cave Private Tour: $177

Alcohol

Typically, people visiting Pai spend on average $11 on alcoholic beverages per person, per day.

Alcoholic beverages can often be a significant portion of a traveler's budget, and the costs can vary greatly from person to person. In Chiang Mai, the average amount that a visitor spends on alcoholic beverages per day is $5.75.


  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Pai $11
    Chiang Mai $5.75

Typical Alcohol prices in Chiang Mai

Some typical examples of the costs for nightlife and alcohol in Chiang Mai are as follows:


  • Wine
    $2.90


When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Pai and Chiang Mai, we can see that Pai is more expensive. And not only is Chiang Mai much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to Chiang Mai would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in Chiang Mai and be able to afford a more luxurious travel style by staying in nicer hotels, eating at more expensive restaurants, taking tours, and experiencing more activities. The same level of travel in Pai would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Pai than you might in Chiang Mai.

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Pai vs. Chiang Mai Travel Comparison

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