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

Should you visit Pai or Chiang Mai?

Which is cheaper to visit? Which is more expensive for vacation?

Which city should you visit? Read on to compare the activities as well as 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, schedule, and interests. So, let's dig into it.

Where Should I go: Pai or Chiang Mai?

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.

For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best G Adventures Tours to Thailand, The Best 3-Day Tours from Phuket, The Best 3-Day Tours from Bangkok, and The Best 3-Day Tours from Chiang Mai.


Which place 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 $64, while the average daily cost in Chiang Mai is $45. 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 destination. What follows is a categorical breakdown of travel costs for Pai and Chiang Mai in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Pai $14
    Chiang Mai $26
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Pai $28
    Chiang Mai $52
Compare Hotels in Pai and Chiang Mai

Looking for a hotel in Pai or Chiang Mai? Prices vary by location, date, season, and the level of luxury. See below for options and compare which is best for your budget and travel style.

Hotels in Pai


Hotels in Chiang Mai


Kayak helps you find the best prices for hotels, flights, and rental cars for destinations around the world. Compare prices for multiple destinations when planning your next trip.


Our Analysis
We've analyzed the average and typical hotel prices based on guest reviews, star ratings, and hotel amenities here: Pai Hotel Prices and Chiang Mai Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Pai $37
    Chiang Mai $3.63

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Pai

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

  • Chiang Mai Hotel Transfer: to/from Pai Hotel: $150
  • Transfer and Tour to Pai / Chiang Mai: $150
  • Chiang Mai Hotel Transfer: to/from Pai Hotel: $134
  • Chiang Mai City to/from Pai Hotel: Private Transfer: $134
  • Chiang Mai Private Car transfer to or from Pai(Mae Hong Son): $108
  • Pa Pae Meditation: Private Car transfer to/from Chiang Mai: $71

Typical Local Transportation Prices in Chiang Mai

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


  • Tuk Tuk Ride
    $1.09
  • Moped Rental
    $4.91

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: $193
  • Try find your better than us!Airport transfer service in Chiang Mai APT-HTL(CNX): $9.67
  • Try find your better than us ! Airport transfer service Chiang Mai HTL-APT(CNX): $9.67
  • Transfer: Chiang Mai to Huay Xai City, Laos: $45
  • Transfer : From Chiang Mai to ChiangKhong Border,Chiang Rai: $42
  • Skyline Jungle Luge Ticket + Lunch with Private Transfer: $250
  • Private Vehicle: Transfer from Airport in Chiang Mai: $21
  • Private Van: Chiang Mai Airport Arrival or Departure Transfer : $45
  • Private Transfer: Chiang Mai Airport Arrival or Departure ride: $155
  • Private Transfer from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai: $154
  • Private Transfer Chiang Mai Airport to Hotel in Chiang Mai by Car and Van: $37
  • Private Departure Transfer: Hotel to Chiang Mai International Airport (CNX): $11

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
  • Food Meals for one day
    Pai $21
    Chiang Mai $10

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)
    $5.31
  • Roti Snack (Bread)
    $0.65
  • Casual Breakfast
    $1.09
  • Casual Lunch (for Two)
    $5.45
  • Mangoes
    $0.82
  • Coffee
    $1.36

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:

  • Cooking Morning Class Chiang Mai Visit Organic Garden and Market : $11
  • Traditional Khantoke Dinner and Show from Chiang Mai: $20
  • Khantoke Dinner with Traditional Performance: $22
  • Half-Day Thai Cooking Class at Organic Farm in Chiang Mai: $22
  • Morning Cooking Class in Organic Garden | Chiang Mai: $22
  • Evening Cooking Class in Organic Garden Chiang Mai: $22
  • Afternoon Cooking Class in Organic Garden in Chiang Mai: $22
  • Evening Cooking Class and Local Market Visit: $25
  • Cooking Class, Market and Thai Herbs Garden Tour: $25
  • Half Day Evening Cooking Class with Yummy Tasty Thai Cooking School: $25
  • Private Virtual Thai Cooking Class: $25
  • Authentic Easy Thai Recipes for Home-Style Cooking Half Day AM: $25

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Pai $40
    Chiang Mai $13

Tours and Activities in Pai

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

  • Jungle Tipsy Tubing Experience with Shots: $6.82

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
    $35
  • Doi Suthep Entrance Ticket
    $1.64
  • Kratong Lessons
    $2.73
  • Pedicure
    $4.09
  • Chiang Mai Museum (for Two)
    $4.91

Tours and Activities in Chiang Mai

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

  • 9 Hours Nature Tour in Inthanon National Park From Chiang Mai: $71
  • Chiang Mai ATV, Hiking and Rafting Adventure: $91
  • Chiang Mai Thapae Muay Thai Boxing Stadium Ticket: $28
  • One Day Doi Inthanon National Park Small Group Guided Tour: $40
  • Private Tour of Sacred Sakyant Tattoo in Lamphun Province.: $80
  • 1 Day Doi Inthanon Private tour ( Hiking and Sightseeing ): $97
  • 1 Day Private Tour Doi Inthanon And Phachor Canyon: $128
  • 1 Day Private Tour White Temple and Renewed Doichang Coffee: $188
  • 1 day Private Tour to Unseen Temple in Lampang: $135
  • 10KM Inflatable Kayaking Adventure: $82
  • 10km Rafting with 8Adventures from Chiang Mai Include Pickup & Lunch : $103
  • 2 Days 1 Night Non Tourist Trek: $123

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Pai $13
    Chiang Mai $6.75

Typical Alcohol Prices in Chiang Mai

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


  • Wine
    $2.73


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.

If you're trying to decide if either of these two destinations are within your price range, also see Is Pai Expensive? and Is Chiang Mai Expensive?.



When is the best time to visit Pai or Chiang Mai?

Both destinations experience a warmer climate with nice weather most of the year. Instead of summer and winter seasons, they usually have a rainy season and a dry season.

Should I visit Pai or Chiang Mai in the Summer?

The summer attracts plenty of travelers to both Pai and Chiang Mai. Warm weather and sunshine bring visitors to Pai year-round. Chiang Mai attracts visitors year-round for its warm weather and sunny climate.

Also, June to September is the rainy season in Chiang Mai. Chiang Mai receives a lot of rain in the summer. Pai gets a good bit of rain this time of year. In July, Pai usually receives more rain than Chiang Mai. Pai gets 211 mm (8.3 in) of rain, while Chiang Mai receives 161 mm (6.3 in) of rain each month for the summer.

Pai usually receives around the same amount of sunshine as Chiang Mai during summer. Pai gets 146 hours of sunny skies, while Chiang Mai receives 146 hours of full sun in the summer.

Pai is around the same temperature as Chiang Mai in the summer. The daily temperature in Pai averages around 29°C (85°F) in July, and Chiang Mai fluctuates around 30°C (86°F).


  • Summer Average Temperatures July
    Pai 29°C (85°F) 
    Chiang Mai 30°C (86°F)

Should I visit Pai or Chiang Mai in the Autumn?

The autumn brings many poeple to Pai as well as Chiang Mai. Pai attracts visitors year-round for its warm weather and sunny climate. The warm climate attracts visitors to Chiang Mai throughout the year.

Also, November to February in Chiang Mai is the dry season. It's quite rainy in Chiang Mai. Pai receives a lot of rain in the autumn. Pai usually gets around the same amount of rain in October as Chiang Mai. Pai gets 115 mm (4.5 in) of rain, while Chiang Mai receives 122 mm (4.8 in) of rain this time of the year.

The sun comes out a lot this time of the year in Chiang Mai. People are often attracted to the plentiful sunshine in Pai this time of the year. In the autumn, Pai often gets around the same amount of sunshine as Chiang Mai. Pai gets 226 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while Chiang Mai receives 226 hours of full sun.

In the autumn, Pai is around the same temperature as Chiang Mai. Typically, the autumn temperatures in Pai in October average around 29°C (84°F), and Chiang Mai averages at about 29°C (83°F).


  • Autumn Average Temperatures October
    Pai 29°C (84°F) 
    Chiang Mai 29°C (83°F)

Should I visit Pai or Chiang Mai in the Winter?

Both Chiang Mai and Pai are popular destinations to visit in the winter with plenty of activities. The warm climate attracts visitors to Pai throughout the year. Plenty of visitors come to Chiang Mai because of the warm climate and sunshine that lasts throughout the year.

The dry season in Chiang Mai is November to February. In January, Pai usually receives more rain than Chiang Mai. Pai gets 12 mm (0.5 in) of rain, while Chiang Mai receives 7 mm (0.3 in) of rain each month for the winter.

It's quite sunny in Chiang Mai. The sun comes out a lot this time of the year in Pai. Pai usually receives around the same amount of sunshine as Chiang Mai during winter. Pai gets 283 hours of sunny skies, while Chiang Mai receives 283 hours of full sun in the winter.

In January, Pai is generally around the same temperature as Chiang Mai. Daily temperatures in Pai average around 24°C (74°F), and Chiang Mai fluctuates around 23°C (74°F).


  • Winter Average Temperatures January
    Pai 24°C (74°F) 
    Chiang Mai 23°C (74°F)

Should I visit Pai or Chiang Mai in the Spring?

Both Chiang Mai and Pai during the spring are popular places to visit. Plenty of visitors come to Pai because of the warm climate and sunshine that lasts throughout the year. Warm weather and sunshine bring visitors to Chiang Mai year-round.

June to September is the rainy season in Chiang Mai. Pai usually gets around the same amount of rain in April as Chiang Mai. Pai gets 48 mm (1.9 in) of rain, while Chiang Mai receives 50 mm (2 in) of rain this time of the year.

In Chiang Mai, it's very sunny this time of the year. It's quite sunny in Pai. In the spring, Pai often gets around the same amount of sunshine as Chiang Mai. Pai gets 275 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while Chiang Mai receives 275 hours of full sun.

The heat can be very extreme in Chiang Mai. It's very hot in Pai this time of the year. Pai is around the same temperature as Chiang Mai in the spring. The daily temperature in Pai averages around 32°C (89°F) in April, and Chiang Mai fluctuates around 31°C (88°F).


  • Spring Average Temperatures April
    Pai 32°C (89°F) 
    Chiang Mai 31°C (88°F)

Typical Weather for Chiang Mai and Pai

Pai Chiang Mai
Temp (°C) Rain (mm) Temp (°C) Rain (mm)
Jan 24°C (74°F) 12 mm (0.5 in) 23°C (74°F) 7 mm (0.3 in)
Feb 25°C (77°F) 2 mm (0.1 in) 26°C (78°F) 5 mm (0.2 in)
Mar 29°C (83°F) 6 mm (0.2 in) 29°C (83°F) 13 mm (0.5 in)
Apr 32°C (89°F) 48 mm (1.9 in) 31°C (88°F) 50 mm (2 in)
May 31°C (88°F) 176 mm (6.9 in) 31°C (87°F) 158 mm (6.2 in)
Jun 30°C (86°F) 181 mm (7.1 in) 30°C (86°F) 132 mm (5.2 in)
Jul 29°C (85°F) 211 mm (8.3 in) 30°C (86°F) 161 mm (6.3 in)
Aug 29°C (84°F) 256 mm (10.1 in) 29°C (85°F) 236 mm (9.3 in)
Sep 29°C (85°F) 207 mm (8.1 in) 29°C (85°F) 228 mm (9 in)
Oct 29°C (84°F) 115 mm (4.5 in) 29°C (83°F) 122 mm (4.8 in)
Nov 27°C (80°F) 34 mm (1.3 in) 27°C (80°F) 53 mm (2.1 in)
Dec 24°C (76°F) 12 mm (0.5 in) 24°C (75°F) 20 mm (0.8 in)