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

Should you visit Pai or Chiang Rai?

Which city should you visit? Read on to compare the prices of travel for Pai and Chiang Rai. 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 Rai

If you find yourself dreaming of a vacation in Northern Thailand, consider the metropolitan city of Chiang Rai. This centrally located capital of the Chiang Rai province provides an excellent home base for exploring the surrounding areas. While it serves well as a home base, it has its own charms worth wandering.

Which city is cheaper, Chiang Rai or Pai?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in Pai is $56, while the average daily cost in Chiang Rai is $34. 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 Rai 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.

The prices for places to stay in Chiang Rai can vary by date, location, and type. Generally, the average cost for accommodation per person is $15, while a typical double-occupancy hotel room for two people will cost around $30.


  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Pai $12
    Chiang Rai $15
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Pai $24
    Chiang Rai $30

Food

Pai food costs typically run travelers around $19 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.

On average, meal and food prices in Chiang Rai cost around $10 per person, per day. While this price can vary widely by location, the type of restaurant, and the amount of food ordered, a typical meal often costs around $4.00.


  • Food Meals for one day
    Pai $19
    Chiang Rai $10

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Pai

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

  • Thai Akha Kitchen Cooking Class & Local Market Tour: $23
  • Tom Yum Thai Cooking Class with Market Tour in Chiang Mai: $23
  • Asia Scenic Thai Cooking Class: $25
  • Siamese Cookery House Thai Cooking Class in Bangkok: $26
  • InFusion Cooking Classes in Koh Samui: $26
  • Sompong Thai Cooking Class: $27
  • Galangal Cooking Class with Market Tour in Chiang Mai: $28
  • Lanna Smile Thai Cooking Class in Chiang Mai: $29
  • Pum Thai Cooking Class in Patong Beach: $31
  • Chocolate Cooking Class at SO Sofitel Bangkok: $31
  • Thai Cooking Course Hua Hin: $31
  • Bangkok Thai Cooking Academy: $31

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Chiang Rai

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

  • Thai Akha Kitchen Cooking Class & Local Market Tour: $23
  • Tom Yum Thai Cooking Class with Market Tour in Chiang Mai: $23
  • Asia Scenic Thai Cooking Class: $25
  • Siamese Cookery House Thai Cooking Class in Bangkok: $26
  • InFusion Cooking Classes in Koh Samui: $26
  • Sompong Thai Cooking Class: $27
  • Galangal Cooking Class with Market Tour in Chiang Mai: $28
  • Lanna Smile Thai Cooking Class in Chiang Mai: $29
  • Pum Thai Cooking Class in Patong Beach: $31
  • Thai Cooking Course Hua Hin: $31
  • Chocolate Cooking Class at SO Sofitel Bangkok: $31
  • Yanui Cape Sunset Catamaran Tour in Phuket with Dinner by We Love Andaman: $31

Local Transportation

To get around in Pai, the average visitor spends $32 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.

Public transportation tends to be much less expensive in Chiang Rai than paying for a taxi or private car service, as is expected. Typically, people spend $2.80 on transportation in Chiang Rai on average per day.


  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Pai $32
    Chiang Rai $2.80

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Pai

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

  • [Next Day Result] COVID-19 RT-PCR and Rapid Antigen Test by Nabon Inter Medical Clinic in Phuket (Transfer arranged by TTD): $21
  • [Next Day Result] COVID-19 RT-PCR Test by Bangkok Hospital Phuket (Transfer Arranged by TTD): $105
  • Tiger Kingdom Ticket in Phuket with Transfers: $22
  • Tiger Kingdom Ticket in Chiang Mai with Transfers: $5.59
  • Shared Airport Bus Transfer Phuket : $3.09
  • Samui Airport Transfers (USM) for Koh Samui and More: $15
  • Private Suvarnabhumi Airport Transfers (BKK) for Bangkok, Pattaya, and More by Oriental Holiday: $17
  • Private Suvarnabhumi Airport Transfers (BKK) for Bangkok Areas by TTD: $20
  • Private Phuket International Airport (HKT) Transfers for Phuket and Nearby Areas by TTD: $22
  • Private Krabi (KBV) or Phuket Airport Transfers (HKT) for Krabi, Phuket, and More by TTD: $15
  • Private Don Mueang Airport (DMK) Transfers for Bangkok, Pattaya, Hua Hin, and Ayutthaya: $18
  • Private Don Mueang Airport (DMK) Transfers for Bangkok Areas by TTD: $20

Typical Local Transportation prices in Chiang Rai

Below are a few samples from actual travelers for transportation costs in Chiang Rai:


  • Bus to White Temple
    $1.20

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Chiang Rai

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

  • [Next Day Result] COVID-19 RT-PCR and Rapid Antigen Test by Nabon Inter Medical Clinic in Phuket (Transfer arranged by TTD): $21
  • [Next Day Result] COVID-19 RT-PCR Test by Bangkok Hospital Phuket (Transfer Arranged by TTD): $105
  • Transfer in Chiang Rai: $34
  • Tiger Kingdom Ticket in Phuket with Transfers: $22
  • Tiger Kingdom Ticket in Chiang Mai with Transfers: $5.59
  • Shared Airport Bus Transfer Phuket : $3.09
  • Samui Airport Transfers (USM) for Koh Samui and More: $15
  • Private Transfer from Chiang Rai to Chiang Mai: $75
  • Private Suvarnabhumi Airport Transfers (BKK) for Bangkok, Pattaya, and More by Oriental Holiday: $17
  • Private Suvarnabhumi Airport Transfers (BKK) for Bangkok Areas by TTD: $20
  • Private Phuket International Airport (HKT) Transfers for Phuket and Nearby Areas by TTD: $22
  • Private Krabi (KBV) or Phuket Airport Transfers (HKT) for Krabi, Phuket, and More by TTD: $15

Is it cheaper to fly into Pai or Chiang Rai?

Prices for flights to both Chiang Rai 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.





Entertainment

In Pai, the costs for things to do, activities, admission tickets, and other sightseeing expenses are on average $35 per person, per day.

Sightseeing expenses in Chiang Rai, including the cost of admission tickets for day tours, museums, and attractions, usually cost an average of $6.49 per day, per person.


  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Pai $35
    Chiang Rai $6.49

Tours and Activities in Pai

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

  • 4 Island Day Tour by Speedboat or Longtail Boat from Lanta Island: $31
  • ATV Half Day Adventure in Pattaya: $28
  • Ancient Ayutthaya Tour: Wat Yai Chai Mongkhon, Bang Pa-In Royal Palace & More by AK Travel: $33
  • Aquaria Phuket Ticket: $4.95
  • Ayutthaya Day Tour from Bangkok with Bang Pa In and Night Market Visit by TTD: $31
  • Ayutthaya Day Tour from Bangkok with Bang Pa-In Summer Palace and Market Visit: $35
  • Bangkok Floating Markets Day Tour from Siam Paragon by TTD: $28
  • Dii Wellness Med Spa Experience by Divana at Central Embassy BTS Ploenchit: $62
  • Go Bangkok e-Scooter Tour: $46
  • Indoor Go Karting Experience by EasyKart Bangkok: $13
  • Krabi Koh Klang Cultural Day Tour by TTD: $74
  • Krabi Sunrise Tour with Breakfast and Kayaking at Klong Nam Sai: $33

Tours and Activities in Chiang Rai

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

  • 4 Island Day Tour by Speedboat or Longtail Boat from Lanta Island: $31
  • ATV Half Day Adventure in Pattaya: $28
  • Ancient Ayutthaya Tour: Wat Yai Chai Mongkhon, Bang Pa-In Royal Palace & More by AK Travel: $33
  • Aquaria Phuket Ticket: $4.95
  • Ayutthaya Day Tour from Bangkok with Bang Pa In and Night Market Visit by TTD: $31
  • Ayutthaya Day Tour from Bangkok with Bang Pa-In Summer Palace and Market Visit: $35
  • Bangkok Floating Markets Day Tour from Siam Paragon by TTD: $28
  • Dii Wellness Med Spa Experience by Divana at Central Embassy BTS Ploenchit: $62
  • Go Bangkok e-Scooter Tour: $46
  • Indoor Go Karting Experience by EasyKart Bangkok: $13
  • Krabi Koh Klang Cultural Day Tour by TTD: $74
  • Krabi Sunrise Tour with Breakfast and Kayaking at Klong Nam Sai: $33

Alcohol

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

Typically, people visiting Chiang Rai spend on average $7.31 on alcoholic beverages per person, per day.


  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Pai $11
    Chiang Rai $7.31

Sample the Local Flavors in Pai

Some specific costs for nightlife related activities in Pai:

  • PB Valley Vineyard and Wine Tasting Tour in Khao Yai: $22
  • Bangkok Pub Crawl by Pub Crawls Thailand: $22

Sample the Local Flavors in Chiang Rai

Also in Chiang Rai, these are the prices for nightlife and alcohol related activities from various tour providers:

  • PB Valley Vineyard and Wine Tasting Tour in Khao Yai: $22
  • Bangkok Pub Crawl by Pub Crawls Thailand: $22


When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Pai and Chiang Rai, we can see that Pai is more expensive. And not only is Chiang Rai much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to Chiang Rai would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in Chiang Rai 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 Rai.

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Pai vs. Chiang Rai Travel Comparison

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