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.


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 $54, while the average daily cost in Chiang Rai is $33. 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.


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

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.

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 $2.71 on transportation in Chiang Rai on average per day.

  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Pai $31
    Chiang Rai $2.71

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

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Chiang Rai

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

  • Transfer in Chiang Rai: $34
  • Private Transfer from Chiang Rai to Chiang Mai: $75
  • Private Arrival Transfer: Chiang Rai International Airport to Hotel: $19
  • Chiang Rai Airport Shared Departure Transfer: $17
  • Chiang Rai Airport Shared Arrival Transfer: $17
  • Arrival Chiangmai Airport Private Transfer to Chiangrai Hotels: $145

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.


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.

On average, meal and food prices in Chiang Rai cost around $9.82 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 $3.93.

  • Food Meals for one day
    Pai $18
    Chiang Rai $9.82

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 Cooking Class: $51
  • Chiang Rai Private Cooking Class - Cooking With Ann: $52
  • 1 Day Trekking Group Tour With Bamboo Cooking / Chiang Rai: $60
  • Chiang Rai by Night with Show, Dinner and Trishaw Ride: $73
  • Chiang Rai City Tour with Dinner and Show: $73
  • Thai Lanna Cooking Class: $87


In Pai, the costs for things to do, activities, admission tickets, and other sightseeing expenses are on average $34 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 $6.28 per day, per person.

  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Pai $34
    Chiang Rai $6.28

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

Tours and Activities in Chiang Rai

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

  • 1 Day Trip White Temple - Tea Plantation - Longneck - Cruise to Laos Market: $105
  • 1 Day trip to White Temple, Longneck Village and Cruise at Maekong River: $105
  • 10 Days Thailand Grand Tour: $1,664
  • Ancient City Tour from Chiang Rai including Golden Triangle and Royal Villa: $146
  • Ancient City Tour from Chiang Rai including Golden Triangle and Royal Villa: $117
  • Ancient City Tour from Chiang Rai with Golden Triangle and Royal Villa: $116
  • Ancient City Tour from Chiang Rai with Golden Triangle and Royal Villa: $116
  • Balloon Chiang Rai-Soft Adventure and Nature Touch Activity: $410
  • Chaing Rai food & night market walking tour with local host: $69
  • Chaing Rai food & night market walking tour with local host: $69
  • Chiang Rai - Best of Mae Kam Pong (Community Ecotourism) Hiking & Sightseeing: $125
  • Chiang Rai - Temple Tour: $154


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

Typically, people visiting Chiang Rai spend on average $7.08 on alcoholic beverages per person, per day.

  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Pai $11
    Chiang Rai $7.08

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.

Budget Your Trip

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Pai vs. Chiang Rai Travel Comparison

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