We booked a minibus to Pai from our hostel the day before for 180 baht including transportation to Chiang Mai’s main bus terminal 2 which is about a 20-minute drive out of town. We got an afternoon bus at 1.30 pm, these run regularly throughout the day. When we arrived at the bus terminal our bags were put on the top of another minibus and we took our allocated seats. The minibus was quite modern with comfortable seats and air-conditioning. We prepared ourselves for the journey by having breakfast quite early on as the journey to Pai is known to make people feel travel sick. This is a combination of the 762 curves you have to go through and the driving; some drivers are known for driving very fast and swerving a lot across the road.
We were lucky with our driver he was reasonably cautious and steady, although the swaying of the minibus from curve to curve did make me fall asleep for the first hour and a half of the journey as we climbed up into the mountains. The drive up to Pai gave us amazing views as the landscape changed from the towns to mountainous forests that were luscious green. If we had more time and confidence driving in Thailand we both remarked that it would be an amazing drive- incredibly windy roads, great views and there is quite a lot to stop at along the way between Chiang Mai and Pai- local fruits stalls, viewpoints, national parks and hot springs.
About halfway the driver pulled over at a service type station where they sold some food, had toilets (squat toilets with an entrance fee of 3B) and benches to relax on for 10 minutes. After this quick break, the driver herded us quickly back onto the minibus to complete the last hour and a half of our journey.
The second half of the journey was definitely worse in terms of roads as we were travelling through sharp turns going steeply downhill at times. I do not usually get travel-sick but I definitely felt a bit queasy on this leg of the journey.
We arrived in the small town of Pai about 3.30pm (3 hours journey) where we were met with mountain views all around us. After hearing so much about the road and journey here it was nowhere near as bad as we imagined but it is not the most relaxing of journeys. I am sure it is made a lot worse though if you have a bad driver that exacerbates the road and its curves with excessive speeds. It is most certainly a beautiful drive though and one you should take if you are in Chiang Mai with a few days to spare.