BANGKOK TO CHIANG MAI – Thailand travel options

Katie

From Bangkok, there are many areas of Thailand that you can travel to easily. Bangkok to Chaing Mai is perhaps one of the most popular routes for your Thailand Itinerary and today we are sharing the different Thailand travel options you have to make this journey. 

Bangkok to Chiang Mai
Flying from Bangkok to Chiang Mai takes around an hour

Flying to Chiang Mai – the quickest way to get to Chiang Mai

The easiest and quickest way to travel from Bangkok to Chiang Mai is to fly. Non-stop flights run several times a day and, if booked in advanced, can be found a super cheap price; around 1500 baht for return tickets. 

Direct flights take around 60 to 70 minutes and most flights depart from Don Muang International Airport with a few flying from Suvarnabhumi International Airport. 

Once you arrive in Chiang Mai Airport, you can get a taxi, tuk-tuk or songteaw to the city centre – it isn’t far and a taxi will cost you around 160 baht. If you have already booked a hotel or guesthouse, contact them before arriving and they may be able to offer a pick-up service for free or for a lower price than the taxis. 

Bangkok to Chiang Mai

Train to Chiang Mai – The Scenic route

The train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai can take between 12 and 15 hours but is still a popular choice with tourists. You get to see a lot of Thailand’s gorgeous scenery whilst whizzing through on the train. There are round 5 – 6 trains that run between Bangkok and Chiang Mai every day but you will need to book a train ticket in advance; they can fill quickly. 

Backpackers and budget travelers love the train because of the price; a 2ndclass seat is around 800 baht but I would advise upgrading to second class with AC which is slightly more. If second class isn’t for you, you can pay around 2000 baht for a first class sleeper seat. 

Once you arrive in Chiang Mai Train Station, you can get a taxi for around 10 minutes, into the city centre. Depending on what time your train arrives, tuk-tuks and songthaews are also available. 

Bus – the cheapest way to get to Chiang Mai

Buses take around 9 to 12 hours depending on the schedule. There are different types of buses to choose from, depending on how much you want to spend. There are around a dozen second class buses that run between the two cities each day but don’t rely on the air conditioning working well. These buses take around 11 hours and ticket prices cost 450 baht.

First class buses are available and include good air conditioning, a slightly reclining seat and toilets on the bus. These cost 550 baht and are definitely worth the extra 100 baht. You could also opt for the VIP bus which provides a better reclining seat and generally, a more comfortable experience. There are two VIP buses, one costing 650 baht and one costing 860 baht – the bus sizes are different.

There are also private tour companies who run their own buses and can be a preferred choice for those staying in tourist areas – buses depart from different areas around the city but predominantly from the tourist neighbourhoods. Expect to pay around 400 – 500 baht for these tickets but no more than 700 baht – some travel agencies will upsell tickets massively. 

Self-drive – most adventurous route

For the more daring, you can always drive to Chiang Mai. Car rentals in both cities is affordable and driving, allows you to take the time to stop at destinations on the way; Ayutthaya, Phitsanulok and Sukhothai are popular places to explore en route. 

The biggest problem with driving is trying to get out of Bangkok. Traffic is bad in the city but once you get onto the highway, it can be easier to travel. Just keep your eyes open for drivers over taking and it helps to take a few taxis around the city to get use to the road systems in Bangkok before hiring a car. 

Tips for traveling in Thailand

Travel in Thailand is amazing and exciting but, if you are taking public transport or catching a flight, there is a few things to remember. 

  • Taxis – always ask for the meter and get out of the taxi if they won’t turn the meter on. 
  • Songthaew – These are available all over Thailand and are basically small pick-up trucks which make stops along different routes. They are kind of like a bus but smaller, more frequent and can often drop you near your chosen destination. These are great if there is a group of you, they will often run like a shared taxi service for groups of people heading in the same direction. 
  • Pay on arrival – For taxis, you will pay the cost on arrival but it is always advised to have small change. Most taxis will have change to give back to you but won’t appreciate bigger notes. 
  • Left side – If you are planning on driving around Thailand, it is important to remember that, in Thailand, drivers will drive on the left side of the road.
  • Drivers – Some tips for drivers; the speed limit is 100km/h or 62 mph on highways and sometimes increases to 120 km/h or 75 mph, depending on the road but signs aren’t always very clear. You are better off choosing the toll roads to save time in traffic (they cost 20-40 baht). Look out for motorbikes, they can drive recklessly. 
Bangkok to Chiang Mai
Paddy fields on the outskirts of Chiang Mai

Thing to do in Chiang Mai 

Now that you have finally travelled to Chiang Mai, it is time to explore. Here are a few things tou do in Chiang Mai on your trip.

  1. Explore the temples – Chiang Mai has some gorgeous temples to explore and, if you head to them early, you can find them a lot quieter than temples in Bangkok. Wat Phra That Doi Suthep is a gorgeous place to visit. 
  2. Wiang Kum Kam – this is an underground ancient city in the countryside outside of Chiang Mai. It is a great place to explore and you can even take a horse-led carriage around the ruins. 
  3. Doi Inthanon National Park – This is the highest peak in Thailand and is known for being the home to a variety of animal species. Take a stroll around this beautiful park and appreciate the natural beauty of Northern Thailand
  4. Chiang Mai Night Safari – If you love animals, try the night safari which takes you through three animal zones on an open-sided tram or via foot. 
  5. Elephant Jungle Sanctuary – This sanctuary is one of the first in Thailand that prioritsed the welfare of animals. This is more of a retirement home for elephants where you can visit, bathe and care for the animal whilst entrance fees are donated towards looking after the elephants.

We hope you have an amazing time in Thailand and enjoy exploring more Chiang Mai! Let us your favourite thing to do in Chiang Mai and how you travelled from Bangkok to Chiang Mai in the comments below!

Bangkok to Chiang Mai
Bangkok to Chiang Mai
Bangkok to Chiang Mai

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