Chiang Mai Transport Options

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There are several ways of getting to Chiang Mai, including bus, train and flights. The bus is the cheapest option however it’s quite a long journey and not particularly comfortable. Overnight sleeper trains are a popular choice which takes a little longer but this also saves on a nights accommodation. Cheap domestic flights on budget carriers serve Chiang Mai well and if tickets are purchased during promotions can sometimes even be the cheapest option.

 

Buses to Chiang Mai

Buses to Chiang MaiDeparting from Bangkok’s Northern a Moh Chit station there are 12 2nd-class air-con buses a day.  Fare is about 450baht and the trip takes 10 to 11 hours.

More comfortable 1st-class air-con buses with toilets and 42 seats leave every half hour from 6.45am to 9pm.  These cost a 100baht more than the 2nd-class buses but worth the extra. Fare is about 550baht and the trip takes 10 hours.

The government VIP buses, with better reclining seats than 1st-class buses have about six departures a day, from either Bangkok or Chiang Mai, between 7pm and 9pm plus one in the morning at around 9am. Fare is about 650baht and the trip takes 10 hours.

 

Trains to Chiang Mai

Trains to Chiang MaiVarious rapid, express and sleeper trains leave from Hualamphong Station, taking 11+ hours for the trip. The day trains have only second and third class, with no sleeper berths; the Sprinter trains are second class only, also with no sleeping berths.

The evening trains have air-con and non-aircon second class sleeper cars, which are very popular, safe, comfortable and fun. In second class sleepers, the lower berth is wider than the upper berth, however it is also slightly more expensive.

Berths on sleepers to Chiang Mai are increasingly hard to reserve without booking well in advance; tour groups sometimes book entire cars. The return trip from Chiang Mai to Bangkok doesn’t seem to be as difficult, except during the Songkran (mid-April) and Chinese New Year (late February to early March) holiday periods

 

Flights to Chiang Mai

Flights to Chiang MaiChiang Mai International Airport (CNX) handles both domestic and regional international flights. The route from Bangkok is among the most heavily travelled in the country (Thai Airways flies daily almost every hour, with additional flights in the peak tourist season). Other airlines operating direct services to/from Chiang Mai include:

  • Air Asia – to/from Bangkok, Phuket and Kuala Lumpur
  • Air Mandalay – to/from Myanmar
  • Bangkok Airways – to Ko Samui (flights from Ko Samui are indirect) and to/from Sukhothai
  • Lao Aviation – to/from Laos
  • Nok Air – to/from Bangkok & Udon Thani
  • Silk Air – to/from Singapore
  • Thai Airways – to/from Bangkok and Mae Hong Son additionally, flights to/from Phuket may also be available seasonally
  • Tiger Airways – to/from Singapore

The airport is approximately 3 km south-west of the city centre, only 10-15 minutes away by car. Airport taxis charge a flat 150 baht for up to 5 passengers anywhere in the city, however if you take a metered taxi the price will be about 100 baht. The taxis operate from the exit at the north end of the terminal – after baggage claim and/or customs walk into the reception hall and turn left.

Alternatively you can get a tuk-tuk or songthaew for 50-60 baht or if you’re travelling light and are on a budget the public bus also has the airport on its route. Also, most hotels and guesthouses in Chiang Mai offer cheap or free transport so it pays to ask.

 

Chiang Mai Transit Map

Chiang Mai airport, bus & train station locations.

Getting around in Chiang Mai

Once in Chiang Mai, getting around is easily done by flagging down a tuk tuk or songthaew (red pick up trucks). All you need to do is to put your arm out and look at the driver, and they will stop. Then tell the driver which street you want to go to, and if he is going that way, he will nod his head “yes”; if not, he will say “no” and go on. Don’t worry – there will be another one right behind him. They will take you along popular routes in the city for 20 baht, and may deliver you to outlying destinations for a little more. You should also negotiate the fare with red truck drivers before getting in.


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Updated: June 2, 2011 by admin

Comments

  1. I’m not so sure that negotiating the price, before boarding, with the songthaew drivers is a good idea. For inner city journeys or there abouts, 20 Baht is the going rate. The only drivers that want more, in my experience, tell me before I get in, thus giving me the opportunity to turn them down. Usually I just tell them my destination and if they say OK, I jump in and hand over the standard 20 Baht on arrival…no problem! Sometimes discussing the price opens a can of worms, unless of course you’re venturing outside of the metro area.

    Tuk tuk drivers are a completely different kettle of fish and prior negotiation is a MUST. Visitors should also be aware of the tourist police phone number should any dispute arise.

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