Bangkok to Chiang Mai – The Most Complete Transport Guide
There are several ways to get from Bangkok to Chiang Mai: a train with seats, a bus, a train with sleepers, and a plane. It is obvious that the higher the price, the better the comfort. The fastest and the most comfortable option is plane, going by train is the longest one, but if you take a night train with sleepers, you can sleep like a human being.
The bus goes faster than the train, but sitting completely still in an armchair for almost 12 hours, without being able to stretch, is a dubious pleasure. You can also use a taxi, however, it’s very expensive, about 12000 baht, but again this means being in a sitting position with no possibility to rest or have a good night’s sleep.
The distance from Bangkok to Chiang Mai
The direct distance between Bangkok and Chiang Mai is about 580 kilometers. It is difficult to measure it in absolute number because the capital of Thailand is one of the biggest cities in Asia and covers a very large area. Therefore, the distance between the center of Chiang Mai and the northern part of Bangkok is 570 kilometers, but if we measure up to the southern side of the country’s capital, the distance will be closer to 600 kilometers. Taking into account that there is no direct public highway between the cities, the distance increases by more than 100 kilometers: up to 688 kilometers (when traveling on toll roads) or up to 708 kilometers (on roads without toll sections). Therefore traveling by bus or by car will take you from 8,5 to 12 hours, depending on which road you will take and which bus class you will choose.
Speaking of the distance between the airports, it’s much easier to measure it. For example, if you have a flight to Chiang Mai from Suvarnabhumi Airport, which is located east of Bangkok, the direct distance is 593 km. But if your flight from the capital of the Kingdom of Thailand is from Don Mueang International Airport, which is located north of Bangkok, obviously, the distance will be less, and it’s about 565 km. Of course, the routes of aircraft do not pass through the shortest line, however, in any case, the distance from Don Mueang Airport will be less.
Train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai
Bangkok Railway Station Hua Lamphong
You can go from Bangkok to Chiang Mai by train. Train tickets are more expensive than bus tickets, but at least you can sleep like a human being. It is better to buy tickets in advance, one or two weeks prior to your trip, because very often (nearly always) it’s difficult to find tickets for an overnight train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai on the day of departure. So, if you have just arrived in Bangkok, and you want to take a sleeper train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai tonight, it is hardly possible since tickets are not likely to be available.
The cost of a second-class fan sleeper depends on the train and the berth (upper or lower). A ticket for a night train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai #51 for upper berth will cost you about 850 baht. A ticket for another overnight train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai #9 of the same class will be about 1300 baht for the lower berth. In case you want to buy a first-class AC sleeper ticket, please be aware that it is very cold in there.
To get to the Hua Lamphong railway station you can use the subway. The subway station has the same name as the train station — Hua Lamphong (MRT).
There is a train to Chiang Mai from Bangkok leaving 5 times a day. One train in the morning (number 7, only seats), one train in the afternoon (number 109, second-class fan sleepers and third-class seats), and three trains at night (numbers 9, 13 and 51).
Train # 7 – only seats
Train # 109 – second-class sleepers and seats
Train # 9 – only sleepers
Train # 13 – only sleepers, new train cars
Train # 51 – sleepers and seats
By the way, tickets for the train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai with seats start from 23 baht, but in our opinion, it’s a dubious pleasure to spend almost 15 hours sitting on a rough bench.
Train ticket prices
Prices for train tickets depend on the class of the train car and facilities in trains.
For example, a third-class seat ticket will cost from 230 baht and more. If you buy a sleeper ticket, the lower berth will be always more expensive than the upper one. Among other things, prices can differ in different trains, even for the same second-class cars. For instance, an upper berth in the first-class air-con sleeper in the train #109 will cost about 1000 baht, while the same upper berth in the train #9 will be about 1200 baht.
You can buy a train ticket, either at the ticket office in Hua Lamphong or at any travel agency on the streets of Bangkok.
You can also buy train tickets on the website of the travel agency 12Go.asia. It is possible to pay by credit card or via PayPal. The train ticket is NOT an E-ticket, and you have to get the original hard ticket either at the agency office in front of the railway station in Bangkok or by mail.
If you are a woman and you don’t want to sleep in the train car with Thai men or men from other countries, you can choose a special women-only passenger car.
The distance between Chiang Mai railway station and Old Town, which is usually the destination of the majority of tourists, is about 2,5 kilometers. To get to Old Town from the railway station you can use either tuk-tuk or songthaew. Another option is using Uber.
Uber trip will cost you about 50 baht. Don’t forget that taxi drivers don’t like Uber, so, walk for 50-100 meters from the railway station territory towards the main road before calling a driver.
How to get to Mo Chit bus station from the railway station Hua Lamphong
Please be aware that if tickets at the railway station are sold out, travel agents rushing around will offer you a bus trip for more than double the price compared to a trip from Mo Chit bus station in Chiang Mai. Most likely, a travel agent will tell you that there are only a few tickets left and today you will not be able to leave the bus station on your own, but only the agent has the last ticket, so you are very lucky and you need to buy this ticket right here and right now.
Actually, there are about 30 buses from Bangkok to Chiang Mai. Most of them are in the evening.
To get to the bus station from the railway station, first, you need to use the subway and get off at BTS Mo Chit station or MRT Chatuchak Park. If you’ve arrived at the Chatuchak Park station, then switch to Mo Chit station. Once you’re there, you need to pass through the exit #4 to get to the bus stop and take a bus from the following list to Mo Chit bus station: 96, 104, 134, 136, 138, 145, 517 or A1.
Bus from Bangkok to Chiang Mai
Mo Chit bus station
A bus from Bangkok to Chiang Mai leaves from Mo Chit bus station. There are trips in the daytime and at night, almost once every 30 minutes. Usually, there are always available tickets, but if you need to leave at a certain time or to choose a class of car, it’s better without a doubt to buy tickets in advance, especially during the holiday season in Thailand.
A trip takes about 10 hours. Tickets for a bus to Chiang Mai from Bangkok cost 400-800 baht depending on the class (VIP, 1, 2). A second-class ticket is the cheapest one, and the Government bus company sells the cheapest tickets (400 baht). All buses have an air-con. But for a night bus trip, we would suggest that you buy more expensive tickets: Vip-24 or Vip-32. The number refers to the number of seats in the passenger compartment.
Mo Chit Northern Bus Station is a 15 minutes’ walk from Mo Chit BTS Station and Chatuchak Park MRT Station. They are close to each other; the one runs above ground (called BTS) and the other is an underground system (called MRT). If you go from Suvarnabhumi Airport, then use the City Line (the line from the airport to the city), get to Phaya Thai station and change here for BTS Skytrain and reach Mo Chit station. Proceed to the 4th exit, and take any bus to Mo Chit bus station: 96, 104, 134, 136, 138, 145, 517 or A1.
Arcade Bus Station
You arrive at Arcade Bus Terminal in Chiang Mai. Either terminal number 2, or terminal number 3. They are located across the street from each other. This terminal is the largest bus station in the city, where all buses from Bangkok arrive. Further, the best way is to use a songthaew for 30 baht and to get to the city center. The only point we would make in that regard is that 30 baht is the price per person for the route followed by a songthaew. If you need a special route, you will have to pay 200 or 300 baht, as it will already be considered not public transport, but as a private taxi. Therefore, it would be much easier to use Uber.
How to buy a bus ticket online
The website 12Go.asia, which started to work not so long ago, allows you to buy bus tickets online in Thailand and other Asian countries, and at this moment, this is the only such service. The site contains almost all bus companies, so there are many tickets and options to choose from. The service accepts payment by bank card or PayPal, and the tickets are electronic, which is very convenient!
Flights from Bangkok to Chiang Mai
It is the most expensive option but at the same time the fastest and the most comfortable, especially if you have a transit through Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok.
You need to know that the low-cost airlines do not use Suvarnabhumi Airport, so the ticket will be higher than if you depart from Don Mueang and fly with inexpensive airlines, such as AirAsia or Nokair. It takes 40-60 minutes to get from Suvarnabhumi Airport to Don Mueang by taxi or by free shuttle.
First, you can check travel search engines like Jetradar and Skyscanner for all possible tickets. There are regular and low-cost flights. The cost of tickets for flights to Chiang Mai from Bangkok starts from $20. Sometimes they have sales so you can find a cheap flight from Bangkok to Chiang Mai for only $3-5 for a ticket, but usually, if you buy a ticket at a sale today, you can use it only in 4-6 months.
You arrive at Chiang Mai International Airport. It is the only airport here, and it is located within the city. Then you can take a taxi and go where you wish. You can get to the center of Chiang Mai (square) in 10-15 minutes, as it’s not far. The price for a taxi ride to Old Town costs only 150 baht at the time of writing this text. By the way, Uber costs 200 baht. It is one of the few cases in which Uber is more expensive.
Click on the calendar below to refresh the real-time prices for flights to Chiang Mai.
The prices on the calendar are not updated as often as they are on the airlines’ websites. For example, at the time of writing this article, a ticket for Bangkok to Chiang Mai flight in February costs 1 720 baht according to the information on the calendar. However, if you click on the particular date in the calendar that you are interested in, the system will update the price in accordance with the airlines’ websites in real-time. You can see that the current price is only 564 baht, which is twice cheaper than the price, which was shown on the calendar at the beginning. So, don’t forget to check the particular date you are interested in, as the price of the airline tickets at the moment may be lower than the one that is displayed on the calendar.
Rented car from Bangkok to Chiang Mai
We should probably consider this option as a separate journey because it’s a long way and since there are cheap flights from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, it’s much easier to take a plane. However, if you choose a car, then you can pass through a vast diversity of interesting places along the way. For example Ayutthaya or Sukhothai. By the way, you can rent a car at the airport in Chiang Mai.
If you want to rent a car in Chiang Mai, then first we recommend you to contact our good friends in Budget Catcher. They have the best value offers in Chiang Mai. If so happened that they ran out of cars and have nothing available, then try to use Rentalcars.com service.
The aggregator will show you the deals of all leading providers in Thailand on the website. The price can be even lower than what the providers offer directly. In addition, there can be insurance coverage without franchise as a gift. If you plan to rent a car in Chiang Mai and return it in another place, you may want to consider Hertz, because other rental companies usually take a fee if you leave the car in another city. Hertz will not charge you if you rent a car for a period of more than 5 days. On the aggregator website it is easy to compare the price between Hertz without any commission and another rental company with a fee, but the lower rate per day, and decide what will be more beneficial to you.
Lifehack #1: How to save money on hotels
It’s a good idea not to limit your search to booking.com! We recommend you to use HotelCombined website. The service searches across over more than 30 booking websites, including booking.com and offers the best price. It frequently finds prices 1,5-2 times lower than the prices for the same hotel on booking.com.
Lifehack #2: Best Car rental in Chiang Mai
This is here – https://www.budgetcatcher.com/
Useful links from Cat Motors
a) Private owner apartments for rent Airbnb — rent daily apartments in 190 countries all over the world! Register now and get a 1100THB bonus for living in Chiang Mai!
b) The best hotel deals at HotelCombined — the service compares hotel rates from all travel websites and show the best offers for your trip dates. Sometimes it finds prices 1,5-2 times lower than the prices for the same hotel on booking.com.
c) Cheap airline tickets Jetradar — a good website for searching for flights. The quick search for the best offer among 728 airlines and 40 international travel agencies.
d) Bus tickets 12go.asia — tickets for bus and train in Thailand and other Asian countries (English).
e) Car rental Rentalcars.com — worldwide car hire search.
f) Well, and of course you can rent a motorbike in Chiang Mai at Cat Motors! =)
g) 11 Best Things To Do in Chiang Mai