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Apr 19

From Bangkok to Chiang Mai – transport, schedule and fares!

Chiang Mai is often called the “northern capital” of Thailand and the cultural center of this country, so tens of thousands of travelers annually visit this city despite the distance that must be overcome between popular resorts and this city in the north of the country. As a rule, the greatest number of people go to Chiang Mai from Bangkok. Therefore, on this page you will find useful information about all types of public transport, which is convenient to use on the route “Bangkok-Chiang Mai” and “Chiang Mai-Bangkok”, the current timetable of such transport and the cost of this trip by the route.

CONTENTS OF ARTICLE ( you can click on the link for quick transition)

Distance between Bangkok and Chiang Mai

The direct distance between Bangkok and the city of Chiang Mai is about 580 kilometers (for convert to miles, you must divide by 1.6). Absolute value in this case is not easy, because the capital of Thailand is one of the largest cities in Asia and occupies a very large area. Therefore, the distance between the center of Chiang Mai and the northern part of Bangkok is 570 kilometers, and if measured to the southern tip of the country’s capital, the distance will approach 600 kilometers. Given that there is no direct highway between the cities, the distance increases by more than 100 kilometers: up to 688 kilometers (when traveling on the road with paid sections) or up to 708 kilometers (by free road). As a result, traveling by bus or car will take you from 8.5 to 11 hours.

If we talk about the distance between airports, then it is much easier to measure it. For example, if you fly to Chiang Mai from Suvarnabhumi Airport, which is located to the east of Bangkok, the direct distance is 593 km. And if your departure from the capital of the Kingdom of Thailand will be from the airport of Don Mueang (which is located to the north of Bangkok) the distance will naturally be less and will be 565 km. Of course, aircraft routes also do not pass strictly along the line with a minimum distance, but in any case the distance from Don Mueang will be smaller. More details about flights from Bangkok to Chiang Mai and back – in the next section of this article.

The road from Bangkok to Chiang Mai goes to the north through the picturesque western provinces


Flights Bangkok-Chiang Mai – prices and buying tips

Flight to Chiang Mai from Bangkok is the fastest and most comfortable way to overcome the distance between these cities. Almost an ideal way of moving between cities for those who value time on vacation and are not ready for long night trips by bus or train. And taking into account the possibility of using low-cost airlines, it is also a relatively inexpensive way. For domestic flights in Asia it is better to use the local vehicle search engine in Asia  – farang.12go.asia. The average cost of the flight from the airport of Don Mueang is 1000 – 1200 baht ($28-33), which is comparable to the price of a VIP class bus between cities. The flight duration is from 1 to 1.5 hours (usually 1 hour and 15 minutes). Just in case, you can check the price of Bangkok-Chiang Mai in my favorite search mashine – Jetradar, where sometimes you can find an option for 700-800 THB.

If you want to choose the main airport of Suvarnabhumi as a starting point in Bangkok, then you can expect a flight of almost the same duration, but the cost of air tickets to Chiang Mai will be much higher – from 1,700 THB ($ 48) and above, up to 4,500 baht . Therefore, if you want to save money, it’s easier to use the free shuttle bus from Suvarnabhumi to Don Mueang Bangkok Airport and fly cheap, especially since local low-cost airlines usually allow free baggage allowance. How easy and inexpensive to get to the former main airport of Thailand from different parts of the city you can find on the page “Don Mueang Airport of Bangkok”.

Thai Lion Air is one of the low-cost airlines that flies from Bangkok to Chiang Mai

As with most other case with local airfares, the cost of air tickets immediately in both directions does not lead to any significant benefit, and sometimes even more expensive than two separate tickets. Therefore, taking into account the large number of flights between cities (which is 30-40 flights daily) – you do not need to worry about the availability of air tickets for your dates in advance: places will almost always be. The only exception is the days of the Thai New Year and the Loi Krathong holiday in Thailand. To guarantee to fly these days and at the right time to Chiang Mai from Bangkok or vice versa, it is better to buy air tickets in advance. It also makes sense to take care of an early purchase on sale days, when air tickets for domestic flights can be purchased from 3 to 10 USD.

In Chiang Mai from Bangkok by train – travel features

A very popular way to travel from Bangkok to Chiang Mai is by rail. Daily from Hua Lamphong railway station in Bangkok on the route to Chiang Mai several trains are sent, each of which includes several types of wagons. As you can see with the help of the already mentioned search of transport in Asia, the option with the train practically does not allow to save, because the price of the trip starts from 780 baht, and the most popular trains can cost more than flight from Bangkok to Chiang Mai. And at the same time the specified price for seats in railway carriage of the 2nd class (the first class is even more expensive). In addition, you may notice that the duration of the trip is from 11 hours (day trains with seats) to 14 hours and above (night sleeping cars). And if you know about the constant late arrival of Thai trains, then you must understand that the trip can be longer for a few more hours.

Thus, the train for a trip from Bangkok to Chiang Mai can be advised only for those who like to travel by train (and there are many such people) or those who do not like long bus trips (after all the train is safer and more comfortable, especially at night). Also the option with the train is perfect for those people who are not particularly in a hurry and want to sleep in the trip without spending money on a hotel the night of the trip. Finally, the train can be a good alternative for those who are afraid of air transport. For this category of travellers, by the way, I advise to get acquainted with the information on the page “How to overcome the fear of flying on airplanes”. As a rule, during the train trip you will be offered a “dry ration” included in the price of the ticket (usually rolls, cookies, juice or water), so with such a long trip it is better to buy a little food, that will not be spoiled without a refrigerator.

The cost of traveling from Bangkok to Chiang Mai by train and the types of wagons (picture clickable)

I want to recall that a trip in wagons that are equipped with air conditioning (marked with AC in the results table) can cause discomfort for fans of heat, because they cool the air very effectively. Perhaps it is better to buy a ticket for the Bangkok-Chiang Mai train or back to the carriage, which is cooled by conventional fans (in the English version it is marked as fan – see a screenshot). If you are a girl and do not want to fall in the same wagon with Thai men or men from other countries, you have the opportunity to choose a special wagon for women – Ladies Only or Female Wagon. Direct distance from the railway station in Chiang Mai to the central (historic) quarter of this city is about 2.5 km, so if you have not only a good travel backpack, but a suitcase, it is better to use inexpensive local transport.

Bus from Bangkok to Chiang Mai – schedule and fares

A bus ride to Chiang Mai from Bangkok is also very popular, because this is the cheapest public transport between these cities. So, you can easily buy a ticket for the regular bus Bangkok-Chiang Mai at a price of 530 THB (or $15). Every day more than 10 bus routes to Chiang Mai leave from Bangkok. Therefore, you have the opportunity to choose between day and night buses, as well as between regular seats and VIP seats. Since more comfortable VIP seats are more expensive than regular ones for just $3, I recommend that you buy these places. Travel time is from 9.5 to 11 hours, so it’s better to spend them on wide comfortable seats with good leg support, with your own multimedia system and a socket for charging your mobile gadgets.

The timetable and online booking of Bangkok – Chiang Mai or Chiang Mai – Bangkok bus tickets can also be made using farang.12go.asia (English version, but you can choose a different language, too). When you view the schedule and prices, pay attention to the departure point of the bus from Bangkok. As you can see, most buses leave from the Northern bus terminal in Bangkok (Morchit Bus Terminal or Chatuchak bus terminal). However, below in the table you can find buses of the Sombat Tour company that go to Chiang Mai from a small private bus station in the northern part of the city, which is somewhat harder to reach than to the big bus station (unless you use a Bangkok taxi, which is very cheap).

Location of the Northern Bus Station Chatuchak and the Sombat Tour Station in Bangkok

In any case, I recommend choosing the options based on your personal preferences for the time of departure and arrival, the duration of the bus trip from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, the bus class and its cost. Since bus services to Chiang Mai from Bangkok are performed by several transport companies, I advise you to read reviews of real passengers who have made a similar trip earlier. Also you can see the rating of the bus companies directly on the page with the search results of the bus Bangkok-Chiang Mai for the date you need. The rating is also based on the feedback of passengers and allows you to save your time on reading reviews, many of which in other languages. As with the train, night buses to Chiang Mai from Bangkok allow you to save your time on vacation and money for hotel accommodation.

A trip from Bangkok to Chiang Mai in a rental car

Despite the long distance, many travelers travel to Chiang Mai from the country’s capital by car, which can be rented at Bangkok airport or directly in this city. For car booking in Thailand and instant comparison of prices and rental conditions in all offices, it is best to use the international broker Rentalcars. The roads in Thailand are of good quality, and the traffic is not too intense, especially when you are away from the capital. At the same time, during a trip to Chiang Mai, you can see interesting views are opened on the nature of Thailand, which you can admire at the every stop according to your desire. Using a rented car for a trip, you can get to know much more about the culture of the country and the life of small towns on the route. You do not need to move along high-speed roads, because in Thailand there are almost always quieter and picturesque roads of local importance, going in the right direction for you.

Alternatively, you can rent a car directly in Chiang Mai (at the airport or city center). In this case, you do not need to spend 8-10 hours on a long self-relocation in the country, but you can move on a rented car on the most beautiful roads in this region of Thailand. For example, to make an exciting trip to the northern city of Pai, which  connects with Chiang Mai one of the most beautiful roads in the country, which almost never goes in a straight line. In general, there you can choose between several options, but the most interesting is the western road, which is slightly longer (about 170 km), but the most picturesque. The mountains nature are simply amazing, and the road itself has more than 770 turns, while the condition of the roadway is excellent, and traffic is minimal.

Dawn on the scenic mountain road from Chiang Mai to Pai – over 750 turns!

Detailed instructions for renting a car in Thailand and practical advice on using the service Rentalcars – on the page “Car rental Phuket – fares, advices, best places”. In Chiang Mai, everything is the same, except that a rental office with a zero deductible is more difficult to find. On the other hand, in the north and the traffic is not as active as in Phuket, and drunk tourists, who manage a car or motobike, it’s difficult to meet here, and in fact they are the main potential source of problems in Phuket. In the vicinity of Chiang Mai, there are many interesting attractions, which are also convenient for getting on a rented car. For example, you can make an excursion to the majestic White Temple, which is simply amazing with its beauty and is located next to the neighboring city of Chiang Rai.

I hope, after reading this article, you have no doubt that it’s quite easy to get to Chiang Mai from Bangkok and it can be done inexpensively. And the route schedule and cost of transport Bangkok-Chiang Mai will help you more competently plan your trip to the north of Thailand. Pleasant trips!

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