From Suan Luang to Chiang Mai by plane 2023

Flight Bangkok - Chiang Mai ฿ 1,215–11,520 1h 15m – 21h
  •   Economy 06:10, 07:30, 08:00, 09:55, 10:20, 11:25, 12:25, 12:40, 13:30, 14:25, 15:05, 15:30, 15:50, 17:50, 18:00, 19:15, 20:40, 21:30, 21:35, 21:40
  •   Business 07:30
Bus Bangkok - Chiang Mai ฿ 627–1,256 8h 55m – 12h 40m
  •   Standard 07:25, 18:10, 19:30, 19:50
  •   VIP 15:00, 16:00, 18:30, 19:30, 20:45, 21:05
  •   VIP 24 19:35, 20:00, 20:30
  •   Express 06:00, 06:20, 13:30, 14:00, 18:30, 18:50, 20:00, 20:35
  •   First Class 10:00, 10:15, 20:01, 20:16, 21:15, 21:30, 21:45
  •   Gold Class 18:30, 18:45, 20:31, 20:46, 22:20, 22:35
  •   VIP 20 19:20, 21:19
  •   Express 42 12:00
  •   VIP 31 21:59
  •   VIP 33 07:20
  •   Express 40 09:20, 18:20, 20:30
  •   VIP 30 21:25
Taxi Bangkok - Chiang Mai ฿ 8,095–17,490 8h – 11h
  •   Luxury VIP Van
  •   Luxury SUV
  •   Comfort Car
  •   Comfort
  •   Van 9pax
  •   SUV 4pax
  •   VIP Van 9pax
  •   Economy
  •   Van 10pax
  •   VIP Van 8pax
Train Bangkok - Chiang Mai ฿ 278–1,133 10h 10m – 13h 33m
  •   2nd Class Sleeper AC 14:32, 18:57, 20:22, 22:47
  •   2nd Class AC seats only 09:05, 09:20
  •   2nd Class Fan seats only 14:32, 20:22, 22:47
  •   Class 3 Fan 14:32, 20:22, 22:47
Flight Don Mueang Airport - Chiang Mai ฿ 649–1,470 1h 5m – 1h 25m
  •   Economy 05:00, 05:25, 06:05, 06:10, 06:15, 06:25, 06:40, 06:50, 07:10, 08:00, 08:05, 08:20, 08:40, 09:05, 09:30, 10:30, 10:40, 11:10, 11:30, 11:35, 12:25, 12:40, 13:10, 13:40, 13:45, 14:30, 14:40, 14:55, 15:45, 15:55, 16:30, 17:00, 17:15, 17:45, 18:35, 19:10, 19:30, 19:40, 19:50, 20:00, 20:10, 20:20, 20:55, 21:10, 21:50, 22:10, 22:20
  •   Economy 06:30, 06:50, 07:25, 07:35, 07:45, 07:55, 08:25, 08:30, 09:05, 09:15, 09:45, 09:50, 10:00, 10:25, 10:50, 10:55, 12:20, 12:30, 12:50, 12:55, 13:25, 14:00, 14:25, 14:40, 14:50, 14:55, 15:00, 15:25, 15:40, 16:15, 16:55, 17:00, 17:30, 17:45, 18:05, 18:20, 18:25, 18:45, 19:35, 19:40, 20:00, 20:50, 20:55, 21:20, 21:30, 21:55, 22:00, 22:10, 22:15, 22:55

Bangkok and Chiang Mai are two famous cities in Thailand, with many attractive tourist destinations and unique cultural features of each locality. Getting from one city to the other is also very convenient, with many transportation options available for travelers. In this article, we will explore the various options for traveling from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, from traditional modes of transportation to the most advanced and convenient modes.

Discovering Northern Thailand: How to Reach Its Most Beautiful Destinations

Chiang Mai, the former capital of the Lanna kingdom, is a city of limitless charm, nestled in a northern basin of woodlands and mountains. The city is adorned with breathtaking ancient wats and chedis, some dating back to the 13th century. Forest monasteries are tucked away in the mountains and hills, while colorful markets overflow with OTOP products and unforgettable Northern Thai cuisine, including the iconic khao soi.

The locals are welcoming and friendly, and the city offers endless possibilities for unforgettable experiences, whether you’re on a short 2-day visit or a month-long trip. Chiang Mai has something for everyone, from temples, museums, galleries, and waterfalls to quaint coffee shops, trendy clothing malls, and a unique nightlife scene that caters to party-goers and music enthusiasts alike.

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Tips for Traveling to Chiang Mai: Getting There and Getting Around

Traveling overland to Chiang Mai is hassle-free and convenient, with numerous buses connecting the northern capital to major provincial centers in the country. From the capital, Route #1 Bangkok-Chiang Rai takes you as far as Lampang, where you can switch to Route 11 Lampang-Chiang Mai, which leads you all the way to your destination. Alternatively, the northern line of the State Railway of Thailand is a 751 km long stretch from Hua Lamphong station in Bangkok to Chiang Mai. Depending on your preferred mode of transportation, the journey can take anywhere from 9 to 14 hours.

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Tips for a Comfortable Bus Journey from Bangkok to Chiang Mai

Traveling by bus from Bangkok to Chiang Mai is a convenient, affordable, and comfortable option for the long journey. Chiang Mai-bound buses depart from the Northern and Northeastern Bus Terminal (Mochit), with many companies such as Bangkok Busline and Siam FirstNew Viriya providing departures throughout the day. Most buses leave after 8 pm and arrive early in the morning the next day.

However, during peak seasons such as Thai festivals like Songkran in April or Khao/Ok Phansa in July/October, it is advisable to book in advance. The bus prices vary depending on the level of comfort, with VIP coaches being the most comfortable option, offering 24 seats and ample space for both your legs and elbows, starting at 800 THB. However, even the cheapest buses from Bangkok (starting at 500 THB) are comfortable enough to sleep through the journey. Mochit Bus Terminal may seem enormous, but there is plenty of staff to assist passengers in finding their way. You will be greeted at the entrance and directed to the appropriate platform.

Traveling by bus from Bangkok to Chiang Mai is a convenient, affordable, and comfortable option to sustain you through the long journey. Buses bound for Chiang Mai depart from the Northern and Northeastern Bus Terminal (Mochit), with many companies such as Bangkok Busline and Siam FirstNew Viriya serving the route and offering departures throughout the day. Most buses leave after 8pm and arrive early in the morning the next day. During peak seasons, such as Thai festivals like Songkran in April or Khao/Ok Phansa in July/October, it’s wise to book in advance.

Prices vary depending on the level of comfort, with VIP coaches offering 24 seats (from 800 THB) providing enough space for your legs and elbows. However, even the cheapest buses from Bangkok (from 500 THB) are comfortable enough to sleep through the whole journey. At the enormous Mochit Bus Terminal, there is a lot of staff available to help passengers find their way, and you will be directed to the right platform upon arrival.

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How to Plan Your Train Trip from Bangkok to Chiang Mai

Traveling from Bangkok to Chiang Mai by overnight train is a classic Thai experience. Tickets, especially for lower berths, sell quickly, so it’s recommended to book well in advance. The journey takes approximately twelve hours, slightly longer than the bus journey, but is considerably more comfortable. The first and second-class compartments are well-equipped for comfort with seats that convert into bunk beds (avoid the top bunk if you’re claustrophobic). Both fan and air-conditioned 2nd class sleepers are available, so make sure to check when booking. For a luxurious experience, consider purchasing the 1st class single sleeper which costs over 2000 THB per person but offers complete privacy. There are also 2nd class fan seats (around 600-650 THB), but these should only be considered if there are no other options left, as for an extra 100 THB, you can get a fan sleeper, or add 200 THB and travel with air conditioning.

Alternatively, you may choose to travel by day as the route takes you through stunning mountainous regions and sprawling countryside, offering scenic views from the train’s windows.

Tip: Food vendors are constantly patrolling the carriages, ensuring that snacks and refreshments are never in short supply. However, it’s important to note that it’s illegal to sell any alcoholic beverages on the train.

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From Bangkok to Chiang Mai by private taxi

You can leave for Chiang Mai directly from your hotel at any time of the day, which may be a good option for those traveling in a group of friends. A 9-seater Toyota Commuter can be rented for THB 13,200 and takes approximately 9 hours to travel between the two cities. The roads are generally smooth, and there are gas stations with clean toilets and convenience stores along the way. Plus, the scenery is great, making for a picturesque journey.

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Bangkok to Chiang Mai Flights: Route and Time

You might want to consider flying between Bangkok and Chiang Mai instead of spending the entire night traveling overland, given that several low-cost carriers are offering tickets for as little as THB1000 and can transport you to your destination in just 1½ hours.

Thai Lion Air, which is affiliated with Lion Air based in Indonesia, offers up to 10 round-trip flights between Bangkok and Chiang Mai daily. Prices for airfare start at THB1000 and vary based on the date and time of day you choose to fly. The busiest periods tend to sell out well in advance, but even a few days prior to your desired travel date, there are usually deals available for under THB2000. Each ticket includes 15 kg of checked baggage and 7 kg of cabin baggage at no extra cost. The first flight departs from Bangkok’s Don Mueang Airport at 8:55 am, with the last flight departing at 9:50 pm, and eight additional flight options in between.

Lion Air’s Bangkok base is located at Don Mueang International Airport, which is situated to the north of the capital. You can reach the airport by using airport shuttle buses that operate two routes: A1 and A2. Route A1 starts from Morchit bus terminal, while A2 originates at Victory Monument and stops at Sanam Pao, Ari, Saphan Kwai, and Morchit BTS stations (fare is THB30). Morchit BTS station is also served by the A1 route. The duration of the journey can vary depending on traffic, but it typically takes between 60 to 80 minutes. Additionally, there are commuter trains available between Hua Lamphong train station and Don Mueang airport. These trains are a reliable option and take approximately 50 minutes to travel between the railway station and the airport. The operating hours for the train service are from 4:20 am to 10:25 pm

Chiang Mai International Airport is a major gateway to Northern Thailand and is one of the busiest airports in the country, offering daily domestic and international flights to and from Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Seoul, and other destinations. The airport is located just two kilometers from the city center, making flying to Chiang Mai a convenient option that won’t cost you much time or money to reach your hotel.

While many hotels in the city offer free airport transfers, it’s important to arrange this in advance. Alternatively, you can take a taxi, songthaew, or tuk-tuk to get to the city center. Although the cost of the ride may seem a bit high considering the distance, it’s still relatively inexpensive at around THB150.

A helpful tip: Chiang Mai Airport is also a hub for Kan Air, a domestic airline that offers service to some of the most amazing destinations in northern Thailand, including Pai and Mae Hong Son. If you’re not up for navigating the winding roads from Chiang Mai to these towns, it’s worth considering flying instead.

To get around Chiang Mai, most of the city’s attractions can be found within the walls of the Old City. Renting a bicycle is a popular and easy option and can be arranged at most guesthouses for around THB50 to THB100 per day. However, check the brakes first as some bikes may be in less than ideal condition.

Renting a scooter, motorcycle, or car is another excellent way to explore the city, and rental shops are widely available. This option provides greater flexibility and freedom to explore Chiang Mai and its surroundings. Note that you will need to leave your passport as a security deposit, but it’s usually returned without issue when you return the vehicle.

When traveling by songtaews, which are large trucks with benches in the back, the red and white ones are suitable for trips within the city, while the yellow ones can take you to nearby Northern provinces. They are generally the cheapest way to get around, but some negotiation may be required.

Tuk-tuks are more expensive than songtaews and not always the most viable option due to their prices, noise, pollution, and safety record. However, they can be a fun experience if you’re looking for something new.

Taxis are abundant, but unlike in Bangkok, they don’t use meters, so it’s important to negotiate the fare before the ride.

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Where to stay

In recent years, accommodation prices in Chiang Mai have increased, and it is challenging to find a decent option for THB300. A more realistic figure for a budget room in a guesthouse within the walls is around THB1000. While staying within the walls of the Old City is convenient for being in the midst of the action and close to many attractions, other excellent options are available.

Consider looking for pleasant budget accommodations just east of the Old City in Thanon Tha Phae, close to the Chiang Mai Night Bazaar. Thanon Nimmanhaemin, with all its bars and restaurants, is also easily accessible from the western part of the Old City. Lodgings outside the city are perfect for city veterans or those seeking a relaxed countryside feel and are an excellent choice if you have your own vehicle.

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Activities

While in Chiang Mai, it’s a great idea to try something new to add a little excitement to your trip. Of course, you’ll likely visit plenty of temples, do some hiking, trekking, or even rock climbing. But why not mix it up? Consider enrolling in a massage class to learn the basics of traditional Thai massage, volunteering at one of the elephant camps (Elephant Nature Park is a great place to start), or watching how those beautiful Chiang Mai parasols are made. On Sunday evenings, take a stroll down Thanon Ratchadamnoen, which transforms into a bustling hub of local commerce, culture, cuisine, and people-watching.

Pro tip: Chiang Mai is renowned for its vibrant festivals. Try to plan your visit around one of them if possible. During the first weekend of February, the Flower Festival takes place, transforming the city into a magnificent blossoming garden. Songkran, which falls on April 12-14, is a wet and wild celebration, with revelers pouring water on each other (and passers-by) along the city moat. Loi Krathong, known as Yi Peng in Chiang Mai, is one of the most beautiful Thai festivals. Thousands of illuminated lanterns float through the night skies over the city, creating an unforgettable sight.

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What to expect when driving to Chiang Mai

If you’re traveling to Chiang Mai by car, there are two routes to choose from. The first and shorter option is to head to Nakhon Sawan and turn left before entering the city to take highway number 1. You’ll pass through Khamphaeng Phet, Tak, and Lampang. If you’re a pizza lover, be sure to stop at the Riverside restaurant in Lampang. However, avoid the elephant park between Lampang and Chiang Mai if you want to interact with elephants in a more ethical way. After driving a total distance of around 700 kilometers, you’ll arrive in Chiang Mai.

The second route is slightly longer but takes you through smaller roads surrounded by vast forests. Head up to Nakhon Sawan and take highway 117 to Phitsanulok, then continue on highway 11 to Lampang and Chiang Mai. In Phitsanulok, you have two additional options. Turn right towards Phetchaboon to visit the “Switzerland of Thailand,” an area with serene resorts, and see Khao Koh, a mountain where your car will slowly roll up the hill in neutral gear. Alternatively, turn left to visit the city of Sukhothai with its well-preserved 700-year-old temple ruins, and rent a bike at the park entrance to explore the historical park.

If you opt for a bus, the journey will take approximately 10 hours, while the train takes around 14 hours. Overnight travel will save you a night’s accommodation cost. Although many airlines fly to Chiang Mai, taking a car trip will offer you a beautiful journey. We recommend taking the plane for the return trip, especially if you plan to travel down south to the islands.

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The best spots for panoramic views of Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai is a city with countless attractions, and even if you stay for several months, you won’t be able to see them all. In this guide, we’ll highlight some lesser-known things to do in addition to the popular tourist activities. But first, let’s start with the must-do activities recommended by locals. It’s said that you must try three things in Chiang Mai: Khao Soi, a delicious rice noodle dish with a variety of ingredients, visit Boo Sang to see the colorful handmade umbrellas, and visit Wat Doi Suthep, a temple located on a mountain.

Wat Doi Suthep is less crowded on weekdays and offers stunning views of the golden chedi on sunny days. If you take one of the red songtaew taxis, be aware that the fare for the trip down the mountain is higher than the trip up.

Khao Soi is a noodle dish with thin yellow curry, similar to the Massaman style, and is a popular soup-like specialty. It’s mixed with crispy and boiled egg noodles and typically served with shallots, banana, lime, and pickled cabbage. Those who can’t handle spicy food should avoid the oil-fried ground chilies. Coconut milk is often used to balance the spiciness. Khao Soi can be ordered with chicken, beef, or even a vegetarian option.

Boo Sang is a village located near San Pathong, where they have been producing and painting paper umbrellas and parasols for over 200 years. Visitors can witness the fascinating production process at the umbrella factory located on the right side near the junction. Sa paper is made from the bark of the mulberry tree, and the artisans can paint beautiful designs on mobile phone covers or even on clothes. If you have a bag, t-shirt, or shorts that you want to customize, bring them with you to Boo Sang. Baan Tawai, located near Hang Dong, is similar to Boo Sang and offers a wide variety of souvenirs and wooden furniture at a lower price than the night bazaar in the city.

The Chinese-style Wororot Market is located near the Narawat Bridge over the River Ping. On Sundays, there is a big street market inside the old city from 7 p.m. until midnight. Saturdays offer the walking street market (called Thanon Khon Doen) on Wualai Road. The night bazaar is open every day in the early afternoon and closes at night. You can find various items for sale, but be prepared to negotiate prices.

Don’t expect to find original Louis-Vuitton handbags or Versace jeans. Many shops sell similar items, so don’t hesitate to ask for prices and compare them between shops. The Chinese Money Changer shop, located about 50 meters from Tha Phae road on the right side of the night bazaar street, usually offers the best exchange rates in town. If you reach the end of the night bazaar, cross the junction at Phantip Plaza and continue for another 300 meters. Behind the large hotel on the left side, you will find the 3D street art museum ‘Art in Paradise’. Bring your camera to capture the 300+ paintings on the ground, walls, and ceiling and take some memorable and humorous photos.

If you’re an animal lover looking to make a positive impact, consider visiting Care For Dogs in Chiang Mai’s Hang Dong District or the Elephant Nature Park in Mae Taeng. Although the park can be pricey, it’s worth it to see the elephants happy and free from hooks, chains, or fences. You may even have the opportunity to swim in the river with them and brush their backs with a large broom. The park offers day trips or longer-term volunteer opportunities.

For a lesser-known swimming spot, check out the Grand Canyon Chiang Mai, a hidden gem with clear, clean water. It’s typically less crowded during weekdays when the sun is shining. But be careful and avoid jumping from the walls into the water. There’s a new coffee shop at the entrance to enjoy.

If you’re able to drive a scooter or rent a car, consider taking the CM-Hang Dong-Samoeng-Mae Rim-CM loop. This roughly three-hour trip offers breathtaking viewpoints, a hidden cave to explore, and strawberry fields in Samoeng. Along the way, there are plenty of activities to enjoy, including bungee jumping, shooting ranges, ATV and buggy rentals, go-karting, paintball, and parks and restaurants near Mae Rim. You can also head up the mountain to explore Wat Doi Suthep on your own, but remember to always wear a helmet, drive carefully, and avoid drinking and driving.

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Must-try dishes in Chiang Mai: From Khao Soi to Sai Oua

Chiang Mai is a foodie’s paradise with an abundance of restaurants and eateries to choose from. Here are some of our top picks for delicious and unique dining experiences:

  • Taste from Heaven is a must-visit for vegetarians and vegans. This restaurant inside the old city offers fantastic cooking classes and delectable meat-free dishes.

  • The Dukes is a popular spot for huge portions of mouth-watering pizza and spare ribs. There are two branches – one on the other side of the river and the other at the night bazaar road.

  • For the most beautiful food presentation, head to Mix Bar and Restaurant located at the end of Nimman Hemmin Soi 1.

  • Start your day with the best breakfast in town at Smoothie Blues. This small shop located at the corner of Soi 6 serves up delicious smoothie bowls and other breakfast dishes.

  • For a unique twist on Japanese food, check out Sumo Sushi in the small soi between Nimman Hemmin Soi 11 and 13. A few meters away is the beer factory with a huge selection of imported beers and a bit further down the street to Soi 9 is a Japanese Yakiniku Grill.

  • Yummy Pizza on Canal Road is worth the trip outside the city for its delicious food and occasional live music. Plus, the owner can give you insider tips on Muay Thai boxing.

  • For a stunning dining experience, visit Khao-Mao Khao-Fang on Road 3044. This former ‘Rainforest Restaurant’ offers breathtaking views of the lake and waterfall, and a range of mouth-watering dishes.

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A Cultural Journey Through Chiang Mai’s Temples

There are numerous temples in Chiang Mai apart from Wat Doi Suthep, which is situated on the mountain. Inside the old city, there is Wat Phra Sing, and near Chiang Mai University, there is Wat U-Mong, which features caves and a large fish pond. Another lovely temple is Wat Doi Kham, located close to the night safari, which not many tourists are aware of. On a clear day, this temple provides a stunning view of the city.

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Exploring Chiang Mai’s Night Markets: A Shopper’s Paradise

Central Festival, a vast new shopping complex situated on the superhighway, is a notable landmark. In contrast, Robinson Airport Plaza is also pleasant and easily accessible. However, Maya tends to be overcrowded with pupils from the adjacent university.

If you intend to stay longer in the city, it’s better to rent a place instead of staying in hotels or guesthouses. You can find air-conditioned studios for about 100 Euros per month, but condos located inside the city or Nimman Hemmin district are significantly more expensive. Renting a house in one of the gated communities that usually provide security, pool, gym, and clubhouse, is a more economical choice as houses are cheaper to rent than apartments.

Note that the Zoo and Night Safari are imposing double entrance fees on tourists, and it’s not recommended to support such practices. Hence, it’s better to avoid such places.

Most of the city is mapped on Google Streetview, enabling you to explore some areas from your PC.

If you have the time, you might also consider visiting Chiang Rai, a city that has two exquisite temples – the white temple, Wat Rong Khun, and the black house, Baan Dam. Both are worth visiting, but it takes a four-hour car ride to reach there. If you plan to stay overnight in Chiang Rai, the Le Meridien Hotel offers a fantastic Sunday brunch.

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