Chiang Mai is one of Thailand’s most famous cities. Nestled in a beautiful valley in northern Thailand, Chiang Mai is famous for Doi Suthep – an enormous temple on the top of a mountain, the daily Night Bazaar, elephant camps, raft rides, hill tribes and more. Chiang Mai is not only a place that most tourists head to when they come to Thailand though; it’s also popular with Thais, who love to travel to Chiang Mai for a long weekend. But, Chiang Mai is 430 miles (700 kilometers) from Bangkok, so how do you get there?
There are actually several ways to get to Chiang Mai from Bangkok, but these are the ways I think are the best.
Flying from Bangkok to Chiang Mai – The easiest and fastest way to get to Chiang Mai from Bangkok is to fly. I always fly from Bangkok to Chiang Mai. It’s simple to do, it’s cheap and it takes just over an hour. Air Asia and Bangkok Airways fly to Chiang Mai from Bangkok and both airlines have eight or nine flights a day, every day. I usually take a late morning flight, which gets me into Chiang Mai by lunchtime.
The average price on Air Asia for a round-trip airfare from Bangkok to Chiang Mai is usually between $90 and $170, unless you fly during Christmas, when it could cost $250. Bangkok Airways charges around the same. Thai Airways also flies to Chiang Mai, but at more than two and half times the cost of Air Asia or Bangkok Airways, (around $300 to $500 round trip), it’s not worth taking Thai Airways.
You can book on either Air Asia or Bangkok Airways from Bangkok to Chiang Mai on the airlines’ web pages on the internet.
Taking the Train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai – The most relaxing way to get to Chiang Mai from Bangkok is by train. You can leave Bangkok from Hua Lamphong railway station in the late evening, sleep on the train in a sleeper compartment overnight, and arrive in Chiang Mai the following morning (journey takes about 12-15 hours).
The cost of an average ticket to Chiang Mai from Bangkok, roundtrip, on the normal train is around $27. These trains, also leave about fifteen times a day, so, if you don’t want to do the overnight train, there are other options.
There is also a ‘Sprinter Train’ available for the same cost, which is a much faster ride, as it stops at fewer stations, so only takes 10 hours. However, on this one, you cannot sleep, so you’re sitting up straight the entire journey.
Taking the Bus from Bangkok to Chiang Mai – Another cheap way to get to Chiang Mai from Bangkok is to take the bus. You can catch the bus at the Mo Chit bus station (the northern bus station) and, again, they leave several times a day.
The bus from Bangkok to Chiang Mai takes about 10 hours, at a cost of around $18 round-trip. Again though, you are sitting up straight for the entire journey so, if you want more comfort and a safer ride (Thai bus drivers drive fast and are quite unsafe, with many bus accidents every year), take the train.
Driving from Bangkok to Chiang Mai – Most of Thailand’s roads are good, so you can drive from Bangkok to Chiang Mai. Depending on your speed, it should take you between 9 and 10 hours. However, this is one of the most expensive options as gas is not cheap and, if you rent a car, you have the rental cost on top to consider. You should also consider the higher chances of getting into a car accident, as Thai drivers are not known for safe maneuvers.