Getting from Bangkok to Chiang Mai

by Guest

Bangkok to Chiang Mai

Bangkok and Chiang Mai are two very different cities. While Bangkok is a huge metropolis of over 15 million people, a 24 hour city of neon lights, buzzy restaurants, lively night clubs and sky trains that pass towering skyscrapers and luxury residential condos, Chiang Mai is remarkable different. Feeling much more rural, Chiang Mai is quiet and serene. The old town is surrounded by the moat and old city walls that date back to the 12th century. It’s got some excellent local produce markets and great restaurants serving Northern Thai cuisine. And the surrounding hills and gushing streams provide a playground for hiking and rafting opportunities. It’s not surprising that tourists like to include both cities of their travels, but how do you get between the two? The distance is just under 700 miles and can be done either by train, bus, flight, or rental car. You can also ready about our transport guides from Bangkok to Pattaya and Bangkok to Koh Samui .

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Pagoda in Chiang Mai

Travel between Bangkok and Chiang Mai by train

Trains are always one of the best ways to travel. An excellent way to meet other travellers and interact with locals, there is something lovely about passing the landscape of a country on this old form of transport. There are several trains that depart the capital for Chiang Mai every day. If you prefer to look at over the landscape and you have plenty of time, consider taking the day train which costs around US $18 for a one way ticket. Most travellers opt for the overnight train to save a nights’ accommodation as well as time, hence why the tickets are a little more expensive at US $25 one way. Depending on the train you get, the journey takes around 12 hours and becomes increasingly more beautiful the closer you get to Chiang Mai. If you are travelling overnight, you can watch the sunrise from the carriage. The beds line both sides of the train’s car. They are wide and comfortable enough. When you get on, they are dismantled to allow guests to travel, and then one of the train’s staff when come round to make them into beds with sheets. There is a reading light, a pocket for your things and a curtain to provide privacy. On board, the you can buy some surprisingly good food which they will deliver to your bed. You can check times and book your ticket at Railway Thailand . Try to book your tickets at least a few days in advance, particularly in high season on if the date of travel falls on a public holiday as they get reserved fast.

Travel between Bangkok and Chiang Mai by bus

Travelling by bus is the cheapest, but the dullest way to get between the two cities. Though buses are excellent for short journeys, trying to get to sleep is nigh on impossible. Most of the buses depart from the backpacker area around Khao San Road. They depart several times a day, so it’s up to you whether to take daytime bus or save a nights’ accommodation and brave the overnight journey. It’s easy enough to book a ticket through the travel agents on Khao San Road or from the hotel tour desk. Before you depart, one of the bus companies staff will collect you from your hotel, so be sure to be ready at least 10 minutes earlier. Make sure you secure your things properly and lock up your bag, as things have known to go missing. The cost starts around US $15 one way. For a more comfortable alternative, consider paying a little more for a deluxe coach between Bangkok to Chiang Mai. The bus leaves from Mo Chit Bus Terminal in the north of the capital, easily reached on board the BTS Skytrain. Other than the more comfortable seats, you’ll receive food, drinks and there may even be some entertainment like a movie. The extra cost is well worth it. Book your tickets through any of the local travel agencies, your hotel or at the bus station directly. Either way, the buses take around 10 to 11 hours to reach Chiang Mai bus station from which point you’ll have to catch a taxi to your hotel.

Travel between Bangkok and Chiang Mai by rental car

If you are travelling in a group, you may want to consider hiring a car. All the major international rental firms like Hertz, Budget and Sixty can be found in Bangkok. The advantage of a car is it allows you to take the journey at your own pace, stopping en route at the little towns and villages en route, or taking at more scenic road than the main motorway. Depending on the traffic conditions in getting out of Bangkok, it’s possible to do the journey in under 10 hours, but we would recommend stopping along the way. Rental cars in Thailand start around US $20 per day and petrol costs around US $1 per litre. You will need to provide the rental firm with a copy of your passport, International Driving License (easily applied for back in your home country), and a deposit of up to US $1500 on your credit card. Be warned that the traffic conditions in Bangkok can be terrible and the driving standards in Thailand are far below that of the west. If you decide to drive, take it easy and try to avoid driving in the dark. You will need to bring the car back to the same rental office in Bangkok if you don’t want to incur a one way fee. Before you drive the car off the lot, check the condition of the car and make sure any damage is clearly noted on the paperwork.

Travel between Bangkok and Chiang Mai by flight

The quickest way to travel the 700 miles or so between Bangkok and Chaing Mai is by flight. There are a staggering 48 daily flights between the two cities, departing all day from 6 a.m. through to 10 p.m. The route is served by Thai Airways, Bangkok Airways, Nok Air, Thai Air Asia, Thai Smile, Thai Vietjet, and Thai Lion Mentari. Competition is fierce and the prices can be rock bottom. In normal circumstances, bank of a one way flight from Bangkok to Chiang Mai costing around US $40. There are two airports in Bangkok – the old domestic airport Don Mueang and the shiny (relatively) new Suvarnabhumi Airport. Flights depart to Chiang Mai from both, and they are around an hour from each other, so be sure to check which yours leaves from. When you reach Chiang Mai, you will need to get one of the fixed price taxis which sot around $7 for the 20 minute journey into town.

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