Bangkok, Thailand’s bustling capital, is often the first stop for travelers exploring the country. With its modern amenities, historical landmarks, and lively street life, it’s a city that offers a bit of everything. However, a few hours to the north lies Chiang Mai, a city known for its relaxed atmosphere, ancient temples, and beautiful mountainous surroundings.
If you’re planning to make the journey from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, there are several travel options available, each offering a different experience. In this guide, we’ll explore the most popular routes and modes of transportation to help you decide the best way to reach Chiang Mai from Bangkok (and vice versa). Whether you’re contemplating a scenic train ride, a swift flight, a budget-friendly bus, or the independence of a taxi, we’ve got the latest info on navigating between these two remarkable Thai cities.
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Flights From Bangkok to Chiang Mai
The easiest and fastest (1h 15min) way to get from Bangkok to Chiang Mai is to catch a flight.
There are several airlines that fly direct between Bangkok and Chiang Mai, including Air Asia, Nok Air, Thai Vietjet, Thai Lion Air, Thai Airways, Thai Smile, and Bangkok Airways.
Prices vary depending on the time of day that you would like to fly, the season, and any special offers, but in general Air Asia and Nok Air tend to be the best value for money, with flights starting from just $25 (though there is a $12-$15 charge for the first 20kg of checked-in luggage).
Air Asia Flight Between Chiang Mai and Bangkok
Bangkok Airways is also worth a mention. Although it is a little more expensive (from $34), checked luggage up to 20kg is free, and the company is very well reviewed.Check Flights
Trains from Bangkok to Chiang Mai
If you’d prefer to go by land, Thai Railways runs a good service between Bangkok (Hua Lamphong) and Chiang Mai.
Although the journey can take 11+ hours, don’t immediately disregard the idea – There is some absolutely fantastic scenery along the way, and you can travel overnight in an inexpensive sleeper berth, saving you your precious daytime and the cost of a hotel room for the night.
Third class tickets are the cheapest, but we don’t recommend for you to travel this way – the wooden benches are very uncomfortable, and the carriages can get very busy and stuffy.
Second class can cost about the same as a flight ($30), especially if you book in advance. The carriages come with air-conditioning, complimentary snacks, and a steward to make sure you are OK and keep the carriage clean.
Train Between Bangkok and Chiang Mai – Second Class Sleeper
The seats in the second class sleeper are lower and upper berths, with two facing each other on the opposite sides of the train. The lower berth, which is the window seat, is the main sitting area. This is converted into a sleeper berth at night times (the staff will start the conversion at around 8.00pm).
A curtain is installed at every berth for privacy, and there is a plug socket for charging your phone or laptop. The air-con tends to be left on all night, so consider wearing something that will keep you warm, like long-sleeved shirts, trousers, and socks.
There is just one shared washroom / bathroom, but although it is quite basic, it is clean and well-kept. For free Wi-Fi, head over to the diner – a communal area where you can buy snacks, food, and drinks.
First class is more private and comfortable. Each room holds a maximum of two people, and there are 12 rooms in total.
Facilities include free Wi-Fi, a plug socket, a washbasin, a bench seat that converts into two beds (lower and upper berth), a mirror, and a 14 inch personal LCD touch screen. The touch screen displays the route and satellite information (in English), is a multimedia entertainment system, and allows you to order food directly to your room. The toilet is shared amongst first class passengers, with the added bonus of hot water showers.
First class tickets are more expensive at around $60.
Train Between Chiang Mai and Bangkok – First Class Sleeper
There are 5 direct trains between Bangkok and Chiang Mai per day:
Bangkok to Chiang Mai
- The fastest train is #7, which departs Bangkok Hua Lamphong at 08:30 and takes 11 hours to get to Chiang Mai Railway Station.
- The best overnight train is #9, which departs Bangkok Hua Lamphong at 18:10 and takes 13 hours and 5 minutes to get to Chiang Mai Railway Station.
The train timetable is as follows:
Chiang Mai to Bangkok
- The fastest train is #8, which departs Chiang Mai Railway Station at 08:30 and takes 10 hours and 35 minutes to get to Bangkok Hua Lamphong.
- The best overnight train is #10, which departs Chiang Mai Railway Station at 18:00, and takes 12 hours and 50 minutes to get to Bangkok Hua Lamphong.
The train timetable is as follows:
Please try to get to the train station about 30 minutes before departure. This should give you enough time to find the correct platform.
Bangkok Railway Station
Bangkok’s main train station, Hua Lamphong, is located in Bangkok’s China Town – not far from the Chao Phraya river (see map).
You can take a taxi or a tuk-tuk directly to the station, and it is also easily accessible by public transport – Right next to the station is an MRT (Metro) stop, which goes through the city (via the Silom and Sukhumvit roads) to Bang Sue railway station in the north. Alternatively, you can walk down to the Chao Phraya river and catch a Chao Phraya Express Boat. This will take you to walking distance from Hua Lamphong.
Chiang Mai Railway Station
Chiang Mai’s main train station is about 3.7 km from Chiang Mai’s Old Town (see map). It is too far to walk, but you can easily find a tuk-tuk ($3.50) or a shared taxi ($1.25 / person) outside.
Buses from Bangkok to Chiang Mai
If you’re on a tighter budget, then a direct bus from Bangkok to Chiang Mai is your best option. Pricing starts from just $18, and although the journey will take approximately 10 hours in total, the scenery along the way is superb.
Several bus companies run between Bangkok and Chiang Mai, including Bangkok Bus Line, Lignite Tour PK, Budsarakham Tour, Nakhonchai, Tara Tour, and Sombat Tour.
Bangkok Bus Line Between Bangkok and Chiang Mai
Most buses depart from the Northern Bus Terminal in Bangkok (Mo Chit 2) and arrive at Chiang Mai Bus Terminal 2 (Arcade). However, Tara Tour and Sombat Tour have their own departure locations.
Note: There are two bus terminals in Chiang Mai – one new and one old – but both are right next to each other. In general, the ‘more luxurious’ companies use the new terminal, while the more ‘local’ (and slower) services still use the old terminal.
There is the option of taking a standard or a VIP bus. Standard buses are slightly cheaper, but are also less comfortable – VIP buses come with air-conditioning, wider aisles, complimentary snacks, on-board rest rooms, and a neck rest and blanket. It is probably worth investing the extra $4 for these amenities.
Most buses heading to Chiang Mai depart in the evening, arriving early the next morning. Similarly, the majority of services from Chiang Mai to Bangkok are also night buses.
To give you an idea of bus times:
Bangkok Bus Line
Bangkok to Chiang Mai: 06:00, 06:30, 15:00, 16:00, 18:50, 20:00, 20:20, 20:30, and 20:35.
Chiang Mai to Bangkok: 10:00, 18:35, 19:15, and 20:00.
Bangkok to Chiang Mai: 10:15, 19:00, and 21:10.
Chiang Mai to Bangkok: 07:30, 10:00, 18:30, 19:00, 19:45, 20:30, 21:00, 21:30, 21:50.
Bangkok to Chiang Mai: 08:30, 16:00, and 19:00.
Chiang Mai to Bangkok: 08:00.
Night departures are most popular, as they save you valuable day time and the price of a hotel.
Taxis From Bangkok to Chiang Mai
If you’re looking for a bit of comfort during your trip, then consider taking a private taxi. The journey will take approximately 9 hours and there is some absolutely stunning scenery along the way.
On average, a private taxi from Bangkok to Chiang Mai will cost in the region of $275 (that’s usually the quote from one of Bangkok’s airports to Chiang Mai). You’ll have the option of stopping for toilet breaks, coffees, and even sightseeing if you wish.
The better services offer nice comfortable cars (e.g. a Lexus 4 x 4) and the drivers will pick you up from your hotel, the airport, or any other location convenient for you, dropping you off directly at your hotel in Chiang Mai.Book a Taxi Now
Q: How do you travel from Bangkok to Chiang Mai?
A: If you want to travel from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, you can either take a flight, a train, a bus, or a private taxi. Most people prefer to fly, as the journey is just 1h 15min long and not too expensive (prices start from $25). However, if you’d prefer to go by land, and enjoy the beautiful scenery while saving some money, a direct bus from Bangkok to Chiang Mai is your best option.
Q: How much is train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai?
A: The train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai costs $30 for a second class ticket and takes 11-14 hours depending on which service you choose. The carriages come with air-conditioning, complimentary snacks, and a steward to make sure you are OK and keep the carriage clean.
Q: Is Chiang Mai worth visiting?
A: Yes – Chiang Mai is definitely worth visiting if you get the chance. It is an ancient city with a modern twist, offering a completely different experience to Bangkok. With more than 500 temples, stunning scenery, hundreds of outdoor activities, and a laid-back way of life, Chiang Mai has something to suit all tastes.
Q: How far is Chiang Mai from Bangkok?
A: Chiang Mai is approximately 700 km (435 mi) from Bangkok. By road or rail it can be a long journey, with buses taking 10 hours and trains 11-14 hours depending on which service you choose. Both services however, offer overnight journeys, saving you your precious daytime and the cost of a hotel room for the night.
Q: How many days do you need in Chiang Mai?
A: Four days is a good amount of time to spend in Chiang Mai – You can visit all of the main sights and do all of the popular activities without feeling like you’ve stayed too long. A possible itinerary could go something like:
Day 1: Visit the Elephant Camp and the Night Market.
Day 2: In the morning see Alms and the Old Town Temples. In the afternoon visit Tiger Kingdom. At night-time go to Freedom Rasta Bar.
Day 3: Visit the Golden Triangle, stopping at the White Temple and the authentic Long Neck Village.
Day 4: In the morning go to the Doi Suthep Temple and the surrounding stops. In the afternoon see Monk Chat and stop at your choice of Greater Chiang Mai Attractions.
Q: Is Chiang Mai cooler than Bangkok?
A: Chiang Mai is generally cooler than Bangkok, with its northern latitude and higher elevation. This is especially noticeable during the off-peak season, when you’ll probably want a lightweight jacket or a sweater. Night times in particular are much chillier during the cool season, which can be a bit of a shock for people arriving from Bangkok. During the peak season however, the temperature can reach 40°C and won’t drop below 25°C.
Q: Is Chiang Mai expensive?
A: Like most of Thailand, Chiang Mai can be as cheap or as expensive as you make it. If you’re on a tighter budget, stay in the Old City and try to stick to local markets, avoiding fancy restaurants and expensive night clubs.
Q: Is Chiang Mai cheaper than Bangkok?
A: In general, Chiang Mai is cheaper than Bangkok in terms of living expenses and travel costs, but this depends a lot on where you choose to stay and what you choose to do. For example, there are plenty of cheaper things to enjoy in Bangkok, but if you go to the water parks, sea life centres, and other modern tourist attractions, you’re likely to rack up the costs.
Q: How much is a meal in Chiang Mai?
A: The average cost of food in Chiang Mai is about $9 / day, but this depends a lot on where you choose to eat. When dining out, an average meal in Chiang Mai costs roughly $4 per person, with breakfast being cheaper than lunch or dinner.
Q: Is Chiang Mai walkable?
A: Chiang Mai is a very walkable city – although it is quite big, the main places that you’d want to visit are in close proximity to each other, with nice quiet roads and sidewalks.
Q: Is Chiang Mai better than Phuket?
A: Chiang Mai and Phuket are very different – Phuket has a great beach-party vibe, while Chiang Mai is more for trekking, visiting hill tribes, and seeing temples.
Q: Does Chiang Mai have a red light district?
A: Chiang Mai has a red-light district, but it is relatively small in comparison to Bangkok’s, Pattaya’s, and other such places. The red-light zone in Chiang Mai is located on Loi Kroh road, which stretches for over a kilometre between the Old City moat and the Ping River. There are two central girlie bar zones on this street.
Q: How do you travel from Chiang Mai to Bangkok?
A: If you want to travel from Chiang Mai to Bangkok, you can either take a flight, a train, a bus, or a private taxi. Most people prefer to fly, as the journey is just 1h 15min long and not too expensive (prices start from $25). However, if you’d prefer to go by land, and enjoy the beautiful scenery while saving some money, a direct bus from Bangkok to Chiang Mai is your best option.
Q: Should I visit Bangkok or Chiang Mai?
A: If you have to choose between visiting Bangkok or Chiang Mai, then it really depends on what it is that you’re looking for. Chiang Mai is much more relaxed, is easier to get around, and has lots of great temples, outdoor activities, and night markets. Bangkok, on the other hand, is much more modern, with a great night life, lots of attractions like water parks and sea life centres, and a fantastic selection of restaurants and bars.
If you have any other questions, feel free to contact us and we will reply ASAP.