Jul 13 2011

How to get from Bangkok to Chiang Mai

Published by at 12:19 pm under Transport

One of the most common Thailand double-headers seems to be a stop in Bangkok and a visit to Chiang Mai. If you are heading to the north, you’ll run into the question of how best to make the journey from the capital. The roughly 600 km trip is pretty painless no matter how you break it down — deciding which way to do it is really just a matter of how much money and time you are ready to spend.

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By Plane

Flying between the two cities is obviously the fastest choice, but also naturally the most expensive. The flight takes only about an hour, and even with the added in time of airport finagling and additional transport it should take only three to four hours at the most. A few budget airlines travel multiple times a day between Bangkok and Chiang Mai. Start your ticket hunt with AirAsia, Nok Air and Bangkok Airways. One-way tickets are usually 1,500 to 2,000 baht, but if you can do any planning ahead scour the sites for discount tickets. AirAsia in particular often has cheap seats for as low as 600 baht if you are able to plan a few months in advance.

By bus

After planes, buses are the next speediest route up north. The trick to bus travel seems to be taking the overnight bus, which makes the trip in nine hours. The same route during the daytime can take up to 12, due to traffic. I would not advise taking buses from the Khao San area as those are often overpriced or a bit of a scam. The most reliable buses to Chiang Mai’s Arcade Bus Terminal leave from Bangkok’s northern & northeastern bus terminal, more commonly known as Mo Chit.

Two good bus companies to look for are Sombat Tour and Chayasit. The easiest thing to do is buy tickets at Mo Chit station. Buying ahead of time is not necessary but does guarantee you the bus you want. Buses leave at least every hour and tickets generally cost about 600 or 700 baht depending on the company and whether or not you splurge for VIP seats. Mo Chit bus terminal is a short way from Mo Chit BTS station. From the BTS station you can catch city bus 3 or hop in a taxi to get you the rest of the way.

The light at the end of the commute.

By train

The train’s biggest selling point is getting to take in the beautiful country scenery. The train departs from Bangkok’s Hualamphong Station and arrives at Chiang Mai’s train station 11 to 15 hours later. Currently, seven trains a day ply the route from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, with the first departing at 08:30 and arriving the same day at  20:30, and the last departing at 22:00 and arriving the next day at 12:45. Seats cost 270 to 620 baht, while sleepers go for 880 to 1,460 baht. Sleepers tend to sell out extremely quickly, so if you are last-minute planning it’s likely you will be upright for the entire trip.  The State Railway of Thailand has a mildly English-friendly site where you can look into things, and a free hotline, 1690, to call for information and bookings. And do check out the Bogie Gourmet Express!

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8 Responses to “How to get from Bangkok to Chiang Mai” ...

  1. […] How to get between Chiang Mai and Bangkok […]

  2. Southeast Asia with Kids – Where To Goon 01 Oct 2011 at 10:45 am

    […] How To Get Between Chiang Mai and Bangkok […]

  3. Justinon 20 Sep 2012 at 11:31 am

    Thanks for this info. Fantastic Write-up, with the exact info I needed!

  4. jeffreyon 11 Mar 2013 at 8:28 am

    Today I bought a ticket from chayasit ticket booth in bangkok north bus station mo chit , and they told me the 2.30pm bus is from sri tawong bus company, arriving in chiang mai before midnight. This is very well possible if they stop only once to eat, but the bus left late 45 minutes, without giving any reason when asked. If chayasit relies on another company to sell tickets at this time, it should be thrustworthy as well. I would avoid chayasit as well as sri tawong in the future.
    But confirm Sombat tour also mentioned in this article has always been very good. Other correct companies are Nakhonchai Air and Indra tour. Chaan tour has always been ok for the northeast, and saw they have buses to chiang mai as well.

  5. Stefnaon 12 Nov 2013 at 5:43 am

    You rock travelfish!!!

  6. Stefanon 19 Jun 2014 at 5:52 am

    Thanks for the info, it quite helped when I was recently planning my trip to CM. I figured flying is the best value for money option. I got a promo fare from Air Asia for just 1,050 Baht! The flight took 1 hour compared to 10 hours by bus or train. And that’s just like 300-400 Baht more expensive.

  7. Jocelyn Kon 23 Jul 2014 at 8:40 pm

    As someone who has never travelled to Thailand I just have a question about my confusion w/ Mo Chit and Mo Chit BTS station. This article is straight forward and really helpful I’m just unsure of what you mean when you say:

    “Mo Chit bus terminal is a short way from Mo Chit BTS station. From the BTS station you can catch city bus 3 or hop in a taxi to get you the rest of the way.”

    The rest of the way where? Does my bus to CM not depart from Mo Chit? In what situation would I go to Mo Chit BTS?

    Sorry for the stupid questions. Thanks

  8. adminon 24 Jul 2014 at 2:45 am

    Hi Jocelyn,

    The bus #3 or taxi for the rest of the way refers to getting from Morchit BTS to Morchit bus station — they are still quite a way apart. Once you get there then you get your bus to Chiang Mai.