Getting there and away
Chiang Mai railway station serves around a million passengers a year, making it one of the busiest stations in Thailand. The station building itself was first opened in 1922 and while it’s not the most photogenic station in the world it gets the job done. Mostly. ... Read more.
Following on from our recent train to Chiang Mai post you might want to consider the daily special express train to liven up the journey. It’s an all-sleeper train with only 1st or 2nd class air-con options. So what’s so special about the ‘special express’? For a start, it has a disco carriage and a gourmet restaurant. ... Read more.
There are 2 main bus stations in Chiang Mai: Arcade -- the main one east of the river towards the train station which tends to have the large blue air-con buses heading off for more distant destinations, though it also serves as the terminus for all stops in Mae Hong Son Province including Mae Sariang and Pai, and Chang Puak bus station serving all local destinations as indicated on the timetable. Chang Puak bus station is located a few hundred metres behind Chang Puak Gate on the north side of Chiang Mai, though practically all buses and all yellow songthaews will also stop at, the possibly more convenient, Chiang Mai Gate on the south side of Chiang Mai. (That's by the Chiang Mai Gate Market and night market so within walking distance of many downtown guesthouses.) Departure times are from Chang Puak so give them 10 minutes or so to get around the moat.
Information at Chang Puak bus station is on the following numbers and if you're lucky some English may be spoken: (053) 211 586 or (053) 223 900.
If you're intending to depart at a busy time – weekends etc – then it may be worth buying tickets beforehand but as noted there are very frequent departures for most destinations.
Yellow songthaews can be fun for short distances and can be a good way to meet the locals but they are even slower than fan buses. Minibuses are always going to be faster, whatever the schedule may say, but bear in mind that they can get pretty uncomfortable on windy mountain roads.
Anyway it all amounts to a pretty comprehensive local bus service that many Western countries would be envious of and though some of the buses may be a bit beaten up and slow you can get to just about anywhere you want to in Chiang Mai and surrounding provinces. Obviously if you wish to go somewhere so tiny and out of the way it's not even on their schedule then just look for the next town afterwards -- get on that bus and try and explain to the ticket collector where it is you want to alight. For example any bus going to Fang will stop at any point between Chiang Mai and Fang.
This goes for national parks for example which aren't listed as destinations but a Mae Chaem bus will take you right past the entrance to Doi Inthanon, an Om Koi bus past Ob Luang, Wiang Papao past Khun Jae National Park and close to Doi Luang and a Prao bus to Sri Lanna etc. You can also get seriously off the beaten track with a ride to the Burmese border at Piang Luang or the remote mountain region of Om Koi, (and note it's possible to take a local bus for six hours and still be in Chiang Mai Province), whilst some of these routes are so picturesque that it's worth going just for the ride – e.g. Doi Tao, Samoeng, Om Koi.
Finally an interesting new route to Pai is now open with the completion of a serviceable road from Chiang Mai to Wat Chan and on to Pai.
Chang Puak bus station
Ban Wat Chang (Minibus): Departs at 11.00, costs 140B and takes 6 hours.
Chiang Dao, Chai Prakan, Fang (fan): Departs every 30 minutes from 05:30 to 17:30 + 19:30, costs 40, 70, 80B and takes 1.30, 2, 3 hours.
Doi Saket (fan): Departs every 20 minutes from 06:00 to 18:00 costs 20B.
Doi Tao (fan): Departs at 04:30, 05:30, 07:30, 08:30, 10:30, 12:30, 14:30, 15:30 costs 70B, takes 3 hours.
Fang (Minibus): Departs every hour from 07:30 to 16:30, costs 120B and takes 3 hours.
Hang Dong, Sanpatong, Chom Thong (fan): Departs every 20 mins from 06:30 to 16:30, costing 14, 18, 34B and takes 30 minutes, 1, 1.30 hours.
Hot (fan): Departs every 20 minutes from 06:10 to 16:00, costs 49B and takes 2 hours.
Lamphun (fan): Departs every 10 - 20 minutes from 06:45 to 18:00, costs 20B and takes 1 hour.
Mae Ai, Tha Ton (fan): Departs 5:30, 7:20, 9:00, 10:30, 11:30, 13:30, 15:30, costs 85, 90B and takes 4 hours.
Mae Kachan, Wiang Papao (fan): Departs every 20 minutes from 06:00 to 18:00, costs 45, 50B and takes 2, 2.30 hours.
Mae On (fan): Departs from Arcade bus station, costs 30B.
Mae Taeng (fan): Departs every 10 minutes from 06:00 to 18:00, costs 20B and takes 45 minutes.
Nong Thong, Ban Kad, Long Hua (fan): Departs every 10 minutes from 06:00 to 18:00, costs 20, 26, 20B and takes 1 hour.
Om Koi (fan): Departs at 07:50, 13:30, costs 110B and takes 4 hours.
Om Koi (Minibus) : Departs at 05:30, 06:30, costs 150B and takes 4 hours.
Prao (North) (fan): Departs at 06:20, 09:50, 13:50, 15:50, costs 62B and takes 2 hours.
Prao (South) (fan): Departs at 17.00, costs 57B and takes 2 hours.
Prao (south) (air-con): Departs at 06:10, 06:40, 07:10, 08:30 then every hour to 18:10 costs 80B and takes 2 hours.
Samoeng, Ban Wat Chang (fan): Departs at 09:00, 10:25, 11:50, 13:15, 14:30, 16:00, costs 55, 80B and takes 3, 6 hours.
Sankamphaneg (fan): Departs from Worarot Market, costs 20B.
Sansai (fan): Departs every 10 minutes from 04:20 to 18:40, costs 25B and takes 1 hour.
Than Khum (fan): Departs every 10 minutes from 06:00 to 18:00, costs 32B and takes 1.30 hours.
Thung Hua Chang (Lamphun) (fan): Departs at 06:30, 11:50, costs 75B and takes 4 hours.
Wiang Haeng, Piang Luang (border) (fan): Departs at 8:30, 12:30, costs 78, 90B and takes 6 hours.
Wiang Haeng, Piang Luang (border) (Minibus): Departs at 07:30, 10:30, 13:30, 15:30, costs 150B and takes 3 hours.
There are no set times for yellow songthaew departures -- just when they are full or feel like leaving. First departure is around 05:30, last one around 16:00.
Hang Dong: 17B (Chang Puak), 15B (Chiang Mai gate)
Sanpatong: 20B (Chang Puak), 17B (Chiang Mai gate)
Mae Wang: change at Sanpatong.
Chom Thong: 35B.
Doi Inthanon: change at Chom Thong.
Mae Chaem: change at Chom Thong.
Hot: change at Chom Thong.
Doi Tao: change at Chom Thong.
Chiang Mai is now the proud owner of no less than three official bus stations: Chiang Mai Bus Stations numbers 1, 2 and 3, with 2 and 3 really adjacent terminals. Number 1 is better known as Chang Puak Bus Station and is a small site tucked away behind Chang Puak Gate. In this post we’ll concentrate on the Arcade Bus Station, which is the main station and has two terminals. ... Read more.
So you’ve got three options for getting to Chiang Mai: road, air or rail. Never liked the first one much ourselves since the busy Bangkok-Chiang Mai highway is not the most scenic part of the country and some of the drivers can give you a scary ride. Yes, it is the cheapest means and yes, it’s faster than the train, but if speed’s your priority, take a plane and if money’s an issue, the extra few baht for a train fare won’t make a huge difference. ... Read more.
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