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Getting there and away


For those really traveling in style, Kan Air now has direct flights from Chiang Mai to Nan and back every Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday. Prices are currently sitting at 1,890 Baht, and while the price might make a few cringe, those with less time and a bigger budget will appreciate the convenience of the 45 minute travel-time, and the views of the mountains offered from the small 12-seater Kan Air planes would likely be worth the price.

Flights operated by Nok Mini depart from Bangkok's Don Mueang Airport headed to Nan 3 times a day, and flights run in the opposite direction with the same frequency. Flight time is about 95 minutes, and costs vary widely, ranging from as low as 1,800 Baht to above 3,000.

Schedules and prices can vary month to month (and in the BKK-Nan route's case flight to flight), so best to check kanairlines.com and nokair.com for up-to-date information. Kan Air has a desk in the Chiang Mai International Airport where you can book and pay for your tickets in person, as does Nok Air.


    The nearest train station is in Den Chai, which is about 2.5 hours from Nan city. Buses run every couple of hours to Den Chai from Nan, and even more regularly in the opposite direction. We were quoted 140 Baht for a seat in a van, though you may be able to sniff out a local bus heading that direction and pay less.

    If for any reason you get stuck without a ride to Den Chai, you can always take a bus to Phrae, which are frequent, then take a songtaew from there, which leave quite frequently from the southern end of town and cost 55 Baht.


      Despite its out-of-the-way location, the city of Nan is actually quite accessible. Buses run quite regularly between Nan and Bangkok, with multiple different companies offering several evening and early morning departures. Costs vary depending on which company and class you want to travel, but the most common fare going in either direction is around 540 baht. Anyone who has done the trip between Bangkok and Chiang Mai will find this trip to be similarly tolerable, and usually a bit shorter on travel time, at just about 10 hours.

      To get to Nan from Chiang Mai, the best option, and now perhaps only option, is Green Bus, who runs the 6 hour route several times a day: buses depart Chiang Mai Arcade Bus Terminal (the newer terminal out back) at 7:15, 9:00, 10:00, 11:30, 14:30, 15:30, 18:00, and 22:30. The 7:15 and 11:30 routes are 2nd class buses and cost 225 Baht, while all the others are 1st class for 290 Baht, with a few VIP rows that cost 451.

      Some buses follow the highway southwest through Lampang and Phrae before heading up to Nan, and some make the drive to Phayao before weaving through the mountains in to Nan. The later is probably the more scenic option, though both are pleasant. Headed in the opposite direction, buses depart Nan's bus station bound for Chiang Mai at 8:00, 8:30, 10:45, 12:30, 15:00, 17:00, and 22:30. The 8:00 and 12:30 buses are the 2nd class options, and all prices are the same as they are coming from Chiang Mai.

      Only a few other locations are served by the Nan bus station, with one bus a day going to Chiang Rai (9:00, 164 Baht) and one going to Phayao (7:30, 134 Baht), with each trip taking roughly 5-6 hours.

      Those hoping to head to Mae Sai will have to catch the bus to Chiang Rai and go from there, and anyone looking to go south to Phrae can hop on any of the Bangkok or Chiang Mai bound buses, almost all of which stop in Phrae on the way to their final destination.

      Buses to Den Chai can be found for 140 Baht, taking about 2.5 hours. Those hoping to head to Isaan can take the 11 hour ride to Nakon Sawan for 414 Baht, or head to Phitsanulok via one of the Bangkok buses and move on from there.

      Note: For whatever reason, buses seem to fill up quickly in Nan. Be sure to book your tickets a day or two in advance if possible to be sure you don't get stuck without a bus to ride on.

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