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How to get to Chiang Mai by train, bus and plane

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Chiang Mai

Joanna Horanin

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Last updated at 25/07/2024, 10:30

Hi, I'm Joanna, the author of The Blond Travels. In the worlds of Thailand and Portugal, I feel like a fish in water - and it's no coincidence! I've been exploring Thailand for over a decade, and I've settled in Portugal for 6 years now. My mission is to support Dreamers - just like you - in discovering these fascinating countries and helping those in love with them find their own place on Earth, preferably for good! Let's uncover these unique corners of the world together.

Chiang Mai is one of the biggest cities in Thailand. It’s very popular among tourists and expats. Find out how to get to Chiang May by land and air.

I find Chiang Mai to be a great destination to travel to in Thailand. It really has everything what one might want: modern malls and shops, traditional restaurants, markets, great food and easy access to nature and the mountains. If you’re travelling to the north of Thailand soon, read on and find out more about how to get to Chiang Mai.

Chiang Mai is not as big as Bangkok, therefore, travelling there is a bit more limited. However, there are a lot of ways of reach the city in an easy way.

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    Getting to Chiang Mai by plane

    Chiang Mai has a small airport, which offers international and domestic flights. It is very conveniently located, very close to the city centre.

    When you arrive and leave the arrival hall, you will be offered rides to the town by many companies. The best way is to ignore the ‘limousine service’. From the arrival hall, go left, to the stand on the left side, near the exit door. They have normal taxis. You will have to tell them where you want to go and they will give you a number and direct you to a meeting point outside. It’s a bit chaotic there, but don’t worry, a driver will find you.

    It’s not possible to call a Grab from the terminal. You need to leave the airport and go on the street, which might be tough, considering the sun and high temperatures and that you will need to walk quite far.

    The ride to your hotel will cost depending on where it is, but to get to the city centre costs around 160-200 Baht.

    Check the location of the airport here.

    The most popular domestic connections are:

    • Flights from Bangkok to Chiang Mai – the most popular are the cheap airlines AirAsia and Nok Air
    • Flights from Surat Thani – for those travelling from the South
    • Flights from Krabi – this flight might be best for those travelling from places like Railay Beach
    • Flights from Nakhon Si Thammarat – this is a less known connection, but it might be great for people travelling from the South

    International connections:

    • Flights to Vientiane, Laos
    • Flights to Hanoi, Vietnam
    • Flights from Taipei, Taiwan
    • Flights from Seoul, South Korea
    • Flights from Singapore
    • Flights from Shanghai

    Most of these flights are operated by AirAsia.

    You can also check the flights with Skyscanner.

    Getting to Chiang Mai by bus

    When you arrive in Chiang Mai you might end up in two locations – one is the main bus station. You will be approached by tuk-tuk drivers. A ride to town will cost you about 100 Baht. If it’s not late at night, you can try to catch a red truck, parked outside the entrance to the terminal, or call Grab.

    The second location is a petrol station at the highway. Mostly night buses stop here, arriving around 5-6 am. Here the only option will be to catch a red truck. There are usually a few more people that will take it with you, so it shouldn’t cost more than 50 Baht per person. (This price might change).

    You can get to Chiang Mai from many destinations in and around Thailand. Here are some of the best ones:

    Getting to Chiang Mai by train

    The train station in Chiang Mai is small and cute. It’s worth taking some time to look around. The platforms are very old-school.

    Travel like a local using trains and buses! With 12Go you can now easily book tickets for rides through Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, or Singapore. Buy bus or train tickets

    Here you will also be approached by taxi drivers when you arrive. You can take a ride in a tuk-tuk or a red cab. The station is not far from the city, but the prices are usually higher than normal.
    Grab can collect you from the station as well.

    There are a few trains that arrive to Chiang Mai and the most popular is the connection between Bangkok and Chiang Mai. Tourists usually take the sleeper train, which is an adventure and I highly recommend it.

    As you can see, it’s quite easy to reach the Rose of the North. Don’t stress too much before your travels. Thailand has a very good transportation system. It’s very straightforward to find the best way to get to Chiang Mai and other destinations in the Land of Smiles.
    Remember that if you have any questions, leave a comment.