It’s pretty easy to travel in Thailand, and you have three options for getting from Bangkok to Chiang Mai: bus, train, or flight. Everything depends on your budget and time.
Bangkok to Chiang Mai: 680 km (422 miles)
The distance from Bangkok to Chiang Mai is 680km (422 miles). It means flights from Bangkok to Chiang Mai take 1:15 hour, and buses and trains will require a full day or overnight travel, about 12 hours. Flights usually are more expensive and buses and trains are the most economical option. I personally prefer train, because it’s a more memorable experience, you can see the way and is far more environmental friendly.
What is the best way to get from Bangkok to Chiang Mai?
You can take a overnight sleeper train, because is far more environmentally friendly, scenic, interesting, more “Thai experience”, and saves you a hotel bill, too. Trains are certainly the best option for enjoying scenery of the Thailand countryside.
It takes about 13 hours to arrive, just bit more than buses. You can choose upper bunk (cheaper) or lower bunk (expensive), but keep in mind the upper bunk in not recommended for tall people. Both have curtains for you privacy, fresh bed sheets, pillows and blankets.
Trains have dinner and breakfast service (inflated prices, but you can bring yours), toilets, air con and space to keep your luggage with you. It’s not allowed drink alcohol inside the train and Thai police cops walk the wagon frequently.
Trains arrive at the Chiang Mai Railway Station on Charoen Mueang, few minutes by redtruck to the Old Town. They can drop you at Tha Phae Gate (about 50 baht) or at you hotel (negotiable).
You can buy at the Hua Lampong train station or Samsem train station, the nearest station from The Yard Hostel. Bring your passport! Try to book your train ticket a few days in advance for the most choice. If you wait until the day before, you may not get the car class you prefer.
The second option is book with us at The Yard Hostel. We charge 100 baht (go to train station, queuing, purchasing in advance and delivery it to you) and if you miss the train, you get a free Chang.
You can buy the e-tickets at either www.railway.co.th or www.thairailwayticket.com .You can purchase tickets up 60 days in advance and no less than two hours before the train is scheduled to leave. And you can use credit cards (Visa, MasterCard, JCB).
Buses from Bangkok to Chiang Mai leave from the Mo Chit Northeast Bus Terminal for a 10 hours travel. Usually a night bus. Buses will arrive at the Arcade Bus Station in Chiang Mai and you have to take a redtruck to the Old Town or to your hotel.
These buses are used more often by locals rather than tourists and the treatment is better with free water and snacks. Some even have movies with English subtitles. My best advice is keep a jacket with you, because buses in Thailand get to much cold. Sometimes they provide blanks, but we never know when.
You have to go to Mo Chit Northern Bus Terminal. Bring your passport. Take a BTS skaytrain to Mo Chit station, then a taxi. Or a Taxi from The Yard Hostel, because Mo Chit Bus Terminal is not near to Mo Chit BTS Skytrain station.
You also can book with us at The Yard Hostel Bangkok. We charge 100 baht (go to bus terminal, queuing, purchasing in advance and delivery it to you) and if you miss the train, you get a free Chang. Prices starts from 699 baht, included our service fee.
Perhaps the most comfortable and easy way to go from Bangkok to Chiang Mai. It will take you 1:15 hour by flight, plus time to get the airport in Bangkok (1h from The Yard Hostel) and stay at the airport before your booked flight (1h). In the end you will spend at least 3:30 hours. Fair enough!
There are lots of competition, so prices can be really good if you book in advance, something about US$25. Budget carriers (NOK Air, Thai Air Asia) operate domestic flights from Don Muang Airport.
Most companies charge to checkin luggage, so be aware the size and weight of your bag or book in advance to get a better deal. But prices increase during Chiang Mai’s two largest events: Songkran (Thai New Year) and Yi Peng (the lantern festival).
The Chiang Mai airport is about 30 minutes from the Old Town. You can take redtruck, taxi or Uber from there.
If you come back to Bangkok, you can leave your luggage at The Yard Hostel Bangkok for free.