Chiang Mai Transportation
Chiang Mai is the major city of the North and as such is serviced by several airlines, buses, and the train. There is transport into and out of Chiang Mai to suit every budget. Travel around Chiang Mai and the North is also quite easy, many people rent motorbikes or cars but there are also buses to most destinations.
Getting there and away
There are many ways to get to Chiang Mai, with direct internalflights from Bangkok, Samui, Phuket and international destinations such as Singapore, Luang Prabang, China and South Korea. Many airlines serve Chiang Mai including Thai, Bangkok Air, Air Asia, Nok Air, Silk Air, One Two Go and several others. For those who want to try a slower and more relaxed method of travel, the overnight train takes about 12 hours and winds its way through some spectacular scenery before the night falls. Alternatively, take the day train and see the countryside.
The overnight bus is another budget method of travelling but be sure to buy your tickets at the Northern Terminal Bus Station in Bangkok (Mochit). The Chiang Mai long distance bus station is called the Arcade Bus Station and is just before the ring road. The overnight bus takes about’ 9 hours and there are several classes, the most comfortable will have only 21 seats.
The Arcade Bus Terminal is on Kaew Nawarat Road. Call 053-242-664 to check schedules.
The Chiang Mai Train Station is just off Charoen Muang Road before the superhighway on Rotfai Road. 053-236-094.
Chiang Mai Airport is off Mahidol Road on Sanambin Road. 053-270-222
In and around town
Chiang Mai is fairly easy to get around with plenty of songthaews and tuktuks. Red songthaews are the cheapest option at 20 baht a trip, if the one you flag down isn’t headed in your direction, just grab the next one that comes along. Further out may cost a bit more. Be aware that someone they have already picked up may be going somewhere else so don’t stress if it seems to be going out of the way. Tuk tuks are more direct and will cost more depending on time of day or night and distance. There are taxi meters but these are generally used for long distance trips or early morning flights out.
Occasionally, if you are in the old part of town near Waroros Market you will see an old fashioned rickshaw but these are getting few and far between in the now modern Chiang Mai.
Renting motorbikes or bicycles
A popular method of getting around town independently is to hire a bicycle or motorbike. Many guesthouses will hire out bicycles for a fee and there are rental shops around Tha Pae Gate and on Huay Kaew Road. Another faster but perhaps riskier method is to hire a motorbike, most shops rent out small automatic motorbikes but beware the traffic as it can be risky. Be sure to read our separate article on driving in Thailand [INSERT LINK TO ARTICLE HERE]. There are also car rental places around if you want to take a drive out of town and around the area.
Out and about
There are several other songthaews that serve the outer areas of Chiang Mai and if you like to strike out on your own but don’t want to drive, these are a great way to get around. Yellow songthaews head north to Mae Rim, while the white songthaews go east to Mae Taeng and San Kampaeng, green songthaews go to Mae Jo in the north east and blue ones go south to Saraphi and Lamphun. These are most easily picked up at Warorot Market, but they also go to the Chang Phuak Bus Station.
There are many direct buses and minivans to Chiang Rai, Pai, Lampang, Nan, Khon Kaen and further afield to Ayutthaya, and even a bus that goes to Surat Thani and on to Phuket if you can manage 21 hours in a bus!