Chiang Mai Airport

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Overview Compare Public Bus Taxi Songthaew Tuk-tuk Shuttle Bus

How to travel from and to Chiang Mai Airport

Chiang Mai, Thailand’s second-largest city, has a lot to offer to every kind of traveller. Besides visiting its vibrant night markets and festivals, you can trek in the mountains or go temple-hopping.

Once you’re in Chiang Mai, you can easily travel to other popular destinations in Northern Thailand, like Pai and Chiang Rai.

Chiang Mai Airport (CNX) is located 5 km (3 miles) from the centre of Chiang Mai. In this post, we compare 5 options when travelling to and from Chiang Mai Airport: by public bus (20 minutes), by taxi (15-40 minutes), by songthaew (15 minutes), by tuk-tuk (20 minutes), or by shuttle bus (20 minutes). Fares range from 30 THB ($0.80) to 150 THB ($4.15).

5 ways to get from and to Chiang Mai Airport

Transport modeDurationCostsAvailability
Public Bus20 minutes30 THB ($0.80)Read article for more info
Taxi15-40 minutes150 THB ($4.15)Reserve a taxi
Songthaew15 minutes40 THB ($1.10)Read article for more info
Tuk-tuk20 minutes100 THB ($2.75)Read article for more info
Shuttle Bus20 minutes60 THB ($1.65)Read article for more info

The public bus is the cheapest way to reach the city centre from Chiang Mai Airport. A ticket costs only 30 THB ($0.80) and the buses pass by several famous landmarks, as well as Nimman Road. You can find these blue buses just outside the arrivals hall.

If you prefer to be dropped off straight at your hotel, you can book a taxi with rates from 150 THB ($4.15). The ride will only take about 15-40 minutes, depending on the location of your hotel.

The songthaew is a good way to travel like a local A ride costs about 40 THB ($1.10), but it can cost more if there aren’t a lot of other passengers. For this option, you need to tell the driver first where you’re headed because they have different routes. All songthaews are red in colour and can be easily spotted along the main streets.

The tuk-tuk is also another option to experience local transport. Fares start from 100 THB ($2.75) for the 20-minute ride to the city centre. Note that tuk-tuks don’t offer a lot of space, so we don’t suggest this option if you’re travelling with luggage.

If your destination is outside the city centre, you can also take a shuttle bus for 60 THB ($1.65). However, its schedule is very occasional and inconsistent.

Itinerary from and to Chiang Mai Airport

Chiang Mai Airport by Public Bus

Duration: 20 minutes 
Cost: 30 THB ($0.80)
Duration: 20 minutes 
Cost: 30 THB ($0.80)

The public bus or the RTC (Regional Transit Corporation) Chiang Mai Bus is the cheapest way to reach the city centre from Chiang Mai International Airport. These blue-coloured buses are also called the Chiang Mai Smart Bus.

A ticket only costs 30 THB ($0.80) for the 20-minute ride to the city centre.

You can choose from 2 types of R3 buses. The R3 buses with red and yellow signs both head to central Chiang Mai, but in different directions. These buses run from 06:30 to 23:30 daily and are available every 25-30 minutes.

  • Route R3 (Red) heads to Nimman Road first before going to Tha Pae Gate, next to the old centre.
  • Route R3 (Yellow) takes the opposite route. It goes to Tha Pae first before heading to Nimman Road.

You can find the public buses just outside the arrivals hall. Just look for the white bus stop sign.

Chiang Mai Airport by Taxi

Duration: 15-40 minutes
Cost: 150 THB ($4.15)
Duration: 15-40 minutes
Cost: 150 THB ($4.15)

If you want a private transfer, you can book a taxi from the service counters in the arrival hall of Chiang Mai Airport. There are two types of taxis available: the Chiang Mai Airport taxis and the metered taxis.

The Chiang Mai Airport taxi charges a flat rate of 150 THB ($4.15) to the city centre. Meanwhile, a metered taxi will cost approximately 100 THB ($2.75) to 120 THB ($3.30), plus the airport surcharge of 50 THB ($1.35). Travel time to the city centre is about 15 to 40 minutes.

Taxi reservation online has a slightly higher cost at around 370 THB ($10). However, we recommend this advance taxi booking through 12GoAsia so that you can avoid long queues and save time.

Check Taxis on 12GoAsia

An alternative is booking a private car in advance or booking one via Grab. Klook offers a 3-seater car for around 535 THB ($14.50). The taxi will cost a little more than the other options but is a very comfortable way to travel directly to or from your hotel.

Chiang Mai Airport by Songthaew

Duration: 15 minutes
Cost: 40 THB ($1.10)
Duration: 15 minutes
Cost: 40 THB ($1.10)

Songthaews are the most popular mode of transportation in Chiang Mai. A songthaew is basically a small pick-up truck that’s been customized to seat passengers in the box of the truck. In the Chiang Mai area, all songthaews are red in colour and can be easily spotted along the main streets.

You can find songthaews outside almost every exit of Chiang Mai Airport’s arrival hall. Before boarding the songthaew, tell the driver the name of your hotel to make sure that he’s going in the same direction.

When travelling to the airport, you can easily find songthaews on any main street around the Old City. The standard rate for travelling to and from the city centre is 40 THB ($1.10) per person for the 15-minute trip.

Be aware that the driver may ask you to pay an increased rate if there are not many passengers on board because this is considered a ‘private ride’. The increased rates will cost you 100 THB ($2.75) to 200 THB ($5.50), but you also have the option to wait for more passengers to pay a lower rate.

Chiang Mai Airport by Tuk-tuk

Duration: 20 minutes
Cost: 100 THB ($2.75)
Duration: 20 minutes
Cost: 100 THB ($2.75)

You will also find numerous tuk-tuks outside Chiang Mai Airport. They look the same as the tuk-tuks in Bangkok, but they usually run at a slower pace.

Tuk-tuk drivers charge a standard rate of 100 THB ($2.75) to 120 THB ($3.30) for a trip to and from Chiang Mai Airport.

Be aware that some tuk-tuk drivers may try to charge you a higher rate of 150 THB ($4.15). Be prepared to negotiate to get the best price, or you can simply walk away and ask the next driver.

Tuk-tuks do not offer a lot of space, so it might not be the most comfortable ride for you if you’re travelling with luggage.

Chiang Mai Airport by Shuttle Bus

Duration: 20 minutes 
Cost: 60 THB ($1.65)
Duration: 20 minutes 
Cost: 60 THB ($1.65)

Another option is to take the airport shuttle bus. The downside of this ride is that it has no specific departure times and only stops outside the Old City.

If you still want to take this shuttle bus, you can find it at the southern end of Chiang Mai Airport. The shuttle begins running at 17:00, which is not a great option if your flight lands in the morning or early afternoon.

The standard fare is 60 THB ($1.65) per person, but there have been instances when passengers were charged more than this standard rate.

Most popular routes in Thailand

Bangkok to Chiang Mai

Phuket to Surat Thani

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Chiang Rai to Chiang Mai

Koh Samui to Koh tao

Koh Phangan to Koh Tao

Phuket to Krabi

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