Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai

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Overview Compare Bus Flight To Stay

How to get from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai

Chiang Rai is home to the famous Wat Rong Khun — also known as the White Temple. While the White Temple is the main draw, Chiang Rai is also a great place to escape from the more touristic Chiang Mai.

Chiang Rai’s walking street market and evening night bazaars offer all the local shopping and traditional Thai foods offer a great local experience. If you like to explore the area, you can go on a hike through lush green mountain scenery where you find several waterfalls and hot springs.

2 ways to get from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai

Transport modeDurationCostsAvailability
Bus3.5-4 hours225 THB ($6)Check Bus Tickets
Flight4-10.5 hours2,000 THB ($55)Check Flights

The distance from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai is 190 km (120 miles). In this post, we compare the 2 options to travel from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai: by bus (3.5-4 hours) or by flight (4-10.5 hours). Ticket prices range from 225 THB ($6) to 2,000 THB ($55).

The easiest and cheapest way from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai is by bus. The bus takes 3.5-4 hours with ticket prices starting at 225 THB ($6).

While both Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai have their own airports, there are no direct flights on this route. All flights from Chiang Rai to Chiang Mai make a stopover in Bangkok, making the flight time take around 4-10.5 hours.

TIP: If you decide to travel by plane, please consider including a carbon compensation fee to reduce your impact on the environment.

Itinerary from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai

Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai by Bus

Duration: 3.5-4 hours
Cost: 225 THB ($6)
Duration: 3.5-4 hours
Cost: 225 THB ($6)

The best and most practical option to travel from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai is by bus. Green Bus is the most trusted company on this route and is known for providing good service.

For this route, you can choose between an express and a VIP bus. There are multiple daily trips from 07:15 until 16:00 daily, plus an extra VIP trip every Friday and Sunday at 12:45.

VIP buses have larger, more comfortable seats and an onboard toilet. These VIP buses also do not make any stops along the way, so you will arrive at Chiang Rai a little quicker. The express bus has almost the same amenities except for seat sizes.

Fare starts at 225 THB ($6) and travelling from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai takes 3.5-4 hours.

Departure and arrival stations

All buses depart from Chiang Mai Bus Terminal 3. From the Old City, you can take a 15-minute taxi ride to the bus terminal.

The last stop for the bus is Chiang Rai Bus Terminal 1 in the city centre. This terminal is right next to the Chiang Rai Night Bazaar.

Below, we have provided the bus schedules with the best travel times for the Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai route.

Bus schedules from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai

Bus OperatorScheduleCosts
Green Bus
225 THB ($6)
Check bus tickets
Green Bus
350 THB ($9.50)
Check bus tickets

Since the Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai route is a popular route in Northern Thailand, we suggest booking your tickets in advance during peak season.

Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai via Bangkok by Flight

Duration: 4-10.5 hours
Cost: 2,000 THB ($55)
Duration: 4-10.5 hours
Cost: 2,000 THB ($55)

We don’t recommend flying from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai. All flights involve a stopover in Bangkok. This makes the total travel time at least 4 hours, which is as long as the bus!

In addition to the extra time that it will take, flying also produces a lot more (unnecessary) emissions. Taking the bus is about 20 times more eco-friendly.

There are several airlines that offer trips from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai like AirAsia, NokAir, Thai Smile, and Thai Lion Air. One-way ticket prices from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai range from 2,000 THB ($55) to 6,200 THB ($170).

Check Flights on Skyscanner

Flights depart from Chiang Mai International Airport (CNX). You can easily take a taxi or a tuk-tuk from the Old City to the airport.

All flights arrive at Chiang Rai International Airport (CEI), located 9 km northeast of the city centre.


Our favourite places to stay in Chiang Rai

Chiang Rai Accommodation

Backpack Hostel

Centrally located in Chiang Rai, within walking distance or a short drive to the sights, the Backpack Hostel is a great choice for all types of travelers. Walking street and the night market are also just a few minutes away on foot.

The hostel is very clean and comfortable and the owners are well known to be very welcoming and friendly. The rooftop patio is the perfect place to relax with a cold drink at the end of a long day exploring and soak in the sights! 

  • Great location
  • Rooftop patio
  • Walking distance to sights
  • Clean and comfortable

Private rooms start at $16 per night

Read more

Chiang Rai Accommodation

Goodtime Resort Chiang Rai

Set just a few kilometers from the main sights, this location is ideal for those looking for some quiet and relaxation.

Take advantage of the bike rentals to get out and explore the town and sights and enjoy the lovely terrace area for guests in the evenings.  The resort is extremely clean, the beds are very comfortable and the staff is wonderful.

  • Great location
  • Bike rentals
  • Terrace
  • Clean and comfortable

Private rooms start at $30 per night

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  Chiang Rai Accommodation


Just a 1-minute walk to the Clock Tower and a 2-minute walk to the Night Market, this hotel is all about location!

Breakfast is included with your stay and the rooms are equipped with air conditioning, satellite TV and a refrigerator. Near Walking Street, bars, restaurants, and all amenities. The staff is known to be very friendly and welcoming.

  • Perfect location
  • Friendly staff
  • Extremely clean and comfortable
  • Walking distance to numerous sights 

Private rooms start at $38 per night

Read more


More routes to Chiang Rai

Pai to Chiang Rai

More routes from Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai to Bangkok

Chiang Mai Airport

Chiang Mai Railway Station

Chiang Mai to Luang Prabang

Chiang Mai to Pai

Chiang Mai to Sukhothai

Most popular routes in Thailand

Bangkok to Chiang Mai

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Bangkok to Phuket

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Koh Phangan to Koh Tao

Phuket to Krabi

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