Want to know how to get from Chiang Rai to Chiang Mai? In this post, we’ll share a summary of the two ways to get there and compare each option on duration, costs and level of comfort. For each option, we go into more detail to help you decide which transport provider to book with and where to buy your tickets.
What to expect when visiting Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai is Thailand’s northernmost city, an intriguing fusion of new and old. Its hundreds of temples, striking Old City and delicious local dishes tell the story of Chiang Mai’s culture and history. On the other hand, its cafe culture, friendly coworking spaces and nightlife attract digital nomads from across the globe.
Surrounded by mountains, the city offers plenty of adventures with nature. But if you can, we recommend travelling to Chiang Mai in time for one of its many festivals — like Loy Krathong (Lantern Festival) in November and Songkran (Water Splashing Festival) in April.
2 ways to get from Chiang Rai to Chiang Mai
There are two ways to travel the distance of 190 km (118 miles) from Chiang Rai to Chiang Mai: by bus (3h20m-3h45m) and flight via bangkok (4-11.5 hours). The journey takes between 3h20m - 11h30m and the quickest way is by bus. The lowest priced tickets start from 225 THB ($6.00) for the bus.
Green Bus is the most popular bus company in both Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai. They operate 2 different types of buses for your convenience: VIP and express.
You can buy your tickets online or at the bus station before boarding the bus. Ticket prices from Chiang Rai to Chiang Mai start at 225 THB ($6.00) for the express bus and 350 THB ($9.50) for the VIP bus. Travel time takes about 3.5-4 hours.
We recommend booking in advance as tickets sell out quickly, especially during holidays and peak season.
VIP buses feature bigger and more comfortable seats, plus they have a toilet on board. Express buses, on the other hand, make a stop halfway through the journey for a bathroom break.
Keep in mind that this extra stop increases the travel time by 15-30 minutes. The VIP buses rarely stop along the way, so you can get to Chiang Mai a bit quicker.
Chiang Rai to Chiang Mai by Flight via Bangkok
Duration: 4-11.5 hours
Starts from: 2,000 THB ($56.00)
Duration: 4-11.5 hours
Cost: 2,000 THB ($56.00)
Taking a flight from Chiang Rai to Chiang Mai is not really a practical option. This is because all flights on this route make a stopover in Bangkok. Total travel time can take between 4-11.5 hours.
There are multiple airlines that offer trips from Chiang Rai to Chiang Mai, such as AirAsia, NokAir, Thai Airways, and Thai Lion Air. A one-way ticket from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai starts from 2,000 THB ($56.00).
Chiang Mai can be tiring exploring all of the temples and going on day trips, so there’s nothing better than coming back to a luxurious and beautiful hotel. Rimping Village feels like a mini resort nestled in the middle of Chiang Mai.
The exceptional breakfast served in the gardens each morning is likely to be one of the highlights of your trip. What a way to start the day! Then go for a dip in their beautiful outdoor swimming pool or head back to your spacious room.
Everything about POR Daowadung feels like a top-quality luxury hotel. Whether it’s the ultra-modern but comfortable designs of the rooms or the outdoor swimming pool and sunloungers actually in the pool!
The hotel is in a great location, every room has its own balcony and a delicious breakfast is included every morning. Can you ask for much more from an accommodation?
The star of the show at Chada Mantra Hotel has to be its outdoor swimming pool, which is extremely refreshing after a day spent exploring the city. Located within Chiang Mai Old City, just 700m from the Pae gate, this hotel is perfectly located.
The hotel offers free breakfast, wifi in all rooms and common areas, as well as an onsite bar. Here you’ll find beautiful clean rooms with city views and very comfortable beds. The staff are well known to be extremely helpful, always going the extra mile to assist their guests in any way possible.
It’s hard to believe that Asa Hotel is a budget-friendly accommodation, but a night here will cost you less than $30 for two people. The hotel is ultra-modern with a beautiful outdoor swimming pool and sun loungers for you to enjoy.
The staff are incredibly friendly and will help you with anything. The hotel also offers free coffee, tea and water in glass bottles to reduce the use of plastic. Here you’re a 15-minute walk from the Old Town.
Frequently Asked Questions about Chiang Rai to Chiang Mai
What is the distance from Chiang Rai to Chiang Mai?
The distance from Chiang Rai to Chiang Mai is 190 km (118 miles).
What is the fastest way to get from Chiang Rai to Chiang Mai?
The fastest way to get from Chiang Rai to Chiang Mai is by bus and takes 3h20m-3h45m.
What is the cheapest way to get from Chiang Rai to Chiang Mai?
The cheapest way to get from Chiang Rai to Chiang Mai is by bus with ticket costs starting from 225 THB ($6.00).
Rounding it up
We hope this guide was helpful in planning how to get from Chiang Rai to Chiang Mai. If there's anything else you're wondering about, drop us a comment and we'll do our best to answer you within a few days.
PS: If you've recently travelled this route, share your experience with fellow travellers and help us improve this post. Thanks for helping out our travel community!
Based in Bali, Maarten’s passion for travel is undeniable. In 2016, he decided to quit his job as a stock analyst and started doing what he always dreamed of: travelling through South East Asia and helping other people plan their trips. When he is not working on Gecko Routes, you’ll find him surfing in the ocean or exploring the best gems of Indonesia.
Abby is a writer who finds joy in mountains, beaches, and road trips. She considers her solo backpacking trip to the rice terraces of Bontoc one of the most fulfilling moments in her life. She’s loyal to the islands of her home country, the Philippines, but Thailand’s beaches also have a special place in her heart.