Traveling from Chiang Mai to Bangkok is a classic route many travelers take while on their Thailand trip. This route is tried and true, with 4 different transportation options, fly, train, bus, and taxi.
After a year of living and working in Chiang Mai, I journeyed between Chiang Mai and Bangkok more than 10 times. I’ve flown into all the airports, slept on the overnight train, and rode on the overnight bus.
In this guide, I’ll cover how to travel from Chiang Mai to Bangkok via flights, trains, buses, and taxis. I’ll also include my experiences using each one of these transportation types and the best way to travel between these two cities!
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How to Travel from Chiang Mai to Bangkok
Fly Chiang Mai to Bangkok Flying from Chiang Mai to Bangkok is by far the quickest way to travel between these two popular tourist cities. Because these are both popular spots for travelers, there are dozens of flights every day between the two cities. Luckily, Chiang Mai’s airport is close to the city and relatively easy to reach.
But, Bangkok is a massive city, and has two airports, Suvarnabhumi Airport and Don Mueang Airport. When flying from Chiang Mai to Bangkok, you’ll want to choose carefully which airport you fly into. Both of these airports are a ways away form the tourist hotspots in Bangkok, and the price to get from the airport to your accommodation can add up quickly.
But without further ado, let’s talk about the Chiang Mai International Airport.
Chiang Mai International Airport
The Chiang Mai International Airport is a small airport, that rarely ever gets too crowded. Most of their flights are to Bangkok, but there are a few non-stops to other tourist cities in Chiang Mai and a few international flights as well.
When flying out of the Chiang Mai International Airport, you’ll want to call a “Grab”, Thailand’s version of “Uber” to get you there. The airport is only 2km from the city center, or a quick 10-minute drive.
Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK Airport)
The Suvarnabhumi Airport, also known as the BKK airport is the largest airport in Thailand. This airport services most of the long-haul international flights. If you have a connecting flight within Thailand, this is the better airport to fly into.
This airport is way out of the city, about a 45-minute drive from the popular tourist spot, Khao San Road. With traffic, and during rush hour, this drive time can increase a lot.
The nice part about this airport is that it’s connected to the BTS line. The BTS is Bangkok’s public train transportation. The BTS is convenient and can take you almost anywhere you need to go in the city. This is extremely helpful but can take time. If you are in a rush to get to Bangkok, this is not the quickest option.
Don Mueang Airport (DMK Airport)
The Don Mueang Airport, or DMK Airport, is the closest airport to the city. To get here, you can take a bus, or call a Grab Taxi. I would recommend calling a Grab taxi, as the bus can be a bit complicated from here and is less likely to take you exactly where you need to go.
This airport is the less crowded airport and doesn’t service as many international flights. It’s considered by some a budget airport. Expect the cheaper airlines to fly in and out of here.
If you are in a hurry, this will be your fastest way to get from Chiang Mai to Bangkok.
After living in Chiang Mai for over 1 year, and traveling between these two cities, I usually prefer to fly from Chiang Mai to Bangkok via the BKK airport. The BKK airport BTS station is very convenient and as a solo traveler, calling a Grab Taxi can add up quickly. Flying from Chiang Mai to Bangkok is by far the fastest way to travel between the two cities and the most expensive way. But, if you plan your trip in advance, you can usually find some really cheap flights at a similar price to an overnight train!
Train from Chiang Mai to Bangkok
Riding an overnight train in Thailand is on many travelers bucket list. Although it’s not the fastest or cheapest option, it is a popular way to travel between Chiang Mai and Bangkok! Because it’s so popular, book it in advance!
The train from Chiang Mai to Bangkok takes around 13-14 hours to complete, and runs a few times a day. I highly reccomend taking the overnight train for the best value for money and a unique experience!
The Chiang Mai train station is on the opposite side of the Ping River, about a 10-minute drive from Chiang Mai old town. The Chiang Mai train station is relatively small, but it’s still a good idea to arrive early to get your bearings. The train station also has lots of restaurants nearby for you to grab a meal before your journey.
Booking a lay flat overnight bed on the train with Air Condition will come around the same price as a flight between the cities, but you do save money on one night’s accommodation.
When you arrive in Bangkok, the two stops in Bangkok will be at the Hua Lamphong Station and the Don Mueang Station.
The Don Mueang Station drops you off right at the airport, which is north of the city. Hua Lamphong Station is closer to the river in Bangkok, and is further into the city. Hua Lamphong Station is the last stop on the train, and they will make everyone get off the train here.
Bangkok is a massive city, so check which station is closest to your accommodation.
Tips for Riding the Train from Chiang Mai to Bangkok
- Dress Warm – if you book a room in an air conditioned cart, it gets cold! Pack clothes accordingly.
- Bring Snacks and Water– During your 14 hour journey, the train does not stop anywhere long enough for food. In the morning, vendors may come on the train to sell meat on a stick, but it’s limited options. It’s a good idea to stop by 7/11 and have snacks prepared before getting on the train
- Pack a Portable Charger – Many beds and seats on the journey don’t have a phone charger. Additionally, you’ll be traveling for a long time. Bring a portable phone charger to make sure you have phone juice for when you arrive in Bangkok!
- Reserve a Lower Bunk Bed – Most people prefer a lower bunk bed, but on the train its especially true! The lower bunk has a window and a slightly bigger bed. You also are able to keep your bugs closer to you in the lower bunk.
- Pack an Eyemask and Ear Plugs – The leave the lights on during the entire train ride. If you are sensitive to light or noise, these things will save your life on the train! Although there is a privacy curtain for each bed, the light still comes through.
My Experience Riding the Overnight Train from Chiang Mai to Bangkok
I have been fortunate enough to take the overnight train from Chiang mai to Bangkok (and back) multiple times! This is my favorite way to travel between these cities.
I always booked a bed in the bunk bed section with air conditioning. If you come from a western country, this will be the one you find the most comfortable. The seats with no air conditioning are much cheaper than the bed with air conditioning, but it’s well worth the splurge. I had friends who bought the cheapest option and they did not have a great experience.
When taking the train from Chiang Mai to Bangkok, you are provided with pillows and blankets, but it still gets quite cold. Dress in layers, it’s easier to shed layers than add layers.
Additionally, when falling asleep the train will rock and sway throughout the night. I’d compare it to falling asleep in the car. Sometimes the rocking and swaying help you sleep, but for some, this is not always the case. On my first train ride, it was very hard to fall asleep because I was not used to the motion.
I always started my trip with a stop at 7/11 before getting on the train. I liked to grab breakfast for the morning, or a late-night snack if I couldn’t sleep. Also, I was always worried about a long delay, and I didn’t want to be hungry for it.
On many of my journeys between the cities, the train delays. Sometimes there are quick delays, and other times they are hours long. One of my delays was 6 hours long! Thai time is not the same as American time, so expect your train to arrive a bit later than originally scheduled.
The train has bathrooms, but they are not the nicest but they work. There are two toilets on each side of the train car. One will be a toilet that you are used to seeing, and the other will be the squat toilet with a hole in the ground.
My favorite part of the journey is waking up to the sunrise in a new place. The mornings in the lower bunk of the train are the reason the train is my favorite way to travel. It is ethereal.
Bus from Chiang Mai to Bangkok
The most affordable way to travel from Chaing Mai to Bangkok is via bus. I took the overnight bus a few times and was pleasantly surprised by my experience.
The bus station in Chiang Mai is close to the popular Central Festival Mall. It’s a bit outside the city, about a 20-minute drive. The best way to get here is by the Grab App or Songtaew.
There are two bus options, the government bus and the VIP bus. The government bus usually has no air conditioning and is a standard seat you would expect on a bus. The VIP bus has air conditioning, reclined seating, and blankets, pillows, and snacks included.
You’ll want to take the VIP bus for the most comfortable experience. The VIP busses included a snack box, a restroom on the bus, and a stop overnight to stretch your legs. The buses have decently reclined seats and they dim the lights so it’s easy for you to sleep.
The buses will often drop you off at Mo Chit Bus Terminal. This bus terminal is on the north side of Bangkok and is near a BTS station which connects you to most of the city. But, when you arrive there will be lots of taxis looking to drive you around.
My Experience Taking the Overnight Bus from Chiang Mai to Bangkok
The overnight bus is usually my last option to travel between Chiang Mai to Bangkok, but sometimes is the only option. If you plan a trip last minute, it’s often the flights are too expensive and the train sells out, so sometimes it’s your only option.
The bus ride is faster than the train by 2-3 hours and is much less likely to delay. The bus is dark which makes it easy to fall asleep too.
When you arrive on the bus, your seat will have a pillow, blanket, and a box of snacks on it. The snacks are really nice to have! But I still recommend bringing your own snack just in case you don’t like what’s given. Similarly to the train, I found the bus to be cold too. I like to travel with a sweater because of this.
A few hours into the bus ride, in the dead of night, the bus will stop at a big gas station for about an hour. Here you’ll find a full-service restaurant, places to buy snacks, bathrooms, and lots of other travelers looking like zombies.
Taxi from Chiang Mai to Bangkok
If you’ve got some extra cash to burn, you can even rent a taxi driver to transport you between the two cities. These can be reserved online in advance, but I don’t recommend this way. It’s very expensive, and not time efficient.
What Is The Best Way to Travel from Chiang Mai to Bangkok?
The best way to travel from Chiang Mai to Bangkok is by flying or overnight train. Flying is convenience with lots of flights each day. If you book it in advance you can usually get a good deal on the budget airline flights as well.
The overnight train is a bucket list experience in Thailand and is cost-efficient if you take the overnight train. Waking up to the sunrise transported to a new city is always exciting. Additionally, the train station is much more central in Bangkok, unlike the airport.
What Is The Cheapest Way to Travel from Chiang Mai to Bangkok?
The cheapest way to travel from Chaing Mai to Bangkok is the VIP bus or a 3rd class train ticket. The bus is the cheapest option including air conditioning and a comfortable experience. For a travel day as long as this one, you’ll want to be comfortable.
If you are tight on cash, you may have to take the 3rd class train ticket. These tickets are very affordable, but the cheap ticket means you won’t have the most comfortable experience. These tickets are at the back of the train, with no air conditioning, open windows, and a bench for a seat. But, it will transport you from point A to point B, which is sometimes all you need.
Chiang Mai to Bangkok is a popular travel route for travelers in Thailand. There are 4 different options that all come at different price points and travel times. After having lived in Chiang Mai for over 1 year, I had lots of time to use each of these transportation types. Each one has its own set of pros and cons too! I hope this guide helps you find the best mode of transportation for your travel day between Chiang Mai and Bangkok.
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