It’s a long journey from Bangkok to Chiang Mai but the cheapest way to do it is by bus. The cheaper ones, though, may lack air conditioners. Proper precautions must be taken due to past reports of theft on Thai buses. Despite this, deluxe bus options exist and may allow you to see the beautiful countryside in comfort.
If you're travelling with a big group or with your family, what you may be looking for most is privacy and comfort. With the minivan option, the service is super personalized. This means that you can be picked up anywhere in Bangkok with your squad (and dropped off anywhere in Chiang Mai), at any time. Cabins are air conditioned and drivers are super friendly.
The train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai has about the same transit time as a bus. For the eco-conscious folk, similarly to bus travel, the carbon footprint on trains is low. Between train class options, you can chose whether to travel reclining on a berth over night, or relaxing in an upright seat during the daytime. What may be a difficult detail is cleanliness levels on trains and sparse departure times.
There are 6 operators that run from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, with 4 departures per day. If you decide to take a flight, you can take the Economy option.
The path from Bangkok to Chiang Mai is a well-trodded one by globetrotters. The benfit of spending more on a private car is that you and your squad will be given a private excursion through Thailand by a local. Best of all, you can avoid crowded Thai transit.
Bangkok and Chiang Mai are two of Thailand’s most vibrant and exciting cities. Bangkok is all hustle and bustle, bright lights, chaos, and capital-city edginess, whilst Chiang Mai - located 700kms (435 miles) to the north, is the more laid-back, digital nomad haven, full of cool cafes, great coffee, art, co-working spaces, and yoga studios.
Both have a lot to offer, and are must-sees whilst you’re in Thailand, and Chiang Mai is a great base to explore the north of Thailand, including the awesome town of Pai, which is nearby.
There are three ways to go from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, which will suit every budget. The cheapest option is to take a bus (10.5 hours approx.). There are 6 departures per day, and you can choose from the VIP or Express Class, with the Express option being a little more expensive, but more comfortable, taking you from central Bangkok to Chiang Mai.
If you don’t fancy the bus, you can take the train (12 hours). Which has three seating options to choose from (Seater, Second Class, and Sleeper), and is a comfortable, eco-friendly way to travel. The trains have A/C, and include a blanket for the journey. There are luggage limits, so if you’re traveling with a lot of stuff make sure to check this out.
Your final option is the more expensive but more personalized mini-van option (9 hours). This is a great choice if you’re traveling as a group, and want privacy and to be able to customize your trip. The minivan seats up to 9 people, and will pick you up wherever you like in Bangkok, and drop you off wherever you want in Chiang Mai. The minivans have air conditioning, and friendly drivers.
The journey from Bangkok to Chiang Mai is quite long so we’d recommend getting the last bus or train, sleeping during the journey, and arriving in Chiang Mai bright and early, and ready to explore the arty cafes, delicious food, amazing night market, temples, and elephant sanctuaries.
Pro tip: Get a coffee and thai massage when you arrive, and then head out to explore!
What you’ll see when you gaze out of the window depends on the time of day you travel. The later departure options will be dark for most of the journey, perfect for sleeping while you travel. Although you will be able to see the beautiful sunrise as you arrive in Chiang Mai.
If you leave earlier in the day you will see the traffic and bright lights of Bangkok turn into countryside, rolling hills, and lush trees, and eventually give way to the mountainous landscape and rice paddies of Chiang Mai, before you arrive in the city, which is a rich mix of temples, night markets, and artsy nooks and crannies.
The coolest time to visit Chiang Mai is from Dec-Feb, when the weather is around 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit) during the day, with a cool breeze to keep you cool. You can wander around one of the most creative cities in southeast Asia, explore, and take day trips out into the mountains. Great trips from Chiang Mai include checking out the near-by hippie village of Pai, Chiang Rai and its temples, or getting out into nature for a hike or visiting one of the many elephant sanctuaries.
Do bring a jacket though as it can get chilly at night.
Chiang Mai starts getting warmer, and by mid-March until June temperatures reach a HOT 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit). Whilst Chiang Mai doesn’t have a beach, you can cool off in the nearby mountain towns, or seek refuge in a local cafe.
From June-October the temperature cools down to a comfortable 32 degrees Celsius (89 degrees Fahrenheit) during the day, but the rainy season is also in full swing! So expect daily showers. Typically the mornings are bright and sunny, with the downpour coming in the late afternoon or early evening, so you can definitely still enjoy Chiang Mai during the rainy season. The rain is a great excuse to get “stuck” in a comfy cafe for the afternoon!
Chiang Mai has something for everyone; you can spend your days downing coffee in cool cafes, doing yoga in the amazing studios, exploring the temples, or being part of the rich digital nomad community that has grown in recent years.
Bangkok is one of the hottest cities in the world, with 30 degrees Celsius (85 degrees Fahrenheit) being pretty standard. It’s also a must-visit for every traveler in South East Asia, with so much to see, explore, and do.
Whilst Bangkok is typically hotter than Chiang Mai, their seasons have similar timings, making it easy to make the most of both cities. November to February is ideal for exploring the city, chilling on one of the many roof terrace bars, eating amazing food, and checking out the rich culture of the Thai capital.
Bangkok has something for everyone and every budget. From budget hostels to world-class hotels, from street food to fine dining, from beers in Khao San Road to cocktails in boutique bars, not to mention hundreds of temples. You will not get bored in Bangkok.
From March to May it starts heating up, with temperatures reaching 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit). Time to find rooftop bars with a pool! As you’d expect from a city of its size and stature, there are plenty of things to do that don’t involve walking around in the midday sun, and most places will have aircon.
From June until October it starts to rain! The downside of this is obviously the rain, but the upside is that many hotels and hostels will reduce their rates during this time, and as Bangkok is a huge city you can still find plenty of things to do. But bring an umbrella, just to be on the safe side.
Live your tropical getaway dream with our Thailand transportation guide. Make the most of the country’s extensive network of buses, trains, flights and ferries.
Want to travel to Thailand’s Rose of the North, Chiang Mai? We break down the popular routes and the transport options, from buses to trains, flights and more.
Planning a trip to Chiang Mai? Start your adventure sooner by discovering what awaits on the sleeper train from Bangkok in this first-hand guest review.
Bookaway's customers prefer VIP 32 Seats bus by Bangkok Buslines
Economy flight by Thai Smilewhich usually takes 1h
189 Km (Air)
Second Class Seat train by Thai Railway starting at US$14