Chiang Rai is a land of ancient values of Thailand because this land along with Chiang Mai was the center of the glittering Lanna dynasty hundreds of years ago. Today, despite of not being as famous as Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai is still an ancient, colorful space of Thailand with activities to explore the cultural quintessence and the trip to discover the green forest along with many surprises which are very interesting.
There are 2 most popular ways to travel from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai. Depending on your time and economic ability, you can choose one of two ways.
From Chiang Mai, you can choose to move to Chiang Rai in many ways. In particular, the most popular way is taking the plane to Chiang Rai’s Airport. Chiang Rai has a small airport, located just outside the city, called Mae Fah Luang-Chiang Rai International Airport (CEI), located on Phaholyotin Road, 8 km from the center of Chiang Rai. Every day, there are dozens of flights serving this route and usually, you only take – few hours to move between the two cities. The usual cost for a flight with some airlines such as Nok Air, Thai Lion Air or Air Asia is usually between 66$ and 110$. You can book tickets for 3 – 6 months for a better price.
At a counter in the airport, you can rent a prepaid taxi at the price of 200 baht (6$) to the city center and much more to other places listed rates or to your hotel.
Meter taxi is cheaper than the prepaid taxi, but they cannot wait for customers at the airport terminal. However, if you do not have too much luggage and you do not mind walking about 200m, there are normally some taxis waiting outside the airport area. A trip to the city center will cost less than 100 baht (3$), and you do not have to bargain or insist on using the meter measure device because the driver will always use it automatically.
If you do not have much time in Thailand, this is a reasonable choice.
Along with the plane, you can also choose to travel by road. If you are traveling from Bangkok, you can pick a bus or train to Chiang Mai then catch the bus to Chiang Rai. The average price for a trip from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai by road is only about 600 – 700 baht (about 18-21$).
The flights will take you to Chiang Rai from Chiang Mai within a short time. However, this kind of transportation is quite expensive. Therefore, if there is no time constraint, you should choose to go by train or bus to Chiang Rai. This method is time-consuming but it takes less than 1000 baht (30$). In addition, traveling by these means also helps you to discover the beauty of the city in the most authentic way.
Going by bus is the easiest way to get from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai. This journey takes about three hours. There are many bus routes operating daily, and the bus tickets can be easily purchased right away.
From Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai you can take the Green Bus bus at the Arcade Bus Station for 50 baht or 1.5$. If you want to take a higher-class, you can choose a VIP bus with the ticket price of 300 baht per person (9$).
There are two bus stations in Chiang Rai, an old one and a new one. You can pick up a Songthaew to travel between the two bus stations. It takes about 15 minutes. Both these two bus stations have many Tuk-tuk and Songthaew waiting outside. In addition, there are also some meter taxis at the bus station No. 2.
- The old bus station (No. 1) is located in the center of the town and the bus from Chiang Rai province is located here. From here you can take the bus to Phayao in the south or to Mae Sai in the north. The English instructions are available so it is easy to navigate. You take the bus, buy tickets from the ticket seller and remember to say again the place you want to go. The bus with a clearly marked location will come every hour and the itinerary takes 2 hours 30 minutes.
- New bus station (No. 2) is about 7km to the south of the center. Buses from other places stop here. In Chiang Mai, there are three types of bus: 1st class one with the air conditioner, 2nd class with the air conditioner and VIP bus. The bus with the air conditioner stops at every 15 minutes and the route takes 3 hours. First class vehicles have water, cake and free towel. VIP bus of Green Bus Company offers 3-hour route and stops at both stations.
Trains are considered the cheapest mean of transportation in Thailand. The Thailand Railway Service operates 6 trains daily, from 8 a.m to 10 p.m, from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai. You can book tickets online or buy directly at the station. The purchase of tickets is quite convenient.
It is best to choose the overnight train which has berths to get a good night sleep and the next morning is in Chiang Rai. Ticket price is about 600 baht (18$). One thing to note is that night train tickets should be booked at least 8 days in advance.
After arriving in Chiang Rai, you can rent motorbikes to explore every corner of the city or if you want to experience the local vehicles, the Songthaew, Tuk-tuk and buses are always ready to serve you.
We hope that the above information will be helpful for your journey. Have a nice trip in Chiang Rai!