Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai is a popular route for tourists visiting Northern Thailand. Both cities have their own unique charm, and the journey between them offers stunning views of the lush green landscapes and mountain ranges that characterize the region.
Chiang Mai, known as the “Rose of the North,” is the largest city in Northern Thailand and is famous for its rich culture, ancient temples, and bustling night markets. Chiang Rai, on the other hand, is a smaller city located in the northernmost part of Thailand and is home to the famous White Temple, or Wat Rong Khun, as well as other stunning temples and natural attractions.
Traveling from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai is easy and affordable, with several transportation options available. Visitors can choose to take a bus, taxi, or even a flight between the two cities. In this article, we will provide you with all the information you need to know about traveling from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai, including the best transportation options, travel tips, and must-see attractions along the way.
If you’re planning a trip from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai, there are several options available to you. Here are some of the most popular ways to travel between these two cities.
Taking a bus is the most cost-effective and convenient way to travel from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai. The Green VIP bus is the most popular option, running five times a day from Arcade Bus Station. The journey takes approximately 3.5-4 hours and tickets range from ฿210 – ฿390. The bus stops at both Terminal 1 and Terminal 2 in Chiang Rai.
If you prefer to drive, you can rent a car in Chiang Mai and drive to Chiang Rai yourself. The journey takes approximately 3 hours, depending on traffic conditions. However, keep in mind that driving in Thailand can be challenging, especially if you’re not familiar with the local roads and driving customs.
While there are no direct flights between Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai, you can take a connecting flight from Chiang Mai International Airport to Mae Fah Luang-Chiang Rai International Airport. The flight takes approximately 1 hour and tickets start at around ฿1,000.
Another option is to take a taxi from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai. This is a more expensive option, but it can be more convenient if you have a lot of luggage or if you’re traveling with a group. Taxis can be found at the airport or booked in advance through a taxi company.
If you want to explore Chiang Rai at your own pace, you can book a private tour. This option allows you to customize your itinerary and visit the attractions that interest you the most. Private tours can be arranged through local travel agencies or online booking platforms.
No matter which option you choose, make sure to plan your trip in advance and book your tickets or transportation in advance to ensure a smooth and hassle-free journey.
When traveling from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai, you will find plenty of options for accommodation in both cities. From budget-friendly hostels to luxurious hotels, there is something for every traveler. Here is a breakdown of the different options available:
Both Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai have a wide range of hotels to choose from. In Chiang Mai, you can find hotels ranging from budget-friendly to luxury. Some of the top hotels in Chiang Mai include Le Meridien Chiang Mai, Shangri-La Hotel Chiang Mai, and Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai.
In Chiang Rai, you can find hotels that are a bit more affordable than those in Chiang Mai. Some of the top hotels in Chiang Rai include Le Patta Hotel Chiang Rai, The Legend Chiang Rai Boutique River Resort & Spa, and The Riverie by Katathani.
If you are traveling on a budget, hostels are a great option. Both Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai have a number of hostels to choose from. Some of the top hostels in Chiang Mai include Stay In Chiangrai – Hostel, Hug Hostel Rooftop, and The Entaneer Poshtel Chiang Mai.
In Chiang Rai, some of the top hostels include Mercy Hostel, Fun-D Hostel Chiang Rai, and Happynest Hostel.
If you are looking for budget-friendly accommodation, both Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai have plenty of options. In Chiang Mai, you can find budget hotels and guesthouses in the Old City and Nimmanhaemin areas. Some of the top budget-friendly options in Chiang Mai include The Green Sleep Hostel, The Grace House Chiang Mai, and Baan Klang Vieng Hostel.
In Chiang Rai, you can find budget-friendly guesthouses and hotels in the city center. Some of the top budget-friendly options in Chiang Rai include Baan Mai Guesthouse, Baan Nattawadee, and Baan Bua Guesthouse.
When it comes to room options, both Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai have a variety of choices. From standard rooms to suites, you can find something to fit your needs and budget. In Chiang Mai, you can find rooms with traditional Lanna Kingdom decor, as well as modern rooms with all the amenities you need. In Chiang Rai, you can find rooms with stunning views of the river and surrounding mountains.
No matter what your budget or preferences, you can find the perfect accommodation when traveling from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai.
Things to Do
Northern Thailand is full of amazing sights and activities, and the journey from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai is no exception. Here are some of the top things to do along the way.
Northern Thailand is known for its stunning Buddhist temples, and there are plenty to explore on the route from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai. Some of the must-visit temples include Wat Phra Kaew, Wat Rong Khun (The White Temple), and The Blue Temple. Each temple is uniquely beautiful and offers a glimpse into the rich cultural heritage of Thailand.
The Golden Triangle
The Golden Triangle is the point where Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar meet, and it’s a fascinating area to explore. Take a boat ride along the Mekong River to see the stunning scenery and visit the Opium Museum to learn about the history of the area.
Doi Inthanon National Park
Doi Inthanon National Park is home to Thailand’s highest peak, Doi Inthanon, and is a great place for hiking and exploring the natural beauty of the area. Be sure to visit the stunning Wachirathan Waterfall and the Twin Royal Pagodas, which offer amazing views of the surrounding mountains.
The night bazaar in Chiang Rai is a great place to experience the local culture and shop for souvenirs. You’ll find everything from handmade crafts to delicious street food, and the lively atmosphere is not to be missed.
The Chiang Mai Grand Canyon is a former quarry that has been turned into a water park. You can swim, cliff jump, and relax in the sun while taking in the stunning scenery.
The hot springs in Chiang Rai are a great place to relax and unwind. The water is naturally heated and contains minerals that are said to have healing properties.
A boat ride along the Mekong River is a great way to see the stunning scenery of Northern Thailand. You’ll pass through lush forests, past small villages, and see the famous Golden Triangle.
There are plenty of other sights to see along the way, including Mae Sai, the northernmost point in Thailand, and the stunning Doi Tung Royal Villa, which is surrounded by beautiful gardens.
Overall, the journey from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai is full of amazing sights and experiences. Whether you’re interested in exploring Buddhist temples, hiking in the mountains, or relaxing in hot springs, there’s something for everyone in Northern Thailand.
If you’re planning a trip from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai, here are some useful tips to help you make the most of your journey.
The travel time from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai can vary depending on your mode of transportation. If you’re taking the bus, it can take between three to four and a half hours, depending on traffic and the time of day. Private tours can take a bit longer, but they offer a more personalized experience.
The cheapest way to travel from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai is by taking the Green VIP bus from Arcade Bus Station. This is also the most convenient option as the bus runs five times a day.
The fastest way to get from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai is by driving. The distance between the two cities is around 180 kilometers, and it takes about three hours to drive. However, if you’re not comfortable driving in Thailand, taking a private tour is a good alternative.
If you’re planning to drive from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai, keep in mind that you’ll need an International Driving Permit (IDP) and a valid driver’s license from your home country. It’s also important to note that driving in Thailand can be challenging due to the country’s unique traffic patterns.
Arcade Bus Station
The Arcade Bus Station in Chiang Mai is the main transportation hub for buses traveling to Chiang Rai. It’s located in the northeast part of the city, and you can easily get there by taking a Grab or a Songthaew.
Grab is a popular ride-hailing app in Thailand and can be a convenient way to get around. If you’re traveling from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai, you can use Grab to get to Arcade Bus Station or to book a private tour.
Songthaews are shared taxis that are commonly used in Northern Thailand. They’re a cheap and convenient way to get around, but they can be crowded and uncomfortable for long journeys.
It’s always a good idea to have travel insurance when traveling to Thailand. This will protect you in case of any unexpected accidents or illnesses.
While the official currency in Thailand is the Thai Baht, some businesses in tourist areas may accept US dollars. However, it’s always best to have Thai Baht on hand.
The distance between Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai is around 180 kilometers.
The ticket prices for the Green VIP bus from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai cost around 288 baht ($9.60, £6.40) for a single journey. Private tours can vary in price depending on the tour operator and the itinerary.
Chiang Mai Airport
Chiang Mai Airport is located in the southwest part of the city and is a convenient way to travel to other parts of Thailand. However, there are no direct flights from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai.
If you’re looking for a more personalized experience, private tours are a great option. They can be more expensive than taking the bus, but they offer the flexibility to create your own itinerary and explore at your own pace.
By following these travel tips, you’ll be well-prepared for your journey from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai.
Northern Thailand is known for its beautiful landscapes and stunning temples, but it also has a thriving nightlife scene. Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai both offer a range of options for those looking to enjoy a night out.
Chiang Mai has a diverse range of bars, from small, intimate venues to larger, more lively bars. One popular spot is Zoe in Yellow, a bar and club that features live music and a dance floor. Another option is the North Gate Jazz Co-op, which offers live jazz performances in a cozy setting.
In Chiang Rai, bars tend to be more laid-back and low-key. The Clock Tower Bar is a popular spot for locals and tourists alike, with a great atmosphere and a wide selection of drinks. The Chivit Thamma Da Coffee House is another option, with a beautiful garden setting and a variety of cocktails and beers on offer.
For those looking for a more traditional pub experience, both Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai have options. The Red Lion Pub in Chiang Mai is a British-style pub that serves up classic pub fare and a wide selection of beers. The Olde Bell in Chiang Rai is another popular spot, with a cozy interior and a great selection of drinks.
In both cities, there are also a number of Irish pubs, including the Paddy’s Irish Pub in Chiang Mai and the Shamrock Irish Pub in Chiang Rai. These pubs offer a lively atmosphere and a great selection of beers and cocktails.
Overall, whether you’re looking for a lively night out or a more relaxed evening, both Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai have plenty of options to choose from.
If you’re planning a trip from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai, there are plenty of nearby destinations that are worth a visit. Here are some of the top places to check out:
The Golden Triangle
The Golden Triangle is a region where the borders of Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar meet. This area is known for its opium trade, but today it’s a popular tourist destination. You can take a boat tour along the Mekong River and visit local villages, or learn about the history of the opium trade at the Hall of Opium museum. There are also plenty of temples and scenic overlooks to explore.
Laos is a neighboring country to Thailand, and it’s easily accessible from Chiang Rai. The capital city, Vientiane, is just a short flight away, and there are plenty of other destinations to explore as well. Luang Prabang is a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its temples and French colonial architecture. The Bolaven Plateau is a scenic region with waterfalls and coffee plantations.
Myanmar, also known as Burma, is another neighboring country that’s worth a visit. You can take a flight from Chiang Rai to Mandalay or Yangon, and explore the country’s temples, markets, and natural beauty. Bagan is a popular destination known for its thousands of ancient temples, while Inle Lake is a scenic region with floating villages and markets.
The Mekong River is one of the longest rivers in the world, and it’s a popular destination for river cruises and boat tours. You can take a tour from Chiang Rai and explore the river’s scenic beauty, or visit local villages and learn about the region’s culture and history.
Overall, there are plenty of nearby destinations to explore when you’re traveling from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai. Whether you’re interested in history, culture, or natural beauty, there’s something for everyone in this region of Northern Thailand.