Based in Chiang Mai’s Arcade Bus Station, to the east of the old town, Esan Tour provides services to the Esan region in north-eastern Thailand, the country’s largest province which borders both Cambodia and Laos.
Routes Served by Esan Tour
Chiang Mai–Khon Kaen
There are three services each day from Chiang Mai to Khon Kaen, at 05.00, 07.00 and 19.00 (scheduled to arrive into Khon Kaen at 17.50, 19.50 and 05.10 respectively). The trip lasts around 10 hours from Chiang Mai and tickets are priced from THB520, with tickets costing THB900 for the overnight service departing Chiang Mai at 19.00.
The return trip departs Khon Kaen three times each day as well at 04.20, 06.20 and 19.00 (arriving at 14.30, 16.30 and 05.10). The tickets are available for the same price from Khon Kaen to Chiang Mai.
Chiang Rai–Khon Kaen
From Chiang Rai there is one departure each day to Khon Kaen at 18.00 and due to arrive at 06.20. The journey is scheduled to last just over 12 hours in either direction with tickets priced at THB567 each way. The service from Khon Kaen to Chiang Rai departs at 18.30 each day and is scheduled to arrive into Chiang Rai at 06.40 the following morning.
Bangkok–Khon Kaen & Udon Thani
Esan Tour also offers services from Bangkok to this region, with departures to both Khon Kaen and Udon Thani each day. There are two departures heading from the capital to Udon Thani each day at 21.00 and 21.30, with the trip lasting around 10 hours so you are due to arrive at 07.00 the following morning with tickets available at THB440. En route, these services call to Khon Kaen, with a scheduled duration of seven hours for this trip and tickets priced at THB400.
The biggest advantage with travelling with Esan Tour is that the operator uses large buses which tend to be far more comfortable than smaller minivans which are often cramped. This is especially important if you are travelling for 10 hours. Also, minivans will not allow for a large amount of luggage to be transported so you will often have bags under your feet or even on your lap. Fortunately, this is not the case when using a larger bus.
There is a good range of departure times, with the option of day and overnight services on these routes, although they are more expensive. This is especially useful for anyone who may need to arrive in Chiang Mai for early the next morning, as the Esan Tour service arrives at around 05.00 from Khon Kaen. Also, the option of visiting Udon Thani and its proximity to the border of Laos and Vientiane is a popular option for many.
Delays are pretty common on these routes as well as others across the country. You will need to bear this in mind if you are travelling to Chiang Mai to catch a flight or heading to the border with Laos.
Keep in mind
Esan Tour uses larger buses with a capacity for 40 passengers, as opposed to the smaller minivans that are often used on routes across the country.
The service to Udon Thani is popular with those heading towards the border with Laos and you can cross over to visit Vientiane quite easily. This is also a good option if your visa is expiring and you need to exit the country during the next few days, especially as it is considerably cheaper than a flight.
Esan Tour services are comfortable and, with a good range of departure times on offer, are popular choices with travellers looking to head from either Bangkok or Chiang Mai to this region of the country.