Bangkok to Chiang Rai

Bangkok to Chiang Rai

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Bangkok to Chiang Rai Schedule

Bangkok to Chiang Rai Schedule
Transport NameRoute TimePrice
BangkokTaxi24 Van 9pax Any time$ 357.81
Thai Vietjet Economy #VZ13006:30 - 07:55$ 30.84
Thai Smile Economy #WE13008:30 - 10:05$ 56.91
Nok Air Economy #DD10210:35 - 11:50฿ 5,789
Thai Vietjet Economy #VZ13213:45 - 15:10฿ 2,588
Thai Vietjet Economy #VZ13214:00 - 15:25฿ 1,743
Nok Air Economy #DD10617:55 - 19:15฿ 1,609
Sombat Tour VIP 33 19:50 - 06:50฿ 1,133
Budsarakham Tour Express 20:10 - 08:55฿ 905
Budsarakham Tour Express 22:00 - 10:20฿ 990

How to get from Bangkok to Chiang Rai

The variety of sights and activities which Chiang Rai province can offer to a traveller is greatly diverse. Whether you are after archaeological wonders of Chiang Saen, finest teas of hilly Mae Salong, arguably the best Thai coffee of Doi Tung, or busy vibe of border towns of Chiang Khong or Mae Sai, Chiang Rai will not disappoint you. The provincial capital itself is a charming little city with relaxed atmosphere, friendly locals and tasty food. Elegant northern temples, misty mountainous vistas and Western-style cafes do not lack. Taking into account good accommodation options, chances that you will stay longer in Chiang Rai than you have expected, are high.

How to get from Bangkok to Chiang Rai

The northernmost province of Thailand, Chiang Rai lies some 800 km to the north of Bangkok, so be prepared for at least a twelve-hour journey.

From Bangkok to Chiang Rai by bus

Direct buses from Bangkok to Chiang Rai leave from the Northern Bus Terminal in Bangkok, Morchit. The majority of buses depart in the evening and arrive early in the morning – in fact, it is the most convenient way to get to Chiang Rai from Bangkok as you save both the precious daytime of your journey and some baht on a hotel room. In peak periods, i.e. in winter and during festivals in October or April, it is highly advisable to book tickets at least a couple of days in advance.

Bangkok Busline and Siam First, among others, operate overnight VIP buses from Morchit to Chiang Rai. The former has a VIP bus at 6.10pm (arriving at 5.55am) and the latter offers two buses at 7pm and 7.20pm, both arriving around 6am. Tickets cost THB720, and the service provided on board is very much similar: all buses have toilets, serve a bottle of water and some snacks and make at least a couple of stops at larger gas stations with convenience stores, coffee shops and food courts. At the beginning of your journey be ready for an ‘entertainment TV program’, but it is usually shut down in an hour or so. All the long-haul overnight buses provide blankets, but sometimes even those are not enough as the temperature inside the bus tends to be freezing, so have some warm clothes at hand.

*Bangkok Busline also has an Express bus leaving at 8.30pm and reaching Chiang Rai at 7am with tickets sold at a bit lower price (THB620). It is also ok, though you will have less knee and elbow space. In general the company gets great reviews from travellers, so a ride with Bangkok Busline is a sure bet.

From Bangkok to Chiang Rai by train

No, there is no railway line passing through Chiang Rai. If you want to travel by train by all means, head from Bangkok to Chiang Mai first and then cover the final leg by bus. There are numerous bus departures from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai throughout the day with tickets easily bought right on the spot.

Tip: Chiang Rai bound buses depart from the Arcade bus station in Chiang Mai, located three km from the train station. You can get there by tuk-tuk (THB80). The journey from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai takes about three hours. On their way to Chiang Rai, buses pass by the famous Wat Rong Khun, aka the White Temple. You can ask the driver to let you get off the bus near the temple and continue your journey to Chiang Rai a couple of hours later, just flagging a passing by bus down.

From Bangkok to Chiang Rai by plane

To cut your travel time from Bangkok to Chiang Rai, consider flying between the two cities. Instead of spending about 12 hours travelling by an overnight bus, you can get to the northern city of Chiang Rai in an hour and a half.

Thai Lion Air, one of the latest additions to the low-cost carries scene in Thailand, operates four daily flights from Don Mueang airport in Bangkok to Chiang Rai Airport and offers very competitive prices. On most days you can get tickets at as low as THB1000, but in busy periods be prepared to pay up to THB2000 per person one way. This fare includes 15 kg of checked-in luggage and 7 kg of cabin luggage; if you need more luggage allowance, you can always buy extra kgs for THB400. There are flights at 8.20am, 12.35pm, 5.15pm and 6.40pm. The last two arrive in Chiang Rai after dark, so it is a good idea to have your accommodation already booked.

In Bangkok Lion Air is based in Don Mueang International Airport to the north of the capital. To get there, use airport shuttle buses (routes A1 and A2). A1 starts from Morchit bus terminal and A2 originates at the Victory Monument, calling en route to Sanam Pao, Ari, Saphan Kwai and Morchit BTS stations (THB30). The latter is also served by A1 route. Travel time depends on traffic and is from 60 to 80 minutes. There are commuter trains between Hua Lamphong train station and Don Mueang airport, too. Trains take about 50 minutes to get from the railway station to the airport and are always a secure bet. Operating time is from 4.20am till 10.25pm.

Chiang Rai International Airport serves almost exclusively the Chiang Rai–Bangkok route, though there is at least one international flight to the Chinese city of Kunming. The airport is located 8 km to the northeast of the city centre and the only way to get to the city from the airport is to use a taxi. Rates fluctuate between THB100 and THB200 depending on whether you take a metred cab or the airport service with a flat rate. If you book your accommodation in advance, it is worth inquiring at your hotel whether they provide a complimentary pick-up, but only some of the more expensive ones do. Tuk-tuks are not allowed to pick up passengers at the airport; you can walk out and try to catch one in Phaholyothin Road, but there is not much sense in doing it, as you most probably will be asked to pay about THB150 for a ride to the city centre.

Tip: There are counters of car rental companies at Chiang Rai Airport. If you are planning to rent a car, shop around as the rates offered are sometimes very reasonable.

Getting around

Chiang Rai is rather flat and relatively small which makes bicycles a great choice for getting around. You can rent bicycles through the majority of guesthouses (from THB100 per day); motorbikes are also available with daily rates starting from THB200. For short rides around the city tuk-tuks charge about THB60.


For many travellers Chiang Rai serves as a convenient base for trekking in the nearby mountains and visiting local hill tribes. The easiest way to do it is to join a package tour offered by some of the guesthouses. There are several highly revered temples in the city, including Wat Phra Kaew, where, as the legend puts it, the famous Emerald Buddha image was discovered in the 15th century. While in Chiang Rai, do not miss a modern creation of Charlemchai Kositpipat, an otherworldly white temple, which has actually become the most recognizable symbol of Chiang Rai.

Golden Triangle

Sop Ruak, a small town one hour to the north of Chiang Rai, is a touristy heart of the Golden Triangle. The borders of the three countries – Thailand, Laos and Myanmar – meet there. A vast area around it is notorious for opium production – for many years, the Golden Triangle remained the world’s largest opium producer. Two museums of Sop Ruak, the Hall of Opium and the House of Opium, have comprehensive expositions dedicated to the opium-related past of the region. The Hall of Opium is a large modern museum with multimedia displays; the House of Opium is much smaller but has a good historical collection of tools and implements used in the trade.

From Chiang Rai to Laos: cruising along the Mekong and zip-lining in Bokeo

Chiang Rai is a popular starting point for getting to Laos through Chiang Khong–Huai Xai border crossing. Buses for Chiang Khong depart from Chiang Rai from morning till early afternoon and bring you to the border in 2½ hours. Visas to Laos can be obtained on arrival at the Lao side of the border on the other side of the Mekong River. In December 2013 the fourth Thai-Lao Friendship bridge linked Thai Chiang Khong with Huai Xai in Lao, replacing thus a previously used ferry crossing.

Most travellers head to Huai Xai to take a slow boat to Pak Beng and Luang Prabang. The landscapes along the way are idyllic, true, though a two-day trip with a night stop in Pak Beng is sometimes too much. IIt is not a bad idea to consider taking a touristy cruise instead which follows the same route but offers more comfort.

There is another popular activity to try in Huai Xai, which is zip-lining in Nam Kan National park in Bokeo. Though there are a lot of opportunities to do canopying or zip-lining in Thailand, too, Bokeo operator offers much more interesting experience bringing you to the jungle for a two nights and three days tour. You will sleep in tree houses high above the ground and most probably meet rare black gibbons which were discovered in Bokeo in 1980s. The whole thing is not dirt cheap, but is you can afford it, definitely do.

Transportation from Bangkok to Chiang Rai

Facts about the transport from Bangkok to Chiang Rai

Cheapest Transport$21
Fastest Transport1h 15m
Earliest Departure6:40 AM
Latest Departure8:35 PM
Departures per day52
Distance869 kilometers
Transport CompaniesBangkok Busline, BangkokTaxi24, Budsarakham Tour, Firstplan Transport Services, Glassflower, Nakhonchai Air, Nok Air, Sombat Tour, Tara Tour and Travel, Thai Airways, Thai Lion Air, Thai Smile, Thai Vietjet, Transport Co

Bangkok to Chiang Rai Destination Reviews

The bus journey was comfortable. We were provided a meal as soon as we boarded, I assume this is because we took the overnight bus to allow the lights to be turned off. The meal was chicken and rice wjth a juice. The seats were comfortable but I often felt myself sliding off. It got a little chilly towards the end of the journey but nothing unbearable. Upon reaching our destination we were given a sandwich and milk.
Bus Gold Class, Nakhonchai Air (นครชัยแอร์), Nov 15, 2023
Seat really comfy, they also give you complimentary water and snacks. During the night (around 2 am) there's a stop where you can go to the toilet, and eat (for free) in a cantine where you can also have juice or milk (soy milk available). Reading the reviews I was expecting to arrive earlier, but luckily we were perfect on time (7.30 at Chiang Rai bus station).
Bus VIP, Bangkok Busline (บางกอกบัสไลน์), Oct 13, 2023
The bus was on time and we had a pleasant ride. We even got dinner and breakfast, we did not expect that. With the seats you could lean back so that a sleeping position could be taken. There is a blanket, but you should still dress warmly because the air conditioning is running all the time.
Bus Gold Class, Nakhonchai Air (นครชัยแอร์), Aug 17, 2023
The bus started 30 minutes earlier and arrived 2 hours earlier. If I would known, I would have bought an earlier flight ticket. The seats are very uncomfortable and the blanket is too thin for the glacial cold inside the bus. Moreover, the air conditioning control is broken so you can't close the air conditioner on your head. I spent a horrible night.
Bus Standard, Transport Co (บริษัท ขนส่ง จำกัด), Aug 14, 2023
Comfortable, AC and snacks. Not loads of room to sleep if 6ft+
Bus VIP, Bangkok Busline (บางกอกบัสไลน์), Apr 25, 2023
The bus arrived to the indicated platform on time. The staff was helpful with us to stowe the bagpacks in the bus hold, telling us where we had to get off. We even had separate seats with my girlfriend and the driver was kind enough to ask a passenger to change seats so that we could be together. The seats lean back ok, although they're not the most comfortable ones for a long ride. They give you a bottle of water, a snack and a blanket. Overall good experience.
Bus Express, Budsarakham Tour (บุษราคัมทัวร์), Apr 12, 2023
all ok, nothing to complain
Bus Express, Budsarakham Tour (บุษราคัมทัวร์), Apr 11, 2023
enough room on the bus, you got a blanket and it was dark and quiet. A great alternative to flying. The bus left on time and arrived earlier than expected.
This review was autotranslated
Bus VIP 31, Transport Co (บริษัท ขนส่ง จำกัด), Jan 5, 2023
As some have already written here, you need some assistance from other Thai travelers to find the right bus. On the ticket it says where our bus should leave, but at the time there was another bus there. Our bus was nowhere to be found. We were then told to wait. The next bus that came was another one that should have left long ago. In the end, our bus left from another platform and 1 1/2 hours later. Unfortunately there are no displays to track this and all announcements are in Thai. So don't be afraid to ask your way through and be patient. The staff from the bus itself was very friendly, took us to our seat and even made extra sure that we could sit next to each other after all, even though our booked seats were apart. The bus was also ok overall. The toilet did not meet European standards and the headrests were a bit hard and even for my wife a bit too low. Otherwise, you could at least recline the seat quite far back. In addition, there was a bottle of water per person and cookies. The trip to Chiang Rai then ran but without further delay and we arrived with the approximately 1 1/2 hours late.
This review was autotranslated
Bus Express, Budsarakham Tour (บุษราคัมทัวร์), Dec 30, 2022
The bus and the attendant was amazing. We left Bangkok early but arrived maybe an hour late in Chiang Rai. But it’s ok. Also, the lady who helped me at your Bangkok office on Sunday, December 11, was very very very helpful. Amazing lady and the gentleman with her in the office. Thank u!
Bus Gold Class, Nakhonchai Air (นครชัยแอร์), Dec 14, 2022
391 customer reviews