Wat Jed Yod – Courtesy of Heinrich Damm/Wikimedia Commons
Where is Chiang Mai . . .
Located in the lush forested hills of northern Thailand, Chiang Mai is around 680km north of the capital Bangkok.
Getting to Chiang Mai
The most convenient route to Chiang Mai is by air via Bangkok. Thai Airways, Air Asia and Bangkok Airways offer daily flights from Bangkok International Airport (Suvarnabhumi Airport) to Chiang Mai.
Alternatively, several buses and trains depart from Bangkok to Chiang Mai daily.
You can choose from six daily trains or the overnight train, which offers air-conditioned berths and private sleeper cabins. Trip time is generally 12 hours, departing from Bangkok's Hua Lamphong Railway Station.
Numerous buses operate the Bangkok - Chiang Mai routei. The most comfortable include air-conditioned 24-seater VIP buses, with larger reclining seats. The trip takes about 8 to 10 hours and departs from Bangkok's Northern Bus Terminal.
From Australia: The most convenient flights to Chiang Mai are via Bangkok, including: British Airways, Emirates, Qantas Airways and Thai Airways, which offer daily direct flights from Sydney to Bangkok; Jetstar and Thai Airways offer direct flights from Melbourne; and Thai Airways offer direct flights from Brisbane and Perth to Bangkok.
From New Zealand: Thai Airways offers the most convenient flights via Bangkok; 1-stop flights are available via Kuala Lumpur on Malaysian Airlines or via Singapore on Singapore Airlines, with daily connecting flights to Chiang Mai.
From the UK: Most convenient flights include: British Airways, Qantas, Eva Air and Thai Airways, which fly daily non-stop between London and Bangkok, with daily connecting flights to Chiang Mai.
From the USA: From New York, the most convenient flights are on Korean Air to Chiang Mai via Seoul. From Los Angeles, the most convenient flights are on Thai Airways connecting via Bangkok, or on Korean Air to Chiang Mai via Seoul.
Flight time to Chiang Mai
Bangkok to Chiang Mai is 1 hour 10 minutes, direct flight
Brisbane to Bangkok is 9 hours 20 minutes, direct flight
Sydney to Bangkok is 9 hours 25 minutes, direct flight
Melbourne to Bangkok is 9 hours 30 minutes, direct flight
Perth to Bangkok is 7 hours, direct flight
Auckland to Bangkok is 12 hours 45 minutes, direct flight
London to Bangkok is 11 hours 15 minutes, direct flight
New York to Bangkok is 19 hours 50 minutes, with connecting flightˆ
Los Angeles to Bangkok is 17 hours 20 minutes, direct flight
(ˆIncludes layover time.)
Chiang Mai International Airport is located around 3km and a 10-minute taxi ride from the Old City. Airport taxis charge 150Baht for the ride into town, and slightly more for places outside of Chiang Mai proper. You can buy a ticket from the taxi booth in the airport arrival hall. Hotels can meet guests if prearranged.
Suvarnabhumi Airport (Bangkok International Airport) has replaced the former Don Muang Airport for most domestic and all international flights. The airport is located at Samat Prakan, around 30km east of Bangkok and 60km east of Pattaya.
A passport valid for at least six months beyond intended period of stay, a return/onward ticket and proof of sufficient funds. No visa is required for a stay of up to 30 days.
Getting around Chiang Mai
All major streets in Chiang Mai radiate from the Old City, which forms the heart of the city.
Several bus routes offer an inexpensive way to get around the city; each charge a fixed 10B to 15B fare.
Alternatively, hop on a songtaew (red pickup truck) to explore the city. Also known locally as a seelor (four-wheels), these vehicles follow no specific route and have no fixed stopping points: simply hail one going in your general direction and tell the driver your destination. If it is similar to the destinations of other passengers, you'll get a ride for around 15B to 30B.
Or bargain for a tuk-tuk: fares are negotiable but expect to pay at least 40B for any ride. Tip: write down the agreed price, so there is no argument once you arrive at your destination.
Chiang Mai also offers a choice of car, motorcycle and bicycle hire. Expect to pay around 1200B to 2000B per day for a car, 200B to 700B per day depending on cc size for a motorbike and around 50B per day for a bicycle.