How to Travel from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai

The land distance between Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai is about 150 kilometers. If you want to travel from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai, or from Chiang Rai back to Chiang Mai, you can choose different modes of transportation, such as plane, bus, taxi, car rental, and private transfer. However, taking a plane usually requires a transfer and costs more time and money. Car rental requires familiarity with the local road conditions, which is not suitable for foreign tourists. Therefore, we recommend the most popular choices of bus and private transfer (including taxi, SUV, vans, etc.). In addition, you can also choose a one-day tour from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai, which not only provides car transfer, but also a guide to visit the main attractions in Chiang Rai.

 

Bus - Cheapest

Bus is the most common way to travel from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai, and it is also the first choice for most tourists. The buses from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai are mainly operated by Green Bus company, which has multiple departures every day, from Arcade Bus Terminal (Terminal 2) in Chiang Mai to Bus Terminal 2 in Chiang Rai. The one-way ticket price varies from 6 to 11 US dollars, depending on the type of bus and the seat level. The journey takes about 3.5 hours.

 

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Green Bus company has three types of buses, namely V-class, X-class, and A-class, which differ in the size, comfort, and service of the seats. V-class is the most advanced type of bus, with spacious seats, ample legroom, and free drinks and snacks, as well as free WiFi on board. X-class is the medium type of bus, with comfortable seats and free drinks, but no snacks or WiFi. A-class is the lowest type of bus, with crowded seats and no free service, but the cheapest price.

Generally, V-class and X-class seats need to be booked in advance. You can buy them online on Green Bus's official website, or at the ticket window of Arcade Bus Terminal. A-class seats do not need to be booked. You can buy them at the ticket window half an hour before departure, or pay directly to the driver on board.

 

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The buses from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai usually stop once on the way, allowing passengers to use the restroom or buy some food. If you want to get off at the White Temple, you can tell the ticket seller when you buy the ticket, or tell the attendant when you board the bus. They will remind you to get off when they arrive at the White Temple. From the White Temple to Chiang Rai city, you can take a tuk-tuk or a songthaew, which takes about 20 minutes.

To return from Chiang Rai to Chiang Mai by bus, you can buy tickets at Bus Terminal 2 in Chiang Rai, or book them online on Green Bus's official website. Note that Chiang Rai has two bus terminals, Bus Terminal 1 and Bus Terminal 2. The buses from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai will pass through Bus Terminal 1 first, and then arrive at Bus Terminal 2. The buses from Chiang Rai to Chiang Mai will depart from Bus Terminal 2, and will not pass through Bus Terminal 1. Therefore, you need to distinguish the two bus terminals when you buy tickets, to avoid going to the wrong place.

 

Private transfer - most comfortable

Private transfer refers to the private car service provided by professional drivers or companies, which can customize your itinerary and time according to your needs and preferences. This is the most comfortable and flexible way to travel from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai, but it is also relatively expensive, and may not be suitable for travelers with limited budget. You can book a private transfer from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai through online platforms, or find one at the airport or hotel in Chiang Mai. The price of private transfer varies from 60 to 100 US dollars, depending on the type of car and service. The journey takes about 3 hours. Private transfer will pick you up from your hotel or designated location, and take you directly to your hotel or destination in Chiang Rai, without changing cars. Moreover, you can also stop and visit some attractions on the way, such as the White Temple, the Black House, the Golden Triangle, etc., according to your preferences. Private transfer is available every day, and you can choose the suitable time according to your schedule.

 

Join a one-day tour to Chiang Rai

If you don't have enough time to stay in Chiang Rai, you can choose to join a local one-day tour to Chiang Rai, which can let you see the main attractions of Chiang Rai at once, and also interact with the guide and other tourists, adding fun to your trip. You can sign up for a one-day tour online or through a travel agency, which usually includes round-trip transportation, guide, entrance fees, and lunch, etc. Depending on the attractions and services you choose, the price is around 50-100 US dollars. The itinerary of a one-day tour is usually to depart from Chiang Mai in the morning, visit the White Temple, the Black Temple, the Blue Temple, etc. in Chiang Rai on the way, have lunch in Chiang Rai, go to the Golden Triangle area in the afternoon, enjoy the view of the Mekong River, and also take a boat to a small island in Laos for shopping, and return to Chiang Mai in the evening. A one-day tour is time-saving and effortless, but the schedule is relatively tight, and you may not have much free time.

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