Chiang Mai is Thailand’s second largest city and the largest in Northern Thailand. Substantially smaller than the capital, Bangkok, Chiang Mai is still very much a recommended place to visit, offering a different urban experience and atmosphere to the massive capital. Built around the original historic walled city, Chiang Mai has a lot of history and culture, and serves as a gateway to the beautiful countryside of Northern Thailand, where many more great attractions and sightseeing await. The journey from Chiang Mai to Bangkok is one of Thailand’s most popular routes, traveled by thousands of tourists every year as well as locals going back and forth to visit friends and family. Taking a bus from Chiang Mai to Bangkok is one of the most popular ways to travel, and we’ll give you the low-down on buses, schedules, prices and travel tips below.

Why Take a Bus from Chiang Mai to Bangkok?

By road, it is about 700 kilometers (437 miles) from Chiang Mai to Bangkok, so traveling by bus does involve a long and sometimes arduous journey. There are definitely faster options, but you cannot beat traveling by bus for the cost – this is the cheapest way to get from Chiang Mai to Bangkok.

However, the cheapest way isn’t necessarily the best, so why would you choose a bus when there are other options? The quickest way to go between these two cities is to fly. The flight from Chiang Mai to Bangkok is only about an hour, and flights are surprisingly affordable as there are multiple flights and airlines on this route. Going by train from Chiang Mai to Bangkok is also very popular – it’s one of the most highly recommended train journeys in Thailand and can be cheaper than flying but still more expensive than the bus. The most expensive is to take a private taxi. This is convenient and the fastest way to travel on the ground, beating both trains and buses.

Chiang Mai to Bangkok by Bus
Sombat Tour buses at Chiang Mai bus station 3 © nitinut380 /

So, what are the benefits of traveling by bus from Chiang Mai to Bangkok? Well, the cost is the biggest advantage. Bus tickets start at around 580 baht and go up, depending on the type of bus you choose. The journey is long, although some buses will get you to Bangkok faster than the trains will, and the flexibility of traveling by bus is a big advantage too. There are far more buses departing Chiang Mai every day compared to the number of trains, so it’s easier to fit in with your other travel plans.

Chiang Mai to Bangkok Bus Times

Nakhonchai Air Bus Chiang Mai to Bangkok
Nakhonchai Air Bus Chiang Mai to Bangkok Gold Class

As mentioned, with multiple bus companies operating the Chiang Mai to Bangkok route, you will have many different buses to choose from every day. There are generally three different time periods – departures in the morning, afternoon or evening.

If you pick a morning departure, you will travel through the day arriving in Bangkok late afternoon or evening. Traveling through the day allows you to sit back and enjoy the passing scenery. The journey may not be quite as scenic as traveling by train but you will still get to see a lot of Thailand’s countryside!

Sombat Tour VIP 20 seat
Sombat Tour VIP 20 seat

An afternoon bus from Chiang Mai to Bangkok will get you into Bangkok late evening. This isn’t the best option if you then have to travel to your hotel or you need to get to one of the airports, although there will usually be at least one mode of transport available right through the night in Bangkok.

Traveling on an evening bus has the advantage of getting you to Bangkok in the early morning of the following day. However, the same as with arriving late at night, early morning arrivals can be problematic if you have to wait around before you can travel somewhere else, so if this sounds like an issue for you, choose one that arrives a little later in the morning for added convenience. The good thing about traveling overnight is that you can sleep on the bus and this saves you having to pay for a night in a hotel.

Bus Schedule From Chiang Mai to Bangkok

Tran Sport CoVIP 3107:30 to 19:2311hrs 53m579 THB
Sombat TourVIP 3107:30 to 17:3010 hrs1,016 THB
Nakhon Chai AirFirst Class09:30 to 20:1010 hrs 40m974 THB
Tran Sport CoExpress10:00 to 20:3010 hrs 30m664 THB
Sombat TourExpress 4013:30 to 23:3010 hrs762 THB
Tran Sport CoVIP 3118:00 to 05:53 (+1)11 hrs 53m579 THB
Sombat TourExpress 4018:10 to 04:10 (+1)10 hrs762 THB
Bangkok BuslineExpress18:40 to 04:10 (+1)9 hrs 30m664 THB
Sombat TourVIP 2019:00 to 05:00 (+1)10 hrs1,016 THB
Bangkok BuslineVIP19:10 to 04:40 (+1)9 hrs 30m763 THB
Nakhon Chai AirGold Class19:15 to 04:50 (+1)9 hrs 35m743 THB
Nakhon Chai AirFirst Class19:46 to 05:19 (+1)9 hrs 33m974 THB
Bangkok BuslineVIP20:00 to 06:30 (+1)10 hrs763 THB
Bangkok BuslineVIP 2420:05 to 05:35 (+1)9 hrs 30m994 THB
Sombat TourExpress 4020:10 to 06:10 (+1)10 hrs762 THB
Budsara Kham TourVIP20:15 to 07:30 (+1)11 hrs 15m783 THB
Sombat TourVIP 3120:30 to 06:30 (+1)10 hrs1,016 THB
Sombat TourExpress 4021:10 to 07:10 (+1)10 hrs762 THB
Sombat TourVIP 2021:30 to 07:30 (+1)10 hrs1,016 THB

As you can see, there are 19 different departures throughout the day and these are offered by a total of five different bus companies. The cheapest ticket is available on a bus from Chiang Mai to Bangkok with Transport Co – the Thai government run transport company. Tickets on their VIP 31 bus are just 579 baht, but, they have the longest journey times. The most expensive is a VIP bus with Sombat Tour, while the fastest bus is around 9.5 hours with Bangkok Busline and Nakhonchai Air.

What Type of Bus from Chiang Mai to Bangkok?

Bangkok Busline Express Seats
Bangkok Busline Express Seats with 4 people on each row.

Prices can vary a lot depending on what type of bus you choose to travel by, although this rule doesn’t apply with Transport Co buses as these are VIP rated and they are the cheapest, plus the bus stops about halfway and passengers are provided with a free meal included within the ticket price.

Transport Co VIP buses are not quite as luxurious as the private companies but they do have generously sized seats with leg rests. Sombat Tour VIP buses are the most expensive and they include TVs and have food and snacks available. The Gold Class buses operated by Nakhonchai Air are essentially standard (Express) buses, while their First Class buses have comfortable reclining seats and personal screens. A VIP 24 bus with Bangkok Busline has fewer seats, giving more space, and there are toilets onboard, as there are also on some of the other VIP services.

Transport Co bus interior VIP 31
Transport Co Seats on VIP 31

If you want more legroom, a leg rest, a personal TV, toilet onboard and steward service, look for the VIP buses, while Express services will be far more basic.

You can book all of the buses mentioned above online through 12Go. The benefit of booking through them is that you can easily compare all of the buses and see what facilities each one has. The prices above include a small booking fee that 12Go charges, but this is a small cost for the convenience of being able to book in advance and know you have the seat and the bus that you wanted!

Which Bus Terminal in Chiang Mai and Bangkok?

Transport CoChiang Mai Arcade 2Mo Chit Bus Terminal
Sombat TourChiang Mai Bus Terminal 3Sombat Tour Chatuchak
Nakhonchai AirChiang Mai NakhonchaiairNakhonchaiair Station
Bangkok BuslineChiang Mai Bus Terminal 3Mo Chit Bus Terminal
Budsarakham TourChiang Mai Arcade 2Mo Chit Bus Terminal

Departure Bus Terminals Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai Bus Terminal 2 (Arcade Bus Terminal)
Chiang Mai Bus Terminal 2 (Arcade Bus Terminal) © Amnat Phuthamrong /

Arcade Bus Terminal 2 and Chiang Mai Bus Terminal 3 Easing congestion in the city center, the Arcade Bus Terminal 2 is on the edges of the city, close to the major ring road, Highway 11. Right across the street across the street is Chiang Mai bus station 3, where passengers can make use of the better and more modern facilities. This larger bus station has more services for passengers such as several places to buy food and drink, an air conditioned waiting room, shops and mini-marts, and even a massage service in case you need to loosen up before or after a long trip!

Chiang Mai Nakhonchaiair station is also right next to Arcade Bus Terminal 2.

Arrival Bus Terminals Bangkok

Mo Chit Bus Terminal
Mo Chit Bus Terminal © paisan sangjunrung /

Mo Chit Bus Terminal Bangkok (Northern Bus Terminal)

Most buses from Chiang Mai to Bangkok arrives in Mo Chit Bus Terminal. It is the most popular Bus Terminal in Bangkok for traveling to Thailand’s North (to Chiang Mai, to Chiang Rai and Isan). It is situated in the Northern Part of Bangkok close to the new train station Bang Sue Grand Station.

Sombat Tour Chatuchak and NakornChai Air Bus Station are both in the Chatuchak area in the northern part of Bangkok only a few kilometers from Mo Chit Bus Terminal.

Can you take a train from Chiang Mai to Bangkok?

Yes, Thai Railways operates trains through the day from Chiang Mai to Bangkok’s Hua Lamphong Railway Station. It’s a long journey, but you can book sleeper berths and travel overnight, saving yourself the cost of another night in a hotel, and it’s a very scenic journey when traveling in daylight. Compare ticket prices and berth options on our guide Chiang Mai to Bangkok by train.

How long is the bus ride from Chiang Mai to Bangkok?

It’s about 700kms (435mi) from Chiang Mai to Bangkok so traveling by bus takes a long time but you’ll see plenty of beautiful scenery along the way. Schedules show a shortest journey time of 9.5 hours, up to 12 hours for some bus companies. Travel website, 12Go, sells tickets for Sombat Tour, Bangkok Busline, Transport Co, Budsarakham Tour, and Nakhonchai Air, and you can choose from VIP or Express buses.

How far is Chiang Mai from Bangkok?

It’s about 700kms (435mi) from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, in Northern Thailand. By road or rail it’s a long journey, with buses taking around 10 to 12 hours, while trains can take as much as 14 hours, both with overnight options. Book tickets through 12Go and compare all the prices; flights are much faster and can actually cost less than the train, while buses are usually cheapest.


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