Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai

Last updated on April 19, 2024

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Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai are two enchanting cities in Northern Thailand, each offering unique attractions. Located about 200 kilometers (125 miles) apart, visiting both cities is a must for travelers seeking to explore the region’s stunning landscapes, rich culture, and laid-back atmosphere. Here’s your complete guide on how to travel between Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai.

Read about:
Distance from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai
Buses from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai
Private Car or Minibus Options
Chiang Rai Bus Terminals

Map depicting the 186 km route from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai in Thailand, with a prominent red line highlighting the main road used for travel between the two cities on

Distance from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai

The journey from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai covers approximately 200 kilometers (125 miles) via a mainly single carriageway road. With no major highways connecting the cities directly, travel times can be longer than expected, especially if you get stuck behind slow-moving vehicles.

The lack of train service and the short distance make flying impractical, leaving road travel as the only viable option. Most tourists opt for buses, as they are affordable, convenient, and reliable.

Buses from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai

Green Bus from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai

Greenbus Company is the primary bus operator for the Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai route (Read our Greenbus Review). Known for their modern, air-conditioned buses, Greenbus offers three classes of service:

  • A-Class (Express): Basic, affordable option with A/C. Takes around 3h 45m.
  • X-Class (Express): Slightly more comfort, onboard toilet. Takes around 3h 45m.
  • V-Class (VIP): Highest comfort, more space, onboard toilet, water, and snacks. Takes around 3h 20m.
Bus ClassDeparturesDurationPrice (THB)
A-Class Express 🚌Frequent, from 7:00-17:00~3h 45m271
X-Class Express 🚌Frequent, from 8:00-14:00~3h 45m370
V-Class VIP 🚌Less frequent, 7:30-18:00~3h 20m380

V-Class buses feature 3 seats per row (2+1 configuration), offering a spacious individual seat option for solo travelers. Booking in advance on is recommended, especially for V-Class buses, to secure your preferred seat.

About Greenbus
A Greenbus VIP 24 bus with 2+1 seating

Boarding and Arrival Points:

Private Car or Minibus Options

Minibus from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai

For a more comfortable and personalized experience, consider booking a private chauffeured car or minibus from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai. This is an excellent option for families or groups of friends traveling together.

Vehicle TypeCapacityDurationPrice (THB)
Toyota Corolla Altis or similar 🚗3 passengers~3h3,850
Toyota Innova or similar 🚐6-8 passengers~3h4,620
Toyota Commuter or similar 🚐9-12 passengers~3h4,950

Prices are per vehicle and include hotel pickup in Chiang Mai. Divide the cost among passengers for an affordable and flexible door-to-door option. Book in advance on platforms like 12Go for the best rates and availability.

Chiang Rai Bus Terminals

Chiang Rai Bus Station

Chiang Rai has two main bus terminals:

  1. Chiang Rai Bus Terminal 1 (Old Bus Station): Located in the city center, this is the primary arrival point for buses from Chiang Mai. However, the station is undergoing redevelopment, so confirm with staff if buses are still stopping here during construction.
  2. Chiang Rai Bus Terminal 2 (New Bus Station): Situated further from the city center, this modern terminal serves long-distance routes to other cities and provinces.

Practical Travel Tips

  • Luggage: Most buses allow one large bag and one small carry-on per passenger. Inform the driver if you have additional luggage, as a small fee may apply.
  • Booking Tickets: Book your tickets in advance, especially during peak seasons or holidays, to secure your preferred seat and avoid sold-out buses.
  • Boarding Time: Arrive at the bus terminal at least 30 minutes before departure to allow time for checking luggage and locating your platform.
  • Refreshments: Most buses make a short rest stop halfway through the journey. Bring snacks and water for the ride, or purchase them at the terminal before boarding.
  • Arriving in Chiang Rai: From the bus terminal, take a tuk-tuk, taxi, or songthaew (shared taxi) to your accommodation. Expect to pay around 100-150 baht for a tuk-tuk or taxi to the city center.

What to Do in Chiang Rai

Chiang Rai - White temple

Chiang Rai offers a laid-back atmosphere, stunning natural beauty, and unique cultural attractions. Some must-visit spots include:

  • White Temple (Wat Rong Khun): A contemporary, unconventional Buddhist temple with stunning white exteriors and intricate designs.
  • Blue Temple (Wat Rong Suea Ten): A mesmerizing blue temple featuring intricate carvings and a serene atmosphere.
  • Night Bazaar: A vibrant evening market offering street food, handicrafts, and live music.
  • Singha Park: A vast park with beautiful gardens, tea plantations, and a small zoo.
  • Doi Tung: A mountain range home to the Royal Villa, breathtaking gardens, and hiking trails.

How do you get from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai?

The most popular and affordable way to travel from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai is by bus. Greenbus Company operates frequent services throughout the day, with fares ranging from 271 to 380 baht. For a more comfortable journey, book a private car or minibus, which can be cost-effective when traveling in a group.

With its stunning natural beauty, rich culture, and slower pace of life, Chiang Rai is the perfect destination for those looking to escape the bustling city of Chiang Mai. By following this comprehensive guide and travel tips, you can easily plan your journey and make the most of your time in this enchanting northern Thai city.

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Kamolchat Thanaditsayakun
About Kamolchat Thanaditsayakun

My name is Kamolchat - a writer with a passion for travel who loves sharing stories of new destinations and unforgettable adventures. I was born and raised in Thailand and I have always been captivated by the beauty and diversity of my homeland which inspired me to venture out and discover the world.

Over the years, I have had the pleasure of contributing to various travel publications and websites, such as Lonely Planet and Viator. I strive to provide an authentic representation of the places I visit, get into the heart of local cultures and finding authentic experiences that nourishes the soul.

As I continue to journey across the globe, I want you to join me in experiencing the wonders of our world through my stories. Together, we can learn, grow, and be inspired by the incredible people, places, and cultures that make our planet such an extraordinary place to explore.