There are three ways to travel from Chiang Rai to Bangkok:
- Flights: Chiang Rai has a small airport with low cost flights to Bangkok.
- Bus: Inexpensive bus services run overnight direct from Chiang Rai to Bangkok.
- Train: Travel to Chiang Mai by road and take a train from there to Bangkok.
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Option 1: Fly from Chiang Rai to Bangkok
There are around 14 flights a day from Chiang Rai to Bangkok, operated by 5 different airlines, to choose from. The major difference between the airlines is that two (Thai Lion Air, Nok Air and Thai Air Asia) arrive at Don Mueang Airport and the other two arrive at Suvarnabhumi International Airport (Bangkok Air and Thai Smile). The airlines flying to Don Mueang Airport are the cheapest. The most expensive airline, Bangkok Air, offers free drinks and snacks both in the airport and during the flight. The seating is also better.
Don Mueang Airport or Suvarnabhumi Airport?
Another way to decide which airline to use is to think about where where are planning to travel to next. Its quicker to travel into central Bangkok from Don Mueang Airport than from Suvarnabhumi International Airport, however, Suvarnabhumi International Airport is closer to Pattaya.
Transport from Don Mueang Airport
- Public Transport: From Don Mueang Airport there is a shuttle bus from outside the terminal building to a BTS (skytrain) or MRT (metro) station every 12 minutes. The journey takes 30 minutes and costs 30 THB per person which you pay on the bus. The shuttle bus from Don Mueang Airport also continues onto Morchit Bus Station.
- Taxi: The taxi journey from Don Mueang Airport to Central Bangkok is also cheaper and quicker than the taxi journey from Suvarnabhumi International Airport.
Flight Times From Chiang Rai to Bangkok
|Chiang Rai - Bangkok ฿ 1,023–4,514 1h 20m – 1h 30m|
|Chiang Rai - Don Mueang Airport ฿ 993–2,436 1h 15m – 1h 55m|
Option 2: Bus from Chiang Rai to Bangkok
The bus is the cheapest way to travel between Chiang Rai and Bangkok. This is a long overnight journey of 11 to 13 hours covering a distance of 786 km. The bus will stop twice on route at roadside restaurants. Snacks and drinks are included in the price and there is a toilet on board. The VIP service is the best one to book. There are less seats on the VIP bus allowing the seats to recline further which makes it easier to sleep.
Bus Times From Chiang Rai to Bangkok
|Bangkok Busline||13:00||01:40||VIP||795 THB|
|Sombat Tour||16:00||04:40||VIP 20||1,046 THB|
|Transport Co||17:05||06:26||VIP 31||647 THB|
|Budsarakham Tour||18:15||05:35||VIP||817 THB|
|Bangkok Busline||18:30||06:10||VIP||759 THB|
|Sombat Tour||19:00||06:00||VIP 32||998 THB|
Location of Chiang Rai Bus Station
The departure point for these services to Bangkok is Chiang Rai Bus Terminal 2 located on the Phahonyothin Rd about 7 km south of Chiang Rai City Centre.
Morchit Bus Station
Morchit is Bangkok’s largest bus terminal with bus departures and arrival to or from destinations in the North of Thailand, as well as international destinations such as Phnom Penh in Cambodia, and closer destinations in Thailand such as Pattaya and Kanchanaburi. For onward travel from Morchit Bus Station the easiest option is take a taxi to either Chatuchak MRT (metro) or Mo Chit BTS (skytrain) stations. In a meter taxi this journey will cost between 50 THB and 60 THB.
Location of Morchit Bus Station
Option 3: Train from Chiang Rai to Bangkok
The train line does not reach Chiang Rai. If you have the time perhaps consider breaking up the journey by going first from Chiang Rai to Chiang Mai, then catching an over night train from Chiang Mai to Bangkok. The bus ride from Chiang Rai to Chiang Mai is a manageable 3 hours 30 minutes. From Chiang Mai to Bangkok the train is scheduled to take between 10 hours 35 minutes (the fastest train) and 14 hours 40 minutes (the slowest train). The best train overnight train to catch is Train #10 departing at 18:00 as this service uses the brand new train carriages brought into service in November 2016.