Bangkok to Chiang Mai

There are several ways to travel between Chiang Mai and Bangkok, but if you’re backpacking and on a budget then it’s probably best if you take the overnight sleeper train or an overnight bus. Not only will this mean you don’t waste any of your days travelling, but you combine the cost of transport with saving the cost of a hostel or hotel for the night, too.

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Sleeper Train

There are more than a few trains that travel overnight between Chiang Mai and Bangkok, leaving between 3 and 7 in the afternoon and arriving in Bangkok early the next morning. The second class beds consist of four bunks per area, with space above the doorway to store suitcases and bags. There are plugs in each of the small sleeping areas, a trolley that passes through several times with both meals and snacks and a curtain to pull around your bed for privacy. A Second Class bottom bunk bed costs 881 THB (around £17) and 791 THB (around £15) for a top. There is a communal toilet in each coach, air conditioning and fresh pillows and linen are provided for each bed. A smooth, peaceful train journey which is over in just more than eight hours.


There are tens of flights daily which take just over an hour and cost anywhere between £25 and £90 each way with airlines like AirAsia. If you don’t want to lose hours to travelling on land then flying is absolutely the way to go, but be sure to book far in advance and get a reasonable rate for the flight. It’s also worth noting that transport costs between the cities and the airports should be taken into consideration as well as cost of checking baggage onto short haul flights.


There are both daytime and overnight buses between the two cities, both taking 9.5 hours. A First Class seat will cost 759 THB (£15) or a Second Class 569 THB (£11). First Class bus company runs two buses in the morning and then three in the late evening, whilst the Second Class buses only run overnight. Again this is a great way of saving money on a hotel and by travelling First Class you know you’ll be travelling in luxury. Tickets for both classes can be purchased online by clicking here.


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16 thoughts on “Bangkok to Chiang Mai

  1. Hello! I’m finding your posts extremely helpful, do you know if you can just get a bus on the day? I’ve looked at some online options to book before I go but these seem extortionate compared to the prices which you’ve mentioned. I’ll be leaving the UK shortly for a while month in Thailand and have lots of transfers to places to organise 😅 thanks in advance

    1. Hi! Thank you. You can definitely get one on the day or when you arrive in Chiang Mai go to the bus station and book it in advance for some peace of mind 😊

      1. No problem! I wouldn’t worry too much about booking transfers in advance, I was totally like you the first time I travelled to Asia but when I got there realised everything can just be booked on the day 😊

    1. Exactly! When I got there I was sort of annoyed at myself for pre planning everything, because there’s places I really didn’t enjoy but had to stay in and then places I wanted to stay longer in, but I totally get why you want to plan it all I’m the exact same!

      1. I’ve booked my hostels through so I only had to reserve and pay when I get there but this still means I kinda have to be in certain places at certain times – I’m just so excited now! Less than three weeks to go, I’ll be reading up on some of your posts whilst I’m there ☺️

      2. I’m visiting Bangkok, Chiang Mai, then back to Pattaya to see some friends, Koh Samui and probably a few near by areas, down to Krabi/Ao Nang/Railay Beach/Koh Phi Phi (I don’t think you can visit the south without) and finally Phuket. It’s going to be busy! Haha.

  2. I will be traveling sometime in the Fall in the USA, and was delighted to find information about sleeping trains. I do not like flying and the train seems more enjoyable and acceptable. Thanks for giving me a new way to travel.

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