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World Travel Guide > Guides > Asia > Thailand > Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai Weather

42°C

Local time Chiang Mai

Currency

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Travel to Chiang Mai

Flying to Chiang Mai

There are no direct flights to Chiang Mai from the UK. The best way to fly to Chiang Mai is to fly to Bangkok and get a connecting flight. British Airways, EVA Air and Thai Airways operate direct flights to Bangkok; all offer tickets through tickets to Chiang Mai.

Flight times

From London - 15 hours (including stopover); New York - 21 hours (including stopover); Los Angeles - 19 hours (including stopover); Toronto - 21 hours (including stopover); Sydney - 11 hours 30 minutes (including stopover).

Travel by road

Traffic drives on the left in Thailand and the minimum driving age is 18. The road quality is mostly good, especially around cities and on intercity highways. Speed limits are 60kph (37mph) in towns, 90kph (56mph) outside urban areas and up to 120kph (75mph) on expressways. A national driving licence or International Driving Permit is required but long-term visitors staying over three months need to obtain a Thai driving licence.

Driving in Thailand can be a hair-raising experience however; don't be surprised to see cars and trucks overtaking in dangerous spots for example.

Emergency breakdown services

There is no national emergency breakdown service, but you can usually arrange roadside assistance through your car hire company.

Routes

Road routes to Chiang Mai are well signposted in English and Thai. From Bangkok, the most straightforward route is to follow Highway No 1 to Lampang, then Highway No 11 to Chiang Mai.

Coaches

As elsewhere in Thailand, travellers have a choice of ordinary and air-conditioned buses run by the government transport company Baw Khaw Saw (BKS) or privately owned air-conditioned buses, such as those run by Nakonchai (tel: 1624 (in Thailand only), +66 02939 4999; www.nca.co.th). Ordinary buses are cheap but are frequently overcrowded and delayed. Air-conditioned buses are more expensive, but run according to a timetable, allocate seats to travellers and provide snacks and videos on longer routes. You can buy tickets for air-conditioned buses at the terminals or through agents in town; ordinary bus tickets should be bought onboard.

In Chiang Mai, most long-distance buses use the Arcade Bus Terminal on Thanon Kaeo Nawarat, 2.5km (1.5 miles) northeast of Tha Phae Gate, but services to destinations in Chiang Mai province leave from the Chang Pheuak Bus Terminal on Thanon Chotana, about 500m (1,600ft) north of the Chang Pheuak Gate. The easiest way to reach the city centre is to hail a songthaew or tuk-tuk.

Time to city

From Bangkok - 8 hours; Chiang Rai - 3 hours.

Travel by Rail

Services

Chiang Mai's railway station is on Thanon Charoen Muang, around 2km (1.25 miles) from Tha Phae Gate on the eastern side of town.

Operators

The State Railway of Thailand (SRT) (tel: 1690, in Thailand only; www.railway.co.th) offers daily services between Bangkok and Chiang Mai, via Ayutthaya, Lopburi, Phitsanulok and Lampang. Fares vary depending on the class of train, the type of seat or berth, and whether or not you require air-conditioning. Daytime and overnight options are available and include high quality Chinese sleeper cars (with TV screens and aircraft-style toilets) introduced in November 2016. Book tickets several days in advance.

Journey times

From Bangkok - 12 to 15 hours.

Featured Hotels

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Ping Nakara Boutique Hotel

This tranquil colonial-era hotel set in tropical gardens has just 19 rooms featuring elegant hand-crafted teak furniture, rain showers and a pillow menu; some have balconies overlooking the garden. Amenities include a swimming pool, a spa and a restaurant serving authentic Thai cuisine. A breakfast buffet is complimentary.

Riverside House

Spacious, air-conditioned and simply furnished rooms are set in three blocks, and there's a small swimming pool in the garden too. Breakfast is free, and there's also a small cafe serving meals. Set along the Ping River near Saphan Lek (Iron Bridge), the hotel is also five minutes' from the night market.

Varada Place

Set on a quiet side street, this hotel offers excellent value. The simple, spacious rooms all have balconies and are furnished with small fridges, microwaves and balconies. Breakfast isn't offered, but there are plenty of options nearby.

Galare Guest House

The riverside setting is the big draw at this long-established, family-run guesthouse. Upmarket, comfortable rooms with air conditioning and hot water overlook a shady, peaceful lawn that leads down to an appealing covered restaurant on the banks of the River Ping.

Mandarin Oriental Dhara Devi

A few kilometres east of the city centre, the Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi is a stunning mock-up of a traditional Lanna village, with elegant stucco and mahogany villas and pavilions dotted around a vast garden of rice fields, palm trees and pools. Additional features include a spa, a themed swimming pool and three restaurants. One of the best hotels in Chiang Mai.

Gap's House

Centred on a leafy courtyard, this comfy hotel in Chiang Mai is crammed with antiques and northern Thai bric-a-brac, and the tasteful rooms have air conditioning and hot showers. The restaurant serves a popular evening vegetarian buffet, and the owners run a Thai cooking course in their village home. No advance reservations are taken.