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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
From Bangkok - 12 to 15 hours.