How to get around Chiang Mai: info, costs and advice

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Lluis Enric Mayans

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700 km north of Bangkok, Chiang Mai is the most populous and important city in Northern Thailand. Here they are based hundreds of Buddhist temples richly decorated. Among the most important: Wat Chedi Luang, a huge temple complex dating back to 1385 and Wat Phra Singh. Outside the city, about 15 km away, another unmissable attraction is Wat Phra That Doin Suthep, named after the mountain on which it was built: it is one of the most sacred and revered temples Northern Thailand (as well as one of the most visited in Chiang Mai).

Here is a guide on how to get around Chiang Mai: info, costs and advice!


  1. Useful Tips
  2. How to get from the airport to the center of Chiang Mai
  3. How to get around on foot
  4. By scooter or bicycle
  5. Con i mezzi pubblici
  6. By car
  7. User questions and comments

Useful Tips

To visit the center the optimal solution is walk around.
For the suburbs and surrounding temples (such as Doi Suthep temple) or Doi Inthanon park, the best solution is to book a personalized guided tour, in which you can decide the means (tuk-tuk, red songthaew bus, minivan, ... ) and agree on the path to follow. The cost is very low, around € 30,00 every 4 people, variable based on the agreed itinerary and vehicle.
Some tuk tuks can be hired for the whole day, you understand that from the fact that display signs with hourly or daily rates. It could be the ideal solution to save both time and money and avoid looking for a new vehicle and bargaining the price every time.

Given the chaotic traffic conditions, we do not recommend the rental of cars and scooters. Even if the renter does not ask for it, an international driving license is essential, a helmet is mandatory and, if possible, it is better to rent the vehicle through the hotel. Furthermore, at the time of rental you will be asked for a deposit and / or passport: in the second case, NEVER leave the original, but a photocopy. Finally, if you get a fine, ask for a receipt (ticket) from the policeman to avoid another one at the next checkpoint.

  • Recommended solutions and means: on foot and tuk-tuk with personal driver
  • Solutions and means not recommended: cars and scooters, buses

How to get from the airport to the center of Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai International Airport (CNX) is less than 3 km from the city. There are various options to reach the center but, given the distance and the economic costs, the most convenient way is by taxi which in 10-15 minutes, traffic permitting, will take you to your destination. Official taxis can be found at the exit of the terminal, immediately after baggage claim and customs; they usually use the taximeter and from the airport to the center the fare is around 104,00 THB (€ 3,00).

Then there are some shuttle made available from the airport which have a fixed rate of 160,00 THB (€ 4,60) and can carry up to 5 people. Another alternative is to take a minibus or songtaew for an average cost of 55,00 THB (€ 1,50); traditional buses are cheap, around 21,00 bath (€ 0,60) but not very reliable; times are not indicated. Alternatively, you can book a private transfer to the hotel online (from € 4,00 per person).

Chiang Mai International

  • Distance from the center: 2,4 km / travel time: 10-15 min;
  • By shuttle: average cost THB 160,00 (€ 4,60) / travel time: 10-15 min
  • By taxi: average cost THB 104,00 (€ 3,00) / travel time: 10-15 min
  • By bus: average cost THB 21,00 (€ 0,60) / Line 4
  • By minibus or songtaew: average cost 50,00-60,00 THB (€ 1,40-1,70) / Line 4
  • Private transfer: one way transfer from / to the hotel

How to get around on foot

Most of Chiang Mai's most interesting attractions and temples (around 30) are located within the walls or in its immediate vicinity. Therefore, if you are staying in Old Town, you can move around quietly on foot, also because the historic center is collected, flat and extends over an area of ​​about 1km x 1km.

Walking on foot is a joy and an emotion because it allows you to fully enjoy the lively and lively atmosphere of the city and its people. In addition to easily reaching the most interesting temples and monuments, you can stroll among the various street-food stalls and take a look at the markets. If you are tired at the end of the day, you can be taken back to your accommodation by a tuk tuk for a few cents.

By scooter or bicycle

An alternative that allows you to move in total autonomy, albeit not recommended due to heavy traffic, is to rent a scooter or a bicycle. The renters in the city are numerous and often the same hotels and guest houses provide this service. The prices are cheap: for the rental of a scooter you start from around 138,00 THB / day (€ 4,00). Obviously, interesting promotions are applied for long-term rentals. To drive a scooter in Thailand both a driving license and an international license are required, as well as a helmet. At the time of rental you will be prompted a deposit and / or passport. Before you take the vehicle and leave, check the conditions to make sure there is no damage already.

Cheaper bike rental: from 52,00 THB / day (€ 1,50). Beware of traffic chaotic and crowded, you need to be very practical and "have 1000 eyes".

  • always available
  • Ticket / single ride cost: scooter from 138,00 THB / day (€ 4,00); bicycle from 52,00 THB / day (€ 1,50)

Con i mezzi pubblici

As in most locations in Southeast Asia, also in Chiang Mai the best means of getting around are taxis, tuk-tuks. There is also a bus service with routes that connect Chiang Mai with other locations such as Chiang Rai and Bangkok, and often travel even at night. We see below the means available in detail.

Tuk tuk

Chiang Mai's most characteristic means of transport is the tuk tuk, the traditional three-wheeled taxi which can be found in almost every city in Thailand. Fast, crazy and cheap, they are perfect for short distances. They are found practically everywhere, especially near the most touristic areas: at the exit of temples, stations, markets, hotels, attractions.

There is no taximeter but, in principle, a short ride into town costs around THB 50,00 (around € 1,50). We advise you to agree on the amount and negotiate before getting on. Some tuk tuks give you the possibility to rent them for the whole day, you understand from the fact that display signs with hourly or daily rates; for example with a private tuk tuk tour of the temples of the city you will have a tuk tuk at your disposal for the duration of the tour (less than € 30,00)!

  • 24 hours on 24
  • Ticket / single ride cost: THB 50,00 (€ 1,50); price always to be negotiated


Chiang Mai has private and public taxi companies and the prices are not excessive: a ride to the city center costs around THB 173,00 (€ 5,00), while to move to the suburbs the prices increase. Although equipped with a taximeter, even taxi drivers tend to estimate a lump sum. As for the tuk-tuks, always agree before going up and negotiate the price!

The problem, however, is that, in Chiang Mai, taxis are hard to find on the street: most of them are stationed outside the airport, bus terminals, train terminals and high-end hotels. A valid method for finding a means is le very convenient apps, such as Grab Taxi and Uber. Once you have entered your position and the destination to be reached, the closest available car will be sent to you, indicating the price that, more or less, you will spend.

  • generally active from 7:00 to midnight; after midnight better to rely on Grab and Uber
  • Ticket / single ride cost: from 173,00 THB (€ 5,00); price always to be negotiated

Songthaew bus

Songthaew are characteristic colored minibuses which function as a cross between a bus and a taxi. They are easily available and charge cheaper rates than tuk tuks, offering, among other things, greater safety. Just like buses, they have a fixed itinerary with various lines that are distinguished by the color of the vehicle: the white songthaew connect the center with the eastern part of the city up to Sankampaeng; the yellow ones go north to Mae Rim, the blue ones go south to Sarapee and Lamphun, while the green songthaew cover the northeastern neighborhoods to Mae Jo. All depart from the Warorot Market area and apply the flat rate of 21,00 THB (approximately € 0,60).

Red songthaew, on the other hand, can be used as taxis and then they take you where you ask. Like the tuk tuks, they go around the center and park in areas of high tourist influx: next to markets, temples and stations. Also for songthaew the rule of agreeing e negotiate the price before going up. Keep in mind that the correct figure is around THB 24,00 (€ 0,70) for the city center and THB 54,00 (€ 1,55) to go to the suburbs.

  • from 8:00 am to midnight
  • Ticket / single ride cost: from 24,00 THB (€ 0,70)


Of all the means to get around Chiang Mai, the bus has always been the least used. They have recently been introduced new vehicles and linesin particular, the B1 and B2 lines which depart from the Chiang Mai bus terminals and Arcade Bus Station and which offer connections to the historic center, the airport and the main markets of the city.

Although they are cheap (the single ride costs a minimum of 15,00 THB, about € 0,45), the buses are unreliable and there are no tables with timetables that, in fact, are almost never respected.

  • not indicated in specific tables
  • Ticket / single ride cost: THB 15,00 (€ 0,45)

By car

Both at the airport and in the city, there are counters of the major international car rental companies, as well as Thai companies offering affordable rentals. The price for the rental of a modern and equipped car ranges between THB 900,00 (€ 25,00) and THB 2.000,00 (€ 58,00) and, unlike scooters and motorcycles, car rentals include insurance, although it is sometimes limited to those in possession of a valid international driving license.

Formalities aside, the advice is to avoid driving in the city. The traffic in Southeast Asia is very intense and the driving style of the locals rather anarchic. Take the vehicle to drive independently only out of the city to reach other Thai locations.

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