How to Easily Travel from Chiang Rai to Bangkok

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Chiang Rai is my favourite city in Northern Thailand, but it’s very far away from Bangkok. That begs the question what is the best way to travel from Chiang Rai to Bangkok?

The two cities are also 800km apart, so it isn’t as easy as travelling between two cities in the same region (like between Chiang Mai and Pai).

There are two ways you can travel from Chiang Mai to Bangkok: flying or taking the bus. Even though it’s more expensive, flying is the best way to travel to Bangkok from Chiang Rai. It’s way quicker and more reliable.

But just because I think flying is the best way to travel to Bangkok doesn’t mean you will. This post will break down the pros and cons of both flying and taking the bus to Bangkok.

You’ll have all the information you need to decide what the best way to travel from Chiang Rai to Bangkok is for you and your travel needs.

But for me, it’s 100% flying. Taking the bus isn’t worth the time and potential delays. I’ll spend a little extra money and fly to Bangkok.

Taking the Bus from Chiang Rai to Bangkok

The first method we’ll talk about is taking the bus to Bangkok. It’s first on the list mainly because there is a lot more information you need to know compared to flying.

Buddha in the Blue Temple in Chiang Rai

How Long Does the Bus from Chiang Rai to Bangkok Take?

The bus to Bangkok from Chiang Rai takes about 12.5 hours.

Yup. It takes more than half a day to travel to Bangkok by bus from Chiang Rai. That’s a lot of time being stuck on a bus that may or may not have a bathroom.

Buses are often delayed because of traffic or longer than scheduled stops. Especially very long bus rides. Your 12.5 hour bus ride may stretch to be closer to 14 hours when it’s all said and done.

It isn’t guaranteed that your bus ride will be longer than 12.5 hours, but I wouldn’t make any plans for the first few hours you’re supposed to be in Bangkok just in case it is delayed.

The worst part is that it’s an overnight bus, so you have to try to get some sleep on the bus.

Luckily, buses in Asia have very large and comfortable seats. It’s easier to fall asleep on the buses in Asia than the buses in Europe, but it still won’t be a very comfortable sleep.

How Much Does the Bus Cost?

The price of a bus ticket varies, but you can expect to pay between 700 Baht and 900 Baht for your bus ticket to Bangkok from Chiang Rai. That’s approximately $19 USD to $23 USD.

That’s a pretty decent price for a 12.5 hour bus ride. It’s definitely less expensive than a flight to Bangkok is, so it’s a good option for people on a very tight budget.

Do You Need to Purchase Bus Tickets in Advance?

Yes! You absolutely do need to purchase your bus ticket from Chiang Ria to Bangkok in advance.

A lot of the blogs I read before my first trip to Thailand said that you didn’t need to book your tickets in advance. That you could just show up at the bus station the day of your departure and get a ticket for the next bus.

I discovered that was very outdated information when I tried to take the bus from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai and had to wait 4 hours to get on a bus because everything was sold out.

Now I recommend to everybody that they purchase their bus tickets for travel within Thailand in advance.

This is especially important for trips that don’t have many departures each day (like the bus from Chiang Rai to Bangkok). You don’t want to show up at the station to buy a ticket to learn that all the buses for that day are sold out and that you have to try again tomorrow.

That’s a headache if you’ve already planned on being in Bangkok the next morning and have a hotel booked in Bangkok.

Temple in Bangkok

Where to Buy Tickets in Advance

There are two places you can buy tickets in advance: online or at the bus station.

Normally I recommend that people buy their tickets online in advance through 12Go (the most reputable bus ticket seller in Southeast Asia) because it isn’t worth the hassle going to the station to purchase tickets in advance.

My advice when it comes to travelling from Chiang Rai to Bangkok is a bit different.

The bus station in Chiang Rai is super central. Most tourists stay within a 5 minute walk of the bus station, and you’ll need to go to the bus station to get to the White Temple.

Since the bus station is so close to where most tourists stay, it’s easy to purchase your bus ticket at the station either when you arrive in Chiang Rai or a few days before your journey to Bangkok

If you’re not staying within walking distance of the bus station, then it’s probably in your best interest to purchase your ticket online in advance. It’s way more convenient.

Learning Buddha Bangkok

Where Does the Bus Depart from in Chiang Rai?

The bus departs from Chiang Rai Bus Terminal.

It’s right in the heart of the city and is likely walking distance to your hotel. It’s a super convenient location and easy to get to!

Where Does the Bus Arrive at in Bangkok?

The bus arrives at either Nakhonchaiair Station or Mochit Station.

From there, you’ll likely use Grab or a bus to get to wherever you’re staying.

Staying Entertained on Your Long Bus Ride

12.5 hours on a bus is a long time. You need a plan on how you’re going to entertain yourself.

I highly, highly recommend you install an esim on your phone. I think esims are way better than getting a physical sim at the airport. You can install it ahead of time, avoid long lines to get your a physical sim, and you keep using your home number while you use your esim.

You’ll be able to scroll the internet and stay entertained while on the bus. 12 hours may not sound like a long time, but I’ve been on bus rides that are 12 hours, and you get very restless the last few hours.

I also want to remind you that you need to install a VPN on your phone to stay safe while using the internet when you travel. Public wifi networks put you at high risk of having your online information stolen, and you don’t want to deal with the hassle of cancelling bank cards just because you were careless and someone looked at and stole your private information. Trust me. I know from experience.

So, install an esim and get yourself a VPN.

Also make sure that your chargers are handy, your wireless earbuds are charged, and that you pre-download an audiobook or have a book (or two) to read if you’re a reader.

Flying from Chiang Rai to Bangkok

I think flying is the best way to travel to Bangkok from Chiang Rai. It is a bit more expensive, but it’s so much more convenient.

The flight from Chiang Rai to Bangkok takes less than 1.5 hours and is a direct flight.

There are normally 5 departures a day and cost on average $60 USD. Of course, flight prices vary a lot, so you could pay more or pay less. Flights tend to be less expensive the further in advance you book them so book as early as your travel plans allow it.

The flights to Bangkok from Chiang Rai are about three times as expensive as the bus, but they’re also way quicker. Even when you factor in travel time to the airport, being at the airport early, flying time, deplaning, and getting to your hotel in Bangkok, it’s still way quicker to fly than take the bus.

White Temple, Chiang Rai

Conclusion

I like to overland when I can. I much prefer the bus to flying, but there are times when even I choose to fly over taking the bus or train.

Travelling from Chiang Rai to Bangkok is one of those times.

Convenience outweighs cost in this situation for me.

Thailand is a way bigger country than a lot of people realize. I personally like to take the bus within different regions of Thailand (like taking the bus from Bangkok to Hua Hin in Central Thailand) and fly to different regions in Thailand (like flying from Bangkok in Central Thailand to Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand).

It just makes travel within Thailand so much easier.

So, I recommend flying from Chiang Rai to Bangkok. You only have so much time in Thailand, and you don’t really want to be spending the better part of a day on a bus if you can fly.

How to Easily Travel from Chiang Rai to BangkokHow to Easily Travel from Chiang Rai to Bangkok
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