How do you know which bus terminal you will arrive?
There are two bus terminals in Chiang Rai. Don’t get confused by outdated information on some blogs or websites. Terminal 2 might be referred to as the ‘new bus terminal’, but Terminal 1 (sometimes referred to as the ‘old terminal’) was renovated in 2017.
Terminal 1: This is the bus terminal located in the heart of the city and close to the night market (night bazaar). It mainly serves other cities in Chiang Rai province, but also has buses connecting to Chiang Mai city. It is the most convenient terminal if you would like to spend a few days in the downtown area before participating in the workshops, and it has a huge choice of hotels and guest houses nearby. It is also close to various tourist attractions. If you need to wait a few hours, there are a lot of good coffee shops and restaurants just a few minutes walk from the terminal.
Terminal 2: It is located a dozen kilometers south of downtown Chiang Rai, and primarily services long distances buses (Bangkok, Laos etc), and also buses from/to downtown Chiang Mai. Only Green Bus company buses will continue to Terminal 1 located in downtown Chiang Rai. Local transport connects the two terminals for 15 baht. If you need to wait a few hours, there are a a few local coffee shops and restaurants near the terminal.
If you arrive from Chiang Mai
The easiest way to travel from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai is by bus. It is a scenic journey because the bus meanders through some beautiful, natural scenery and hilly landscapes. The Green Bus company stops at both Chiang Rai terminals, so when buying tickets be sure to specify if you prefer to disembark at Terminal 1 or Terminal 2. When getting on the bus, it is also best to remind the staff putting your luggage in the baggage hold whether you will disembark at Terminal 1 or 2. From Chiang Mai, the bus will first stop at Terminal 2 (for 5-10 minutes) before heading to Terminal 1.
Fares for the Green Bus depend on the type of coach (2nd class, First Class or VIP) and range from 150 to 350 baht range. The trip takes approximately 3 hours.
If you arrive from Bangkok
By Air: There are daily, direct flights from Bangkok with a flight time of about 1 hour and 10 minutes. Low cost carriers (AirAsia, NokAir, Thai Lion Air, VietJetAir) are as reliable, comfortable and safe as other airlines, and fares range from approximately 800 baht. They all fly from Don Muang International Airport (Bangkok), excepted VietJetAir. Other airlines (Bangkok Airways and Thai Airways) fly from Suvarnabhumi Airport (Bangkok) with more expensive fares.
Chiang Rai International Airport is located 11 km northeast of downtown. A taxi to the city costs around 200 Baht.
By bus: Buses to Chiang Rai leave from Bangkok’s Northern Bus Terminal also known as Mo Chit.
Buses for Chiang Rai depart approximately every 2 to 3 hours throughout the day, and there are also overnight buses. Bus fares range from 600 to 900 baht depending on the type of coach (standard, 2nd class …). The trip takes approximately 10 to 12 hours.