So, you’re planning on traveling the popular route from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai. Without a doubt, the Green Bus service, which monopolizes this well-trodden route, is convenient and quite painless.
In Chiang Mai, Green Bus operates out of the newly renovated Arcade Bus Station. Walking through the main entrance, the shiny, green ticket counter is on your left. To the right of all the windows, there’s a queue number machine, so choose the purchasing option: same-day or future travel. Similar to Chiang Mai’s Immigration system, when your number is called, head to the designated counter, and buy your ticket(s). Keep in mind that you select your seat at this point, so if you’re prone to motion sickness like Mindy, avoid the seats near the back.
Given how busy the route between Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai is, consider buying your ticket at least a day in advance. Note: At the time of writing, Green Bus appears to be implementing a new online service, possibly even including the opportunity to buy your ticket(s). So, before heading out to buy your ticket in person, check out the Green Bus website.
We splurged for the Green Bus VIP class, which includes a toilet, air-conditioning, boarding music, a moist towelette, bottle of water, a snack, and on the return trip, a movie in Thai. The 3-hour trip through gorgeous scenery was definitely comfortable!
The VIP bus schedule runs northbound from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai starting at 7:00am with up to 10 departures per day. Other classes – X and A – cost less and offer fewer perks, and fill up the timetable with different departure times. The last bus leaves at 7:30pm (Fridays and Sundays only), or 5:30ish on other days. View the full schedule.
When booking your travels, it’s utterly important that you know that there are two bus terminals in Chiang Rai. Terminal #1 is located downtown, and is most likely your desired destination, whereas Terminal #2 is located a few kilometers outside of Chiang Rai. Check your ticket: under the date and time of your journey, there will be some Thai script and then the familiar Roman numeral of 1 or 2, which represents the terminal. If you find yourself at the wrong station, a tuk tuk will shuttle you to the other one for 10 Baht.
Hopefully, these travel tips make it easier for you when you make the trip between Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai… Happy Travels!