Private taxi/minivan options
To Doi Inthanon from Chiang Mai
The only public service option to get to Doi Inthanon from Chiang Mai is songthaew, but it is a challenging and limited option for tourists, only a few waterfalls will be accessible. The distances between attractions in the park are big and can't be walked between by foot, it can be a long wait between songthaews which quite often departs in irregular times because the drivers often won't take off until there are enough passengers.
Take the yellow-colored songthaews in front of Pratu Gate of the old city. This songthaews end stop is at Chom Thong at the southeast side of the park. There change to another songthaew operating between Chom Thong and Doi Inthanon headquarters. Since two songthaews are involved, and the fact they are slower than normal cars/minivans, it could take 2-3 hours to reach the park. Few waterfalls are along the routes of this songthaew. There are no public transfer options to the summit, to the trails, to two chedis which are located in a more interesting part of the park to west and north/west.
The best way to discover Doi Inthanon is by renting a car or joining tours with English speaking guides, those who can ride a scooter could rent one from 200-250 Baht. Driving around on a scooter can be quite a chilly experience during cold periods, not recommended unless you are properly dressed.
To Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai International Airport (CNX) handles both domestic and regional international flights. The route from Bangkok is one of the busiest in the country (Thai Airways flies daily almost every hour, with additional flights in the peak tourist season).
The airport is some 3 km southwest of the city centre, only 10-15 minutes away by car. Legal airport taxis charge a flat 120 THB for up to 5 passengers anywhere in the city; if you take a metered taxi, the fee will start from 40 THB + a 50 THB service fee from the Meter Taxi counter. The taxis operate from the exit at the north end of the terminal, after baggage claim and/or customs, walk into the reception hall and turn left. Alternatively, take bus #4 to the city centre for 15 THB, or charter a tuk-tuk or songthaew for 50-60 THB per person. Most hotels and some upmarket guesthouses offer cheap or free pick-up/drop-off services.
Chiang Mai has two official bus stations, consisting of 3 terminals:
- Arcade Bus Station (Bus Terminals 2 and 3) - At the far end of Kaeo Narawat Rd just before it meets the superhighway. Buses from and to destinations outside Chiang Mai Province use this station. It effectively has two terminals, separated by a tuk-tuk stand and a road.
- Terminal 3 is the larger of the two. It has an Internet cafe, small food vendors, ATMs, the booking window for Green Bus (Window 20), and numerous other ticket sellers. Buses for Bangkok, Phitsanulok, Ubon, Korat, Nan, Luang Prabang, Mae Sot depart from here.
- Terminal 2 has a tourist police office, ATMs, food vendors, and many ticket sellers, including the booking office for government buses. Buses depart from here for Bangkok, Phitsanulok, Udon. There seems to be no rhyme or reason as to what buses go to which destination from which terminal. There is a good deal of overlap.
- Chang Phuak Bus Station (Bus Terminal 1) - Off Chang Phuak Rd, on the north side of the moat, about 1 km north of Chang Phuak Gate. This station handles buses within Chiang Mai Province including Mae Rim, Chiang Dao, Fang, Tha Ton, Phrao, Hot, Chom Thong, Doi Tao, and Samoeng.
A variety of daily buses leave frequently from Bangkok's Northern Bus Terminal (Mo Chit), offering varying choices of price, comfort and speed.
- Rattling government buses make frequent stops at every minor township. The journey takes around 12 hrs and costs 200 Baht.
- Non-stop 24/32-seaters and 1st class buses such as Nokhonchai Air provide larger seats and snacks; making the long trip more comfortable. They manage the trip around 9 hours and cost around 550 Baht. Be cautious about the so-called "VIP" buses touted on Khao San Rd. They may be cheaper, but you may end up crammed into a 2nd class bus or worse.
At Arcade Bus Station, where you'll arrive, public songthaews wait nearer Terminal 3, adjacent to the road that bisects the two terminals. Look for local people getting into them, and ask the driver if he goes to your destination (if the songthaew is empty, don't forget to confirm the price). A shared trip to Tha Phae Gate (south edge of the old town) should cost 20 Baht each, though you may have to wait for a driver who agrees. Virtually all songthaews will pass Warorot Market (city centre, just after crossing the river), from where it's just 1 km walk to Tha Phae Gate, or numerous (see "Get around" section) songthaews to other areas.
Alternatively, you can charter the whole songthaew or take a tuk-tuk. The drivers will approach you once you've arrived and will ask as much as 80-100 Baht to the city centre/Tha Phae Gate, showing you a bogus price list with "fixed" prices. Bargain, it's just 5-6 km, so the fair price for tuk-tuk there is 50 Baht, and is not more than 100 Baht even to the opposite side of the city. It may be difficult to bargain with these drivers, however. A good idea is to ignore them from the start, walk out to the nearby street, and catch a passing tuk-tuk/songthaew there. If your luggage is light, you can walk to the centre, but it's quite a long walk, as the Arcade bus station is located in the city's northeast outskirts.
Songthaew touts may ask foreign tourists for an outrageous 150 Baht per person for a shared ride to town. Challenged, they will drop to 100 Baht. Similar prices are demanded by tuk-tuk drivers.
The best policy is to walk to the main street and catch a tuk-tuk for perhaps 60 Baht, or a songthaew for perhaps 30 Baht per person. You will have to haggle for either.
Services from Bangkok's leave on a regular daily schedule and take 12-15 hours to reach Chiang Mai. If you go by night train (recommended), try to choose one which arrives late to get an opportunity to see the landscapes. They are really impressive, with bridges, forest, villages and fields.
Daytime services leave at 08:30, and 14:30 with second-class (281 Baht) and third-class (121 Baht) carriages. The seats in each class differ in softness and width and can become uncomfortable after 10+ hours.
Overnight sleepers provide comfortable bunks with clean sheets and pillows in first- and second-class. First-class beds (~1,400 Baht) are in private two-bed compartments; in some trains first class compartments have only one berth and cost 500 Baht more than usual, and whole compartments can be booked for single occupancy for the same amount. In second-class (~900 Baht), the carriages are open but each bunk has a curtain for privacy. First-class is always air-con, second class is sometimes air-con. There are usually four trains per day with sleeper accommodation, though only two of these will have first-class compartments. Station staff will be able to help you.
Carriages are kept clean; the toilet and floors are regularly mopped during the journey. Vendors make regular rounds selling snacks, drinks and lacklustre meals. Vendors will try to inflate the prices for tourists so be prepared to get ripped off, haggle, hop off quickly at stations or bring your own.
In second-class, the bunks are folded away leaving pairs of facing seats. At some point in the evening, or on request, they get flipped down into bunks and made up into beds. In first-class, the bottom bunk is used as a bench seat before having a futon mattress deployed onto it in the evening.
If you're not in the mood for bed when your carriage mates are bedding down, you can head off to the dining car, which provides fairly good food and drink at not too great a premium. Later in the night, the dining car can turn into a disco, complete with loud music and flashing lights.
Tickets can be bought up to 60 days in advance at any station in Thailand. Booking in advance is advised, especially for the popular 2nd-class overnight sleepers. Larger stations accept payment with Visa/MasterCard. This is fairly safe, as SRT is a state-owned company. The online e-ticket service was discontinued February 14, 2013, and tickets must now be obtained at the stations, though you can still check availability on-line. 1st and 2nd class air-con sleeper tickets are 150-200 Baht more expensive than fan-only car tickets. Various travel agencies, some available to contact from outside Thailand, can also procure tickets for delivery or pick up, with fees typically starting at 100 Baht.
Chiang Mai train station is about 3 km east of the city centre. Plentiful songthaews and tuk-tuks await each train's arrival. If you want to walk, exit the station, cross the open square in front and turn left on the first major road you come to (Charoen Muang Rd); this road goes directly to the city centre.
This page uses material from the Wikitravel released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike Licence 3.0.
Chiang Mai is in the center of an area full of national parks and wildlife sanctuaries. Most of the hotels listed here are located in central Chiang Mai where day trips can be done to nearby national parks and other attractions. Little Home Inthanon Resort and Doiintanon View Resort are right outside the Doi Inthanon checkpoint at the southeast end of the park.
The links will open hotel details page on Agoda.com
- Puripunn Hotel | Chiang Mai, from 125 USD
- Shewe Wana Boutique Resort & Spa | Chiang Mai, from 80 USD
- Doi Inthanon View Resort | Chom Thong, from 81 USD
- Aurora Resort Chiang Dao | Chiang Dao, from 37 USD
- 137 Pillars House | Chiang Mai, from 355 USD
- Anantara Chiang Mai Resort | Chiang Mai, from 373 USD
- Baan Klang Wiang Hotel | Chiang Mai, from 95 USD
- Tamarind Village Hotel | Chiang Mai, from 155 USD
- The Dhara Dhevi Hotel Chiang Mai | Chiang Mai, from 368 USD
- Rimping Village Hotel | Chiang Mai, from 81 USD
- Golden Bell Hotel | Chiang Mai, from 50 USD
- De Naga Hotel Chiang Mai | Chiang Mai, from 106 USD
- Ruen Come In | Chiang Mai, from 57 USD
- Sakorn Residence & Hotel | Chiang Mai, from 45 USD
- OYO 788 Galare Guest House | Chiang Mai, from 23 USD
- Viangbua Mansion | Chiang Mai, from 27 USD
- Pattara Place | Chiang Mai, from 21 USD