Chiang Rai International Airport is located about ten kilometers outside the city. It is a small airport with just one terminal and very little in the way of entertainment as you wait for your flight.
There is no train service directly to Chiang Rai. The furthest north the train runs is Chiang Mai and from there you can catch as bus to Chiang Rai.
There are many buses going to Chiang Rai from Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and many other cities in Thailand. Other than flying from Bangkok, the air-conditioned buses are the best choice if your journey is going to be a long one. It takes about fourteen hours from Bangkok to Chiang Rai; although there are some express buses that can do the trip a bit faster. Coming from Chiang Mai it takes about four hours. If you are coming from Lampang you can make the journey in about two hours. The Old bus station in Chiang Rai is right in the heart of the city beside the night bazzar.
The new bus terminal opened in April 2009 and has since become the center for nearly all inter-provincial routes, hosting VIP, 1st-class, and only a handful of 2nd-class bus lines. Companies of note include Sombat Tour with 2 offices on site, Green Bus with the only routes to and from Chiang Mai, and the high-class Nakhonchai Tour and Nakhonchai Air lines. Nearly all of the bus companies operating here have clear signs and posted schedules, so it’s easy to get the information you need.
Getting Around Chiang Rai
The public bus service in Chiang Rai is quite good and will be able to take you to most of the destinations you want to get to around the province. The best thing about doing things this way is that it is very cheap. On the down side some routes don’t have many air conditioned buses and you may find yourself on a packed vehicle where you will need to stand for up to an hour.
Rent a Motorbike or Car
There are a few places in the city where you will be able to rent a motorbike or car. This can work out quite well and give you a lot of freedom. If you are experienced using a motorbike you should have few problems although the mountain roads in the north of the province can be dangerous. If you are riding in the city it is important to realize that many drivers ignore the rules of the road completely.
Chiang Rai city can be enjoyed by bicycle and so can most of the other towns in the province. This is safer than the motorbike and it can be a pleasurable way to tour the area. It is also possible to go on longer bike tours if you have the energy for this. The cooler weather in the north of Thailand means that cycling can be more pleasurable – especially during the cool season.
For the first time, visitors and residents can enjoy the luxury of flagging down a meter-taxi here in this northern-most town in Thailand. The taxis are Toyotas that can be flagged down for trips within the city or booked for trips throughout the province. Chiang Rai, often billed as the “City of Artists is also the gateway province to the Mekong Region.” It shares river borders with Myanmar and Laos.