Chiang Mai Airport to Old City: Bus, TukTuk, Taxi, Or Walk?

Find out everything you need to know about traveling from Chiang Mai Airport into the City Centre (Old City).

From the tuk-tuks, buses, taxis, private transfers, and more these are my top tips so you don’t miss your flight, this ultimate guide on traveling from Chiang Mai Airport To Old City absolutely has you covered!

Like anywhere you may travel to you may find yourself wondering how to get from the airport to your accommodation, extra points if you plan on doing it on a budget! Luckily it is pretty damn easy to travel from Chiang Mai Airport to city.

Chiang Mai is one of my favorite places in Thailand. I have spent probably a month in Chiang Mai over various trips and it is a hope of mine someday that I will move there.

Chiang Mai Airport is actually only 3 kilometers away from the Old City. It’s a super close journey but unfortunately, not really a walkable one considering the traffic around.

Though no journey to the airport is cheap, no matter which country you are in and how far away the airport is located! Luckily enough there are numerous transportation options available to get you from the Chiang Mai Airport to the City hassle-free.

Let’s go through all the options from the airport shuttle bus, train, and private transfer to the taxis and buses to find the right option for you.

Transport MethodTimeCostHighlight
Taxi10 minutesfrom $5Fast and comfortable journey
Airport Transfer10 minutesfrom $12Prebooked and reliable transport
Songthaew30 minutesfrom $1.30Cheap journey
Tuk-tuk10 minutesfrom $4Perfect introduction
Bus20 minutesfrom $0.70Super cheap!

tasha amy hanging out at one of the beautiful temples in chiang mai
hanging out at one of the beautiful temples in chiang mai

🚗 How I Book Cheap Transport In Thailand: 12Go Asia

Chiang Mai Airport Taxi To City

No matter where you are in the world taking a prepaid taxi is always the easiest and simplest way to travel between the airport and your accommodation.

Of course, the same goes here where taking a prepaid Chiang Mai Airport taxi is the most common option for getting from Chiang Mai Airport to the city center. It’s a quick and convenient way to travel between the two locations and you know you aren’t getting ripped off.

To take one, you will need to visit one of the prepaid taxi counters just before you exit the arrivals hall. Once here there are two types of taxi options to choose from. Either the Chiang Mai Airport Taxis or the metered taxis.

There isn’t a major price difference. The fixed-price taxis cost 150 THB / $4.20 and the metered taxi usually works out to around the same amount.

Prepaid taxis are generally my go-to option when arriving in a new country. It means I do not have to stress about arguing with a regular taxi driver to not get ripped off, making my first hour somewhere a more enjoyable experience.

Overall starting my new adventures in a country off with ease, allowing me to get to my accommodation and relax after a flight or just get exploring.

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birds eye view of taxi driving in chiang mai traffic
birds eye view of taxi driving in chiang mai traffic

Grab Taxi From Chiang Mai Airport To Old City

Whoooo finally Grab has just opened up a pickup area at Chiang Mai Airport! This is about time and allows travelers to have more affordable options at their fingertips.

For a long time, Grab taxis weren’t actually allowed in the Airport grounds. Instead, you would need to walk out in order to catch one.

I personally love using Grab when traveling Southeast Asia. It is essentially the same as Uber where you can set your pick-up and drop-off points, pay via card, and get estimates in advance.

As a traveler who doesn’t speak the local language and is worried about common scams in Thailand, this saves me a whole lot of headaches!

You can catch the grab taxis from the dedicated pickup and drop-off point. It is located by the taxi stands and the bus stop.

booking a grab taxi from chiang mai airport to city in the grab app
booking a grab taxi from chiang mai airport to city in the grab app
the grab taxi pick up location on a map of chiang mai airport
the grab taxi pick up location
a grab motorbike with a passenger
dont worry grab does actual car taxis as well as motorbikes

Chiang Mai Airport Transfer

The easiest way to get from the Old City to Chiang Mai Airport is certainly by booking a private transfer. Though, when something is easy it is oftentimes never cheap.

You can book a Chiang Mai airport transfer from any hotel on 12.Go Asia from $12.00 for a 4 seater car or $16.00 for a 9 seater van. If you are traveling with a large group of people and don’t want the hassle of having to organize something when you arrive this could be the best option for you.

Also if you contact your accommodation in Chiang Mai they should be able to organize a private transfer for you. You will then just have to pay for this transfer once you arrive at the hotel or hostel.

This option makes it quite easy as there will be someone waiting there with your name on a signboard.

I have actually used this private transfer option quite a few times when traveling throughout Southeast Asia.

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Songthaew From Chiang Mai Airport To City

Let your first experience in Chiang Mai be a local one by taking a songthaew into the old city. This is one of the main ways to travel within Chiang Mai.

It is essentially a public bus in the form of the back of a red pickup truck. So what better introduction to your experience in this incredible city?

To take a songthaew, make your way through immigration and the arrivals hall until you find yourself outside of the exit of the arrivals hall.

Once here, you will see a lineup of bright red pickup trucks aka Songthaews. All you need to do is advise the driver as to where you are going. If he is not going in that direction he may say no. Though there will be plenty more to choose from so no stress.

The standard rate for the journey is 40 THB / $1.10. Though it is quite common to be offered to leave early for an extra cost of not filling up the rest of the songthaew with passengers.

This extra fee can cost anymore from 100 THB to 200 THB / $2.80 to $5.60. Be prepared to haggle if you like or just simply just wait for more passengers.

🚗 How I Book Cheap Transport In Thailand: 12Go Asia

Tuk-Tuk From Chiang Mai Airport To City

If you want to take a local form of transport, but perhaps don’t want to share with other people in a songthaew, then you can take a tuk-tuk.

This is also the perfect introduction to Thailand as everyone loves the famous Thai tuk-tuks.

There will be plenty of tuk-tuks to choose from outside the arrival exit. You can always find heaps outside the airport so if you can’t see one just wait a few minutes and one should park up.

There is nothing better than enjoying the wind in your hair and the interesting smells around you as you watch these new landscapes pass.

The one downside is that tuk-tuks are not the most spacious means of transport. So if you have quite a few bags this won’t be the best option.

The standard rate for tuk-tuks is between 100 THB to 120 THB / $2.80 to $3.30. However, the majority of drivers will happily tell you there is a fixed rate of 150 THB / $4.20.

So be prepared to haggle, and yes I have fallen for that one before.

tuk tuk taxi waiting from chiang mai airport to city
a waiting tuk tuk

Chiang Mai Airport Bus To City

Like most places, taking the bus is definitely the cheapest option for the start of your backpacking Chiang Mai journey. Though this can seem quite daunting if you are arriving somewhere new.

Nevertheless, this is what you need to know.

There are three different bus routes to choose from, all of which head to central Chiang Mai, and at least circle some part of the moat around the old town. These buses can be found just outside the arrivals hall where there is a white bus stop sign.

The first bus is the 24A Yellow bus which goes to Nimman Road first before Saun Dok Gate.

The second bus, 24B Red, goes in the opposite direction heading Chiang Mai Gate and Tha Pae Gate first before heading inwards to the old town and out to Chang Puak Gate.

The third bus, 24C Green, also goes to Chiang Mai Gate and Tha Pae Gate before heading further out of town to the flower market and train station.

The cost of the bus is 20 THB / $0.50 and they run every 30 minutes from 6.30 am to 11.30 pm.

For a map on these routes check out the RTC website.

Where To Stay In Chiang Mai?

You are spoiled for choices when it comes to choosing where to stay in Chiang Mai. There are countless 5-star resorts, locally run guesthouses, and hostels.

No matter your budget or the type of traveler you are there is something to fit all needs.

I mainly choose to stay within the confines of the Old City when it comes to my accommodation. This is the best location if you are staying for a short period or this is your first time visiting.

However, if you are thinking about living in Chiang Mai you will want to stay further afield in such places as Nimman.

The Old City is within walking distance of many beautiful temples, excellent shopping, delicious restaurants, and the famous Sunday Night Market. Have you checked out my 3 days in Chiang Mai itinerary yet?

On my most recent visit, I stayed at De Lanna Hotel. This is a mid-range hotel located in the heart of Old City. The location was fantastic and having a pool to enjoy during the afternoon heat was perfect.

Also, on the complete opposite side, I stayed in the cheapest available hostel on my first visit. The owner was great, but the facilities were less than, and I think it’s probably a good thing it’s shut down now.

the common hostel

The Common Hostel

A modern and upscale hostel. From $13.00 per night including a fab breakfast.

Chiangmai Midpoint Activity Hostel

Chiangmai Midpoint Activity Hostel

A favorite with travelers. A hostel with all the amenities, from $6.00 per night.

de lanna hotel

De Lanna Hotel

Beautiful private rooms for $25.00 per night and in the heart of the city with a pool.

vieng mantra hotel

Vieng Mantra Hotel

A walk from the city attractions, starting from $18.00 per night with an amazing pool.


Things To Do In Chiang Mai

Here are some of the best things to do in Chiang Mai:

Explore the old town: The old town of Chiang Mai is a historical and cultural center of the city, where you can find many ancient temples, museums, markets, and cafes. You can walk around the old town and admire the architecture, or join a guided tour to learn more about the history.

Visit Doi Suthep: Doi Suthep is a mountain that overlooks the city and is home to one of the most sacred temples in Thailand, Wat Phra That Doi Suthep. You can hike up the mountain or take a cable car to reach the temple, where you can enjoy the panoramic view of the city and the surrounding countryside.

Experience An Ethical Elephant Sanctuary: The elephant nature park is a sanctuary and rescue center for elephants and other animals that have been abused or exploited in the tourism industry.

Enjoy the food and nightlife: Chiang Mai is known for its delicious and diverse cuisine, influenced by the local Lanna culture and the neighboring countries of Myanmar, Laos, and China.

A Day At The Karen Elephant Project With Elephant Nature Park In Chiang Mai

FAQs About How To Get From Chiang Mai Airport To City

Does Chiang Mai have an international airport?

Yes, Chiang Mai has an international airport. It is called Chiang Mai International Airport, and it is located 4 kilometers southwest of downtown Chiang Mai. Chiang Mai Airport has two terminals, one for domestic passengers and the other for international flights.

Is Chiang Mai airport open to international flights?

Chiang Mai Airport is open to international flights, connecting Northern Thailand with other destinations in Asia. These include Taiwan, South Korea, China, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam and Japan.

How much is a taxi from Bangkok airport to Chiang Mai?

A taxi from Bangkok airport to Chiang Mai is a very long and expensive journey. The distance is about 716 kilometers and the duration is about 9 hours by car. Taxi fares will be about $300. You may be better off catching a sleeper train to Chiang Mai or a flight.

How many days in Chiang Mai is enough?

I recommend spending a minimum of 3 nights in Chiang Mai to make the most out of your visit. Here you can explore some beautiful temples, check out the night markets, and of course an ethical elephant experience as well.

What is the best month to visit Chiang Mai?

Generally, the most popular and pleasant time to visit is from November to February when the weather is cool and dry. However, this is also the peak tourist season, so you may encounter higher prices and crowds.

Should I stay in the old city at Chiang Mai?

If it is your first visit to Chiang Mai the best area to stay in is the Old City. You can enjoy the charm of the ancient moat, as well as the many temples, and monuments. There are a variety of accommodation options, from budget guesthouses and hostels to boutique hotels. Also, you can easily walk or bike around, as it is fairly compact and pedestrian-friendly.

a tuk tuk convoy in the streets of chiang mai
a tuk tuk convoy in the streets of chiang mai

🚗 How I Book Cheap Transport In Thailand: 12Go Asia

Chiang Mai Airport To City: How To Get From Chiang Mai Airport To Old Town Round-Up

Chiang Mai is a popular destination, in particular, The Old City, is a must-see attraction that offers many temples, museums, markets, and cafes to explore.

To get to the old city from the airport, there are several options available, depending on your budget, time, and preference. You can choose from a taxi, Grab, songthaew, tuk-tuk, or bus, each with its advantages and disadvantages.

Whatever option you choose, you will enjoy the straightforward ride from the airport to the old city ready to start your Chiang Mai adventures.


Find out everything you need to know about traveling from Chiang Mai Airport into the City Centre (Old Town). From the tuk-tuks, buses, taxis, private transfers and more these are my top tips so you don't miss your flight, this ultimate guide absolutely has you covered!

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. So, if you click on it and purchase something, I get a small percentage at no extra cost to you. As always all opinions are my own and your support is much appreciated.

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