Is it Hard to Get to Chiang Mai Old City From the Train Station?
Getting from the train station to Old City is simple and quick. It might seem baffling with the amount of information about to be provided, but it isn’t at all.
Now you’re wondering how do I get to Chiang Mai Old City from the train station?
That is the best place to stay after all, it is the most central and home to some of the best temples in Thailand.
Luckily there are about 7 different ways to complete the trip, but we’ll take walking off the table and talk about the 6 motorised options.
This will be quite a detailed guide on how to get to Chiang Mai Old City from the train station, so use the table of contents above to skip the portion that doesn’t relate to you. Or keep reading for fun ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Perhaps you are not arriving by train? I have also written guides for those other two modes of transport that can bring you to Chiang Mai;
- How to get into Chiang Mai Old City from the airport.
- How to get into Chiang Mai Old City from the bus terminals.
Is the Train Station Far From Chiang Mai Old City?
Not at all, in fact it is quite close, but probably too far to walk for most people with all their bags and given the hot climate of Thailand.
It is marginally closer than the bus terminals and the airport, but only by about 500m or so so the costs will still be the same to get into Old City.
As you can see the airport is an equal distance away from the Old City centre as the bus terminals are and pretty similar again to the train station. It is approximately 3.5 kilometres in a straight line.
The journey will only take between 10 and 15 minutes if you choose a direct mode of transport such as: taxi, tuk tuk or Grab.
The trip will take anywhere from 15-45 minutes for the indirect modes of transport: buses and songthaews.
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The Different Modes of Transport Available to You
Firstly, for those who are unsure, we will give a brief explanation of the different types of vehicles and modes of transport that will be available for you at the bus terminals.
These modes of transport will be common across all three of the arrival points into Chiang Mai, so these are also going to be found at the airport and the train station.
Step 1 in learning how to get to Chiang Mai Old City from the train station is to know what you’re looking for in a mode of transport, so this should clear it up.
Toot-toot-chugga-chugga big red car, we’ll travel near and we’ll travel far!
The Songthaew is a very common sight in Thailand for those tourists who have at least one good eye. The name comes from the Thai words for “Two” (song) and “Bank/Row” (thaew), due to the 2 bench seats in the back.
A songthaew has two benches the length of the back section and can hold up to 8 people in the back, as well as some on the standing platform at the rear.
If you are already in Chiang Mai Old City then you can catch these anywhere within Old City for as little as ฿20-40. The base fare is ฿20 for short journeys, just jump in the back and pay as you get out.
Hail down songthaews on the side of the road that is travelling in the direction that you wish to go.
They will pick up people as they go, so don’t be alarmed if there are people in the back already. Ask them if they want to solve your rubiks cube, then explain how you left your rubiks cube at home. It will be awkward.
Because of the fact it is shared transport, it is dirt cheap. Unfortunately it also means it can be a lot slower, as it will be dropping off people who are going to different places.
- Cheapest option of all (excluding the municipality bus).
- Direct drop off to your destination.
- Abundant and easy to find.
- From my personal experience they didn’t try rip me off, but be careful.
- An experience you might want to try in Thailand.
- Drop-off can be slow if there are a lot of people in there.
- If there aren’t many people and you are going a long way then it isn’t as cheap.
- Open to the air, pollution and noise of the city.
- Wooden bench seats aren’t as comfortable as a taxi.
- If you’re carrying a lot of bags (like I do with my camera gear) it may be a tight squeeze with others carrying bags.
The name so nice, you say it twice!
The Tuk Tuk is a powerful beast. Don’t get in one unless you’re willing to feel the wrath of the mighty 10 horsepower engine!
The name “Tuk Tuk” is an onomatopoeia. The name was derived from the sound the engine made in its earliest variants. The term actually started in Thailand but is now widespread.
To me they are still a novelty.
Tuk Tuks are direct modes of transport, they will take you where you need to go and allow you to remain connected to the street and the surroundings.
Prices vary, but it should be a bit cheaper than a taxi. Unlike the Songhtaew above, there is no set price for a tuk tuk, but you shouldn’t be paying any more than ฿30-50 for short journeys once you’re already in the city.
TUK TUK PROS;
- Novelty factor.
- Fits down small alleyways.
- More direct than the songthaew, because you are the only passenger.
- You could smoke, if that’s your style.
- Cheaper than a taxi for the same trip.
TUK TUK CONS;
- Open to the heat, pollution, rain, and noise of the city streets.
- No faster than a taxi.
- Can be more expensive than a songthaew.
- Some of them have stupidly loud music playing. It is shit.
- Can’t be shared between a larger group of friends.
- Not much room for those with a lot of bags.
- Usually have to barter the price, but some drivers are up front straight away if they know you’ve been in Thailand for a while.
Taxi / Grab
I have combined these into the same category because they are the same mode of transport, just a different way of paying for and organising the ride. Grab is cheaper than a taxi though.
Grab is the Southeast Asian ride-sharing app of choice, one of the essential apps for travellers to have. But don’t link your credit card to the app!
The beauty of Grab is that you can pay cash, so if a driver is running late, you cancel without being charged, and it is easier to split fares between friends.
Another benefit is that you can punch in your destination and be given the price up front, which you can then show to a taxi driver, so that you don’t get ripped off.
Taxis and Grabs will normally be a bit more expensive than the other options, but that doesn’t mean they are bad value for money.
TAXI / GRAB PROS;
- Comfort, quiet out of the weather.
- Direct door to door service.
- Plenty of room for a bag full of clothes and another full of camera gear!
TAXI / GRAB CONS;
- More expensive.
- May include a wait time for your ride to arrive.
RTC “Blue Bus”
Onto the most confusing of the options, as it is in many countries, the bus system. It is however also the cheapest option you will find, equal to that of a shared songthaew.
Firstly we’ll explain one important thing: There are 2 different types of buses in service in Chiang Mai, only one of which is relevant to this post.
I have shown the other type of bus still, for those who want to use public transport to get around Chiang Mai, you may want to check out the routes in the posts about getting to Chiang Mai Old City from the airport or the bus terminals.
RTC Blue Bus
This is the large, full sized bus that you see on the left. They are called blue buses, you guessed it, because of their colours. From here on out they will be called the “blue bus”, this is of no reference to the route of the bus, just its physical colour.
There are 5 different routes, NONE of which service the Chiang Mai Railway station.
These are minibuses (and for one route also minivans). They are half sized, holding about 20 people, and are coloured white.
These buses cost ฿15 for adults, for the entire length of the route.
There are 4 different routes, only 1 of which is relevant for getting to Chiang Mai train station, and it will be shown in its respective section below.
For a full map of the 4 different municipality buses routes then see the section below that details how to catch these buses.
- Cheapest option available.
- Environmentally friendlier option.
- Air-conditioned and comfortable.
- Indirect mode of transport.
- Is not door to door, so you may have a walk to your hostel.
- Slower than the other modes of transport.
- You may have to wait 20-30 minutes if you have just missed the last bus before the next arrives.
- Might not be as much room for large bags if the bus is filling up.
- People will yell “BUS WANKERS!” at you. Which can damage self-esteem,
How to Get to Chiang Mai Old City From the Train Station
Knowing how to get to Chiang Mai Old City from the train station is important because it is still a popular mode of transport that people use to get into Chiang Mai (click here to see how to get to Chiang Mai).
There are a lot of tourist attractions in the south of Thailand: beautiful national parks, amazing beaches and stunning islands to relax on. Then the density of tourist attraction peters out as you head north.
Although I recommend people apply for the extended 60 day visa before coming to Thailand, there are more people who just go with the 30 day visa on arrival that is offered by Thailand and are therefore stretched thin for time.
Because Chiang Mai is the gateway to the north, it is common for people to use it as a port of call to visit every other location in the north of Thailand.
Chaing Mai Train Station to Old City in a Taxi
As you exit the train station there will be taxi drivers parked up in the car park outside there is only the one major exit point where all the modes of transport (excluding the bus) will be gathered.
The train station is far less busy than the airport and the bus terminals, so you may not be guaranteed to see a taxi here, if not then move on to the options below which will be plentiful.
As you would have seen in the map at the top of this post, the train station is an equal distance away to the centre of Old City as the airport is, give or take a few hundred metres.
This means that the prices are also the same, so it will be ฿150 for a taxi, which will take about 10-15 minutes to get to the centre of Old City.
What about Grab?
Grab is definitely an option, a lot of the Grab drivers will also be the taxi drivers but if you want to wait a little bit longer for a normal GrabCar, as opposed to GrabTaxi (see below) then that is always an option as well.
I personally have no experience with Grab from the train station, so I can not comment on whether the prices below are truly accurate. That is what comes up on my phone though when searching the route.
Chiang Train Station to Old City in a Songthaew
This will be the most common mode of transport for the majority of people. These are in the main exit point in abundance.
Assuming your bags will fit, walk out the front of the train station exit and look for the red car. Hopefully there are other people also going into Old City, which is quite common. This way the fare is split.
If the ride is shared, then it will only cost you ฿40/person.
If you are the only one going, then the cost will depend on how far you need to go and the price will be closer to that of a taxi, ranging from ฿100-150.
Chiang Mai Train Station to Old City in a Tuk Tuk
The tuk tuk is probably a last resort, or the domain of those seeking novelty factor.
A tuk tuk can be found out the front, the drivers will be sure to get your attention. They will try to charge ฿150, but you can tell them that you would take a taxi for that price (which shouldn’t be a lie).
From there, try get a price you’re happy with, like ฿120 or thereabouts. I personally can’t stand Tuk Tuks, but you do you.
Chiang Mai Train Station to Old City by Bus
Again, this isn’t a practical way to travel if you’re just arriving into Chiang Mai from the train. I will explain it though anyway for those who want to know about it.
Remember that there are two separate bus systems in operation but the larger RTC Blue bus does not service the train station, so you will be looking out for a white minibus instead.
Let me start off by saying, this is the least recommended method of all the methods. There is no room for large luggage and the scheduling is liable to change without notice.
BUS STOP LOCATION:
The bus stop outside the train station can be found on the main road to the north of the train station. The road is called Charoen Muang Road.
The bus stop is a 230m walk from the main car park that has all the songthaews and taxis. You take a right out the exit (turning north) and walk to the main road, then turn right again (now walking east) and walk about 50 metres.
The bus stop is there on the side of the road closest to the train station. It is pictured below.
The bus stop is seen across the road. This photo is looking south back towards the train station.
CATCHING THE RIGHT BUS:
To get into Chiang Mai Old City from the train station with these minibuses you will only have 1 option: route B1
This is the only route that will go past the train station at all. Luckily it also goes through the centre of Old City after it picks you up.
Here are all 4 routes for those who are curious about where all of the buses go, with the bus stops in BOLD being either in Chiang Mai Old City, or being an important drop off point ie: airport, bus terminal and railway station.
- Chiang Mai Bus Terminal 2 (Arcade).
- Tung Hotel Road.
- Chiang Mai Railway Station.
- Charoen Mueang Road.
- Sanpakoi Market.
- Nawarat Bridge.
- Tha Phae Gate.
- Klang Vieng Junction.
- Chiang Mai Police Station.
- Phra Sing Temple.
- Wattanothaipayap School.
- Maharaj Nakorn Chiang Mai Hospital (Suan Dok Hospital).
- Chiangmai Neurological Hospital.
- Ton Payom Market.
- Chiang Mai University Side.
- Gate Intersection.
- Chiang Mai Phucome Hotel.
- Chiang Mai University’s front gate area.
- Rajamangala University of Technology Lanna.
- Chiang Mai Zoo.
- Chiang Mai Bus Terminal 2 (Arcade).
- Central Festival Chiang Mai.
- Thepanya Hospital.
- Tesco Lotus Khamtieng.
- Muang Chiang Mai Stadium.
- Chiang Mai Bus Terminal 1 (Chang Phuak Bus Terminal).
- Chiang Mai Rajabhat University.
- Khuang Singh Junction.
- Chiang Mai International Convention and Exhibition Center.
- 700th Anniversary Stadium.
- Chiang Mai Government Center.
- Chiang Mai Bus Terminal 2 (Arcade).
- Kaew Nawarat Road.
- Dara Witthayalai School.
- McCormick Hospital.
- The Prince Royal’s College.
- Nakorn Ping Bridge.
- Warorot market (Kad Luang).
- Chiang Mai Religion Practice Center Junction.
- Tha Phae Gate.
- Yupparaj Wittayalai school.
- Chiangmai Vocational College.
- Chiang Mai Technical College.
- Phra Singh temple.
- Northern School for The Blind.
- Fort of Ku-Hueang.
- Buak Haad Park.
- Chiang Mai Gate.
- Wua Lai Road.
- Airport Junction.
- CentralPlaza Chiang Mai Airport.
- Chiang Mai International Airport.
- Baan Khwan Wiang.
- Central Plaza Chiang Mai.
- Chiang Mai airport.
- Suan Dok Gate.
- Manee Nopparat Road.
- Chang Puak Gate.
- Phra Pok Klow Road.
- Three Kings Monument.
- Ratvithi Road.
- Chiang Moi Road.
- Warorot Market.
- Upakut Temple.
- Chang Klan Road.
- Montfort College.
- Sacred Heart College.
- Regina Coeli College.
- Sridornchai Road.
- Chiang Mai Gate Market.
- Wualai Road.
- Central Plaza.
- Chiang Mai Airport.
- Chiang Mai-Hod Road.
- Baan Khwan Wiang.
I need to reiterate though, there is no room for luggage on these buses and the schedule listed below is not always reliable. I am only writing about it so that all options are covered and you can try make your own decision.
I think these buses are great for getting around, they are not designed for people with all of their luggage though and are much more useful after having dropped your bags at the hostel.
**Khwan Wiang Pink Buse service runs from 06:00 – 19:00 every 20 minutes**
A map of the 4 Municipality Bus Routes
See this map below for an idea of where the buses go. I made this myself, based on the bus stops, but the routes may not be entirely accurate, with the exception of route #10 which is based off an exact route map from their website.
The colours chosen for this map have no correlation with the buses themselves, except the pink buses for route #10. So don’t mistake these as official route colours.
This is at best only 90% accurate, with the bus stops being correct but the roads used possibly not representative of real life turns taken by the bus drivers.
You can toggle on and off the bus routes that you don’t want to see by clicking in the top right corner of the map and unchecking the boxes that you don’t need to see.
So now you know how to get to Chiang Mai Old City from the train station, in every possible way. Share with friends, enemies, John, and Steve.
The train station is not as busy as the bus terminal and the airport, so you will more than likely just be jumping in a songthaew, which will be a quick ride into town.
Recommended Mode of Transport
I personally would take a songthaew, they will be there in large numbers waiting for you, you can jump in one by yourself if you’re in a hurry but then you might want to consider a taxi.
The train station is not as busy as some places, but the trains arrive on a schedule, every day, the same 5 trains come into the train station.
Because of this the drivers are well aware when there fares will be there and so you won’t need to worry about not getting a songthaew.
Why I Don’t Recommend the Other Modes of Transport
These things give me the shits, the drivers are annoying, they don’t give a fair price straight up, and they have no advantages over just getting a taxi.
I guess this might be different for those who are in Thailand for the first time, but for me the novelty is long gone, if it ever existed.
Your bags won’t fit on this. Only people with 1 small backpack that will fit on your lap can take this, but there are more downsides.
These buses are inconsistent in their scheduling. The times change without notice, and there have been reports of people waiting a long time before one appeared. It is not worth it.
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