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Getting There

By Plane -- Thai Airways (www.thaiair.com; tel. 05371-1179) and its subsidiary Thai Smile (www.thaismileair.com) has daily flights from both Don Muang and Suvarnabhumi airports in Bangkok to Chiang Rai (flying time: 85 min.). Thailand's many budget carriers, Air Asia (www.airasia.com; tel. 02515-9999), Nok Air (www.nokair.com; tel. 02627-2667 or 1318), and Bangkok Airways (www.bangkokair.com; tel. 1771) all make daily flights from Bangkok. Flying time is 80-minutes and prices hover around 600B for a one-way ticket but can be as low as 350B with advanced purchase. 

Chiang Rai International Airport (tel. 05379-8000) is about 10km (6 1/4 miles) north of town. There is a bank exchange, open daily 9am to 5pm, and a gift shop. Taxis hover outside and charge 200B to town.

By Bus --  Buses and minivans depart Bangkok nearly every hour daily from Bangkok’s

Northern Bus Terminal (tel. 02936-2852) to Chiang Rai (trip time 11 hr.; fare 500B-1000B). Buses leave hourly between 6am and 5:30pm from Chiang Mai's Arcade Bus Terminal (tel. 05324-2664; trip time 3 1/2 hr.; fare 280B VIP, 106B second-class air-conditioned). Chiang Rai has two bus terminals. The original is Khon Song Bus Terminal (tel. 05371-1224), but most operators call it the Old Bus Station or Terminal 1. It is near the Night Market in the center of town. Today, most busses, including those from Bangkok, now stop at an unnamed New Bus Station or Terminal 2 (tel. 05377-3989) 6km (3[bf]1/2 miles) south of town. A 15-minute shuttle service (15B) operates between the two stations, and tuk-tuks and samlor (motorized pedicabs) connect to hotels for 30B to 100B, depending on which station you arrive at and the hotel’s location.

By Car -- The fast, not particularly scenic, route from Bangkok is Highway 1 North, direct to Chiang Rai. The direct route from Chiang Mai is along Route 118. A slow, attractive approach on blacktop mountain roads is on Route 107 north from Chiang Mai to Fang, and then Route 109 east to Highway 1.

Visitor Information

The TAT (tel. 05374-4674) is located at 448/16 Singhaklai Rd., near Wat Phra Singh on the north side of town; and the Tourist Police (tel. 1155) are located on Phaholyothin Road, by the junction with Wisetwiang Road. The monthly guide Welcome to Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai is distributed free by some hotels and has a good, reliable map of the town.

Orientation

Chiang Rai is a small city, with most services grouped around the main north-south street, Phaholyothin Road. There are three noteworthy landmarks: the small clock tower in the city's center; the statue of King Mengrai (the city's founder), at the northeast corner of the city, on the Superhighway to Mae Chan; and the Mae Kok River, at the north edge of town.

Singhaklai Road is the main artery on the north side of town, parallel to the river. The bus station is on Prasopsuk Road, 1 block east of Phaholyothin Road, near the Wiang Inn Hotel. The Night Market is on Phaholyothin Road, next to the bus station.

Getting Around

By Samlor or Tuk-Tuk -- You'll probably find walking to be the best way to get around town. However, there are samlors parked outside the Night Market and on the banks of the Mae Kok River. During the day, there are tuk-tuks, which charge 40B to 100B for in-town trips.

By Bus -- Chiang Rai's frequent local buses are the easiest and cheapest way to get to nearby cities. All leave from the bus station on Prasopsuk Road, near the Wiang Inn Hotel.

By Motorcycle -- Motorcycling is another good way to get out of town. Expect to pay around 150B per day.

By Car -- Budget and Avis both have offices in Chiang Rai; the standard rate beginning at both is 1,500B.

Fast Facts

Several bank exchanges are located on Phaholyothin Road in the center of town and are open daily from 8:30am to 10pm, while ATMs are easy to spot around the city. The post office is on Utarakit Road, two blocks north of the Clock Tower. Several branches of the popular Boots pharmacy are around town, and this is your go-to for topical creams, pain medication, antibiotics and the like. English-speaking pharmacists are generally available.


Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.