Before the 1920s, when the railway's Northern Line to Chiang Mai was completed, one traveled throughout this area by either boat or elephant. So when your train ride gets boring or the flight is crowded, remember that not so long ago the trip here from Bangkok took 4 to 6 weeks.
By Plane -- Thai Airways, Bangkok Airways, and budget carriers Nok Air, and Air Asia all fly from Bangkok to Chiang Mai. From Chiang Mai, flights to Chiang Rai, Mae Hong Son, and Pai are serviced by SGA Airlines and Nok Air, while Lampang and Nan can be reached from Bangkok by PB Air. There are also connections between Chiang Mai and Singapore (Silk Air), Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia (Air Asia), Luang Prabang in Laos (Lao Airlines), Seoul in South Korea (Korean Airlines), and Taipei in Taiwan (China Airlines).
By Train -- Express and rapid trains leave Bangkok daily for Chiang Mai, the northern terminus. Sleeper cars are available on certain trains and are highly recommended for the 13-hour overnight trip (reserve as early as possible).
By Bus -- There are dozens of daily and nightly air-conditioned VIP buses to Chiang Mai and other northern cities, as well as cheaper, less comfortable, buses from Bangkok's Northern Bus Terminal. Journey time is much shorter than by train (8-10 hr.) but, depending on your driver, it can be a nerve-racking experience.
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.