The journey we took from Bangkok to Chiang Mai on the VIP night bus was undoubtedly one of the most fascinating of the entire trip in Thailand. It was nothing too exciting, but what we really loved was the atmosphere, darting on a deserted high way, immersed in the pitch dark in an incessant rain.
There are different ways to get to the gorgeous Chiang Mai: by coach or bus, plane or night train. The most popular means of transport is the plane and, surprisingly enough, whilst looking on the internet we found out that all the options available cost more or less the same.
If you decide to go by plane, the cost of a flight with AirAsia or NokAir is really paltry. We are talking about 30 euros for a one-hour journey from Don Mueang Airport.
If your choice is the train, then you have to leave from Hualamphong Railway Station and travel throughout the night either on a seat or in a sleeping carriage . The tickets must be booked in advance on the Thai Railways website. They cost around 30 euros as well. The length of the journey can vary. We didn’t gather too much information on this as we opted for the night vip bus. But, talking to some Italian tourists that travelled by train, we got to know that it took them about 15 hours to get to Chiang Mai.
What might have been the last choice for most of the people was, on the contrary, our first option: the VIP night bus to Chiang Mai.
Are you in Bangkok, read this post: Top things to do in Bangkok in 2 or 3 days!
How to get to Chiang Mai?
Let’s have a look at the pros and cons of the different means of transport listed above.
Plane: undoubtedly the quickest way to get to Chiang Mai. However, you’d have to wake up early in the morning to get to the airport on time. You’ll have to check in the luggage and board the plane. On top of that you have to add the extra costs of the taxi (to get to Don Mueang airport) and the accommodation you’ll use for the night, which might be a pro for people that prefer sleeping comfortably in a bed rather than on a train or coach.
Night Train: it allows you to sleep throughout the night and wake up straight in Chiang Mai without worrying about luggage check in or similar things you’d be concerned about at the airport. The biggest con of this option is the interminable length of the journey and the unlikable insects that will keep you company whilst travelling. The positive side of the night train is that you’ll get to Chiang Mai well rested and energetic, ready to greet another action-packed day.
Vip Coach: the best option, at least for us. We were looking for a means of transport that took us from Bangkok to Chiang Mai during the night so as to avoid finding somewhere to spend the night, paying for it and wasting our precious time. The journey length is much less compared to the train. We left Bangkok at 9.00PM and got to Chiang Mai at 6.30AM. We will go into more details about the night VIP coach in the post below.
*Aggiornamento 2022: you can also use this search form to find the best solutions. You can buy the ticket directly form this website.
The VIP coach from Bangkok to Chiang Mai
Let’s start by pinpointing that to get to any place in the north of Thailand. You have to get your VIP bus or any others from the Mo Chit Station. In the thousands of blogs we visited before setting of, we could not find any information on how to get from Bangkok to this coach station. For this reason, get pen and paper because we’re going to explain it to you right now.
What you could do is get a taxi directly from Bangkok, but it would not be the cheapest option for you guys…
What I do recommend is:
- Get the northbound BTS Sukhumvit to Mochit (the last stop) or the underground MRT(the blue one on the map) to Chatuchak Park
- Once you get off the underground or BTS, resist the desire of strolling around a park as beautiful as Chatuchak. Walk to the coach station. An even better option would be getting a taxi from the underground station to the coach station. As we explained in some previous posts, make sure the driver turns the meter on and that they understand where it is that you need to go (Google Maps will be your best buddy in this case).
- When you get to the Mo Chit Coach Station go to the ticket office which is right in front of wherever the taxi driver drops you off. At this point we wish you the best of luck in getting the tickets. Given that English is not the forte of the Thai employee sat at the ticket office desk, you’ll eventually manage to buy the tickets. To be perfectly honest, it wasn’t difficult at all. At the end of the “struggle” in fact, you will notice the satisfaction in the eyes of the person serving you, as if they were pleased to have overcome the language barrier. With a sweet smile and polite manners, they will even point out the gate and seats on the tickets.
Waiting for departure to Chiang Mai
Remember that there are different coach companies and each one offers different prices, the choice is yours. It’s also useful to know that the only times when the coaches depart to go to Chiang Mai are 7 or 9PM.
The Mo Chit Station has several different gates, but it won’t be difficult to find out where your coach will depart from.
Whilst waiting to board, you could buy something at the many convenience stores or eat some food in one of the two food centers located in the waiting room. You are literally surrounded by a sea of food stalls, each one offering different dishes which do not always look that yummy. It is impossible to know what the main ingredients are as nobody seems to speak or understand English. The only way to explain yourself is by resolving to gesturing. If you’re not Italian and you haven’t mastered this noble art, then the KFC with the usual fried chicken will be your last hope of salvation.
As we are Italian, we decided to go for the “make yourself understood by gesturing” way. We have to be honest, we did do well (are you surprised?) – boiled rice with chicken and a spicy broth on the side. It was like going back to when I was ten, in bed with the flu. A pleasant amarcord experience!
How much does it cost the ticket from Bangkok to Chiang Mai?
Jokes aside, we forgot to mention how much we paid for our tickets.
We spent 837 baht per person (around 22 euros), compared to a lower non-VIP bus which was 500 baht. Included in the VIP bus price is dinner ad breakfast: as soon as the coach departs, they serve you some rice, brioches, juice and water on a tray.
What does the VIP bus look like?
Easy! It is a double decker coach with 32 comfortable and spacious seats. Each one of them is fully reclinable and includes a blanket to keep you warm whilst sleeping, especially if the air conditioning temperature is too cold. For health and safety, two drivers are onboard, plus a stewardess that will take care of you
Our journey was really pleasant, mainly because the coach was half empty (maybe 10 people on board?) which meant quietness, the possibility of fully reclining our seats and above all sleep-amazeballs!
The journey is about 9,5 hours long and at 1 or 2 AM the coach stops at a service station where you can use the toilets or buy some snacks. Whilst travelling, the lights are switched off, but if needed, there is a small light over your head for people that like reading for example.
The coach gets to the station of Chiang Mai in the outskirts at around 6.30AM. Many songthaew (pronunced songteo), that is taxis adapted from a pick-up or larger truck, will be waiting for passengers there. What you have to do is approach one of them, tell the driver where you are going and start the usual bargaining on the fare. Good luck with that!