Thailand

Taking the Green Bus from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai

green-bus-at-arcade
@ Arcade (Chiang Mai) bus station


It’s super easy. When we took the Green Bus to Phayao we booked our tickets through a ticket agency that charged us a 100 baht service fee. Yes, I’d rather walk up to some travel agent than drive my bike over the Arcade. I’m lazy that way.

But when I went to Chiang Rai, I found an ever lazier way (score!). All you had to do was call the call center and book your ticket via telephone. However, this does not appear to be an option any more. Instead, they have an online booking option which I have not tried yet.

I did play around with it and if you go to their homepage, you can click on the English option, which of course is written in Thai.

green-bus-website
Click where the red arrow indicates for English.

After that, the month appears to be still in Thai, but after I chose a date, it suddenly appeared in English. If you want to chose the “pay at 7-11” option, you’ll probably get a receipt not unlike when I was able to use the call center to book my ticket. They will give you a receipt like this:

bus-ticket-printout
Your reservation number.

On your day of travel, bring your receipt to Chiang Mai’s Arcade bus station. This is your ticket! No need to grab a number and cue up. Just show your receipt to the bus attendant and you are set to go! Easy peasy lovely.

*Of course, you can always practice your Thai. Check out our video: http://ressources.learn2speakthai.net/thaigirltalk/buy-a-bus-ticket-in-thailand/


*If you are too scared to purchase your ticket online then buy your ticket at the bus station, but advance booking is necessary – most especially during the weekends and holidays! The folks at the ticket counters speak enough English to help you. And both Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai bus stations have “Tourist” counters that can help you as well.

  • Buses from CM leave about every hour. From CR, however, the VIP buses run: 9am, 12.45, 3.15 and 5pm. On Friday and Saturday they have extra buses.
  • VIP buses cost about 288 baht and 1st class 188. Is there a difference? Of course! VIP has more leg room. And you get to enjoy a badly dubbed horrible movie.
  • If you have time to kill/spare, I’d recommend heading over the Star Avenue, the mall next to Chiang Mai’s bus station. There is a fancy grocery store (Rimping), many restaurants, and clean restrooms.
  • The bus ride takes about 3 hours. I’ve taken this route several times now, both ways, and it doesn’t matter if you get a driver who is fast or slow, it’s pretty much a 3 hour drive. If you hit a lot of traffic you might be delayed half an hour.
  • And if you are prone to motion sickness then you might want to try to sit at the front of the bus and/or take some Dramamine which is sold at pharmacies and even at the bus stations. The roads are windy and hilly and even though it is a short drive, when you are sick, the road feels like it can’t end soon enough.
  • If you lose your bus ticket, it will cost 30 baht to replace it.
  • There are 2 bus stations in Chiang Rai. Bus station #1 is located in town and this is where most of you will probably want to get off. When I took the bus in late July 2014, the bus attendant prevented the foreigners from getting off at bus station #2 because bus station #2 is the first one the Green Bus will stop at.
  • Generally speaking, bus station #2 is for travel well outside of the Chiang Rai provinces. If, for example, you are traveling to Nong Khai (for that dreaded visa run), you will want to go to bus station #2. There is a 15 baht red songtaew taxi that you can take between the bus stations. English signage.
  • Keep in mind that even though Chiang Rai is a small town, there is rush hour traffic. Plan your times to get to and from the bus station accordingly. Safe travels and good luck! 🙂
Welcome to Chiang Rai. The famous clock tower in the center of town.
Welcome to Chiang Rai. The famous clock tower in the center of town.

*Post Updated 7 May, 2015

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29 thoughts on “Taking the Green Bus from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai

  1. Very convenient. Fix the typo “But when I went to Chiang Mai”. You meant “Chiang Rai”.obviously. Your photo looks pro.

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  2. Good choice, keep taking the bus! Headed for Mae Khachan I took 118 over Doe Saket on a scooter several times. It was exhilarating but truly dangerous. I saw several serious accidents along the way and the highway is full of surprises. One time my scooter started smoking and shut down on me. I had to flag down a “taxi” and tie the scooter on to the back of it then rode hanging on to the rear.

    FYI, I am in Cincinnati now. The weather is turning cool, leaves have turned a thousand colors, the sound of nearby train whistles seem louder in the coolness. I know you will not experience this in CM. Coincidentally I have been looking at scooters and motorcycles but good sense (and the incredulous raised voice of my wife) have overridden that ill conceived thinking. Regards, Jim

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    1. It’s raining here. And I remember when I used to think everyone was CRAZY to get on a motorbike when it is raining. It’s been bred into our thinking. But here, it’s like, well, I still need to get around and nobody thinks anything of it!

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  3. Great writeup! We are going to do this trip later this week. One question though, if you use the call center method to buy your ticket, do you have the opportunity to choose your seat, or do you end up with whatever they stick you with. We get bad motion sickness depending on our position within buses, so we would like the option of choosing where we sit if possible. Would you happen to know?

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    1. Sorry, your comment went to spam, so I’m just seeing it now. I don’t remember if I could choose my own seat. I don’t think I had asked because I had received a good seat from booking early. I will ask the next time I call. I hope you enjoyed your trip!

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  4. very weird thing, for me. the old guy in the bus station picture could be me! except i have never been to the bus station. strange to know someone who looks just like me is wandering around CM. just weird!

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  5. I forgot to thank you for this! I used your helpful information to take my trip to Chiang Rai a few weeks ago and it was such a breeze. I splurged on the VIP option and was pretty cozy the entire ride 🙂

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    1. Good! This is definitely one of my more popular posts, so I know it’s useful. But, shucks, a thanks is always welcomed!

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  6. Hai Lani, Nice post and very informative, do you know how far is from CM train station to CM arcade bus station??

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  7. Lani This is so great that you are the ambassador for transportation tehe and I get to experience this journey through you., we may come over some day. My friend is heading over and I will pass on these tips to her. It really seems to me Lani from the first time reading your posts, you are incredibly good at picture,detail and telling the story as if I was there. Awesome job and the time it takes to put something together like this! Heart to Heart Robyn

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Hi Lani. Could you please let me know if there are baggage limits for the VIP bus? I have gone to their website, but their FAQ page is not in English. Thank you for your help 🙂

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    1. There shouldn’t be. A lot of Thais bring bulk items on the bus and sometimes the bus even acts as a “postal service”. They give you a baggage claim ticket and your items are put in the bottom of the bus. (But if you have A LOT then I’d recommend the post office – it’s quite reasonable within the country.)

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  9. Hey Lani,
    Can you help me look into booking at ticket from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai (bus terminal 1) on March 11 @ 815am (ViP)? I keep getting error messages in Thai and i don’t know what I’m doing wrong…
    thanks!

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    1. You probably aren’t doing anything wrong. Often these kinds of sites go down or are buggy. It’s possible the online version isn’t working anymore. You could always try again later or I’d recommend booking it another way. Good luck!

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  10. HI Lani. You mentioned paying for the ticket at a 7-eleven, is this next to the bus station or can we stop in at any 7-eleven? Thanks in advance, great post!

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  11. Hi Lani, thanks. I’m looking to book for less than 48 hours from now. All sorts of unknown error messages. Do u know if I have to register to book online? I think I can get my hotel to call and scamper down to the 7/11 to pay or even over the phone w cc. I don’t care. I have tried to find the official ticket places in CM and have even been happy to pay more. I just don’t want to go all the way to the arcade! I’m lazy that wAy! Any advice??
    Xx
    Michy

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You should be able to just go online, but sometimes the forms are not reliable. Yeah, have your hotel give them a call or find a travel agent in town. They usually can help you. Look for tour bookings, those generic travel agencies….good luck!

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      1. Hi Lani,
        Thanks. It turned out that I merely had to put something/anything in the comments box. I took a screenshot of my reference number, walked to the nearest 7/11 and was done in minutes.
        Very happy I found your blog!
        Michy

        Liked by 1 person

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