After walking through the arrivals in Chiang Mai (CNX) airport, you’re greeted by the enthusiastic taxi and Tuk Tuk drivers who’ll be jostling for your attention and money. It’s hard to know which is the best choice as no one wants to get scammed.
This Chiang Mai airport guide will tell you the 5 ways you can get from Chiang Mai Airport to Chiang Mai Old City.
The good news is, it’s cheap and easy to get from Chiang Mai Airport to Chiang Mai Old City.
I’ve been visiting Chiang Mai since 2016 and have used every transport option available. Songtaews (Red Trucks), Taxis (Grab & Airport), Tuk Tuk and even the new CNX bus.
Each option has Pros & Cons, which we’ll explore in detail. But I won’t make you read the whole article if you don’t want to, so here’s the quick version.
- Airport Taxi – If you have heavy luggage (It’s the least fun though)
- Songtaew – If you’re backpacking (It’s traditional & cheap if you follow my Songtaew tips)
Top Tip: Chiang Mai Airport is small and easy to navigate. When you exit arrivals you will be on the ground floor level where all your transport options are.
Let’s jump straight in! : )
Chiang Mai Airport Taxi
Airport Taxis are notorious for overcharging, but you don’t have to worry at Chiang Mai Airport.
These taxis have fixed prices per car rather than per person and depend on where your hotel is. If you’re sharing with a couple of friends, this is the best value option.
To book a taxi, head to the far left-hand side of arrivals. They’ll be a lady with a clipboard who will give you a fixed price based on your hotel’s address.
This is the easiest way to get from Chiang Mai airport to Chiang Mai Old City as it’s well organised with a fixed fare.
How much is a taxi from Chiang Mai Airport to Chiang Mai Old City?
- 100-150 Baht.
Related Reading: Once you’ve checked into your hotel, grab a cold beer from one of these awesome rooftop bars in Chiang Mai
Songtaew – The Authentic Chiang Mai Experience
Until 2018, Chiang Mai didn’t have public transport. So the locals have always used songtaews (shared taxis) as a convenient and cheap way to get around.
You might be tempted to jump in the nearest songtaew outside arrivals, however, this isn’t the best idea. These songtaews target tourists who have just got off the plane and give them higher prices.
To get the local price, turn right outside arrivals and head towards departures. Wave down a songtaew that has just dropped off passengers and you won’t get offered a higher tourist rate.
What is a songtaew?
Songtaews have no fixed route. You tell the driver where you are going and then go round the back and hop in. Make sure you pay your 30 baht to the driver once you arrive at your destination, not before.
How Much Is a Songtaew From Chiang Mai Airport to Old City?
- 30 Baht Per Person
Tuk Tuk – Crazy Fun Option!
If it’s your first time in Thailand, you absolutely have to use a Tuk Tuk at least once. It’s an adrenaline-pumping, Thai-pop-blasting, assault on the senses and a truly memorable way to get around the city.
This isn’t the cheapest option but its the most fun. It’s a great choice if you don’t have much luggage, as there isn’t much room for large suitcases.
If you’ve landed in rush hour (5-7pm) then Tuk Tuks are faster than cars as they can weave in and out of the traffic.
How much is a Tuk Tuk from Chiang Mai Airport to Chiang Mai Old City?
- Between 100-120 Baht. (The will offer 150 baht but you can haggle)
Chiang Mai Airport Bus – Best Value (20 Baht)
Public buses came to Chiang Mai in 2018 and are a cheap way to get around whilst seeing some Chiang Mai landmarks.
To catch the bus from Chiang Mai airport to the Old City, head outside arrivals and look for the white bus stop sign. After stepping off the plane and feeling the scorching heat, you’ll be glad to hear that the buses are air-conditioned.
Download the CM TRANSIT app with the free bus WiFi to see bus times and routes. From Chiang Mai airport there are 2 routes to choose from:
- Route R3 (Red & Yellow): Chiang Mai Airport – Nimman
- Line B2: Chiang Mai Airport – Thae Pae Gate
How Much Are Tickets?
- 20 Baht (coins or Rabbit card)
How frequent is the Chiang Mai Airport Bus?
- 6am – 11:30pm Mon – Sun | Full Timetable
- Every 25-30 Minutes
The ride-hailing app Grab is common in Chiang Mai and is a convenient way to get around. However, Grab taxis are not officially allowed into the airport itself, so this isn’t the best option.
Additionally, the sneaky gremlins at Grab slap on a 100 baht surcharge to anywhere close to the airport. So, contrary to other countries, it is cheaper to get an airport taxi rather than Grab when you arrive in Chiang Mai.
If you’re in a large family group however, Grab is a great option as they have minivan taxis you can order.
Daredevil? For an exciting start to your Chiang Mai trip, hop on a Grab motorbike and weave through the traffic to get to your hotel fast!
Thanks for reading, let me know your experiences in the comments below : )