Chiang Mai is one of the top travel destinations for 2016. So how do you get from Chiang Mai Airport (CNX) to the city center and your Chiang Mai hotel? The Chiang Mai Airport is only a 10 minute ride from the city via the Super Highway and Chiang Mai-Hai Road and the journey can be covered in about 15 minutes. Most hotels provide a free pick-up and drop-off airport transfer service. Other hotels ask double (or more) than a regular taxi fare to arrange the transfer for you. The prices quotes below are for one-way rides into the city center or Old City.
Chiang Mai Airport Shuttle Bus (40 Baht)
This is a new service (since 2015) and costs 40 Baht per person. The bus will take you to the major hotels on two different routes. The company providing this service has a three year contract with the city so the service will continue at least until the end of 2017 and hopefully longer. You can find the shuttle buses (minibuses) outside the international passenger terminal building. The same system is used as for taxis; you go to the ticket booth, they sell you a ticket and write down your destination on a note. You take this to the driver and wait until the bus fills up before it leaves. The service has a set price of 40 Baht from 7am to 9pm but outside those hours you may have to negotiate the fare.
Some travelers have reported that the Chiang Mai Airport Shuttle only drops you are a central city square and not at all hotels. Other travelers have reported drivers asking 300 Baht if they are the only passenger. The service is supposed to continue until 3:30am leaving every half hour. The service is only FROM the airport and not TO the airport.
Chiang Mai Airport Shuttle Route #1 – Chiang Mai Airport, through Far Eastern University stopping at Lotus Pang Suan Kaew Hotel; Kantary Hills Hotel; Chiang Mai Hill; Chiang Mai Phukham Hotel; Chiang Mai International Convention and Exhibition Center; Green Lake Resort; Holiday Garden Hotel & Resort Chiang Mai;Tarin Hotel; Chiang Mai Grandview Hotel; Suan Buak Had Park and Suanprung Hospital.
Chiang Mai Airport Shuttle Route #2 – Chiang Mai Airport, stopping at Holiday Inn; Montfort College; Chedi Hotel; Pornping Hotel; Chiang Mai Night Bazaar; The Imperial Mae Ping Hotel; Duangtawan Hotel; Suriwongse Hotel; Le Meridien Hotel; Royal Princess Hotel; Shangri-La Hotel; Empress Hotel and the Lanna Palace Hotel.
Taxi (160 Baht per car)
There are two types of taxi from the airport – Chiang Mai Airport Taxi and Taxi Meter. These two authorized taxi booths are in the arrival hall before you exit the airport. This way you will be riding with a licensed taxi service and have a fixed price or metered payment. In the Domestic Terminal the fixed rate taxi counter is on your left as you leave the domestic baggage claim area. If you want to take a metered taxi then the counter is in the parking lot outside the Domestic Passenger Terminal Gate #1. In Terminal 2 there are counters for metered and fixed rate taxis. Go to one of the booths pay for your taxi and get a receipt. The driver is then called and escorts you to the car.
You don’t need to pre-book a taxi unless you are in a group. The taxi will take up to 2-3 people plus luggage and the price is per car. If you have four or more people in your group you’ll need a minivan taxi. Taxi prices are more expensive at night, sometimes even double. If your taxi driver agrees to use the meter instead of quoting you a price then remember that the meter price starts at 50 Baht for the first 2km and is an additional 10 Baht for each additional kilometer. There is an airport surcharge for taxis from the airport of 50 Baht for metered fares. Larger van taxis will cost you about 250 Baht.
Shared Shuttle Minibus (720 Baht per person/US13)
This service is offered by companies like Viator who operate 24/7 and really do give excellent service if the price does not bother you. It is a door-to-door service.
Private Transfers (550-720 Baht per car for 1-2 people; 800 Baht per car for 1-10 people)
On the upper 1st floor of the passenger terminal opposite the international and domestic arrival lounge you will find a limousine counter where you can buy a ticket for a limousine private transfer. If you book online in advance you can be met with a sign bearing your name. The price is per car for up to four people. For a limousine service you can pay up to 1,100 Baht for two people or 1,200 Baht for a van that carried up to 8 people.
Songteaw (80-100 Baht)
These Songteaw (also called Red Cars) are pickup-style vehicles which have been modified with benches along the sides of the interior. They work like buses but have no fixed route. From the airport to the city center a Songteaw will cost each person 75-100 Baht for a group of up to four people plus luggage.
Tuk-tuk (80-100 Baht)
The three wheeled cart-like vehicles are actually called samlor, they are the quickest way to get around the city but not necessarily the quickest way to the Chiang Mai airport. Negotiate the fare before you head off. For both Tuk-tuks and Songteaws you can pay about half the regular price if you walk out on to the road outside of the airport to catch a lift.