There are many options when it comes to getting to Chiang Mai. From Bangkok, you can either get a plane, train or bus and each of the options have their pros and cons. Harmony and I chose to get a bus, because it was faster than the train and we could still save on the cost of a night’s accommodation.
We booked our ticket online, through www.12goasia.com. They had lots of different options, which was great because you don’t want a bus company with a history of loosing luggage. To reduce the chance of that happening, and to make the journey more comfortable, we went with a VIP coach.
First of all, we had to get to Morchit Bus Station (on 798 Kamphaeng Phet 2 Road). Getting a taxi there was the obvious choice and it only cost us 300 Baht, which isn’t bad at all. Thankfully, we gave ourselves plenty of time to get to the station as the roads were gridlocked due to rush hour. Our driver kept turning the car around and went in all sorts of directions. It seemed like he didn’t have a clue where we were going. Worse yet, it seemed like he was trying to rip us off.
Honestly, I shouldn’t have had that prejudice, but you can never be too careful. Was he wasting time so we would miss our bus? Was he taking us to a nearby train station instead? Was he just going to give up and not take us at all? I only thought this way because of how he previously interacted with us – insisting on not using the metre, asking all sorts of strange questions and holding on to my phone as if he wasn’t going to give it back. However, in the end, he was our hero and got us on to the motorway and where we needed to be!
We arrived at the bus station, collected our tickets from the ticket booth and found a seat inside. There were toilets and places to eat, but no wifi. With 20 minutes to go, we decided to stand near our designated platform and were able to board the bus almost immediately. Our big bags went in a storage area at the back and our valuables came on with us.
The bus was really unusual – a lot like an aeroplane. We had an entertainment system each and the ability to order snacks and refreshments through it. The driver had his own little cabin and we, the ground floor passengers, had our own little, six-person compartment with a toilet just outside of it. The air con was always on and really cold, but we had blankets to tuck up into. Admittedly, the seats still weren’t that comfortable (even though they reclined) and the entertainment system didn’t have much on it, but nevertheless, we slept through the night and woke up at 6:30am to a cup of hot coffee.
At the bus station in Chiang Mai, we found ourselves without a clue of what to do. There were tuk tuks, but everyone seemed to be avoiding them. We walked to what seemed like a taxi rank, with converted trucks lined up (this is what type of taxi that they have in Chiang Mai), but we were shown to a tuk tuk anyway. The driver of said tuk tuk didn’t know where he was going either! We sat in the back shivering, as he took us this-way-and-that. Amusingly, there was a marathon around the city, so we had to keep cutting through them.
Finally, at seven in the morning, we found ourselves at our hostel ready to check in. Up to our room we went so we could get settled in and showered, trying not to wake those that were already there.