Thai New Year
on Tha Phae Gate
Chiangmai is the most culturally significant city in Northern Thailand. It is 700 km (435 mi) north of Bangkok and is situated amongst the highest mountains in the country. The city sits astride the Ping River, a major tributary of the Chao Phraya River.
The Chiang Mai Arcade bus terminal north-east of the city (which can be reached with a songthaew or tuk-tuk ride) provides services to over 20 other destinations in Thailand including Bangkok, Pattaya, Hua Hin, and Phuket. There are several services a day from Chiang Mai Arcade terminal to Mo Chit Station in Bangkok (a 10- to 12-hour journey).
The state railway operates 10 trains a day to Chiang Mai Station from Bangkok. Most journeys run overnight and take approximately 12–15 hours. Most trains offer first-class (private cabins) and second-class (seats fold out to make sleeping berths) service. Chiang Mai is the northern terminus of the Thai railway system.
Chiang Mai International Airport receives up to 28 flights a day from Bangkok (flight time about 1 hour 10 minutes) and also serves as a local hub for services to other northern cities such as Chiang Rai, Phrae, and Mae Hong Son. International services also connect Chiang Mai with other regional centers, including cities in other Asian countries.
The locally preferred form of transport is personal motorbike and, increasingly, private car. Local public transport is via tuk-tuk, songthaew, or saamrowd. Local songthaew fare is usually 20–50 baht per person for trips in and around the city. For groups, the fare per person is less. Tuk-tuk fare is usually at least 60-100 baht per trip (the vehicles are comfortable for two passengers, but some can squeeze in four passengers); fares increase with distance.