Thursday, 3 September 2015

Chiang Mai Airport

Chiang Mai has a very good airport. It is not so big or so small as to cause major inconveniences. Moreover the airport is located relatively close to the centre of Chiang Mai. The experience of using Chiang Mai Airport is very different to the experience of using Suvarnabhumi Airport. These are good reasons to consider using Chiang Mai Airport rather than catching a bus or train to the northern Thai travel hub.

Chiang Mai has an international airport. Currently it has flights to and from China, Laos, Myanmar, Singapore and Taiwan. There are also plenty of domestic scheduled flights that use Chiang Mai Airport. There are 130 flights to Bangkok every week. You can fly from Udon Thani, Udon Ratchethani, Mae Hong Son, Krabi and Surat Thani to Chiang Mai. Despite these scheduled flights many people will find that they cannot fly directly to Chiang Mai either because of price, bad connections or availability. Often it is necessary to spend at least one night in a Bangkok hotel. You can find a good list of budget Bangkok hotels here –

The airport at Chiang Mai is a 2 storey building with plenty of parking at the front. It is usually quick to get through customs and also passport control if you are arriving from outside Thailand. The airport is less congested and the experience of getting through the formalities is a lot more positive. For those who want to avoid the long queues and possible interrogations involved with landing at Suvarnabhumi Airport, Chiang Mai Airport is the obvious choice.

Outside the airport you can catch a pre-paid taxi or tuk tuk to the centre of town. It takes about 10 minutes to get from the airport to the old walled city of Chiang Mai. This is where many of the best guest houses are located and has traditionally been where backpackers prefer to stay since it is near the historic sites of the city.

In terms of cost, internal flights to Chiang Mai are very reasonably priced especially if you have flexibility in your itinerary. For just 2,000 Thai Baht you can fly from Bangkok to Chiang Mai. This is great value since the bus or train costs around 1,000 Thai Baht. The fact that the flight takes just a couple of hours rather than overnight on a bus or train is another strong argument for flying to Chiang Mai.

At the moment Thailand is going through a budget carrier boom making it possible to travel the Kingdom quickly and cheaply. The trains are state owned and the prices fixed. The logistics of bus travel make it impossible for coach companies to lower their prices significantly. Another consideration is that flying is a safer form of transport than travel on the road. This is because of the high prevalence of drunk driving and the lack of enforcement of road regulations.

When you arrive at Chiang Mai Airport your main concern might be to just get to your hotel. The chances are, however, that once you are safely ensconced in your hotel you will look back on your journey and conclude that flying to Chiang Mai was a good idea.

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