To travel from Koh Samui to Chiang Mai, bus & train are popular choices for travelers wanting to experience a bit of the real Thailand. We also have flights available for those wanting to save time in transit on the their holiday.
Bus services run from Koh Samui to Chiang Mai every day via Bangkok. Both VIP and standard travel is available and the journey takes approximately 22 hours.
In Koh Samui, you’ll be transferred straight from your hotel to the bus station in Nathon. In Nathon you’ll board the bus service to Bangkok, which starts with a short journey to the ferry pier. You and the bus will board the ferry separately for the 90 minute crossing to the mainland, where you’ll get back on the bus to Bangkok.
The ferries are large with plenty of seating. Air conditioned area are available and there are toilet facilities and a shop to buy food & drinks. As a large vessel it goes unaffected by all but the largest waves, so remains safe and comfortable.
In the capital’s Mo Chit bus station, you’ll change buses for the 10 hour journey to Chiang Mai. Where to go is clearly sign posted and the bus attendants are on hand to direct you.
VIP buses have fewer seats on board allowing for more space and a greater recline, and is well air conditioned with an on board toilet. As a VIP, you will receive some snacks and refreshments included in the cost of your ticket, as well as a hot meal during a rest stop. The VIP bus travels overnight from Koh Samui to Bangkok, where you will change for the bus to Chiang Mai. You’ll receive similar service on the bus to Chiang Mai, which takes 8 hours.
Standard buses are well maintained and have air conditioning. There’s a reasonable amount of space between seats and the seats do recline comfortably. Like the VIP bus, the standard bus travels overnight from Koh Samui.
Journey by train from Koh Samui to Chiang Mai takes 30 hours, which is a bit longer than by bus but you can sleep in a proper bed or move around the carriage if you fancy stretching you legs.
Most travelers see the journey by train as an experience in Thailand not to be missed. There’s some fantastic scenery on the way and the train is quite social, a great place to meet fellow travelers and share a beer & stories.
The first part of the journey is getting from Koh Samui to Surat Thani, where you’ll catch the train. This involves a hotel transfer, ferry and bus, like as described above, taking 3-4 hours. The train itself will go to Bangkok first, taking 14 hours, where you’ll change for another 13 hour train ride to Chiang Mai.
1st class sleepers are modern and air conditioned, with lockable compartments with a wash basin. You beds are made by a train attendant with fresh linen, and soap & towels are provided. The toilet at the end of the car has a cold water shower. Passengers traveling alone share with others passengers of the same sex unless they pay for sole occupancy. The lower bunk converts to a sofa for evening & morning use. 1st class sleepers are a great choice if you want space and privacy.
2nd class sleepers are comfortable dormitory style coaches with lower and upper bunks. The upper bunks are 100 THB cheaper than lower bunks but a bit narrower. There’s plenty of room to store bags in the coach, which can either be air conditioned or not (200 THB cheaper) depending on your choice. During the day the sleeper carriage has seats facing each other, which transform into the lower bunks later on, with the upper bunks fold out from the wall. A train attendant will come by and make up your bed with fresh linen and hook up the curtains for privacy.
2nd class seating is cheap option for budget travellers. Carriages are air conditioned and the seats have a decent amount of room, reclining comfortably. A service of light meals and refreshments is provided.
There’s one daily flight direct from Koh Samui to Chiang Mai that takes just under 2 hours. Expect to pay 6,000 THB to 8,000 THB.
An alternative way to fly to Chiang Mai, is via Bangkok. The journey time of the first leg is between 1 hour and 90 minutes depending on the aircraft type. More details can be found on our Koh Samui to Bangkok page. Remember, you’ll need to check in at least 45 minutes prior to departure.
On arrival to Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport, depending on the airline you’ve booked with you’ll either catch a connecting flight to Chiang Mai or need to pass through security, collect your luggage and take the free shuttle to Don Muang Airport on the other side of the city, where most domestic flights depart from.
The second flight from Bangkok to Chiang Mai takes another 90 minutes. The approximate cost of air travel from Koh Samui to Chiang Mai with 2 separate flights is 4,000 THB to 8,000 THB, depending on airlines and availability.
|VIP Bus Service|
|Standard Bus Service|
|Hotel Transfer 1 hour before departure|
|Hotel transfer to Nathon pier in Koh Samui||13:00||14:00|
|Ferry from Koh Samui to Donsak||14:00||16:00|
|Donsak to Surat Thani Train Station||16:00||17:20|
|Surat Thani to Bangkok Hualamphong||18:37||06:30|
|Bangkok Hualamphong to Chiang Mai||08:30||20:30|
1st Class Sleeper
2nd Class Sleeper
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