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Bus From Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai – Greenbus VIP Service

Our journey through Southeast Asia has relied heavily on ground transit, particularly trains and busses. After a buggy overnight train ride from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, we gladly welcomed a bus ride . We ended up on the Greenbus VIP bus from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai. In this post, we cover how we booked the ride and our experiences on the bus.

Booking the Greenbus VIP Bus from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai

We always prefer to book tickets online when we can, just as a matter of convenience. In this case, we actually had two options for online booking.

Booking Online: 12Go Asia vs. Greenbus

When we took the train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, we booked via 12Go Asia, a third-party booking company that (in the case of some trains) goes and purchases tickets from the physical station for you. We considered using them for booking the bus from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai, but in doing some research we discovered that Greenbus is bookable online and that it was a few dollars (USD) cheaper.

Price on 12Go Asia – THB 408 per person

Price directly through Greenbus – THB 258 per person

This price difference actually prompted us to book the VIP class instead of the lower “Express” class we had been considering. Our choices for two tickets wound up being:

  • VIP Class through 12Go Asia THB 816 ($25)
  • Express Class through 12Go Asia THB 558 ($17)
  • VIP Class through Greenbus THB 516 ($16)

We didn’t even look at the express price directly through Greenbus (but it was probably about THB 258, or $8, for two). As a final note, 12Go Asia lists both the “A-Class” and “X-Class” Greenbus buses as “Express” class.

Booking Greenbus VIP bus from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai Online

The current Greenbus schedule is available on their site, but buses run throughout the day. The Greenbus site is pretty easy to navigate, with an English-language option (top right corner). Not everything translates, and if you use Google Chrome (which automatically detects foreign languages and offers to translate them), you’ll get a little better translation. The search interface appears on the home page.

Finding Bus Availability

You’ll be searching for buses from Chiang Mai Bus Station to Chiang Rai Bus Station 1, which is located adjacent to the Chiang Rai Night Bazaar and a short walk from the Clock Tower (you can check Google Maps to confirm that this is the best station for you, the same buses stop at Bus Station 2).

When we searched for availability two days in advance, we found two VIP options with 3 seats and a couple with 1 seat. The express options usually had more than 5 available seats. If you’re considering this option, we suggest just checking out the website in advance to see what availability is looking like.

Note that some of the bus types/routes are listed in Thai. Keep the Greenbus schedule open in a tab (remembering that “V-Class” is VIP), and consider using 12Go Asia as a backup reference for times. As of this writing, only one bus departs at a time, so you don’t have to worry about booking the wrong bus at the right time.

Seat Selection and Payment

When booking through Greenbus, you get to select your seat.

Greenbus Seating Selection Screen

When we tried to proceed to payment, we got this error:

Um. Okay. Sorry?

Using Google to translate this to “Please enter your phone number”, we realized that the “Remark” field in your booking should be populated with your phone number.

We booked with a credit card (our Chase Sapphire Reserve, which gets us 3x points on travel and has a $300 annual travel credit). There was an option to book and then pay at a 7-Eleven (ubiquitous in Chiang Mai) or a ticketing station, in which case you would need to take your information to there to pay and get your ticket.

Important Tip: Confirmation Numbers

The website is a little finicky, and we want you to really take in these points about finishing your payment:

  • After our payment was confirmed, we were taken to a screen that had our confirmation number. When we went to print this to a PDF (standard practice), the confirmation window disappeared!
  • The page we were sent to gave us the option to access our tickets, and despite getting an error message when we printed those to PDF, they did successfully save to our desktop.
  • We did not get any sort of email confirmation from Greenbus about our tickets, and we were not able to access any confirmation pages once we left them.

We’re flagging these points because if we hadn’t gotten the ticket to print, we would have had no record number to bring to customer service, which could have posed a challenge. We suggest taking screenshots or writing down the confirmation number. You should also try and screenshot your ticket(s) before attempting to print them.

Chiang Mai Bus Terminal 3 and Boarding

We took an Uber from the northern side of the Old City wall to Chiang Mai Bus Terminal 3. You can find it on Google Maps (or Uber) by searching thusly. The GPS coordinates are 18°48’01.8″N 99°01’02.4″E. The Uber cost us about THB 120. You’ll see some signs pointing to Bus Terminal 2, but don’t fret, that’s not the wrong direction. Just make sure whoever drives you knows which terminal you’re going to.

Chiang Mai Bus Terminal 3

The bus station is pretty small and easy to navigate. Our tickets indicated platforms 20/21 for pickup. There were seats scattered across the station. While not empty, we were able to find seats pretty easily. The second floor of the station was pretty abandoned, though it had more open seats (and air conditioning). There were several small restaurants, convenience shops, and coffee stands.

Most of Chiang Mai Bus Terminal 3 is open air

Our 2:45PM bus arrived at the station at about 2:35. We showed our tickets (which we’d saved to our phone) to one of the attendants. He tagged our bigger bags for storage underneath the bus and gave us claim tickets (that no one asked for when we arrived). The overhead slots are big enough for a laptop bag or day bag, but not a full-size carry-on.

Our Greenbus VIP bus from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai!

The Greenbus VIP Bus from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai

Before departure, some announcements were made in Thai. Not speaking Thai, we were simply satisfied when we heard “Chiang Rai.”

The inside of our Greenbus VIP bus from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai

Our bus was certainly not a luxurious VIP experience, but overall more comfortable than a standard bus. We had cupholders, lights, call buttons, and the ability to open/close our air conditioning vents. No power or wifi. Sorry, bloggers! There were individual TVs on the seats, but ours never did anything or responded to us pushing buttons. We didn’t notice if anyone else’s worked, but we don’t think so.

The seats were quite spacious and reclined. We were in 8B and 8C, right in front of the bathroom. When we booked this they were the last two seats, and we were obviously prepared for a smelly ride. Luckily, the bathroom is actually separated from the seating area by a small room, which helped us avoid this problem.

Our seats were pretty spacious!

We departed at 2:50PM. Shortly after departure we were each given a small bottle of water and a packaged roll.

We love free water and snacks!

The ride was uneventful, a little winding but nothing too bad (nothing compared to, say, the bus from Medellin to Pareira, Colombia). There were no stops between Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai, which was fine since the bus had a bathroom (which we didn’t use) and it was a short journey (3 hours, 15 minutes).

Arrival in Chiang Rai

As we headed into Chiang Rai, some announcements were made in Thai. We assume they just had to do with the bus making two stops at Chiang Rai’s two bus terminals.

We arrived at the first stop at Chiang Rai Bus Terminal 2, just south of the city, at 5:44PM. This stop is probably more popular with people transferring buses than those staying in Chiang Rai. We were heading into the city, to Bus Terminal 1. The bus departed after about 10 minutes of sitting, and we arrived into Chiang Rai Bus Terminal 1 at 6:04PM.

Chiang Rai Bus Terminal 1

Chiang Rai Bus Terminal 1 is adjacent to the Chiang Rai Night Bazaar, which makes it great for a nighttime arrival if you don’t mind browsing with your bags. If you just want to get to the main street, you’ll have to push through about half a block of shoppers. We booked a centrally located hostel, so we just had a 15 minute walk from the bus terminal. Chiang Rai also has Uber and Tuk Tuks.

Closing Thoughts on the Greenbus VIP Bus from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai

We wound up paying about $8 per person for the 3 hour bus ride. That’s not cheap by Thai standards, but also not expensive. While a little browsing online indicates Greenbus has some newer VIP buses, we didn’t mind ours. It wasn’t perfect, but for a 3 hour ride it was nice to just have space, comfortable seats, and the free water and snack. We’d recommend this option for anyone looking to get from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai.


Monday 27th of March 2023

I travel the ChiangMai-ChiangRai route frequently, and always book my ticket in the GreenBus App. Author Kenny's review is accurate to the detail, but here's some updates - 1) VIP class is 306 baht, and Express is 196 baht. 2) Express will make a 10-min stop at the MaeKachan station in Wiang Papao, which can be good if need use the toilet, or get a legs stretch or get local snacks. For morning trips there are plenty breakfast options here. 3) They allow drop-off along the route, but for some strange reason they don't do pick-up. so u only can board at either of the 4 stations (except MaeKachan not for VIP bus). Using the App is simple and straightforward. No need to sign-up/login. 1) Just select "Buy Ticket" and navigate as prompted. Select "ChiangMai Station 3" and "ChiangRai Station 1" regardless whether u want to board or alight in ChiangRai Station 2. 2) There is an auto inclusion to buy Accident and/or COVID insurance, but u can just un-tick them. In which case the field to complete ur passport/ID number will blank off. 3) Payment by credit/debit card will incur a 10.7baht fee. Note that if select to pay at 7-Eleven stores, payment must be completed within 2 hours. 4) Get ready to make a screenshot when the payment confirmation/receipt pop-up appears. (Anyway, no worry about this. I have never done it, and never had been asked to produce it.) 5) When the ticket confirmation appears, hit the button "Save Photo" and it will save to ur Photo App (works in iPhone, im not using Android). Or just do a screenshot. The aspect ratio is vertically long, so make sure u capture the 6-character code within the QR code. 6) Anytime if u want to print the ticket, there's an "Print Ticket" option. Just enter the code and u find ur ticket to print in ur preference. 7) There's no need to validate ur ticket at the Station counter. Just show ur print or mobile ticket to the bus attendant. I never had any issue with this. Personally i recommend the VIP option, just for a slightly more comfortable ride in a spacious seat, and a slightly shorter journey. Passengers are mostly foreigners. Locals usually commute in Express, sometimes tend to be a little noisier with the chattering going on, and longer journey due to the drop-off along the way. The journey is very smooth and indeed safer now with less sharp winding turns after a major road revamp. Enjoy your trip.


Tuesday 28th of March 2023

Wow, this is SO incredibly helpful! I will incorporate this info into this post. I really appreciate the boots-on-the-ground update! We haven't taken the journey ourselves in a few years, so this updated info is incredibly valuable! Thanks so much for taking the time to share!

march ng

Monday 20th of February 2023

great suggestion and experience


Tuesday 29th of October 2019

Thank you so much. Your details about how to book were invaluable. I loved being able to choose my seat.


Saturday 2nd of November 2019

That's so great to hear! I'm happy you found it helpful! Happy travels!


Friday 16th of August 2019

Hi, do you know how far back can you make the booking online?


Sunday 8th of September 2019

Hello! It looks like you can book 60 days in advance. Good luck!


Tuesday 19th of March 2019

Hi, may I ask did you created an account with Greenbus when you made the online purchase?


Sunday 31st of March 2019

Hello! I believe we did have to create an account, yes. It allowed us to create one when we were checking out.