In Thailand, there are dozens of bus operators moving people all over the country. 2MovingTheChi needed to catch a bus from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai to explore northern Thailand. After a bit of research on the internet, the Green Bus Company was selected.
Where to buy the tickets? There are dozens of travel service shops in and around the old city, but we opted to go to the bus terminal to make the purchase and at the same time, get a feel for the bus terminal.
We found out there are two bus stations in Chiangmai, the Arcade Bus Terminal (serving destinations outside Chiang Mai province) and the Chang Puak Terminal (for destinations within the province). Since Chiang Rai is in Chiang Rai province, we were off to the Arcade Bus Terminal to buy our tickets.
The Arcade Bus Station Chiangmai is located on the eastern end of Kaew Nawarat Road near the super highway intersection (highway 118) also called ring road. It is about 4 km northeast of the old city.
Arriving at this newer terminal, the Green Bus ticket office is easy to find, just inside the front door to the left. The routes and schedules are displayed on posters and easy to read. The VIP Green Bus is the most comfortable (so we read) and offers several daily departures from which to choose. They also offer an X Class and an A Class, of which I did not research since the cost of a VIP seat was only 288 baht (about $8.50 US) and this fit into our budget.
The Green Bus departed from gate 19 or 20 in Chiang Mai, which was printed on the ticket. A sign is taped to the front window of each departing bus indicating the bus number (the same number as on your ticket) and departure time. When loading, give the bags you want checked to the attendant, they will tag your bags and staple a luggage receipt to your ticket.
The bus to Chiang Rai was clean, offered comfortable reclining seats, and accommodated up to 24 passengers. The bus hostess (similar to an airline flight attendant) helped passengers with seat assignments and served a snack (like a breakfast roll) and bottle of water shortly after departure. As we approached Chiang Rai, she picked up the trash and handed out wet towelettes to freshen up.
The reclining seats are spacious and offer foot rests and leg rests (kind of like your favorite lounge chair). The head/neck support for each seat was adjustable.
During the first part of the journey, a TV screen was lowered to give safety information and afterward played a Thai television comedy show, which was a bit loud and might get on your nerves. Grin and bear it. It is over in about an hour. You might also dress warm or bring layers since the air conditioning is very good.
The trip to Chiang Rai goes through the mountains with twists, turns, bumps, stops and starts. After about two and one half hours, you’re in downtown Chiang Rai at an older bus terminal.
That’s about it. Should you be going back to Chiang Mai (like we did), you reverse the process. The bus station in Chiang Rai is not as nice as Chiang Mai and we had to ask a few more questions to find our VIP Green Bus loading platform back to Chiang Mai.