There are a few options to travel from Chiang Mai airport to your hotel in the city, like a prepaid taxi, a Songthaew (two benches fixed in the back of a truck), a tuk-tuk or the airport bus. The airport bus is the cheapest at 20 THB per person but it has a fixed route and you may not be able to get close to your hotel. If you wish to take the bus, better ask your hotel before you reach Chiang Mai about the nearest airport bus stop from the hotel. The airport bus operates from 6:00 am to 10:30 pm. The Songthaew (see picture below) is a viable option. You need to step out of the airport and start walking towards the exit. Either inside or just outside the airport, you will see a stationary or moving Songthaew that will take you to your hotel for anything between 40 and 100 THB. Another option is a tuk-tuk which is like a taxi because it will drop you at your hotel but will charge a minimum of 100 THB and may ask for more. Now if all that sounds like too much trouble, just take a prepaid taxi.
Prepaid Taxi from Chiang Mai Airport to the City, Old City or Night Bazaar
A prepaid taxi from Chiang Mai airport to anywhere in the city would cost THB 160*. Nothing more is to be paid. It’s a short 10-15 minute ride to most hotels and 160* THB is not cheap, but you are actually paying for the convenience. This type of taxis are not to be found in the city and Songthaew and occasional tuk-tuks are the only available mode of transport.
*160 THB was the fare when I last visited Chiang Mai and since then it may have changed.
Prepaid Taxi Counters inside the airport
Before coming out of the airport, you need to buy your prepaid taxi ticket at either of these counters. At least one of these counters will be open any time of the day or night.
The drivers outside
The prepaid taxi drivers wait just outside the gate. Hand over your ticket to one of them and you will be escorted to the taxi parking area.
Another Prepaid Taxi Service at 160 THB
If you come out of the airport and then decide to take a prepaid taxi, there is this signboard announcing the service to anywhere in the city at 160 THB.
What is a Songthaew
These are high powered vehicles that ply on every street in Chiang Mai. Every Songthaew will go anywhere you want to go. Just decide on a price and hop in. They will follow the most practical route depending on the passengers they carry and eventually get you to your destination. Fares on Songthaews start at 20 THB. Also read: Public Transport in Chiang Mai