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), or a bus. Out of these three, the first two seem practical and the prepaid taxi the most convenient. The bus needs to be ruled out because it will have fixed timings and a fixed route, both of which may not suit your timing and your hotel in Chiang Mai. I guess you would not like the hassle of searching and waiting for a bus outside the airport just to save 100 Thai baht especially if you are there on holiday. 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 less than 100 THB. Now if that sounds like too much trouble too, 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. Its 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 increased a bit.
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 Song Thaew 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.