Chiang Mai is situated in Northern Thailand some 700km North of Bangkok. There are various ways of getting there. From Bangkok it's a 70 minute flight, or 11hrs by bus or 12hrs by overnight train.
If you plan to do a lot of travel by train or bus in Asia then a highly recommended resource is The Man in Seat 61 website.
A good number of overseas tourists can enter Thailand for up to 90 days without a visa, however it is always best to check beforehand. See the Kingdom of Thailand, Ministry of Foreign Affairs website for current rulings, depending on your nationality.
Located less than 10 minutes drive from the city centre the Chiang Mai International Airport consists of a Domestic and an International terminal in a single building. Roughly 130 flights both Domestic and International fly in and out each week. The following airlines operate direct in and out of Chiang Mai International Airport. A check of the individual airline websites will give current flight schedules and costs.
AirAsia Air Mandalay Bangkok Airways China Airlines Koreanair Lao Airlines Singapore Airlines Silk Air Thai AirAsia Thai Airways International Nok Air SGA Air
Numerous other airlines all fly to Bangkok, where connecting flights can be had to Chiang Mai.
See Air China, Air France, American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Lufthansa Airlines, Qantas, South African Airways, United Airlines, Vietnam Airlines)
Chiang Mai's train station is located on the eastern side of town, though like the airport getting there is no more than a 10 minute drive to the city centre. There are at least six trains daily from Bangkok to Chiang Mai from 8.30am till 10.00pm. Likewise at least six trains daily from Chiang Mai to Bangkok from 6.30am till 9.00pm. Journey times vary from 12 to 15 hours depending on the number of stops. Train fares vary from as cheap as 300THB ($9USD) for a 3rd class upright seat up to 1350THB ($40USD) for a first class sleeper, with various levels in between. As train transport is popular, it is advisable to make an advanced booking. Prices may change so it is advisable to check before you book.
To find out more about Train Travel around Thailand you should check out the excellent and detailed How To Travel by Train in Thailand website.
There are two Bus Stations in Chiang Mai, one for long distance travel and one for local travel predominately around the Chiang Mai province.
Chiang Mai Arcade Bus Station handles daily long distance trips, such as hourly buses to Bangkok. Both government and private buses operate from here. The arcade is located in the north-east part of the city on the eastern end of Kaew Nawarat Road near the super highway intersection. Call 053-242664 to check schedules. Prices for trips from Chiang Mai to Bangkok vary from 200THB to 500THB, depending on with or without air-conditioning. The air-conditioned VIP buses are the most comfortable. Most trips take around 11hrs. Buses usually run from 6.00am till 10.00pm. In reverse, buses leave Bangkok for Chiang Mai from the Mor Chit (often spelt Moh Chit or Mo Chit) Bus Station in the Chatuchak Market area. Prices may change so it is advisable to check before you book.
For local bus travel go to the Chang Phuak Bus Station. Near Chang Phuak Gate on the north side of the old city. Tickets can be purchased on the day. Buses from here service many local towns including Ban Watchan, Bo Sang, Chiang Dao, Chiang Rai, Chiang Saen, Chomtong, Doi Tao, Fang, Hod, Lamphun, Mae Hong Sai, Mae Jo, Mae Rim, Mae Taeng, Om Koy, Peangloung, Prao, San Kamphaeng, Samoeng, Tha Ton.
Getting There - Chiang Mai