A Travel Price Comparison for Vacations, Tours, and Honeymoons Chiang Rai vs. Chiang Mai

Should you visit Chiang Rai or Chiang Mai?

If you're trying to decide where to visit between Chiang Rai or Chiang Mai, this travel cost comparison can help. The overall cost of travel is usually a consideration when deciding where to go next, and the cost comparison below can help you decide based on the average prices from other travelers along with your own travel budget.

Chiang Rai

If you find yourself dreaming of a vacation in Northern Thailand, consider the metropolitan city of Chiang Rai. This centrally located capital of the Chiang Rai province provides an excellent home base for exploring the surrounding areas. While it serves well as a home base, it has its own charms worth wandering.

Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai is both the cultural center of northern Thailand and a launching point for trips into the rural areas, small towns, and lush jungles of the country's northern regions. Known for great food, historic temples, arts and crafts, and a lively night market, Chiang Mai is a very popular destination for travelers. In some areas, tourists and ex-pats dominate, but it's quite easy to get away from the tourist scene and into the real culture of Thailand, as Chiang Mai (and the surrounding countryside) is quite large.

Which city is cheaper, Chiang Mai or Chiang Rai?

These are the overall average travel costs for the two destinations.

The average daily cost (per person) in Chiang Rai is $37, while the average daily cost in Chiang Mai is $42. These costs include accommodation (assuming double occupancy, so the traveler is sharing the room), food, transportation, and entertainment. While every person is different, these costs are an average of past travelers in each city. Below is a breakdown of travel costs for Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai in more detail.



Accommodation

The prices for places to stay in Chiang Rai can vary by date, location, and type. Generally, the average cost for accommodation per person is $16, while a typical double-occupancy hotel room for two people will cost around $32.

For a normal double-occupancy room in Chiang Mai, $48 is the average cost for a hotel room. Also in Chiang Mai, the typical price for a place to stay for one person is $24, such as in a hostel.


  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Chiang Rai $16
    Chiang Mai $24
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Chiang Rai $32
    Chiang Mai $48

Food

On average, meal and food prices in Chiang Rai cost around $11 per person, per day. While this price can vary widely by location, the type of restaurant, and the amount of food ordered, a typical meal often costs around $4.40.

The average traveler spends about $9.57 per day in Chiang Mai for food, but obviously this is dependent on the type of restaurant and the amount of food ordered. To save money you can grab a lighter lunch or dinner, or you can try fast food or street food.


  • Food Meals for one day
    Chiang Rai $11
    Chiang Mai $9.57

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Chiang Rai

For Chiang Rai, here are some samples of tours and activities related to meals and dining experiences:

  • Thai Cooking Class: $51
  • Chiang Rai Private Cooking Class - Cooking With Ann: $52
  • 1 Day Trekking Group Tour With Bamboo Cooking / Chiang Rai: $60
  • Chiang Rai by Night with Show, Dinner and Trishaw Ride: $73
  • Chiang Rai City Tour with Dinner and Show: $73
  • Thai Lanna Cooking Class: $87

Typical Food prices in Chiang Mai

Here are some examples of typical meal expenses from previous travelers to Chiang Mai:


  • Sit Down Dinner (for One)
    $6.24
  • Roti Snack (Bread)
    $0.77
  • Casual Breakfast
    $1.28
  • Casual Lunch (for Two)
    $6.40
  • Mangoes
    $0.96
  • Coffee
    $1.60

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Chiang Mai

For Chiang Mai, here are some samples of tours and activities related to meals and dining experiences:

  • Evening Thai cooking class by Aromdii Cooking School: $27
  • Half Day Cooking Class Including Market Tour from Chiang Mai: $28
  • Private Dining: Thai family dinner in Chiang Mai: $28
  • Thai Khantoke Dinner & Cultural Dance Show with Transfers: $29
  • Traditional Khantoke Dinner & Cultural Dance Show Tour: $29
  • Khum Khantoke Dinner and Cultural Show at Chiang Mai Admission Ticket: $29
  • Khum Khantoke Dinner and Cultural Show in Chiang Mai Admission Ticket: $29
  • Authentic Lanna Dinner and Shows (Khan Toke) in Chiang Mai: $30
  • Khum Khantoke Dinner and Cultural Show at Chiang Mai Admission Ticket: $34
  • Traditional Khantoke Dinner and Show from Chiang Mai: $34
  • Full-Day Cooking Class Including Market Tour from Chiang Mai: $35
  • Khantoke Dinner with Show: $35

Local Transportation

Public transportation tends to be much less expensive in Chiang Rai than paying for a taxi or private car service, as is expected. Typically, people spend $2.99 on transportation in Chiang Rai on average per day.

To get around in Chiang Mai, the average visitor spends $3.40 per day, per person. This includes the costs of taxi rides and private drivers as well as public transportation, which tends to be much more affordable.


  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Chiang Rai $2.99
    Chiang Mai $3.40
Typical Local Transportation prices in Chiang Rai

Below are a few samples from actual travelers for transportation costs in Chiang Rai:


  • Bus to White Temple
    $1.28

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Chiang Rai

Also for Chiang Rai, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:

  • Arrival Chiangmai Airport Private Transfer to Chiangrai Hotels: $145
  • Private Transfer from Chiang Rai to Chiang Mai: $75
  • Transfer in Chiang Rai: $34
  • Private Arrival Transfer: Chiang Rai International Airport to Hotel: $19
  • Chiang Rai Airport Shared Arrival Transfer: $17
  • Chiang Rai Airport Shared Departure Transfer: $17

Typical Local Transportation prices in Chiang Mai

Some typical examples of transportation costs in Chiang Mai are as follows:


  • Tuk Tuk Ride
    $1.28
  • Moped Rental
    $5.76

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Chiang Mai

Also for Chiang Mai, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:

  • Zipline Adventure at Chiang Mai with Return Transfer: $200
  • Transfer in Chiangmai: $27
  • Transfer from Chiang Mai Hotel to Chiang Mai Airport: $24
  • Transfer from Chiang Mai Airport to Chiang Mai Hotel: $24
  • Sukhotha Private Transfer To Chiang Mai Town: $200
  • Siam Dragon Cabaret Show : Ticket + Transfer Service: $24
  • Private Van: Chiang Mai Airport Arrival or Departure Transfer: $26
  • Private Transfer: Chiang Mai to Chiang Mai International Airport (CNX): $22
  • Private Departure Transfer: Hotel to Chiang Mai International Airport (CNX): $13
  • Private Car: Chiang Mai Airport Transfers: $22
  • Private Airport Transfer in Chiang Mai to/from Mae Rim Hotel: $18
  • Private Airport Transfer in Chiang Mai to/from Chiangmai Town: $11

Entertainment

Sightseeing expenses in Chiang Rai, including the cost of admission tickets for day tours, museums, and attractions, usually cost an average of $6.92 per day, per person.

In Chiang Mai, the costs for things to do, activities, admission tickets, and other sightseeing expenses are on average $12 per person, per day.


  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Chiang Rai $6.92
    Chiang Mai $12

Tours and Activities in Chiang Rai

For Chiang Rai, here are a few prices for actual activities, tours, and tickets provided by various companies:

  • 1 Day Trip White Temple - Tea Plantation - Longneck - Cruise to Laos Market: $105
  • 1 Day trip to White Temple, Longneck Village and Cruise at Maekong River: $105
  • 10 Days Thailand Grand Tour: $1,664
  • Ancient City Tour from Chiang Rai including Golden Triangle and Royal Villa: $117
  • Ancient City Tour from Chiang Rai including Golden Triangle and Royal Villa: $146
  • Ancient City Tour from Chiang Rai with Golden Triangle and Royal Villa: $116
  • Ancient City Tour from Chiang Rai with Golden Triangle and Royal Villa: $116
  • Balloon Chiang Rai-Soft Adventure and Nature Touch Activity: $410
  • Chaing Rai food & night market walking tour with local host: $69
  • Chaing Rai food & night market walking tour with local host: $69
  • Chiang Rai - Best of Mae Kam Pong (Community Ecotourism) Hiking & Sightseeing: $125
  • Chiang Rai - Temple Tour: $154

Typical Entertainment prices in Chiang Mai

For Chiang Mai, here are some examples of average entertainment and activity prices from previous travelers:


  • Thai Cooking Class
    $42
  • Doi Suthep Entrance Ticket
    $1.92
  • Kratong Lessons
    $3.20
  • Pedicure
    $4.80
  • Chiang Mai Museum (for Two)
    $5.76

Tours and Activities in Chiang Mai

Also, here are some specific examples of entertainment, tickets, and activities for Chiang Mai.

  • 1 Day Doi Inthanon Private tour ( Hiking and Sightseeing ): $118
  • 1 Day Private Sightseeing Tour at Doi Inthanon: $115
  • 1 Day Private Tour Morning Buddhist Almsgiving , Doi Suthep ,White Temple: $144
  • 1 Day Private Tour The Best Temples and Northern Food Style in Chiang Mai: $94
  • 1 Day Private Tour to The Best Hidden Trekking and The Temple: $134
  • 1 Day Sukhothai Historical Park from Chiang Mai Private Tour: $180
  • 1 Day Tour - Samoeng Loop Highlights: $241
  • 1 Day Tour – Doi Inthanon, Riding High: $255
  • 1 day Private Tour to Unseen Temple in Lampang: $122
  • 1-Day Bike and River Kayak Adventure from Chiang Mai: $66
  • 2 Day Trekking Tour: $100
  • 2 Days 1 Night Pai+Lod Cave Private Tour: $177

Alcohol

Typically, people visiting Chiang Rai spend on average $7.80 on alcoholic beverages per person, per day.

Alcoholic beverages can often be a significant portion of a traveler's budget, and the costs can vary greatly from person to person. In Chiang Mai, the average amount that a visitor spends on alcoholic beverages per day is $6.34.


  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Chiang Rai $7.80
    Chiang Mai $6.34

Typical Alcohol prices in Chiang Mai

Some typical examples of the costs for nightlife and alcohol in Chiang Mai are as follows:


  • Wine
    $3.20


When comparing the travel costs between Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai, we can see that Chiang Mai is more expensive. However, the two cities are actually relatively comparable in price, as the difference is somewhat minimal. Generally, this means that you could travel with generally the same travel style and level of luxury in each place. Since both cities are in Asia, it's no surprise that their costs are relatively close, as many destinations here have somewhat similar travel prices overall.

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Chiang Rai vs. Chiang Mai Travel Comparison

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