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

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 $35, while the average daily cost in Chiang Mai is $40. 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, $46 is the average cost for a hotel room. Also in Chiang Mai, the typical price for a place to stay for one person is $23, such as in a hostel.


  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Chiang Rai $16
    Chiang Mai $23
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Chiang Rai $32
    Chiang Mai $46

Food

On average, meal and food prices in Chiang Rai cost around $10 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 $4.00.

The average traveler spends about $9.15 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 $10
    Chiang Mai $9.15

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 Akha Kitchen Cooking Class & Local Market Tour: $23
  • Tom Yum Thai Cooking Class with Market Tour in Chiang Mai: $23
  • Asia Scenic Thai Cooking Class: $25
  • Siamese Cookery House Thai Cooking Class in Bangkok: $26
  • InFusion Cooking Classes in Koh Samui: $26
  • Sompong Thai Cooking Class: $27
  • Galangal Cooking Class with Market Tour in Chiang Mai: $28
  • Lanna Smile Thai Cooking Class in Chiang Mai: $29
  • Pum Thai Cooking Class in Patong Beach: $31
  • Thai Cooking Course Hua Hin: $31
  • Chocolate Cooking Class at SO Sofitel Bangkok: $31
  • Yanui Cape Sunset Catamaran Tour in Phuket with Dinner by We Love Andaman: $31

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)
    $5.96
  • Roti Snack (Bread)
    $0.73
  • Casual Breakfast
    $1.22
  • Casual Lunch (for Two)
    $6.12
  • Mangoes
    $0.92
  • Coffee
    $1.53

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:

  • Thai Akha Kitchen Cooking Class & Local Market Tour: $23
  • Tom Yum Thai Cooking Class with Market Tour in Chiang Mai: $23
  • Asia Scenic Thai Cooking Class: $25
  • Siamese Cookery House Thai Cooking Class in Bangkok: $26
  • InFusion Cooking Classes in Koh Samui: $26
  • Sompong Thai Cooking Class: $27
  • Evening Thai cooking class by Aromdii Cooking School: $27
  • Galangal Cooking Class with Market Tour in Chiang Mai: $28
  • 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

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 $2.86 on transportation in Chiang Rai on average per day.

To get around in Chiang Mai, the average visitor spends $3.25 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 $2.86
    Chiang Mai $3.25
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
    $1.22

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Chiang Rai

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

  • Kata Rocks Resort & Residences (8D7N) with free COE Application and Airport Transfers: $2,321
  • Arrival Chiangmai Airport Private Transfer to Chiangrai Hotels: $145
  • [Next Day Result] COVID-19 RT-PCR Test by Bangkok Hospital Phuket (Transfer Arranged by TTD): $105
  • Private City Transfers from Pattaya to Bangkok, Hua Hin, Koh Samet & Koh Chang: $78
  • Private City Transfers between Hua Hin and Bangkok by TTS: $76
  • Private Transfer from Chiang Rai to Chiang Mai: $75
  • Private City Transfers between Hua Hin and Bangkok: $73
  • Private City Transfers between Hat Yai and Pak Bara Pier: $68
  • Private City Transfers between Bangkok and Pattaya by TTS: $53
  • Private City Transfers between Ayutthaya and Bangkok by TTS: $53
  • Private City Transfers between Bangkok and Pattaya, Ayutthaya, Hua Hin & More: $46
  • Private City Transfers between Bangkok and Pattaya, Ayutthaya, Hua Hin & More by TTD: $43

Typical Local Transportation prices in Chiang Mai

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


  • Tuk Tuk Ride
    $1.22
  • Moped Rental
    $5.50

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Chiang Mai

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

  • [Next Day Result] COVID-19 RT-PCR and Rapid Antigen Test by Nabon Inter Medical Clinic in Phuket (Transfer arranged by TTD): $21
  • [Next Day Result] COVID-19 RT-PCR Test by Bangkok Hospital Phuket (Transfer Arranged by TTD): $105
  • 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
  • Tiger Kingdom Ticket in Phuket with Transfers: $22
  • Tiger Kingdom Ticket in Chiang Mai with Transfers: $5.59
  • Sukhotha Private Transfer To Chiang Mai Town: $200
  • Siam Dragon Cabaret Show : Ticket + Transfer Service: $24
  • Shared Airport Bus Transfer Phuket : $3.09
  • Samui Airport Transfers (USM) for Koh Samui and More: $15

Is it cheaper to fly into Chiang Rai or Chiang Mai?

Prices for flights to both Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai change regularly based on dates and travel demand. We suggest you find the best prices for your next trip on Kayak, because you can compare the cost of flights across multiple airlines for your prefered dates.





Entertainment

Sightseeing expenses in Chiang Rai, including the cost of admission tickets for day tours, museums, and attractions, usually cost an average of $6.62 per day, per person.

In Chiang Mai, the costs for things to do, activities, admission tickets, and other sightseeing expenses are on average $11 per person, per day.


  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Chiang Rai $6.62
    Chiang Mai $11

Tours and Activities in Chiang Rai

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

  • 4 Island Day Tour by Speedboat or Longtail Boat from Lanta Island: $31
  • ATV Half Day Adventure in Pattaya: $28
  • Ancient Ayutthaya Tour: Wat Yai Chai Mongkhon, Bang Pa-In Royal Palace & More by AK Travel: $33
  • Aquaria Phuket Ticket: $4.95
  • Ayutthaya Day Tour from Bangkok with Bang Pa In and Night Market Visit┬áby TTD: $31
  • Ayutthaya Day Tour from Bangkok with Bang Pa-In Summer Palace and Market Visit: $35
  • Bangkok Floating Markets Day Tour from Siam Paragon by TTD: $28
  • Dii Wellness Med Spa Experience by Divana at Central Embassy BTS Ploenchit: $62
  • Go Bangkok e-Scooter Tour: $46
  • Indoor Go Karting Experience by EasyKart Bangkok: $13
  • Krabi Koh Klang Cultural Day Tour by TTD: $74
  • Krabi Sunrise Tour with Breakfast and Kayaking at Klong Nam Sai: $33

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
    $40
  • Doi Suthep Entrance Ticket
    $1.83
  • Kratong Lessons
    $3.06
  • Pedicure
    $4.59
  • Chiang Mai Museum (for Two)
    $5.50

Tours and Activities in Chiang Mai

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

  • 4 Island Day Tour by Speedboat or Longtail Boat from Lanta Island: $31
  • ATV Half Day Adventure in Pattaya: $28
  • Ancient Ayutthaya Tour: Wat Yai Chai Mongkhon, Bang Pa-In Royal Palace & More by AK Travel: $33
  • Aquaria Phuket Ticket: $4.95
  • Ayutthaya Day Tour from Bangkok with Bang Pa In and Night Market Visit┬áby TTD: $31
  • Ayutthaya Day Tour from Bangkok with Bang Pa-In Summer Palace and Market Visit: $35
  • Bangkok Floating Markets Day Tour from Siam Paragon by TTD: $28
  • Dii Wellness Med Spa Experience by Divana at Central Embassy BTS Ploenchit: $62
  • Go Bangkok e-Scooter Tour: $46
  • Indoor Go Karting Experience by EasyKart Bangkok: $13
  • Krabi Koh Klang Cultural Day Tour by TTD: $74
  • Krabi Sunrise Tour with Breakfast and Kayaking at Klong Nam Sai: $33

Alcohol

Typically, people visiting Chiang Rai spend on average $7.46 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 $6.06.


  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Chiang Rai $7.46
    Chiang Mai $6.06

Sample the Local Flavors in Chiang Rai

Also in Chiang Rai, these are the prices for nightlife and alcohol related activities from various tour providers:

  • PB Valley Vineyard and Wine Tasting Tour in Khao Yai: $22
  • Bangkok Pub Crawl by Pub Crawls Thailand: $22

Typical Alcohol prices in Chiang Mai

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


  • Wine
    $3.06

Sample the Local Flavors in Chiang Mai

Some specific costs for nightlife related activities in Chiang Mai:

  • PB Valley Vineyard and Wine Tasting Tour in Khao Yai: $22
  • Bangkok Pub Crawl by Pub Crawls Thailand: $22


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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