Bangkok to Chiang Rai By Car- A complete road-trip guide

Rent Car Thailand

Bangkok To Chiang Rai By Car- A Complete Road-Trip Guide


Traveling from Bangkok to Chiang Rai by car is an experience you will never forget! Independence, freedom with friends is a once in a life-time experience. Renting a car is cheap with great commercial companies operating in Bangkok.

Pick a playlist, get on the road, and get ready to see Thailand’s hidden gems!

Rent a car Thailand

The license you need?

If you’re driving a car in Thailand, you need an international driving license

A three-year license is $59

To apply for this, go online, fill in the form and upload pictures

The license is accepted in 150 countries worldwide, so it’s a well worth investment!

Rent a Car Thailand

Car Rental Deeds

Car rental companies mainly operate from international airports.

Hiring a car is about $45.00 a day, and insurance will be variable on top.

Make sure you read the small print and excess charge. If your car has minor damage, you might be invoiced with photo evidence from the company. A good car rental will listen and wave the fee if deemed necessary.

When sending the car back, make sure it has a full tank.

Rent a Car in Thailand

Is it sensible driving in Thailand?

I always say safety starts with you! Recognize that you are not the only car on the road.

You will have motorbikes weaving in & out of traffic, so always check your mirrors. Bangkok has heavy traffic! Always take your time and get used to driving in a foreign country.

Thailand’s transport police report over 3900 people are killed on the highways every year. The UK has 1,800 but bear in mind that minor injuries are high in Thailand. Motorbike fatalities being the highest.

Thailand’s road safety isn’t a priority and not taken seriously with limited safety measures.

Also, corruption is high! Thai police bribery is just accepted by natives and most police operations are to make money, not safety, so be careful!

Signs, Traffic cones, And street lights aren’t the best as infrastructure isn’t taken as seriously as western countries. U-Turns are also an issue so keep your eyes peeled.

As I said, safety starts you, so take your time, be patient. Also, make sure you’re physically fit to drive. Taking a travel first aid kit is always sensible to.

Road Rules

        Left side driving

        Insurance is needed!

        Driving speed restrictions are 60kph in Urban areas, 90kph on roads, and 120kph on highways

        Seat belts to be fastened

        Watch out for speed cameras

        Don’t drive and use a phone apart from blue-tooth sets


       Drinking and driving is a no! 50mg is the limit out 100mg of blood

Car Rental Thailand

Accidents Do Happen

If you find yourself in this situation and need help, call 191 or 1155 Tourist Police.

Leave your car and stay calm.

You will be asked to fill an accident form with the police. Keep a copy for insurance.

Travel Itinerary

My Road Trip Itinerary

The total journey time is 10hrs to Chiang Rai direct!        

But while on your journey, here are a few places to check out.


Lopburi (2hrs from BK)

If you want to see monkeys in their 1000’s, then Lopburi is worth a visit! This historical city with ancient temples has a deep, rich history.

Under the Khmer empire, the Ayutthaya temples were built. Although some are not in the best condition, the most popular is Prang Sam Yot, which you have to check-out!

Also, in ruins lay from 1660 King Narai’s Palace, which is worth a look. The Somdet Phra Narai National Museum will give you background into the region and show classical art from that era.

The countryside is stunning with beautiful mountains (Khao Chin Lae mountain) and Ang Sap Lek reservoir with a bamboo sitting area.

An actual monkey invasion happened (Nov 2020), most likely down to low tourism (Coronavirus outbreak). The tourists leave food for monkeys, but this year has been quiet.                                                                                                                                       

The best time to visit Lopburi is November, when the flowers are in season

Nakhon Sawan

Nakhon Sawan (1.5 hrs from Lopburi)

Looking to unwind?, then Paradise Park is a place of tranquility and harmony. People feed fish, Admire the Dragon, And workout. Also, the food vendors are great (Breakfast recommended)

Wat Khiriwong, located on Dawa Dung Mountain, is a Buddhist temple with fantastic scenery. The monks are present, friendly and will chat with you. A great place for clean air & views.

Bung Boraphet is a beautiful lake with boat tours early morning and evening. A great place to view wild birds, even crocodiles. A real hidden gem! Try to get a picture of the sunrise!

Bo Ya Cave is a spectacle not to missed. Its easy to get to with transport. Make sure your in reasonable shape for the 1000 steps to the cave. The Buddhist temple is placed in beautiful rock formations with bats and beautiful decorations.

If you like good quality burgers, then check out Burger Lab. The meats aged 55 days from Argentina, Australia

Address: Soi Matulee 13 Pak Nam Pho Subdistrcit, Nakhon Sawan 60000 Thailand 

Phone: +66 90 317 2186


Phitsanulok (2hrs from Nakhon Sawan)

Phitsanulok is a 600-year-old capital with impressive historical temples. This escape from Bangkok is authentic Thailand and real Thai living.

Phra Buddha Chinnarat is a beautiful, friendly temple with no fee upon entry. One of the most beautiful Buddhas (Phra Si Ratana Temples Wat Yai) statues you will see! Tourists don’t visit much, but locals come to worship. 

Sgt. Maj. Thawee Folk Museum has a 50 THB entry with classical memorabilia and antiques. You get a good understanding of Thai agriculture, With instructions on how to catch a porcupine??

Phitsanulok Night Bazaar is right next to Nan river and sells clothes & food. Lots of bargains. Worth a stroll! 

Looking for food, look at Kura! Traditional Thai & Chinese food.

Address Thammabucha Road Opposite Rattanawat hospital, Wat, Chan                                  

Phone +66 55 377 694


Phrae (2hrs from Phitsanulok)

Phrae is a small with not many tourists around. Defiantly a place to add to your travel itinerary though, with beautiful national park & temples.

Phae Mueang Phi Forest Park is a scenic space with rumors of ghosts, spirits in the area. The rock formation is Mushroom like so take a camera.

Every Saturday evening a street market place.Perfect for trying local Phrae cuisine. You can find the market at Khum Lue Road at Prathu Mar.

Wat Luang is one of the first temples built and was constructed (12th century). Inside the temple is a museum, which has classical art and antiques.

Ban Thung Hong is a village located just outside of Phrae. The Village Specializes in handmade clothing, You can purchase from the
market. Also, tasty herbal teas are available

Wee Wee is excellent for food. It is an American diner with top-notch grub.

Address 230/13 Chor Hae Rd Tambon Mueang Mo, Phrae 

Phone +66 64 004 4689



Phayao (2 hrs from Phrae)

A beautiful area surrounded by mountains Doi Khun Mae Fat (1,550 m) and Doi Khun Mae Tam (1,330 m)

Phu Langka Forest Park is great to watch the sunrise/set. On the way up, you find roadside cafes/restaurants. Also you are surrounded by tranquil views and clouds passing by.

Wat Analayo Thipphayaram is a group of temples with breathtaking beauty! You can join tours for 400THB. The place oozes spirituality and is tranquil and mysterious. A lot of stray dogs are here, but this adds to the event. A must see!

Wat Tilok Aram, located on a small island you will need a boat to taxi to the temple. The Buddha statue plus turtles, Eels & Fish, Can be purchased and set free in the lake. Its worth a quick look!

Aurora House Restaurant serves European/Thai cuisine 

Address 696/5 Phaholyothin Road Wiang Subdistrict, Phayao

Phone +66 95 448 7102

 Chiang Rai (1.5 hrs from Phayao)

You’ve reached your destination!


Thanks for the read, guys! 


Best Wishes



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Hi, I’m Ian

I started traveling in 2006 when I was 21 and still today it’s the best experience of my life! I grew up in a rural town in England and I couldn’t wait to get away and explore the big wide world.

My first destination in 2006 was Singapour. After I visited Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Laos the dream continued and every day was a new experience with new foods, temples, lush countryside, and quirky boutique hotels. The variance of my days was tremendous from waking up in Jungles to a tropical island sipping an ice-cold beer 24hrs later.

With all this travel experience I started traveltin to help people who want to take the plunge into travel and seek advice. I really want to help people live their dreams and share knowledge and tips to help you have the best trip possible.

If you need anything just ask! I’ll get straight back to you.

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