Hi there I travelled from CR to P'LOK in June on the 999 blue government owned VIP bus, which took seven hours and cost 470 BAHT. I assume this is the fastest and most costly bus.
There is a toilet onboard and a bottle of water and snacks are provided free of charge.
No need to worry even if you are teavelling the other way round, since P'lok is a major transportation hub and almost all north south buses stop here.
And IHO, P'lok deserves a few days at least in its own right. Foreign tourists have yet to arrive in hordes. Be sure to try the Pakistani roti near P1 Hotel and if you are in the mood for a big lunch, try the buffet lunch at Topland Hotel.
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there is no rail or train to Chaing Rai. direct.. could go to chaing mai then 3 hr bus ride to Chaing Rai
Thank you for pointing that out Alex.
If you don't mind me asking why do you have to stay in Chaing Rai? Is that your destination or just passing through? there are usually direct buses to every where.
and where to stay depends on your budget and travel style.
I'm going to a meditation retreat in Phitsanulok then I'm going to stay at a retreat near to Chiang Rai for a couple of weeks. I need to arrive at the Chiang Rai retreat in the afternoon at the latest. With all the travelling, it's likely that I will need to stay a night in Chiang Rai before reaching the retreat when it's open.
another option is to fly no direct routes but there is an 8 am flight to Bangkok then a 1 pm flight to Chaing Rai
cost should be around 2000 baht for both one way tickets get into chaing Rai around 2 30 afternoon.
this is on Nok Air. flight times are around an hour than hour and half.
buses run about every hour or two so could get a late night bus put you into Chaing Rai very early morning.