Air Asia is generally cheap but sometimes you struggle to find an affordable flight(s) to the island of Thailand or Malaysia. The plan was to visit Langkawi for three days. Flying would have stretched the budget so I went from Chiang Mai to Langkawi overland by bus.
Note, I completed this trip on December 21st – December 23rd, prices may change.
Chiang Mai to Bangkok By Bus (Khao San Road)
I departed Chiang Mai at 6.15pm from a tour operator opposite the UN Irish. The cost was 500 baht, the cheapest you will find. Some Chiang Mai tour agencies will charge you 700 baht so shop around.
The bus was definitely a tourist cattle bus as we were hauled into a songthaew to take us southwest of the city. All the seats were full, no drinks or food were provided but we got to Khao San Road without any issues. We were dropped off about 1km from Khao San at 5.30am in the morning, right on time.
The best resource for trains in Thailand is Seat61.com
Bangkok To Satun By Bus
The journey from Bangkok to Satun is around 16 hours so unless you want to arrive there late you have the majority of a day to spend in Bangkok.
To catch a bus from Bangkok to Satun you can find the agencies on/in and around Khao San Road who will provide various options from 900 baht+.
Alternatively, you can catch a public bus to Sai Tai Bus Terminal, the Bangkok Southern Bus Terminal. It is beyond walking distance but there are plenty of buses that head that way. I had great success catching a bus from a bus stop a few minutes walk from the east end of Khao San Road.
Bus no.516, cost 25 baht. The journey takes 25-30 minutes, if need be you can ask the ticket person to let you know when it is your stop. If not, follow maps.me like a boss.
Once you arrive at the Southern bus station which is more like a shopping mall, you head up to the 1st floor to purchase a ticket. There are plenty of departures available to Satun with a various amount of stops in between.
I paid 697 baht to depart at 4.40pm, scheduled to arrive at 8 am. Perfect. The bus was much nicer than the previous bus from Chiang Mai with seats reclining a lot. They provided blankets, biscuits and a bottle of water.
We left a little late and eventually arrived at Satun Bus Station around 8.40am.
Getting To Satun Ferry Terminal
I was the only one left on the bus so the lone motorbike driver took me to the Satun Ferry Terminal for 80 baht. I think you can get it cheaper if you really wanted.
Arriving at the ferry terminal, it wasn’t the busiest at 9 am on a Wednesday. Immediately I brought a ticket for the 9.30am ferry for 300 baht, the last leg before finishing the journey from Chiang Mai to Langkawi overland. The money exchange place offered a really good rate for Malaysian Ringgit if you have 1000 baht notes, highly recommend it. You can get through immigration really fast when the terminal isn’t busy.
The ferry itself wasn’t fancy and it was obvious the farangs were placed downstairs (maybe 10 of us) and the locals on top in the nicer seats.
The ferry ride was smooth and 90 minutes later we arrived at Kuah, proceeded through immigration, walked through the duty-free section into the chaos of the Langkawi ferry terminal area.
Depending on where you are staying you can walk, taxi, scooter or shuttle bus to your accommodation. I stayed at the Bushwacka Dormitory. You can read about what I got up to there on my blog hunting the beaches around Langkawi.
Closing Thoughts On Chiang Mai To Langkawi Overland
Chiang Mai to Langkawi overland is time-consuming but as long as you don’t hate buses it’s not too bad at all. Overland travel through Thailand is always pretty and it’s always fun to see the chaos of Bangkok from up high on a bus!