All good things must come to an end, and our time at Chiang Rai was one of those good things. We’d loved the Maryo Resort Hotel, we’d had fun at the night market, we’d had some really good and inexpensive meals, but it was time to move on. Maryo quickly booked us seats on a VIP bus leaving the next day. The nice lady at the front desk said they’d had trouble using credit cards online so she gave us a printout of our booking, loaned us a couple of bikes and sent us to a 7-11 a couple of blocks away. (It seems nearly everything can be done at a 7-11 in Asia!) We pedaled to the 7-11, showed our printout and paid our 516 baht ($14.74) for two tickets on an air conditioned motor coach. (The “tickets” were actually a cash register receipt stapled to our original printout.)
Note: There is a much cheaper bus with no air conditioning, no assigned seats and no designated space for luggage. We saw a few of those, crammed full of passengers, and never even considered taking them. At only $7+ apiece, the VIP bus was a no-brainer.
The next day, Maryo provided a free shuttle to the Chiang Rai bus station, which it turns out is new and still under construction, so we asked around until we were pointed to a sign under a small white umbrella. An Australian waiting for the bus with his Thai girlfriend confirmed we were in the right place and soon the bus arrived.
We stashed luggage below and settled into our assigned seats, reclining in comfort as we pulled away. The 3-hour trip went by quickly as we sped through gorgeous countryside of rice fields giving way to jungle-covered mountains. Streams wound their way along the roadside, rushing over and around scattered boulders.
A lady provided cold bottled water, a large snack pack of faux “Oreos” and a cool towelette. Very civilized and comfortable. Our only complaint was the frigid a/c that could not be turned off or down. Wouldn’t you know it, for the first time in weeks, I’d stashed the scarf/shawl I usually had in my carry-on in my big suitcase.
Arriving in Chiang Mai, we dodged the inevitable private driver wanting sky-high prices as we got off the bus and headed to a taxi booth where we bought our 200 baht ($5.71) taxi coupon for the ride to our hotel in the old city.