Low-cost carrier HK Express launched its new non-stop service between Hong Kong and Chiang Rai in the north of Thailand last week, the first such direct service between the two destinations. The route’s inaugural flight departed Hong Kong International Airport in the afternoon on Friday, November 25.

HK Express’ new service operates twice a week on Monday and Friday at two different times. The carrier’s Monday service departs Hong Kong at 1345 and arrives at Chiang Rai International Airport (CEI) at about 1550 local time. The Friday service, meanwhile, operates approximately 40 minutes later. The return journey, however, departs CEI at 1635 on Monday arriving back in Hong Kong at 2005, while the Friday return leg operates 30 minutes later.

Speaking about the new service, Sarima Chindamat, director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, Hong Kong, said: “We have confidence Chiang Rai will become one of the most popular Thai destinations for Hong Kong tourists and this new direct flight service will be significant in securing a strong foothold in between Hong Kong and Thai tourism.”

Prior to the direct service, travellers to Chiang Rai have been required to transit in Bangkok or take a long bus journey from Chiang Mai, also in Thailand’s north. The city is known for its Lanna Kingdom cultural heritage, and includes numerous temples including the Wat Rong Khun “white temple”.

To mark the start of the new route, HK Express is offering an introductory offer of one-way fares starting from HK$248 (US$32) on purchases made before December 25. The introductory fares are applicable for travel until July 13, 2017.

Earlier this month, the Hong Kong carrier received its first A321 aircraft, which was deployed on its Chiang Mai route, preceding a further 23 new A321s and A320neos the airline also currently has on order. Meanwhile, new routes to Hualien in Taiwan and Guam are set to begin on December 6 and 15 this year, respectively, with a service to Saipan – the largest of the Northern Mariana Islands, is set to begin January 17, 2017.

Details for the new Hong Kong-Chiang Rai service are as follows (all times local):

Flight No. From To Departs Arrives Days
UO3750 Hong Kong Chiang Rai 1345 1550 Monday
Hong Kong Chiang Rai 1430 1630 Friday
UO3751 Chiang Rai Hong Kong 1635 2005 Monday
Chiang Rai Hong Kong 1705 2035 Friday