- Recently Updated: November 2022
I’ve long wanted to try Bangkok to Chiang Mai on a road trip. It is actually faster if you drive. It would be eight hours. And, of course, much faster if you fly, just an hour.
Get ready for this, it is exactly the same price if you travel from Bangkok by train first class compared to buying a domestic plane ticket to travel places such as to Chiang Mai.
While many travelers believe it’s the most scenic way to get from point A to B, others refuse to travel on overnight train. It is about 700 kilometers, 430 miles from Bangkok to Chiang Mai.
So why on earth would tourists get on a train? Well, it’s a combination of the cost of Chiang Mai hotels and other savings you can have. First class ticket is expensive, but if you get a second class sleeper with air-conditioning, it’s a bonus.
It’s actually better if you’re on solo vacations to northern Thailand. And it gets even cheaper if you go without air-conditioning or third class, but that I wouldn’t recommend this. It’s pretty hot and humid in Thailand all the time, even at night.
But if you’re backpacking or on a budget to Chiang Mai, you can find a third class ticket for 120 baht. So yeah, it cost less than $4. However, you can’t book these tickets online and the journey is much slower.
I am paying the same price for a first class train cabin as flying, but I can save on the cost of one night hotel accommodation, enjoy the scenic views and arriving early in the morning before 8am.
My experience started at Hua Lamphong, Bangkok’s main railway station. It is super easy to get to this location via MRT. You just take Exit 2. Everything in the terminal is interconnected. I had already bought my ticket online, so don’t even have to go to the ticket booth.
First Class Train Trip Experience
Recommended Train Schedule…
The main Hua Lamphong station serves as a junction for all of Thailand’s north, east, northeast, and southern regions, as well as connecting to the MRT terminal.
The exposed structure and old school clock element reminded us of London Victoria and Waterloo stations. As you might expect given its location in the heart of Bangkok, the station is filled with people, so be prepared to fight your way through the crowd.
There isn’t much seats around the station, so use your suitcase as a temporary seat while waiting for your departure.
There are shops around the train station that provide a variety of items incase you need to stock up on snacks and food for the ride, which I think most of the tourists will automatically do.
I was initially impressed by how cool the train looked when I boarded the train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai at platform six. After a few selfies, I proceed to sleeper train’s first class compartment which was at the rear of the train.
The onboard WiFi password was the first thing the conductor mentioned. That’s a sight to behold while traveling to Chiang Mai via land, especially when you’re on your laptop most of the time.
The conductors visit each cabin in first and second class around 8:00 p.m. to demonstrate how to turn down the beds for the night. Before calling it a night, I watched the sunset and took in the beauties of rural Thailand.
My only issue was that it was really cold at night. I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to bring enough of warm gear with you, or you’ll be in for a very long chill night. Around an hour before your arrival, there will be someone at the door to wake you up.
First Class Train Cabin Features
There are different types of trains and cabins you can choose. I chose the best online recommendation which was the Special Express, departing at 6.10pm and arriving at 7.15am from Bangkok to Chiang Mai.
These newly revamped trains are powered by electricity, they are quieter and more soothing than older conventional trains. It’s the newest and fastest overnight train.
The Special Express train has 12 individual rooms as well as common shower and toilet facilities with hot water. WiFi, power point, washbasin, bench seat that folds into beds (lower and upper bunk) and a small mirror.
The bathroom is very tiny like an airplane bathroom, but it is very clean and smell good. There is soap and shampoo dispenser too. Clean and fluffy towels, bed sheets, and blanket with pillows are provided.
A 14-inch personal LCD touch screen displaying route and satellite information (in English) are all available within the room.
The first class train cabin side-door connects you to the next cabin. But if you are on a couples vacations and need total privacy, keep it locked at all times.
There are panel just like in a plane for music channel, and even indicates if the toilets are busy or not including the shower.
There was also a room service option which took a long time to arrive. Last order for meals closes at 9pm.
Breakfast set at 170baht and 190baht. Spaghetti set at 120baht. So, it is not too expensive, Same price or cheaper than you would find at restaurants. Alcohol of any kind are not allowed in the train.
Onboard Train Cafeteria
Passengers can purchase snacks, food, and drinks from the train’s cafeteria. Food sold here are chill, similar to that found in a 7-11 convenience store (even the price are almost the same as 7-11)
The canteen is also a nice area to unwind and mingle with other travelers on the train. However, even if your mobile phone connection (3G/4G) is strong, the Wifi speed is slow at this spot.
The cafeteria shuts at 10pm and opens for breakfast at 5.00am.
10 Must Know Things About Bangkok to Chiang Mai Via Train
1. What to bring on overnight sleeper train
I suggest that you bring food and snacks with you on the train to Chiang Mai, even if you are traveling first class. The train’s food and beverage options are rather basic.
- SIM card or a WiFi dongle
2. Stand-by Warm Clothes
It doesn’t matter if you ride the first or second class train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai; you should be prepared for the cold on board.
If you don’t have warm clothing, the air conditioning will blast all night and might disrupt your sleep.
3. Luggage allowance on board
You can bring up to 60 kg of luggage, or one large suitcase and one smaller bag which is a lot! Because boarding a train has fewer constraints than boarding an aircraft, it may be tempting to take more. When traveling, less is always better.
4. Have some fun in the cabin
The first-class sleeper train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai has a TV. From the comfort of your sleeping berth, you may want to catch up on the newest Netflix series or complete a good read as the day changes to night and the curtains closes.
If you’re traveling with a group, there are always card games and Uno to play.
5. Cost of first-class train ticket
For two adults, first class sleeper train cost 8,306Baht (prices subject to change). This includes a booking fee with 12GO.ASIA.
Second-class sleeper is less expensive than first-class travel. It may be worthwhile to upgrade because pricing can be nearly identical depending on factors such as the time of year and demand.
6. Best sleeper train to take
It doesn’t matter if you’re taking a sleeper train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai or vice versa, the popular belief is that train number 9 is the best.
Thai Railway authorities are always upgrading their trains, so this may change, but based on personal experience and additional research, this appears to be an accurate assessment.
7. Departing from Bangkok to Chiang Mai
Rong Mueang Rd, Rong Muang, Pathum Wan District, Bangkok, Thailand 10330
8. Departing from Chiang Mai to Bangkok
Wat Ket, Mueang Chiang Mai District, Chiang Mai 50000, Thailand
9. Traveling time from Bangkok to Chiang Mai
From departure to arrival, the number 9 train takes about 13 hours.
10. Purchase tickets in advance through 12Go.Asia
The night train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai may only be booked 30 to 60 days in advance through other booking firms. However, 12GO.ASIA allows you to book up to 60 days in advance.
They will give you an anticipated price if you book more than 60 days in advance, and will make up the difference on the day you collect.
Book your tickets ahead of time to ensure that you get the best seat/berth and class pick. Tickets for the sleeper train sell out quickly and, as you might expect, become more expensive as the departure date approaches.
Bring your booking receipt to the 12GO ASIA office in the DOB building, immediately across the road from the Hua Lamphong station, to pick up your Bangkok night train to Chiang Mai tickets.
The office is directly in front of you as you enter the building on the ground floor, so you can’t miss it.
They advise that you proceed to their office at least one hour before your scheduled departure time, as you may not be the only one collecting tickets.
I decided to pick up our tickets the day before when the office was calm and because our hotel was only a few minutes walk away.
We appreciated the fact that 12GO.ASIA was able to accept the tickets booking so long in advance. The way it works is that you choose your train number, travel dates and times with your preferred seating options, and 12GO.ASIA will takes care of the rest.