Night Train From Bangkok To Chiang Mai Thailand – An Experience

If you recall, prior to hopping on the train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, we’d already spent over 10 hours traveling.  Yes, that was already 10 long hours in heavy rains, on the shuttle, ferry, and bus, just to reach Bangkok from Koh Chang.  We also didn’t have any luck with purchasing tickets in the sleeper car or with AC.  Nope, we were going in second class seats with a fan for 15 hours!  Let’s just say none of us were overly thrilled, but it seemed the easiest and least expensive way to reach Chiang Mai.

Flashback to 2014:

We waited at the train station about 90 minutes before it was time to head to platform number 10 and hop on our train.  The entire 90 minutes, I was being a typical Libra and going back and forth with the decision to remain in Bangkok for 4 days and wait for the AC sleeper car or just bite the bullet and get there now.  Our daughter was begging us to wait the 4 days and our son was begging us to just get it over with.

He had asked about the price of our tickets and I had no idea how much the were.  I only knew the price of the sleeper AC car, as that is all that I researched.  I knew those tickets would have cost about 881 baht ($28) per adult (lower sleeper) and about 741 baht ($23) per kid (upper sleeper).  he was amazed that I didn’t know the price.  Actually, it kind of surprised me too.  It is very unlike me to make a purchase and not know the price.

When we bought the tickets, I was so bummed about not getting an AC sleeper car, I just handed over my credit card and didn’t even look.  So, of course curiosity got the better of me and I had to look.  The grand total for the four of us together was about $44 – 391 baht ($12) per adult and 310 baht ($10) per kid.  Oh, this was going to be a real “second class” ride.

Alan and I were really torn about taking the fan seats and could see both of the kids points of view.  This one time, price wasn’t really an issue for me.  SHOCK!  It was all about making the family as comfortable as possible for 15 hours.

I made one final return to the ticket counter to see if we could exchange our existing tickets, for the AC sleeper car in 4 days.  I also asked if our seats were anywhere near a toilet.  If they were, there was no way we wanted to be next to a toilet for 15 hours.  The ticket counter guy laughed and said our seats were far from the toilet.  He also said, at this point it was too late to change tickets and we were told to go to the train.  All aboard!

The night train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai with kids!

Train Bangkok to Chiang Mai rice fields

The Wagoner family was Chiang Mai bound.  We gathered our things and headed to platform 10.  We all joked that it was really platform 9 3/4, like Harry Potter.  We were doing our best to have a positive attitude and enjoy our upcoming adventure.

We located our car and hopped up.  We entered through the back of the car and of course passed the toilets.  As we entered the seat section, it was clear why the ticket guy was laughing at me.  We had the last 4 seats in the train, right next to the toilets!  Seats 43,44,45 &46!  If you take this train, ask for seats from 10 through 30.  I felt like breaking down and crying.  I was trying to keep my cool and not show the kids how ticked off I was.  I didn’t want to further any negativity and just wanted to get this over with.

As we were placing our luggage up on the racks, above the seats, I heard someone say “What seat do you have?”.  I quickly answered “46”,  only to realize that entire conversation was in Spanish and I didn’t even notice it.  To top it all off, he wasn’t even speaking to me!  UG!  They were 3 Spanish-speaking people boarding the train and they were speaking to each other.  Our daughter, thought that was very funny and the people did as well.  As it turned out, they were sitting in front of us.

The kids were a bit excited about the journey and were checking everything out.  One bonus of riding in the car with no AC, we could put the windows down!  So of course we did that right away.  Since it was 10 pm, it wasn’t too hot, but it was still a bit humid.  The train sounded its horn and it was time to go.  We were apparently on the shake, rattle and roll train, as it went clickity clack, clickity clak down the tracks.  We would just have to get used to the noise.

There were several police officers going up and down through all of the train cars. They were even taking several photos of all of the people in each car.  The waitress let us know this was just extra security.  She also advised that we keep anything valuable right with us, rather than in the overhead.  Gulp!  Is this going to be safe?  Uh oh.

Within minutes we were all fine and we knew our journey from Bangkok to Chiang Mai was going to be memorable.  We could feel the fresh air blowing through the open windows and we had a clear view of all the little Bangkok suburbs as well.  Our padded seats reclined a little and we had plenty of leg room.  A waitress came to take our dinner order and breakfast pre-order.  The kids were thrilled to have service on the train and food was the key to their happiness!  The prices weren’t too bad either.  No complaints from any of us.

While eating our dinner, the excitement of riding on the train was buzzing in all of us and lasted for a couple of hours.  We got to know the 3 people sitting in front of us (from Argentina) and had several hours of good conversation with them in both Spanish and English.  We share more about our new friends (Jonas, Tomas and Genoveva) in another post.  For now just know, we just adored them!

Train Bangkok to Chiang Mai Jonas, Tomas and Genoveva

I whispered to Alan, “How lucky are we?  We have been so fortunate to be near Spanish-speaking people several times in Thailand.  These people are great and this train ride isn’t bad at all.”  Alan smiled and completely agreed.  It was going to be a good journey after all.

Train Bangkok to Chiang Mai Seats with fan - the lights stayed on all night

About 1am, we all kind of dozed off a bit.  Alan and I slept off and on, and the kids slept for several hours.  The police patrolled the entire train all night and the lights remained on the entire journey as well.  This was a bit difficult to get used to, as they were bright fluorescent lights.  Luckily, Alan had a few of the eye masks handy.  Other than that it was fine.

Train Bangkok to Chiang Mai - Anya sporting her eye mask Train Bangkok to Chiang Mai Alan and Lars sleeping

About 7am, the waitress came by to wake us and deliver our breakfast.  Fried eggs, ham and toast with a side of OJ.  By this time the sun was up and it was gorgeous outside.  We passed many small villages, rice fields and mountains.  It was just lovely.  The kids liked looking out the window.

Train Bangkok to Chiang Mai - Anya gazing out the window Train Bangkok to Chiang Mai Thailand scenes

Train Bangkok to Chiang Mai (15) Train Bangkok to Chiang Mai (22)

We even had time for an extra morning nap!

Train Bangkok to Chiang Mai an extra nap

Just an update on the toilets!

It wasn’t bad at all.  Since they were behind us, the wind from all of the windows was blowing the smell to the car behind us.  That is until we came to a stop, then it was in full force.  Luckily there were very few stops, after the toilets had been used.  By the way, have you ever tried to use a squat toilet on a moving rocking train?  My best advice for women, wear a skirt!

As scheduled, we arrived in Chiang Mai at 1pm the next day.  It was a memorable experience and it was fun. We made great friends, but next time we will probably fly.

A brief video of our night train ride from Bangkok to Chiang Mai Thailand

Map from Bangkok to Chiang Mai

This is the driving route, as Google doesn’t show the train route. 


What to do in Chiang Mai!

We also have a very all inclusive list of Things to do in Chiang Mai with kids or without.  This also includes our expenses living in Chiang Mai, where to eat and places to stay in Chiang Mai.

Come on and tell us what you think!

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