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.

Wagoners Abroad Train Bangkok to Chiang MaiWe 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.  Anya was begging us to wait the 4 days and Lars was begging us to just get it over with.

Lars 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).  Lars 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.  Anya, 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 maskTrain 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 windowTrain 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. 

This entry was posted in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Thailand and tagged , , , , by Heidi. Bookmark the permalink.

About Heidi

Heidi has a passion for travel and has been exploring the world with her husband and 2 kids, since August 2012. She’s visited more than 50 countries and loves to write about their family adventures, mishaps and costs. She has been an inspiration to others wanting to live their dreams. Her travel tips, planning posts, cost breakdowns, accommodation, and product reviews are also very popular. Her current home base is in Spain.

23 thoughts on “Night Train From Bangkok To Chiang Mai Thailand – An Experience

  1. Wow….what a great story… I felt as if I were sitting right on the train and your video clinched it! Do more vids as that really gives me a better idea of what it’s like!

    • Glad you liked the video. We have loads more planned with video, so be sure to subscribe to our youtube channel. All of the videos, may not make it to the blog.

  2. A train… You know, that could be fun. I don’t know why I never really think about trains that much. I do the buses, the planes (of course..) but the train I have always for some reason.. avoided. I have no idea why that is and I regret doing it, because I’ve missed a lot!

    A great little documentation of your experience. Nice little touch with the video. Thanks for joining the tribe as well. Hope to see you around more often!

    Cheers,

    Ken

  3. Fascinating! I am loving your new adventures, especially the way you write about your travels…so interesting. Adding the train video was perfect. Can’t wait to see your next post. So happy you are having such a good time. Your kids are amazing troopers.

  4. Sounds like an exciting adventure! We were very lucky to get a sleeper train from Koh Phangan to Bangok. But it sounds like it worked out okay and save you a little bit of money. I agree with you…those squat toilets are very interesting trying to hit the mark while swaying back and forth. My favorite were the ones raised about a foot off the floor. Happy travels.

  5. Really enjoyed reading this. I was in Thailand when there was severe flooding in 2011 and departed Bangkok the day prior to it going under water. I missed the train journey up to Chiang Mai because of this and flew instead. Now I understand what it would have been like! 🙂

  6. I really liked your post and got some useful information. I love trains and think it is a good way to get from one place to another. Taking the train makes me relax and I get a feeling of distance. May be your experience was better without the sleeping wagon?

    • I am thinking it was better Bente. We walked back to look at the beds and they were a little closed in with a curtain for a wall. We did enjoy the open air feeling and being able to get up and walk around.

  7. Thailand is my top dream travel destination, but I’m not sure if I could last that long on a train. I thought 4 hours from Washington, D.C. to NYC was bad. Lol! But maybe if I was in Thailand, I wouldn’t be complaining.

    • You know Cory, I thought the same thing. We had a great time visiting with the other travelers as well as looking a the scenery. It really did go by faster than anticipated. Of course we also had the iPad handy for games and reading. We will be in Thailand several months, so check back for more cool things.

  8. That actually sounds like fun but I think I will stick to flying!! The lights on all night would have really annoyed me (although I’m sure my kids would be even more annoying than that).
    Chiang Mai is somewhere we are considering for our big move to Asia at the end of the year, so I look forward to reading more. Why did you decide to go there? I have been twice, but it hasn’t really appealed to me, but I’m thinking I may feel differently about it as a home base.

    • Hey Sharon. Ha! Flying is fine too. I visited Thailand about 20 years ago and only covered Bangkok to Singapore. I’ve always wanted to visit Chiang Mai and enjoy all of the nature, mountains, jungles etc. So we decided to make it a home base for a few months. We’ve just rented an apartment and so far, so good. More about the apartment, coming soon on the blog.

    • Hey Jess, glad to see you here. It was a great way to see the country. They do offer the “Sprinter” train, which leaves early in the morning and arrives in the evening. It is a bit faster than our 15 hour over night train and you would likely see more. We did have about 6 hours of daylight on our ride and it was beautiful.

  9. I absolutely loved reading your adventure! You write so beautifully. We are taking a train to Laos from Bangkok next year and I am hoping for a sleeper but am up for a seat adventure if need be! When I was 20 I backpacked through
    Thailand and slept on the floor of a train on a newspaper! Lovely to find your blog. Bron

    • Oh Bron, you are the best! You sound just my style. I thrive off of the adventure too and I was in Thailand 20 years ago! Hey, was that you sleeping on the floor of the train next to me? Oh no, I was too busy sleeping on the floor of the bus station. 🙂 Oh I would love to hear about your Laos to Bangkok trip. We are considering the 2 day slow boat on the river from N. Thailand to Laos, in Nov. Again, going for that extreme adventure. Sometimes torture while you are going through it, but likely the best and fondest memory looking back.

  10. Pingback: Bangkok to Chiang Mai: A Backpacker’s Journey – backpackerlee

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