Bangkok To Chiang Mai: Guide To The Overnight Train

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By far one of the most popular ways to travel between Bangkok and Northern Thailand is by train! After 3 hectic and exciting days exploring Bangkok, we decided to jump on the overnight sleeper train to Chiang Mai. After heeding some well sourced advice, we booked our tickets a couple of days in advance at Hua Lamphong train station. Even though we were travelling in low season we are glad we didn’t leave it too late as the train was pretty full when we boarded.

Don’t forget to take your passport along with you as it will be required, along with the sum of 780 baht (low season price for upper bunk in second class). We had a couple of options. Of course there is first class, still not expensive in terms of overnight train journeys but gave you your own private cubicle with a fold out bunk bed and small wash basin. The next option, which is the most popular and the one we went for was second class. Depending upon the train you get will depend on how second class is laid out. Our outbound leg provided us with quartered off open cabins with bunk beds either side. You share this little area with 3 people (four in total) which is a great way to meet the locals. Your final option which costs pennies but I would not recommend is third class. A seat. For 15+ hours. No thanks.

Hua Lamphong Station
Hua Lamphong Station

Another thing to note when purchasing your tickets at Hua Lamphong is to be aware of scammers who may try and stop you in your tracks before you even make it into the station. Telling you all sorts about where to go and purchase your ticket. Politely decline and make your own way to the official ticket desks.

Make sure you get to the station AT LEAST 15 minutes early. The walk down the platform can take a while as most don’t realise just how long the train is, so you don’t want to be running at the last minute!

Once you jump aboard you are ready for your journey along the Thai rails! A lovely lady will normally meet you along the carriage and show you to your seat. She will also hand you a menu to select your meals. A piece of advice; take food with you. Do not even attempt the food they are offering. After days of eating delicious dishes from the streets of Bangkok you will be mortified to pay four times the amount for slop.

bangkok to chiang mai sleeper train
Our beds being made up at 8pm!

Not long after the train pulls away a gentlemen comes along and makes up all the beds for you. Of course as the seats fold out into the beds, it means you have to get to bed straight away. But just make sure you have a good book or your laptop with some films loaded on to pass the time.

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Then just lie back and relax and feel yourself drift to sleep to the sound of bumpy rails and Thai chatter (It’s not too bad, I promise!)

Come sunrise, make sure you get yourself up to watch the train wind through the hillsides of Northern Thailand. It’s a beautiful way to wake up and really gets you excited about reaching your destination!

bangkok to chiang mai sleeper train
Sleepy Aly watching the lush landscape of Northern Thailand

When it came to safety, on the nicer of the two trains, where we were sharing a section with another couple, we stored our luggage above the door way near the top bunks. The train we had coming back, the luggage was left in the containers randomly and I pulled my possessions out such as passport, purse and laptop and slept with them in the my bed. This may have been me being over conscious however, it’s not unknown for people to have things stolen on trains in Thailand.

When it comes time to disembark at Chiang Mai the only problem you may have is that you suddenly realise; you never want to leave such a beautiful place!

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Hi! Name’s Aly! Originally from Birmingham, England, I have been discovering the world for over 3 years straight. I am a psychology graduate with a love for Pho and red wine. Whether I throw myself into a novel or from 14,000ft up out of a plane, I look at adventure big and small and say “Let’s do this!”
  • Bbabey

    Are the sleeper train rooms big enough if you’re travelling with a suitcase? Thanks

    • Aly

      Absolutely. There is plenty of storage space provided 🙂

  • Jack

    Those photos bring me back! I did the exact same journey from Bangkok to Chiangmai in January. However we stupidly left it to the last minute and were running about Bangkok hungover and sweating looking to buy a ticket. Got the last two for second class but not beside each other. 15 hours beside a scary Chinese man yelling into his phone and across from a French couple getting it on in the bottom bunk. Memories…

    • Aly

      Haha, oh wow. Those are the best memories though. Never feels like it at the time, but they are! 🙂

  • Millie

    when should i buy the ticket and can’t i do it online ??

    • Aly

      It is best to buy the ticket a couple of days in advance from the train station 🙂

    • Aly

      It’s super easy to buy your ticket from the train station a couple of days in advance 🙂

      • Garett Laugavitz

        Great resource Aly, thanks for sharing! Am toying with the idea of booking the cheapest possible ticket to stretch our dollars further. Sound kind of sketchy?

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  • Hamilton

    Hi Aly, Loving the videos on YT and info! I’m planning a trip to Thailand next month so this has been useful info.
    What activities/sights of interest are there to do in Chiang Mai? I need to research this area a little.
    thanks

    • Aly

      Hey! You should definitely check out the walking street markets which are held every week, they are massive! We didn’t end up spending a lot of time there, which is why we shall soon be back for a longer stay!

  • Jennie Davies

    Hi Aly, I really like your post i was wondering if you could advise we was looking at flying upto Chiang Mai straight from bangkok airport when we arrive and then getting the train down to bangkok after a few day there. Do you know if thats possible

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  • Pat Gonzales

    Hi Aly! I’m travelling to Chiang Mai this November, and I saw your post about the train. May I know if there’s space for a 25kgs luggage? I’m not really a backpacker type of traveler since I usually end up buying a lot of things before I go home. Just wanted to check if having a luggage is feasible. Thank you so much for your reply in advance.

  • Sue Couttet

    Hi there, thanks for all the info about the train, we are a family of 5 wanting to travel by train 2 adults & 3 teenage children the youngest 12, we don’t really want to be separated, & they are 4 bunk rooms, would they allow 2 children on one bunk or is it really too tiny to do that, are they stricked about that ??
    Thanks

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  • Brian Santos Villena

    The info, the photos and reminders, i feel confident to explore. It’s like I have a big sister guiding me…awesome blog! Thank you 😘😘😘

  • Aimie Aliudin

    Can I just buy the ticket directly to the railway station counter without through online booking?

  • Meagan Shamy

    This is awesome. Going to try this.