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Travelling on the Overnight Bangkok to Chiang Mai Train

Are you one of those travellers that want to add a sleepover train experience to your list of travel experiences? 

The romantic notion of train travel resides in many of us filled with wanderlust. From the tales of the Orient-Express to Trans-Siberian adventures, our travel wishes often included a train voyage of some kind. 

Read on to get the full details about taking the overnight train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai.

While on my South East Asia itinerary, trying to get to Chiang Mai after a few days in Bangkok, the opportunity to do an overnight sleeper train finally became a viable option.  Even though the ticket price is comparable to a plane ticket, when you take into consideration that sleeping on the train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai saves you one night of lodging, the 13-hour night transit ride has the added value to provide a fun and somewhat out-of-the-box activity to the ”been there done that” list.

With that in mind, I searched for the ultimate route and date options. This article relates to all the information gathered during this research and experience.

Here’s what you will get from this post

Table of contents

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Let’s look at the options to travel by train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai.

Which Sleeper Train to Choose

You can buy your tickets at the Bangkok Hua Lamphung Station station prior to your departure but if you’re a pre-planner type such as I, booking in advance to ensure decent sleeping arrangements for the overnight train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai is easily done. This is Thailand after all, you don’t want to just wing it and end up with 3rd or 4th class seats! Let’s look at how easy it is to do so online.

The Bangkok to Chiang Mai Train #9 is the Best Option

Train #9 is the best one to take with the latest high quality built sleeping cars, introduced in November 2016. This Bangkok Post article relates all the information about the amenities per class plus 2 min. audio detailing the services such as the diner car, the new kitchens and aircraft type restrooms. 

The first-class tickets provide private cabin good for 2 persons with air conditioning, a sink, a mirror and a 14” LCD touch multimedia screen from which you can even order room service. This class is by far the best way to travel by train from Bangkok to Chiang, that is if you can afford the rate of 1,453 baht for an upper bunk or and 1,653 baht for a lower one. In addition, the first class having less availability do sell out quickly.

The next best alternative is second-class tickets on the overnight Bangkok to Chiang Mai train. They provide berths which basically are created from the two seats that face each other, converting into a top and bottom bunk bed with curtains for privacy. Each berth has plug socket and reading lights making it possible for users to charge their devices or read.  There is a place to store your luggage at the top and bottom of the bunks

BOOK YOUR TICKETS NOW!

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Inside the New Trains 

Overnight Train ride From Bangkok to Chiang Mai Sleeper Train Experience

Aircraft restrooms and communal sinks
Photo Credit  ~ The Bangkok Post

Overnight Train ride From Bangkok to Chiang Mai Sleeper Train Experience Bangkok Post pics

Diner Car
Photo Credit  ~ The Bangkok Post

Book ahead… First-Class fills up quickly!

To my great dismay, when came time to reserve the first-class berths of Train #9, all were sold-out for my potential dates, so second-class would have to do. Concerns about the sleeping arrangements were quickly put to rest after viewing this short video demonstrating the metamorphosis process of making the beds.

Even though train #9 is now much newer than in this video, it still illustrates the same quick and efficient process.  

How to Book Online Your Bangkok to Chiang Mai Train

Train No.9 leaves Hua Lamphung Station at 6.10pm and arrives in Chiang Mai at 7.15am

Purchasing online with the recommended 12Go online service, my reservation for the overnight train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai was done seamlessly. No need to feel reluctant about purchasing your train tickets online from a local Thai service. The 12Go booking process was easy and coherent with properly written English emails detailing how to go about each step of the process.

After selecting the route and other add-ons such as insurance, you receive an email confirming the booking and its inclusions. The email documentation clearly states that this is not a voucher and supplies you with a little map and directions to their office. As below, a picture was included for visual reference to find the tickets pickup location. 

Two second-class tickets totalled 2354 2582Thai baht including insurance, roughly $70 $80US

Marquestra from Bangkok Chiang Mai Train 12go
BOOK YOUR TICKETS NOW!

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12Go offices are located across the street from the train station you depart from and  I strongly suggest that, given the choice, get your tickets the day before your departure or if picking them the same day to allow yourself more than a mere hour before boarding time and don’t forget to factor in the CRAZY Bangkok traffic. You can hop in an Uber to get to the Hua Lamphong Station. (Get 5$ off your first Uber Ride with this link).

Once at the 12go office, you can also encounter other delays such as I did with a few travellers not having the proper documentation – like passports – ahead of me in the pickup queue. I can recommend 12Go services and wouldn’t hesitate in recommending them.

After picking up your tickets, you can then take the tunnel‘’ under’’ the street to cross to the train station. You’re finally on our way on an overnight train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai.

Cutting it short by getting into our seats 20 minutes prior to the departure time, I was happy to have brought some snacks along since I didn’t get a chance to buy anything at the station from lack of time. Train #9 was brand new, very clean and does have a diner car if you need a light meal and beverages.

Standard luggage and 2 Pacsafe Venture 25 GII backpacks – a must have for safe traveling – fit fine under the seats. Do plan for a change of clothes readily available in your carry-on with easy access to your toiletries. And of course, make sure to keep your valuables such as passports and money with you in bed. 

With a folding table at your disposal, you can relax playing cards before the crew come around 8-9pm, the staff came around to make the bunk conversion. You only have to stand up for a few minutes it while they transform your seats into berths, a fast and remarkably smooth process.

overnight train Bangkok to Chiang Mai

2nd Class Seats with Folding Table
Photo Credit ~ The Bangkok Post

Settling in with the curtains drawn up, pour a nightcap from a rum runner, make yourself comfortable and watch a movie previously downloaded on your device or snuggle with a good book.

Note: Be advised that alcohol is technically not allowed onboard so be discreet if you wish to indulge.

Before you know it, it will be time to put nightclothes on and brush your teeth at the communal sink area before lights out around 10 pm. The train ride was relatively comfortable and I, thanks to earplugs got a good night sleep and woke up rested, ready to explore Chiang Mai. 

Once you get to this great city, here is some very useful information on how to get around Chiang Mai. Want another great adventure from Chiang Mai? Try the Mae Hong Son Loop motorbike loop. 

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TIP:  Coordinated with your lodging, in our case an Airbnb host, to pick you up at the train station since taxi cabs are easy to find that early in the morning. Read how to save money by using Airbnb and grab a 45$ discount code.

Good to Know Before you Book…

  • Upper bunk is narrower so its fare is a bit more economic (50-100 baht less.) 

  • If you are couple, consider reserving the lower & upper berth of the same side of the train. That way, when they start converting the seats into bunks, fairly early in the evening, you can still share the bottom one as a lounger.  

  • Book in the middle of the train car so you wont get as many disturbances from the restrooms and interconnecting doors.

  • Bring headphones so you can watch a movie on a device of your choice.

  • Thai Trains have ban alcohol consumption aboard since 2014 so if you want to indulge, consider rum runners and be discreet about it.

  • Have an early supper before boarding or bring snacks. The food option were very limited and overpriced on board

  • There are communal sinks outside the restrooms perfect for brushing your teeth 🙂

  • Be respectful of your neighbours and keep the noise down.

  • Earplugs are a wise accessories to keep conveniently close by to insure a proper night sleep.

  • If you get cold easily make sure to have extra layer readily available in your pack, they do crank up the AC

  • Don’t wait too long to book, the good sleeper cars fill up quickly

Was the overnight Bangkok to Chiang Mai sleeper train a fun experience?

You bet it was. My only regret was not being able to enjoy the scenery or landscape of the route since travelling at night.

Would I do this again?

Absolutely! And I am looking forward to more opportunities using trains as a mode of transportation during my next travels, wherever they may be.

Have you taken the overnight Bangkok to Chiang Mai train?
Please share your experiences, comments or questions below…

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Booking the overnight sleeper Bangkok to Chiang Mai train #sleepertrainbangkokchiangmai #overnightbangkokchiangmai #bangkoktochiangmaitrain #overnighttrainfrombangkoktochiangmai