Sleeping Soundly on the Night Train to Chiang Mai from Bangkok
Bangkok and Chiang Mai are two of Thailand’s big hitters. Most people are keen to visit both during their holidays or trips but the distance between the two can make it difficult. Flights are expensive so why not consider getting the night train to Chiang Mai from Bangkok??
Bangkok is the illustrious capital of the Land of Smiles, Chiang Mai is the laid-back capital of the north. Both are very much worth a visit and both incredible in their own right. Therefore, it’s no surprise that tourists and longer-term travelers are keen to spend time in both. Thankfully, there’s a convenient, cheap and fun way of getting between the two. Grab a ticket for the night train and you’ll be there without stress or concern. And once you arrive at Bodega Chiang Mai, you’ll have a luxurious sleep!
Unlike the minibuses, tuk tuks and rickshaws that dominate the streets, the trains adhere to a fairly strict timetable and don’t wait for lateness. In fact, when we took the train back in December it left 4 minutes early! So, don’t hedge your bets, or think you can sneak in an extra Leo or iced coffee, leave yourself plenty of time.
There are many different services that make the long journey between the two cities. That said, if you want to have the best of experiences you want to aim for two trains in particular. If you’re making the journey from Bodega Bangkok to Chiang Mai then you want to aim for Number 9 that leaves at 18:10 and arrives at 07:15 the next day. For the reverse journey, go for Number 10 leaving at 18:00 and arriving in Bangkok at 06:50.
The reason we choose these two trains in particular is that they are only a couple of years old, run on electric not diesel (making for a quieter more comfortable journey) and have far superior facilities. If the timings don’t work for you then there are plenty of other options, you just won’t have the features and experience that we’ll document below. The other trains tend to leave once in the morning (for a daytime journey) then from early afternoon through to late evening. The journey almost always takes between 12-14 hours.
Living It Up
You might have saved hard for this trip and can, rightly so, indulge a little. If so, first class might be for you. You’ll get yourself a private room good for 2 (there are 12 rooms in total), a bathroom with shared hot water showers and toilets. Travelling in a group? No problem, there are interconnecting doors that can open up to make a 4-berth cabin. Just be sure to mention this when booking your tickets.
Inside the room you’ll get all the mod cons that one might expect from first class travel. This includes;
- Socket and plug point
- A washbasin
- 14” LCD Touchscreen including USB charging socket
- Food ordering service via the touchscreen
Expect to pay just under 1500 baht for an upper berth, just over for an upper berth or you can buy the entire cabin to have it privately for just short of 2500 baht.
Sleeping on the Rails
Don’t have the budget for a first class ticket? Second class is your option. You won’t have quite so much privacy (barely any privacy), but the beds are still comfortable and allow you some decent sleeping space. There are either upper or lower bunks, the lower ones are used as seats up until 20:00 when the staff begin the turndown service.
Whilst we said you don’t get much privacy, you’ll still get a curtain to pull across. This stops people from looking in but, arguably more importantly, stops the light from keeping you up. You’ll still receive a plug point and a reading light so that your electronics can stay fully charged.
The train is equipped with a great diner car. You’ll be able to sit in a communal restaurant style area and chat with other passengers. Don’t expect gourmet cuisine, more like the frozen meals that you could pick up from 7-11. The second class passengers can the free wifi here but the speed isn’t great. If you’re lucky enough to be travelling first class, then you’ll be able to eat privately in your room after ordering through the screen. The dining car closes at 10pm and opens at 5am.
Getting the Night Train to Chiang Mai is a Cinch
These trains are somewhat aggressively air conditioned. Make sure you bring plenty of layers to stay warm, blankets are provided but they’re not the thickest!