If you’re thinking of travelling to Chiang Mai, there are a number of options for getting there. However, the overnight trains are probably the most exciting way to travel. Buses can be hot and stuffy, with little leg room for sleeping. Planes are convenient, and they’re the fastest way to get there, but fast isn’t always fun. The train will allow you to appreciate some of Thailand’s beautiful landscape and scenery. Many of the trains have sleeping areas built into the cabins, allowing you to catch a few hours sleep before you start your adventuring in Thailand’s exciting northern “capital.” Travelling by train also has something romantic about it, which has been lost on modern transport methods. If you’re the adventurous type, then train travel is the way to go.
I recently travelled to Chiang Mai for the first time with my family and two friends. We booked our tickets about two weeks in advance, and paid around 800 baht for them. Train tickets can be booked online, but it’s always best to have something physical in Thailand. So if you have the time, make sure you get down to the train station and book them in person. Hua Lamphong is the main station for trains in Bangkok, but there are other stations further up the line where you can catch your train. We got on at Laksi Station, as it was nearest to our house. Our train left Laksi Station at 20:30 and arrived in Chiang Mai at 10:30 the next morning. It was delayed by an hour and half, but we got there eventually. Train timetables and fares can be found on this website.
View Bangkok to Chiang Mai in a larger map
The train itself was pleasant enough. We had a small cabin with adjacent bunk beds, allowing the five of us (including baby) to stretch out and get a decent night’s sleep. We didn’t order any food on the train, as prices were heavily inflated. Much better to buy some food before you board the train. Toilets were small, but clean enough, and when you’re on a fourteen-hour train journey, you’ll be glad for anywhere to relieve yourself. Privacy was okay, you would occasionally see people walking past your cabin on the way to the toilet, and we were woken up by a band of drunks who were merry making for the New Year. Actually we travelled on New Year’s Eve, so they had a good excuse. Travelling to Chiang Mai by train is one of those “must do once in a lifetime experiences” and I highly recommend it!