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Train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai


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On my upcoming trip I want to head up to Chiang Mai for a few days. I know flying is the easiest, but the overnight train seems like it would be a cool experience so I think I want to try it. Maybe just one way and fly back, or maybe both ways - not sure yet. 

 

From what I've read on seat 61, etc:

 

- a/c can be really cold

- 1st class isn't worth the extra cost so 2nd class is recommended

- 2nd class in a no a/c car has windows that open so better photo ops

 

I don't like a/c cranked way up and I do want to get pix so the 2nd class no a/c might be the best. The cost isn't an issue so I don't mind going 1st class if people think it's worth it. I don't think I can control the temp in a first class cabin or open the window, right?

 

Has anyone here done this trip? Is the scenery/photo ops worth 2nd class no a/c to have a window that opens.......or is that class a much worse car in terms of bedding/comfort/etc?

 

 

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Out of interest how much is 1st/2nd class and how long does it take? I may do this in the future.

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I've been reading posts on other forums......I think the 2nd class no a/c idea is out for me! Doesn't sound good, at least not from what I read. I also read in the dining car there's no a/c and open windows so that should work for some unobstructed pix. 

 

Now the question is 2nd class lower or 1st class (train 13, with the single bunk 1st class).

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The train is something everybody says would be "interesting" to do. Then after taking the trip say they would never do it again.

 

Remember, it's an "over night" train, so taking pictures is kind of pointless.  Sleeping is nearly impossible unless you can sleep trough the stops, starts, swaying, and rattling.

 

If you have a day to kill and want the experience, you can try it I guess.  Having done it, I would not do it again.  You can fly there in an hour.

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The train is something everybody says would be "interesting" to do. Then after taking the trip say they would never do it again.

 

Remember, it's an "over night" train, so taking pictures is kind of pointless.  Sleeping is nearly impossible unless you can sleep trough the stops, starts, swaying, and rattling.

 

If you have a day to kill and want the experience, you can try it I guess.  Having done it, I would not do it again.  You can fly there in an hour.

 

I do think it would be interesting, and I've taken overnight trains before though not for a while and not in Thailand. 

 

From seat61:

 

"Think you don't see much from a night train?  In fact, the scenery on the last third of the trip up into the mountains approaching Chiang Mai is particularly good, and even on the sleeper, watching the sunrise from the train in the morning is wonderful."

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I did it and it was an adventure. If that's what you're looking for, go for it.

 

There's hardly a savings on the transport if you can fly for 2000baht round trip as I heard. Cost of 2nd class lower bunk a/c is 881 baht and cost 300 baht more if purchased from travel agent.

 

Upper bunk is 100 baht cheaper and narrower.

 

The beauty of 2nd class is ability to interact with others. In a/c car it all foreigners so not ideal if you want to meet Thais.

 

Dinner car no a/c but where all the smokers hang out. Service is good and meals better than airline food.

 

Savings is in the cost of hotel accommodation for the night.

 

A/C was fine on way up but too cold on way back. Bring something warm to be in control of comfort.

 

Not sure if do it again. Breakfast in dinner car coming into CM was nice, not spectacular. Like I said, it's an adventure.

 

Most passengers are younger and it was like a party in the sleeper car until about 11-12.

 

First class would eliminate passenger interaction.

 

I'll see if I can find some pics and post them.

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I do think it would be interesting, and I've taken overnight trains before though not for a while and not in Thailand.

 

From seat61:

 

"Think you don't see much from a night train? In fact, the scenery on the last third of the trip up into the mountains approaching Chiang Mai is particularly good, and even on the sleeper, watching the sunrise from the train in the morning is wonderful."

Agreed, scenery as you transit into Chiang Mai is beautiful.

 

I love train travel.

 

I'll be in Chiang Mai for New Year this year and will take the train at 2200hrs which arrived around 1300hrs the following day. That works out well for me. I can sleep anywhere if I'm tired and I enjoy meeting people on the train too.

 

I'll fly back though for the return.

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I do think it would be interesting, and I've taken overnight trains before though not for a while and not in Thailand. 

 

Took the second class AC train last month. The AC wasn't too cold, certainly warmer then some Thai cinemas. After the first 90 minutes the stops were very infrequent. The bunk beds were clean and comfortable, slept for eight hours. In the morning the scenery is certainly interesting and beautiful. The train food is just okay. There are showers, sink and toilets, all a bit primatve. The toilets empty directly onto the track so don't accidentally drop your phone in one. There's a sign asking riders not to use the toilets when the train is stopped.

 

At the Chiang Mai station walk out to the street to for a tuk tuk to avoid the mafia run ones just outside the station, it's cheaper.

 

Lastly, the Bangkok train station is a cultural experience unto itself. Bring a camera. Yes, it's worth the time and inconvenience to experience the Thai rail system once. We took the overnight bus back to Pattaya.

 

From seat61:

 

"Think you don't see much from a night train?  In fact, the scenery on the last third of the trip up into the mountains approaching Chiang Mai is particularly good, and even on the sleeper, watching the sunrise from the train in the morning is wonderful.[/size]"

Every hole a goal.

Condoms kill boners. Save the boners.

Stop the Vagilantes.

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^ Damn tablet got my post included in the above quote, oh well.

Every hole a goal.

Condoms kill boners. Save the boners.

Stop the Vagilantes.

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On my upcoming trip I want to head up to Chiang Mai for a few days. I know flying is the easiest, but the overnight train seems like it would be a cool experience so I think I want to try it. Maybe just one way and fly back, or maybe both ways - not sure yet. 

 

From what I've read on seat 61, etc:

 

- a/c can be really cold

- 1st class isn't worth the extra cost so 2nd class is recommended

- 2nd class in a no a/c car has windows that open so better photo ops

 

I don't like a/c cranked way up and I do want to get pix so the 2nd class no a/c might be the best. The cost isn't an issue so I don't mind going 1st class if people think it's worth it. I don't think I can control the temp in a first class cabin or open the window, right?

 

Has anyone here done this trip? Is the scenery/photo ops worth 2nd class no a/c to have a window that opens.......or is that class a much worse car in terms of bedding/comfort/etc?

I took the sleeper train overnight from Bangkok - Chiangmai about 12 years ago in a First class cabin just for the experience could have flown cheaper

All I remember about the journey was I could not sleep the cabin was absolutely freezing

I could not adjust the air con

The journey if I remember correctly takes about 15 hours

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2nd class no a/c sells out first in my experience with Thais and foreigners travelling on a budget so can be hard to get a ticket unless you book early.

 

2nd class a/c top or bottom bunk is fine though. Ive taken a sleeping tablet when travelling so sleeping wasn't a problem for me.

 

As said its an overnight train so the opportunity for pics is limited. But you can get some good outer suburban pics as the train leaves Bangkok then some more scenic pics as it enters Chiang Mai, if you're awake.

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I prefer travel by train when the option is available, and have use Thailand's trains quite a bit over the years.

 

Sure, flying is quicker, but factor in getting to and from the airport, waiting to board and all the rest of it, and you have killed a good chunk of a day. Busses are a little quicker than trains, but despite the mod cons of the latest VIP models, they are just transport, not a journey. Trains are the way to go.

 

Thai trains are slow, but travel overnight means you don't lose a day. With stations near centres there is not usually much transport time involved either end of the journey. 

 

I have travelled in all classes.

 

First class wasn't worth the extra, in my opinion, but I am glad I tried it. Still, the privacy of a your own cabin could be good if traveling with a friend.

 

I am not a fan of air-con, and tend to avoid, so non-a/c 2nd class is the sweet spot for me. The lower bunk costs a little more, but it is wider, and gets a window, so is favourite for me.

 

Third class is fine for short trips….. more interesting than second class seats.

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I loved doing this trip. As mentioned before you don't see anything in the way of scenery until the morning but then it's fabulous. 2nd class is fine, the beds and seats comfortable and the online catering, although a bit more expensive than general Thai prices, is okay. Nothing stopping anyone taking on board their own drinks, snacks etc. I didn't notice it being particularly warm or cold and managed to grab a decent few hours sleep. It's not a journey I'd do regularly although it's a decent option if you're watching the finances. It's dirt cheap and saves on a hotel for a night.

I came, I saw, I mongered!

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When I arrived at the train station all the sleeper tickets that day were sold out. I got a seat in 2nd class and had to wait a few hours for my train to depart. The trip was an interesting experience but mostly boring. Trying to sleep while sitting upright is unpleasant. Don't make the same mistake I did. Buy your ticket in advance.

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A few years ago, I did the 12 hour day trip.  It was nice to see the scenery from the back of the towns whereas the buses go through the middle of towns in about 8 hours.  I also did a similar train trip in Vietnam from Nha Trang to Saigon.  On both, I prefer the non AC open coach seating and not to share a night time sleeping room with strangers as it reminds me of a prison cell when I worked for Corrections :).  

 

If you're in a hurry, the plane is faster, but if you want to see some of the country, the train goes about 50% slower than a bus.  In fact, going up some of the inclines, it goes so slowly you wonder if it's going to make it up the hills :).

 

If you love trains and/or taking it slow, it's the way to go.... not point to point, but enjoying the journey :).

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If you're in a hurry, the plane is faster, but if you want to see some of the country, the train goes about 50% slower than a bus.  In fact, going up some of the inclines, it goes so slowly you wonder if it's going to make it up the hills :).

 

Unfortunately, quite often, it doesn't make it.   

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When I arrived at the train station all the sleeper tickets that day were sold out. I got a seat in 2nd class and had to wait a few hours for my train to depart. The trip was an interesting experience but mostly boring. Trying to sleep while sitting upright is unpleasant. Don't make the same mistake I did. Buy your ticket in advance.

Years ago you could purchase online direct from the railway. Now you must use third-party services. I believe the tickets are available for sale 60 days out. I usually have a friend pick them up for me as she works close to the train station in BKK.

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Remember, it's an "over night" train, so taking pictures is kind of pointless. 

 

 

Just to point out that the late-evening departure from Hualumpong arrives at lunchtime, so the most-scenic last five hours are in daylight, ideal for photography !

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  • 2 weeks later...

Throw up some laser lights in the "disco dining car" and it would almost feel like I was back at Insomnia. 555

 

 

Ya know, after watching the video, it felt so much like I was really there, I think I'll take a pass and instead opt for a one hour AirAsia flight with some smokin' hot flight attendants.

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As said an experience but not a means of travel. Probably be better with a younger dark skinned  travelling companion with one eye on the James Bond experience...private 1st class cabin of course!

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  • 2 years later...

I made this trip last week, departed 7:45 PM and takes 13 hours. I purchased my 1st class ticket 4 weeks in advance, 1460 plus 500 for a private berth. Brought my own food, a cigar, a bottle of Jack Daniels, and Bluetooth headphones. I'd done about 25 1st class night trains in Europe in the 90's and, although it couldn't match that service, I was still pleasantly surprised how comfortable the berth was. It was cold however, I was fortunate to have the second blanket. This was something on my bucket list for some time and, although I didn't sleep particularly well, I still enjoyed the experience. Booked an Air Asia return flight for 1070.

 

I didn't take one of the newest Chinese-made cars but the car was still good and my berth had connecting doors so it's possible to book adjoining rooms, then open them up and have a party.

 

I may do it again sometime, and put my motorcycle in cargo.

Retired

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