If you want to take the overnight sleeper train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai there are actually 4 sleeper trains to choose from with the following options – 1st class – 2nd class with AC – 2nd class with fan – ladies only. We chose the #13 2nd class overnight train to Chiang Mai.
If you want to return to Bangkok on the same train you will need to book train number 14 from Chiang Mai to Bangkok.
We decided to book train 13 because it was highly recommended by reviewers on the popular 12go booking site.
NOTE: you need to book Bangkok to Chiang Mai train tickets well in advance, especially if you are traveling as a group and wish to remain together. I booked 6 2nd class sleeper berths 6 days in advance. We had 1 four bed cubicle to ourselves, and 2 beds in the next cubicle.
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What makes train 13 the best train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai is the 2nd class air-conditioned sleeper car, the sleeper berths are different to the standard second class sleeper berths. Meaning you have more privacy if you are traveling as a group, the beds are a little longer, and this carriage has western style toilets.
PLEASE NOTE: many of the overnight sleeper trains have been upgraded since I wrote this post. Meaning, you might find the seating and bunks are not the same as those in my photos.
Why Take The Train to Chiang Mai
For many people, traveling by train in Thailand is a “bucket list” item, not only a means of getting from A to B, but a truly authentic Thai experience.
Bangkok to Chiang Mai Train Ticket Prices and Schedules
NOTE: Prices and schedules below were correct in January 2019.
- Train #13 departs 19:35. Arrives 08:40 (13 hours 5 mins). 1,131 baht
- Train #9 departs 18:10. Arrives 07:15 (13 hours 5 mins). 1,291 baht
- Train #109 departs 13:45. Arrives 04:05 (14 hours 20 mins). 1,011 baht
- Train #51 departs 22:00. Arrives 12:10 (14 hours 10 mins). 1,071 baht
- Train #7 (seats only) departs 08:30. Arrives 19:30 (11 hours). 891 baht
Chiang Mai to Bangkok Hua Lamphong Train Station Ticket Prices and Schedule
- Train #14 departs 19:00. Arrives 06:15 (13 hours 15 mins). 1,131 baht
- Train #10 departs 18:00. Arrives 06:50 (12 hours 50 mins). 1,291 baht
- Train #52 departs 15:30. Arrives 05:25 (13 hours 55 mins). 1,071 baht
- Train #8 (seats only) departs 08:50. Arrives 19:25 (10 hours 35 mins). 891 baht
- Train #102 (seats only + fan only) departs 06:30. Arrives 21:10 (14 hours 40 mins). 641 baht
Bangkok to Chiang Mai Daytime Express Trains
The daytime (seats only) express trains – #7 to Chiang Mai and #8 to Bangkok make the 690 kilometer train journey between Bangkok and Chiang Mai at least 2 hours faster than the overnight sleeper trains.
The journey time from Bangkok to Chiang Mai by express train and bus is about the same. Tickets for Express train cost just a little more than the best VIP bus services, so if you’re considering the bus as a cheaper alternative – it might still be worthwhile taking the daytime train.
Boarding The Train
Hua Lamphong is a large train station consisting the main hall with ticket booths, information desk, seating areas, shower and toilet facilities, eating places, even a left luggage area. The station layout is simple, and the platforms are close by and easy to identify.
Once we collected our tickets we entered the station and proceeded directly to the platforms. The train ticket contains all the information you need to find the right platform, train, carriage number, and seat number. We boarded at 7 PM, found our seats and stored our luggage.
When You Board
- The luggage storage compartment on train 13 is situated overhead inside the cubicle.
- Official luggage allowances of 60kg or 1 large case and 1 small bag per person are not strictly enforced, there are no weighing or baggage checks. The storage on train 13 is large enough to accommodate several cases or bags.
- The restaurant car is open from 8 PM – 10 PM, and opens again before daybreak, but vendors on the train will ask you if you would like food delivered to your seat when the restaurant opens.
- There are toilets and wash basins on every carriage. The second class air-conditioned sleeper carriage on train 13 has a western style toilet.
- Some seats have a 220 volt power outlet for your phone chargers etc.
- You will be asked to show your tickets soon after boarding or departure.
- The sale and drinking of alcohol on the train are strictly not allowed.
- You are allowed to take your own food and beverages onto the train.
- Smoking is allowed only in the restaurant car when the restaurant car is open. In reality, many people were smoking between the carriages and in the toilets.
- Attendants will come and prepare the beds on the 2nd class air-conditioned sleeper at 8 PM.
- The windows on the second class air-conditioned sleeper do not open.
The Train Ride
The beauty of the second class air-conditioned sleeper carriage on train number 13 from Bangkok to Chiang Mai is the different sleeping arrangement. If you have a bottom bunk, or if your group share a cubicle you can still stay seated after the beds have been made. During our journey, many people chose to stay seated and chat. It wasn’t until midnight that most people actually retired to their bunks and slept. Obviously, this being a sleeper train you must respect those people who are trying to sleep.
Beautiful Chiang Mai Scenery
The highlight of this train ride is undoubtedly the stunningly beautiful scenery. At daybreak the train is only a little over 2 hours away from Chiang Mai, the surrounding jungle and mountain scenery is absolutely breathtaking. To best appreciate it, photograph or video it, you need to be in the restaurant car where the windows will be open. Be warned though, the early morning air is cold, as is the air conditioning in the sleeper cars, so best to take a light coat or sweater with you.
Arriving in Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai train station is comparatively small and situated on the other side of the River Ping, so if you’re staying somewhere central in Chaing Mai you’ll need a taxi. You’ll notice an assortment of songthaews (pickup truck with bench seats), tuk tuk’s and samlors eager to ferry you to your hotel.
We took a songthaew to our hotel (1 minute walk from Tha Pae Gate) for 300 baht. In hindsight we may have paid too much, the return journey from the hotel to Chiang Mai train station was only 180 baht, so it’s well worth bartering for a lower price.