If you want to take the overnight sleeper train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai there are actually 4 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. Train 13 departs from Bangkok Hua Lamphong train station every day at 7.35PM, and arrives in Chiang Mai at 8.40AM.
If you want to return to Bangkok on the same train you will need to book train number 14 from Chiang Mai to Bangkok. What makes train 13 so popular 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
Taking the train is cheaper than flying to Chaing Mai, more comfortable than a minimum 10 hour bus or coach ride to Chiang Mai, and much easier than the long tiring drive by car. We considered flying, but the cost of 6 air tickets was considerably more expensive than 6 train tickets. 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.
Booking Train Tickets
Booking travel tickets online in Thailand is essential in order to reserve seats on 1st and 2nd class trains, and also for VIP bus and coach seats. If you simply turn up on the day or leave your booking too late you will find it extremely difficult to get suitable seating.
We booked our tickets for the Bangkok to Chaing Mai train in advance, and I recommend you do the same after considering all the different arrival and deprture times and reading the Bangkok to Chiang Mai overnight train reviews on 12go.asia.
Suggestion: Book your Chiang Mai tours and entry tickets cheaper, earn points, and get bonus points for you and your friends with Klook.
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.
Book a Train Ticket
You can book your Bangkok to Chiang Mai train tickets right now through 12go online ticket booking services. It’s a very easy process, but read on if you want a few tips.
You must either buy your tickets from the train station or use an online booking agency. Long-haul train tickets can be purchased up to 60 days in advance, short haul tickets can be purchased up to 30 days in advance.
The booking process is simple and efficient, and once you have purchased your train tickets you have the option of collecting them from the 12Go Asia office in the DOB building across the road from Hua Lamphong station any time before the train departs or 12Go Asia will mail the tickets to your hotel or residence.
I opted to collect the tickets from the DOB building, the 12Go Asia office is on the ground floor, almost immediately in front of the entrance door. Simply hand them your booking receipt, and they will hand you the tickets. 12Go recommend you collect the tickets at least 1 hour before your train departs.
NOTE: you need to book your 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.