Chiang Mai is an incredible place to explore in Northern Thailand and many people will venture here after exploring Bangkok. The Bangkok to Chiang Mai train route is the most popular way to travel, so we wanted to share some helpful train tips for your journey.
Why visit Chiang Mai?
Chiang Mai offers ancient temples, cute coffee shops and amazing food as well as incredible national parks nearby to explore. There are so many reasons to visit Chiang Mai and you will want to include this city on your Thailand Itinerary. If you are short on time, you could choose the quickest way to travel from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, but the train is much more enjoyable and gives you a chance to watch the countryside of Thailand whiz by.
Bangkok to Chiang Mai Train times:
There are 5 trains that run each day from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, each taking between 11 to 14 hours. Train travel is slower than a flight but much more of an experience. Travelling in the overnight train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai is also a great choice for budget travellers; tickets are cheap and you save money on a hotel night.
Train time tips – If you want the quickest route, catch train #7 in the morning. If you prefer an overnight train, catch the #9 as this takes 13 hours and is usually the quietest. However, if you don’t mind about the time on a train, you can catch the #51; this will get you to your hotel in Chiang Mai just in time to check in; however book an A/C class, the trains can get warm near midday.
Buying tickets from Bangkok to Chiang Mai
Buying tickets online
The easiest way to get yourself a ticket is by booking with 12GoAsia. They price compare across multiple transportation options and have a fantastic English speaking customer service, should you need to contact them.
Booking online does cost more than purchasing a ticket at the train station, but these routes can sell out fast, especially if you want a sleeper seat.
Buying tickets at the station
When buying tickets at the station, you will need to take a passport. You can reserve a ticket up to 90 days before and if you are in Bangkok for a few days before your trip, it is worth heading to the station and booking a ticket a few days before you travel; as we mentioned, these seats can fill quickly.
There is a chance that, when you arrive to book a ticket, the booking office will advise that they are sold out. If this is the case, firstly, check 12GoAsia or the travel agencies on the upper levels of the station – these agencies often book out tickets and will sell them at a higher price. If you are desperate for a particular train, then it may be worth paying the extra at an agency.
Chiang Mai train ticket prices:
|Seat Type||Online Price||Station Price|
|1st Class A/C Sleeper||1,753 to 1,903 THB||1,453 to 1,653 THB|
|2nd Class A/C Sleeper||1,011 to 1,291 THB||761 to 1,041 THB|
|2nd Class A/C Seat||891 THB||641 THB|
|2nd Class Sleeper Fan||831 THB||581 THB|
There are some national holidays in Thailand, meaning the trains get busy. If you want to travel at this time, you must pre-book ahead of time. There are only two major times that you will find tickets sell out completely:
- New year – 30th December to 3rd January
- SongKran – Thai New Year, normally around the second week of April.
What to pack for your Bangkok to Chiang Mai journey?
You can bring food and drink onto the train with you – and we advise you do. However, you should not be seen drinking alcohol on the train.
Arriving at Hua Lampong – Bangkok train station
This is Bangkok’s main railway station, located along the MRT line at the Hua Lamphong Station. However, you can also take the Chao Phraya Express Boat to Marine Department Pier then walk 10 minutes from here, or order a Grab, taxi or tuk-tuk directly from your hotel.
Facilities at Hua Lampong
- Food and drink – You will find a coffee shop on the left-hand balcony as you enter, a Thai restaurant on the right-hand side and a KFC near the front of the station, just by the main doors.
- Left Luggage office – If you want to leave luggage in Bangkok, there is a staffed left luggage office on the left hand side of the concourse. It is open from 4am to 11pm and charges up to 80 baht per day. Alternatively, you can securely store backpacks for 25B at the Train Guesthouse, which is down the small street down the right hand side of the station (as you look at the entrance).
- Toilets and showers – Beyond the information counter, there are toilets and showers available for a small fee (3B for toilets, 10B for showers)
What is each train class like?
Trains in Thailand have three classes – 1st, 2nd and 3rd.
1st class sleepers in Thailand
Expect a modern, air-conditioned 2-berth compartment, ideal for couples. You will get a washbasin, clean sheets, blankets, soap and towels. There is a western-style toilet at the end of the corridor of these 9 lockable compartments and a shower with hot water in the newer cars.
Berth’s are sold individually, so one ticket buys one bed, not the whole berth. If you are travelling solo, you will share with another passenger of the same gender unless you buy two tickets. The berths convert to a sofa for evening and morning use and groups can book 2 adjacent berths with interconnecting doors.
During the Bangkok to Chiang Mai route, a staff member will come around and offer you a set menu, costing around 180B for dinner and 100B for breakfast and delivered to your room.
These tickets are highly sought after and limited to one sleeping-car per train, so book in advance. Trains #9 and #10 from Bangkok to Chiang Mai are a newer, high quality sleep train, coming with a TV information screen, power sockets and hot shower (whereas older trains have a shower with lukewarm water).
2nd Class sleepers in Thailand
These are a more social option. Expect rows of face-to-face chairs which convert to bunk beds in the evening. These are not within individual berths but instead have an ‘open plan’. At night, the attendant will arrange your seat into a bed, providing a mattress, pillow and clean bedding and also hooks up curtains for privacy.
You can get these sleeper trains with air conditioning or without – we highly recommend choosing the air-con option. They are also usually cleaner and more modern than those without air-con.
Tip – if you are taller than 6” or slightly wider than the average person, opt for the bottom bunk. Top bunks are slightly narrower and shorter but are ever so slightly cheaper.
2nd class seats in Thailand
The Special Express DRC option is great for day routes. This is an air-conditioned train with reclining seats. There is also a light meal, soft drinks and coffee included in the ticket price.
You can also opt to ride an ordinary express train but these are slower. The windows on these trains are larger and open too, so you can enjoy unrestricted views of the countryside.
3rd class seats in Thailand
We would encourage you to avoid 3rd class seats for this long journey. It has padded seats but is usually a much older carriage and some have wooden seats.
The Bangkok to Chaing Mai trains have a restaurant car, with many air conditioned. The food is cheap and good, with set meals costing around 150 – 200B. There is more selection of food available here compared to the attendant who walks through the train with a menu.
Luggage storage on the train
Each seat or berth has a luggage rack next to it – it is safe to use these but you may want to take a bike lock and padlock your bags to the rack at night, more for peace of mind. We recommend you keeping your daypack with your passport and other valuables, with you in the berth at night. Large suitcases can go on the floor alongside your seat.
Every passenger is allowed one big suitcase and one smaller item, but this is not enforced. Bags are not weighed and baggage limits are generous.
If you are travelling with large excess baggage such as golf clubs, additional luggage or bike, you can buy a cargo ticket.
Arriving at Chiang Mai Railway Station
Chiang Mai Railway Station is quite a distance from the city centre so you will most likely want to take a tuk-tuk to your hotel. These will cost you around 100B. Alternatively, you could walk to the main road and flag a taxi down or use the Grab app.
We hope you have a safe trip to Chiang Mai, tell us about your train experience in the comments below!