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TRAVEL TIP: BANGKOK TO CHIANG MAI BY TRAIN

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The Night Train Adventure: Bangkok to Chiang Mai

Embarking on a road trip through Thailand, we sought an authentic travel experience. Instead of the usual flight, we opted for the night train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai. This article delves into our journey, offering insights and answering potential queries about this unique travel option.

BANGKOK TO CHIANG MAI BY TRAIN

Why Choose the Night Train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai?

During our Thai expedition, we set aside a week to explore the northern region, particularly around Chiang Mai. Our itinerary included city tours, immersive Thai cooking classes, and venturing into the neighboring mountains. After our Bangkok escapade, we decided to travel to Chiang Mai by train.

While flying is a popular choice among tourists, the night train offers several advantages:

  • Eco-Friendly: Reduce your carbon footprint.
  • Unique Experience: Relish a mode of transport that’s becoming rare, especially in Europe.
  • Slow Travel: Enjoy the scenic beauty of Thailand’s countryside at dawn.
 

For those looking to immerse themselves in local culture and landscapes, the night train is a must-try.

Booking Your Train Tickets: Bangkok to Chiang Mai

Navigating the Thai railway’s official website can be challenging due to numerous third-party platforms. After extensive research, we discovered the genuine site for hassle-free bookings.

Key Points:

  • Reservations open 60 days prior to the travel date.
  • E-tickets are available for mobile or print.
  • Typically, three departures are available daily.
 

For spontaneous travelers, tickets can also be purchased at Thai stations. However, for peak seasons, pre-booking is advisable.

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Cost of the Journey

1. Second-Class Berths:

  • Upper Berth: Priced at approximately 20 $, the upper berth in the second class is a popular choice for solo travelers and backpackers. While it offers a comfortable sleeping space, it’s slightly narrower than the lower berth and has a window with a curtain for privacy.

  • Lower Berth: A tad more spacious than its upper counterpart, the lower berth is priced slightly higher, around 25 $. It offers a broader sleeping area and is often preferred by those traveling with luggage or seeking a bit more room.

2. First-Class Berths:

  • Upper Berth: At roughly 40 $, the first-class upper berth offers a more secluded and plush experience. It comes with reading lights, power outlets, and a thicker mattress compared to the second class.

  • Lower Berth: For those willing to splurge a bit, the first-class lower berth, priced at around 50 $, provides an even more spacious sleeping area. It’s ideal for travelers seeking luxury without the price tag of a private cabin.

3. Private Cabins:

For those desiring utmost privacy and comfort, private cabins are the way to go. Priced just over 50 $, these cabins offer:

  • A lockable door for security.
  • Personalized temperature control.
  • A small seating area which can be converted into sleeping berths.
  • Complimentary water and snacks.
  • A window to enjoy the scenic beauty of Thailand’s countryside.

Additional Costs:

  • Bedding: While basic bedding is included in the ticket price, travelers can opt for premium bedding sets, including higher thread count sheets and plush pillows, for an additional 5 $.

  • Meals: As mentioned, onboard meals come at an extra cost. However, travelers can also pre-book gourmet meal sets, which include a main course, dessert, and a beverage, for around 10 $.

  • Travel Insurance: For peace of mind, many opt for travel insurance, which covers potential delays, lost luggage, or any unforeseen incidents. Prices vary based on coverage but generally start at 3 $ for the journey.

Departure Station in Bangkok

As of this year, the primary departure point for travelers heading to Chiang Mai from Bangkok is the Krung Thep Aphiwat Central Terminal Station. Located in the bustling Chatuchak district, this state-of-the-art facility is a testament to modern infrastructure and design.

Krung Thep Aphiwat Central Terminal Station (Current Main Hub)

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Location: The Chatuchak district is known for its famous weekend market, making the station’s location ideal for travelers to do some last-minute shopping or enjoy local delicacies before their journey.

  • Facilities: The station boasts a range of amenities, including free Wi-Fi, spacious waiting lounges, digital information boards, and a plethora of dining and shopping options. For international travelers, currency exchange counters and tourist information desks are readily available.

  • Connectivity: Given its central location, the Krung Thep Aphiwat Central Terminal is well-connected to the city’s public transportation network. The nearby Chatuchak Park MRT and Mo Chit BTS stations ensure easy access to and from different parts of Bangkok.

  • Safety and Security: Modern security measures, including CCTV surveillance and security personnel, are in place to ensure the safety of travelers. There are also dedicated luggage storage areas and lockers for those who wish to store their belongings.

Hua Lamphong Station (Former Main Hub)

Before the shift to the Krung Thep Aphiwat Central Terminal, the Hua Lamphong station served as Bangkok’s primary railway hub. Nestled in the heart of the Pathum Wan district, this station has a rich history and remains a significant landmark in the city.

  • Historical Significance: Hua Lamphong, with its distinctive Neo-Renaissance architecture, has been a part of Bangkok’s landscape for over a century. Its timeless design stands as a reminder of the city’s colonial past and its evolution over the years.

  • Facilities: Despite its age, the station was well-equipped with essential amenities. Clear bilingual signboards ensured that even first-time visitors could navigate the station with ease. The station also housed a few local eateries and shops, offering travelers a taste of authentic Thai culture.

  • Tracks: The station’s 14 tracks saw trains coming in and going out to various parts of Thailand. Each track was clearly marked, and electronic boards displayed train schedules in both Thai and English.

  • Connectivity: Hua Lamphong was conveniently located near the Hua Lamphong MRT station, providing travelers with easy access to Bangkok’s metro system.

Dining Onboard

One of the highlights of the train journey from Bangkok to Chiang Mai is undoubtedly the onboard dining experience. As the landscapes outside your window shift, so does the opportunity to indulge in a meal while on the move.

  • Meal Service: Not long after the train departs, attentive staff make their rounds, presenting passengers with menus for both dinner and the following morning’s breakfast. This service ensures that travelers don’t have to worry about meal planning during their journey.

  • Menu Variety: The menu offers a selection of Thai and international dishes, catering to a diverse palate. From traditional Thai curries to continental breakfast options, there’s something for everyone.

  • Pricing and Quality: Priced at a reasonable 5 $, the meals provide convenience. However, as with any mass-prepared food, there might be variations in taste and quality. While many find the meals satisfactory, some travelers might prefer a different culinary experience.

  • Alternative Dining Options: Recognizing that everyone’s tastes are unique, the train allows passengers to bring their own meals. Additionally, an onboard snack bar offers a range of beverages, light snacks, and local delicacies for those looking to try something different or quench their thirst.

Comfort and Amenities

The train journey between Bangkok and Chiang Mai is not just about reaching the destination; it’s about the experience. The train management has made efforts to ensure that the journey is as comfortable as possible.

  • Sleeping Arrangements: Regardless of whether you choose first or second class, the train ensures that passengers have a comfortable place to rest. Soft mattresses, plush pillows, and warm blankets are provided to ensure a good night’s sleep.

  • Privacy Options: While the second-class berths offer an open sleeping arrangement, allowing for interactions with fellow travelers, the first-class option provides a more secluded experience. Private cabins are available for those seeking privacy, making it ideal for families or those desiring a more intimate setting.

  • Restroom Facilities: Hygiene and cleanliness are priorities. The shared restrooms are cleaned and restocked regularly, ensuring that passengers have access to clean facilities throughout their journey.

  • Climate Control: The train is equipped with air-conditioning to ensure a comfortable temperature. However, it’s worth noting that it can get quite chilly during the night. Passengers are advised to carry warm clothing, such as a sweater or shawl, to stay cozy.

Duration of the Journey

The train ride from Bangkok to Chiang Mai is not just a mode of transportation; it’s an experience that offers travelers a unique perspective of Thailand’s diverse landscapes and cultural nuances.

  • Time Frame: Typically, the journey takes around 13 hours, allowing passengers ample time to relax, enjoy the scenic views, and perhaps even strike up conversations with fellow travelers. The route meanders through bustling towns, serene countryside, and dense forests, offering a visual treat.

  • Potential Delays: Like any long-distance travel, there can be unforeseen circumstances that might cause delays. These can range from track maintenance to weather conditions. It’s always a good idea to factor in some buffer time, especially if you have tight schedules or connecting travel plans upon reaching Chiang Mai. A flexible itinerary can help mitigate any stress from unexpected hold-ups.

Arrival in Chiang Mai: Gateway to the North

Chiang Mai, often referred to as the “Rose of the North,” is a city rich in history, culture, and natural beauty. As the train pulls into the station, travelers are greeted with a sense of excitement and anticipation.

  • Proximity to the City: The train station’s location is incredibly convenient. Situated just 3 km away from the heart of the city, it acts as a perfect starting point for your Chiang Mai adventure.

  • Transportation Options: As soon as you disembark, you’ll notice an array of local transportation choices. Tuk-tuks, with their colorful designs and open sides, offer a fun and breezy ride to the city center. For those traveling with more luggage or in groups, shared taxis are a comfortable and economical option. These rides are not only quick, taking just about 10 minutes to the city center, but they also provide a firsthand experience of Chiang Mai’s vibrant street life.

  • Fare and Bargaining: While the fares are generally nominal, it’s customary in Thailand to haggle a bit. A friendly negotiation can often lead to a better price, and it’s all part of the travel experience!

Alternative Travel Options

Thailand’s diverse landscape and well-developed infrastructure offer travelers multiple ways to journey between Bangkok and Chiang Mai. Depending on your time constraints, budget, and adventure spirit, you can choose from the following options:

    • By Air: The Quickest Way

      • Duration: The flight between Bangkok and Chiang Mai is notably quick, taking just 1 hour and 15 minutes. This makes it an excellent option for those on a tight schedule or those who prefer to maximize their time exploring the destination.
      • Airlines & Frequency: Thailand’s aviation sector is bustling, with both full-service and budget airlines operating this route. Carriers like Thai Airways, Bangkok Airways, AirAsia, and Nok Air offer multiple daily flights, giving travelers flexibility in choosing their preferred time.
      • Cost Factor: Despite the convenience and speed, flying can be surprisingly affordable. Regular promotions and competitive pricing often bring ticket prices below 50 $. However, it’s always a good idea to book in advance, especially during peak tourist seasons.
 
    • By Road: A Scenic Drive

      • Duration & Route: The drive from Bangkok to Chiang Mai offers a unique opportunity to experience Thailand’s varied terrains. Spanning approximately 9 hours, the journey takes you through bustling towns, picturesque villages, and lush landscapes.
      • Road Conditions: Thai highways are renowned for their excellent maintenance. Clear signages, rest stops, and eateries dot the route, ensuring travelers have a comfortable drive.
      • Car Rentals: Numerous car rental agencies operate in Bangkok, offering a range of vehicles to suit different needs. Whether you’re looking for a compact car or a spacious SUV, options abound.
 
    • By Bus: A Budget-Friendly Choice

      • Duration: Buses take around 10 hours to reach Chiang Mai from Bangkok. The slightly longer duration compared to driving oneself is due to scheduled stops along the way.
      • Comfort & Facilities: Modern buses ply this route, equipped with air-conditioning, reclining seats, and sometimes even onboard entertainment. Overnight buses might also provide blankets and snacks.
      • Frequency & Operators: With multiple departures throughout the day and night, travelers can choose a time that best fits their itinerary. Renowned operators like Green Bus and Sombat Tour offer services on this route, ensuring safety and comfort.

CONCLUSION

In conclusion, the journey between Bangkok and Chiang Mai can be as enriching as the destinations themselves. Whether you’re soaring through the skies, cruising on the highways, or relaxing on a bus, each mode of transport offers its own unique experience of Thailand.

TRAIN BANGKOK TO CHIANG MAI
 
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