Night Train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai | Complete Guide

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Thailand’s night train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai is a great way to head out of the capital’s hot bustling streets and venture to North Thailand’s cooler climate without losing any daytime to explore.

The overnight train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai is a cost effective way of getting between the two cities. And although travelling from Bangkok to Chiang Mai by train is slower than doing the trip by air, the journey between the two cities, which takes around 12 to 13 hours, is an interesting experience in itself and only costs $25 for a sleeper train.

All trains to Chiang Mai depart from Bangkok railway station (Hua Lamphong Station). Don Mueang and Ayutthaya are two popular destinations where the train stops to pick up passengers on its way from Bangkok to Chiang Mai and vice versa.

We did the trip from Bangkok to Chiang Mai and vice versa and both times chose a night train or sleeper train over the day train, flight or bus. If you are travelling on a budget, opting for the night train will save the price of a night’s accommodation and you will have a whole day to explore since you will arrive in Chiang Mai early in the morning.

Night/sleeper trains are clean, have fresh sheets that are changed after every trip, most carriages have A/C and there is a restaurant onboard the train.

We have written this post and you will find a complete guide for Bangkok to Chiang Mai trains and other options on getting from Bangkok to Chiang Mai including by bus and by air.

a Thai train

The train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai is one of Thailand’s most popular train routes. Tickets tend to sell out fast even during the low season. Booking at least 2 to 3 weeks (maybe more) in advance will ensure you find the right seats, lower deck sleeping berth and 1st class cabins which sell out first.

This guide is written for getting from Bangkok to Chiang by train. But if travelling in the opposite direction and need to get from Chiang Mai to Bangkok by train, all the information is still relevant. There are only different train numbers and times which are listed below.

>>Check our guide to Bangkok which is perfect for those visiting Bangkok for the first time.

Train & Night Train From Bangkok to Chiang Mai

Every day a number of trains travel between Bangkok and Chiang Mai and vice versa. The options are to travel either during the day and admire the scenery, or by night and sleep for most of the journey.

Trains in Thailand are a safe way of travelling and are environmentally friendly compared to air travel and buses. Thailand’s railway system also happens to be one of the best in South East Asia. In fact, all trains are clean and for the sleeper train you will get a sealed pack with fresh sheets and a pillow.

Choosing between these 2 options depends on your preferences. But for travellers on a budget or those who want to have a real Thai railway experience but don’t want to waste most of the day travelling, a night train is the best option. A night train will also save on a night’s accommodation cost and will leave a whole day to explore your new destination.

From Where Does the Train From Bangkok to Chiang Mai Depart

Almost all trains heading North from Bangkok depart from Bangkok Train Station (Hua Lamphong Station) located in the city centre. If you are familiar with Bangkok’s China Town, Yaowarat, the train station is around 10 minutes walk away.

Trains doing the trip between Bangkok and Chiang Mai do multiple stops along the way. Two popular stations where the train stops are Don Mueang Station and Ayutthaya. You can hop on the train from both these stops but it would be best to purchase tickets in advance.

Bangkok to Chiang Mai Train Schedule

Chiang Mai To Bangkok Train Schedule

Bangkok to Chiang Mai detailed train schedule

How Much is the Train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai

For your trip from Bangkok to Chiang Mai there are various options and each has different costs. There is the option to travel 1st, 2nd or 3rd class, A/C or non A/C and sleeper or seated. The cost varies depending on class, comfort and even time of year.

Here is a quick summary of what you should expect to pay depending on class and comfort:

3rd class non A/C seat: 350 baht ($12)

2nd class A/C seat:       650 baht ($22)

2nd class A/C sleeper:   750 baht ($25)

1st  class A/C sleeper:   1500Baht ($50)

Prices are approximate figures and should be used as guidelines.

The most popular sleeper is train #9 which departs Bangkok at 18:00 and completes the journey in just over 13 hours. The number 9 sleeper train costs around 750baht ($25) for a one 1 way trip and arrives in Chiang Mai at 7:15 completing the journey in just over 13 hours. 

the night train before converting into a sleeper and no passengers on board

Buying Train Tickets in Thailand

Tickets can easily be bought from any railway station in Thailand. So if you already have all your trip planned, you can easily walk in a railway station and pre book your tickets. Keep in mind that to buy tickets from the train station you will need your passport. It is possible to pay by card, however, often times we were told the card reader wasn’t working.

On your ticket you will have all the information you need. Train number, cabin class, seat number, date and time are all printed on the ticket

Should I Prebook Train Tickets from Bangkok to Chiang Mai

Yes, if you want to have peace of mind and have planned your entire trip I suggest you prebook your train tickets at least a week or two in advance. Both locals and foreigners use trains in Thailand and some popular long distance routes such as Bangkok to Chiang Mai sell out fast. 

Especially if you plan on using the night train to travel between the two cities and are in Thailand between mid October and January, you should book your tickets 2 or 3 weeks prior to your trip. Chiang Mai is a popular destination during those months and both foreigners and Thai’s from all over the country will be using trains to get to Chiang Mai.

If you are all right with not finding a train on a specific date, don’t mind travelling/sleeping in a carriage with no A/C and can afford to move your trip date, then you won’t need to pre book. There is always a place if you can afford to compromise on those factors. That is unless you’re in a large group.

Overnight Sleeper Train to Chaing Mai

Where to Pre Book Train Tickets in Thailand

Train tickets can be purchased directly from any train station in Thailand up to 90 days prior to your trip. Don’t forget to take your passport with you. So if you’re in Thailand on an extended holiday, you can easily buy your tickets once you get there.

Another option is to reserve your tickets online. This is the best option for those on a short trip that have their whole holiday planned and can’t afford to compromise on moving dates and times.

You can order your Thai train tickets easily and cheaply through 12GoAsia, a reliable online booking platform offering loads of routes and trips in Thailand. There is a small service charge over the usual ticket price but is well worth the small extra fee for your own peace of mind.

Click here for more information.

** Thai Railway train tickets bought on line through 12Go Asia should be collected from a 12Go Asia office at least 60 minutes before departure. Pick up points can be selected during checkout. There is also an option to have train tickets posted to you. Have an identification document if collecting tickets from a 12Go Asia office.  

a train conductor at Chiang Mai railway station

Bangkok To Chiang Mai | Train comfort – onboard facilties and what to expect

You can expect a real Thai experience aboard the Bangkok to Chiang Mai train. Both foreigners and locals use this mode of transport to travel between the two cities. 

November to February are the most popular months. Locals travel to North Thailand during these to visit their families and for the cooler climate.

A/C on trains is usually too low, you will see locals getting on trains with thick winter jackets. Keep some warm clothing in handy just in case you feel cold.

Your luggage can be stored right next to you in the train aisle. Keep a small bag with your valuables in it especially if you are on the sleeper train and in the upper deck bed with you.

Compared to travelling by bus, trains are spacious and much more comfortable.

Trains 109, 9, 13 and 51 have an onboard restaurant that serves cooked meals and packed snacks. The food isn’t the best since it is prepacked meals similar to that on flights. But should do to make it through the journey.

If you travel during the day, at some stops locals come aboard (or hang outside the train windows) selling local food. This is a better alternative to train restaurant and you can find anything from boiled eggs, to Pad Thai. We bought a whole chicken breast served on a skewer stick from local vendors selling on Thai trains.

Bangkok to Chiang Mai Buses (and vice-versa)

Buses are another option of getting from Bangkok to Chiang Mai. 

However, I would consider this option as a last resort. Although bus travel time is almost the same as travelling by train and price is comparable or less than train tickets, comfort on night buses won’t be that great. 

We didn’t do this trip by bus however have travelled in Thailand by bus and can easily say comfort isn’t close to a train.

Click here for more information.

Bangkok To Chiang Mai Flights (and vice-versa)

Flights can be an alternative to train travel. In fact, often flights cost almost the same price as a train ticket. Travelling by air between Bangkok and Chiang Mai will save at least half the time.

Click here for a list of airlines including flight schedule.

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