Transport in Thailand is cheap, comfortable and easily accessible for everyone. You have a range of choices for getting to Chiang Mai from most places in Thailand, but we are going to focus primarily on the overnight sleeper train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai in this post as that was our choice, on this particular trip.
Its also a trip that we believe every traveller should take at least once in their lives. Its an adventure!
Overnight Sleeper Train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai
We picked up the overnight sleeper train in Lopburi, (we had pre-purchased our tickets when we were in Bangkok, at Hualamphong station a few days before) the train was on its way from Bangkok and arrived on time (this is not always the norm for trains in Thailand, they are notoriously late). We purchased our tickets in advance as we were travelling in high season and seats fill up fast.
We purchased 2 sets of bunks in an air conditioned carriage at a cost of around 3000 Baht (approx. £60), not bad for overnight accommodation and transport for four people! If you want to reduce costs further then there are bunks available in the fan cooled carriages. Go with the air con though, its worth every penny.
The bunks were already made up for us and the carriage was clean and well maintained. The kids were really excited to be on the sleeper train, they love it when we all sleep in bunk beds. The beds were reasonably comfortable and provided plenty of space for us and our backpacks – the kids took the top bunks as they are slightly narrower, plus we felt safer with them up there. We needn’t have been concerned about safety though, as there are guards that regularly patrol the carriages throughout the night.
Around 6.30am the guard comes around to wake everyone up and convert your beds back into seats, you are then seated for the last hour or so of the journey before you arrive in Chiang Mai.
During this time you will be offered the option of breakfast by the train staff; obviously this is purely your choice but we decided not to order as we felt that the food was over priced, plus we had already brought our own snacks for the journey and planned to have breakfast at our hotel later in the morning.
The overnight sleeper train takes around 12hours to get from Bangkok to Chiang Mai. The last hour of the journey is in daylight and you are treated to a view of the sun rising above the beautiful rice paddies that surround the tracks. It was an unforgettable experience for our kids and definitely something that we recommend for all family travellers in Thailand.
Alternative Transport Options to Chiang Mai from Bangkok
If you prefer not to use the sleeper train then there is a service that leaves Bangkok’s Hualamphong station at 8.30am, arriving into Chiang Mai around 7.30pm. The train costs around 400 Baht per person, with kids aged 4-11 at half price.
Air Asia operate daily flights between Bangkok and Chiang Mai. Prices are reasonable but we recommend booking as far in advance as possible to get the cheapest deals. This is the least budget friendly option but it does get you there quickly!
Air Conditioned Bus
There are 2 options for travelling by bus from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, you can either;
- Take the backpacker bus from the Khao San Road – buy your ticket from any travel agent on the main road and the bus will pick you up the following morning. This is probably the cheapest option, but be careful as there have been many reports of travellers bags being raided whilst they sleep.
- Head to Bangkok’s North East Bus Station (Mo Chit) and take the Deluxe bus. The service is much better and you are provided with a drink and a snack.
Both buses take around 10 hours and are usually the most budget friendly option.
For more information, detailed itineraries and costs for transport in Thailand check out Seat61. We are not affiliated with them, we just think its a fantastic resource for travellers.
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