Sleeper Train from Bangkok to Chiang MaiEmma - 07 December 2016
Leaving Kanchanaburi, we headed back to Bangkok by train, arriving in Thonburi station. We managed to navigate the Bangkok bus system with a little help from Google Maps, and found our way to Hua Lamphong Station. This is the biggest station in Bangkok, and the departure point for getting a sleeper train to Chiang Mai.
How to get a sleeper train to Chiang Mai
Ensure you book your ticket in advance if you definitely want to go on a certain day. Our train ended up being fully booked, and I know the one the day before ours was too. It is easily booked by going to the station and simply going to the ticket counter. The ticket seller we spoke to had exceptional English and it was all very official, so you don’t have to worry about getting scammed! Ideally you need to bring your passport, as they need it to book you a ticket. We hadn’t realised this and had left our passports back at the guesthouse. The ticket seller kindly sidestepped the problem by putting our tickets down as a ‘group booking’.
What is the sleeper train to Chiang Mai like?
We were in the 2nd class Sleeper, which cost 825 THB each (£19). This consists of four bunks to an open-ended compartment (i.e. there’s no door separating the compartment from the corridor). The compartment has a plug socket, a tiny table, and a window. Each of the beds had an additional soft pad to put on top of the mattress, a pillow, and a blanket. They also have individual lights and curtains.
There’s a sizable nook above the door that can accommodate a few of even the most sizable backpacks. However, we had heard a few horror stories about people’s bags being taken or ransacked while they slept, so we were a little apprehensive of using these. In the end I used it and had no problems, but it's something to think about.
The bottom bunk is definitely better than the top for a handful of reasons. First off, you can use it as a sofa before you go to bed. Secondly, it has the window, which means you can pull back the curtain in the morning and watch Thailand whiz past you while you lie in bed! Thirdly, you’re further away from the chilly air conditioning! I was on the top bunk and in the middle of the night I was waking up shivering and had to go dig out more layers from my backpack. Finally, the top bunk is up fairly close to the bright light on the ceiling of the cabin. While you have curtains, they don’t keep out all of the light, so you might find it harder to sleep.
Eating on the Sleeper Train
Having heard that a dining cart in Thailand is a fun experience, we decided to have dinner on board the train. They came round with a choice of set menus to choose from, and the option to have it in our carriage or in the dining cart. The dining cart actually turned out to be a little carriage with the windows down and four tables with rickety seating. Our four part meal was unceremoniously plonked in front of us: duck red curry, cashew chicken stir fry, jasmine rice, soup, and a banana. At 180 THB (£4) each it was the most expensive meal we’d eaten in Thailand, but we figured it would be worth it for the experience. With the hot air billowing in through the windows and looking out at the suburbs of Bangkok, it was definitely a fun addition to the train journey.