by Dec 23, 20160 comments

Our over-night sleeper train journey from Bangkok to Chiang Mai

This post will cover our sleeper train journey from Bangkok to Chiang Mai in the North of Thailand during our Thailand visit in 2016. As we’ve done the same trip again in February 2019 we have updated a few things accordingly. Let us know in the comments if you have any specific questions about this train trip up North. 🙂

After spending almost a month in the beautiful South of Thailand where we mainly explored Phuket and Patong Beach (didn’t like it AT ALL) and the area of Khao Lak on various scooter adventures (liked it A LOT) we were planning to see what the North had in store for us.

So we travelled from Khao Lak to Bangkok and after a few busy days exploring this amazing city – visiting temples & night markets, feasting on street food stalls, hitting the big shopping malls and sipping cocktails on fancy rooftop terraces – we decided to head to the much more chilled out town of Chiang Mai.

Should you be interested in reading more about Bangkok and all the fun things to do there you can check out the following Bangkok posts:


If you want to travel from Bangkok up North to Chiang Mai you have basically two options: You can either take the plane and simply fly up there (there are several daily flights from Bangkok Don Mueng Airport to Chiang Mai at relatively low prices) or by taking the over-night train, also known as SLEEPER TRAIN. As the second one sounded FAR more exciting, was cheaper and saved us a night’s accommodation we of course opted for the train. 🙂 #backpackerlife

Ready, Set, Go? Not so fast!

So with our minds made up to use the sleeper train to get to Chiang Mai we thought we had already done the hard part. Now we basically only had to buy the tickets and go, right? WRONG! Turns out that we didn’t know anything about the trains in Thailand and how they exactly operate. One week before our planned departure from Bangkok to Chiang Mai and still being somewhere in Khao Lak we looked up tickets on the internet thinking we could maybe reserve our seats online.

There are several agencies offering tickets in various price ranges online from as little as 300THB to up to 1500THB. You could as well order tickets from State Railways of Thailand directly, but apparently only via e-mail and only 15 days in advance. Guess it was too late for that 🙂

So we tried our luck with 12go.asia* an agency selling all kinds of tickets and which we’ve been using a lot since our first trip to Thailand to book anything from bus tickets, train tickets and package trips. When booking your sleeper train tickets with 12GOAsia they will charge a little extra for their troubles because they don’t hold tickets but rather an employee will actually have to go to the train station and buy it for you. 🙂 You can then simply pick them up at the 12Go.Asia office across the Hua Lamphong station. This is a great service especially if you need those tickets but you can’t go to the train station yourself. We should have totally done that but hey, were were naive and it was our first time in Thailand so we thought we’d be fine simply buying them ourselves when we get back to Bangkok.

Since we had five days in Bangkok before going to Chiang Mai we thought we would have PLENTY of time to check out the situation in person and get us a good deal at the train station ourselves. We didn’t! 🙂


In general there are several trains leaving throughout the day from Bangkok Hua Lamphong Station to Chiang Mai.

  • 08:30 Train #7
  • 13:45 Train #109
  • 18:10 Train #9
  • 19:35 Train #13
  • 22:00 Train #51

After having done this journey 3 times now, we’ve found the best option for us is to take the latest train, leaving Bangkok at around 10pm giving you some hours the next morning to enjoy the beautiful countryside at daylight before arriving at around noon in Chiang Mai. However note that the 10pm train (#51) is not as modern as the earlier train at e.g. 7:35pm (#13), so if you want to travel in a slighty better style than maybe go for this one if you have the choice.

What do you mean, SOLD OUT? – Issues at the Train Station

We wanted to leave on a Monday and with still a few days to go we went to the ticket office at the Bangkok Railway Station being completely confident to get us a good deal. However, when it was our turn at the office and we explained what we wanted to buy the lady looked surprised and told us that all tickets were sold for Monday! And Tuesday! And Wednesday (just in case we were wondering). But there were 2 beds left on the last train leaving on Sunday night at 10pm.

WOOOSH, that came as a shock. We had already booked and paid our hotel in Bangkok for 5 nights as well as the one in Chiang Mai for the 7th night. This was definitely not ideal but we had no other option than to buy the tickets for the 10pm train on Sunday and be in Chiang Mai one day early rather then loosing the money we paid for our hotel in Chiang Mai.

Just as a reminder, if you decide to buy your tickets at the counter yourself, you need to bring along the passport of every traveller in you party. Luckily we had at least thought of that (surprised?? me too 🙂 ) otherwise those two beds would have been gone as well.

In the end we paid 841 Bath for the lower bed and 751 Bath for the upper one (prices as of FEB 2019). Actually a good deal if we didn’t have to pay the hotel in Bangkok as well. The difference in price is because there is a bit more space and a window for the one downstairs.

But luckily everything worked out pretty well in the end – or at least we got ourselves to believe that it did 🙂 after all, convenience has its price. So having our hotel room confirmed for the Sunday night, we cold spend the day out sightseeing and returning to the hotel in the afternoon to relax, pack our bags, freshen up a bit and organize our ride to the station.

So much better than having to check out at 11:30am, storing the luggage with the hotel and then to basically wonder around the city for 10 hours until it was time to head to the train station.

Our ride with Grab taxi to the station went super smooth and we arrived well in advance. We told the driver to drop us at 7-ELEVEN supermarket next to the station so that we could get some snacks for the ride. 7-Eleven does some pretty decent you-don’t-want-to-know-what’s-in-there meals which however taste surprisingly well and they can even heat them up for you. Brilliant! So with our spicy basil chicken dinner in hand we headed over to the station to find some place to sit down and eat.

Chiang Mai – here we come! Our Slepper Night Train Journey from Bangkok to Chiang Mai

When we arrived at the station our train was already there and ready to board. Whoop Whoop! We thought we had to eat our 7-Eleven dinner while sitting on the dirty platform (forget any benches or seats, it’ll all be taken by waiting passengers and let’s call them “overnight train station guests”. 🙂

So we quickly boarded wagon #14 and looked for our assigned seats/beds/room for the night. It was basically two seats opposite to each other which then convert nicely into the lower bunk bed. Smart!

On our most recent train ride with the 10pm sleeper train in February 2019 they changed a few things around and it was actually 4 people sharing one compartment, with two seats facing two other seats which we didn’t like as much as you basically have to stare at some strangers face for …well, quite some hours and you don’t have the full window when taking the lower bed which sucked as well a bit…but otherwise it was all good.

Since the 10pm train is the last train of the day the nice train attendant is always really keen to prepare your beds ASAP. We asked him to please wait five minutes so that we could finish our dinner…he gave us three :-). However, as it was already dark outside and nothing to see we had no problem of going to bed early that night.

Of course the question who would have the nice, big bed downstairs was quickly decided – ladies first! Nighty night!

Although it was probably not the best night’s sleep we ever had it was definitely way better than any overnight bus we had ever been on. It actually was super comfortable, you get your own pillow and blanket so you can really snuggle up in your little bed. If there only wasn’t this constant rattling sound from a table which was not stored properly under the bed. Nobody else here seemed to bother but we did. So Martin got up (or down?) from his bed and somehow managed to stop it by pushing and kicking it until it was back in its place but just as he was back in his bed it popped just right out again rattling even louder than before which kept us awake for quite a while.

Apart form that, it was a surprisingly quiet ride – not even a little snoring sounds by our fellow train enthusiasts. Everyone was so well-behaved :-). But still, better to be prepared so take some ear plugs with you, just in case!

Update February 2019 – AND TAKE SOME EXTRA BLANKETS OR CLOTHES!!! The AC is usually on full power and it gets damn cold in there with the thin blankets they provide not keeping you warm for long…so if you have a blanket, scarf of something else, TAKE IT!!

When we woke up the next morning everyone was still asleep. Well actually even I was still asleep but with Martin being all hyper up there in his bed and excited to take a look out of the window I generously invited him to join me downstairs. The view from the window was in fact really beautiful once I managed to open my eyes. Lush green forests, hills and small villages flew by our window .So peaceful, so quiet, so perfect.

Well that was until the lady with the breakfast arrived yelling: good mooooooooooorniiiiiing!!!! Suddenly it got really loud and busy. Time for everyone to get up. Our friend from the night before was just as efficient folding the beds away as preparing them for the night. Just in time for the lady to serve us some breakfast that we pre-ordered the night before. There is not much choice and it’s not that cheap either but overall it was okay.

But the best part was enjoying the views while having breakfast. Marvellous! 🙂 We gave us a mental high five, being super glad that we opted for the train instead of taking a boring flight. So much more fun!

When we arrived in Chiang Mai at was already noon and perfect to head straight to our hotel and check in before getting to know the city better. We had heard so many great things about Chiang Mai and could not wait to see whether it would live up to our expectations (btw, IT DID! 🙂 )


If you want to dig deeper into the topic about the different trains they use, timetables and much more there is a great website available which helped us to prepare for our trip. The man in seat61 has all the facts and more.

What was your favourite train journey so far?

About us


Welcome to Hungry Backpack!

We love to eat, we love to travel. We did not like the life we had so we changed it, completely! Packed our bags, said our goodbyes and left for a trip around the world with no end in sight. Follow us as we are tasting a new kind of life! 🙂

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No tickets yet?

If you don’t have the time to go to the station yourself to buy your train tickets you could just buy them with 12Go.Asia below. It’s highly recommend if you want to travel in high season on specific dates as tickets sell out quickly.

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