One of the easiest and cheapest ways to travel throughout Thailand is by train! I heard a lot of conflicting reviews about the trains. My boyfriend and I are very easy going people though so we decided to take the risk. And, we were pleasantly surprised with our Thailand overnight train experience!
Booking train tickets in Thailand is a little difficult to do in advance because you can’t buy them directly from the train company’s website. You must buy them in person. The tickets also tend to sell out a few days before. Since we were only going to be in Chiang Mai for 3 days, we were worried about buying them in person. We didn’t want to get stuck with tickets that were more expensive. Or worse, get stuck in Chiang Mai if the tickets were completely sold out. We had already booked all of our hotels so this would have been an issue. So, I did some research and found a company that purchases the tickets for you. The company is called 12Go Asia and for a fee they buy the tickets on your behalf and then you pick them up the day of your departure.
Since the price of the tickets vary day to day, you pay an estimated price in the beginning. I booked an Upper Berth for myself and a Lower Berth for my boyfriend, both in 2nd class (more on that later). I also requested that both seats were together. We paid a deposit of 2,412 baht (about $70 USD). After they purchase your tickets they email you with the exact cost. If you overpaid, then they give you a refund in cash on the day you pick up your tickets. They send you a receipt that you print out and hand to them to receive your tickets and you must pick them up at least 30 minutes before departure.
Here’s what our ticket prices looked like:
- 2nd Class Upper Berth: 791 baht ($23 USD)
- 2nd Class Lower Berth: 881 baht ($25.50 USD)
- Online Booking Fee: 500 baht ($14.50 USD)
- Delivery Cost: 150 baht ($4 USD)
*Refund: 90 baht ($2.60 USD – Enough for 3 pad thais in Bangkok – YAY!)
An extra $18.50 for the peace of mind that we had the seats we wanted and the train we wanted, was totally worth it for us. And, it worked perfectly! The pickup location was a hotel that was literally right in front of the train station so it wasn’t a hassle to pick up the tickets at all. We picked them up right before we boarded.
Thailand Overnight Train Experience:
The train was actually really nice, clean, and brand new! They give us water bottles and there was a food cart further down the train to purchase dinner. The food was very inexpensive but it was all packaged, microwavable food. If I were to go again I would bring a few snacks onto the train myself. There are 3 classes of seats. 1st class is the most expensive and you get your own little room with a bed. 2nd class you sit in seats during the first half of the ride and then the seats turn into beds with a curtain for privacy. 3rd class is the cheapest but you only get a seat, no bed.
We decided to sit in 2nd class and they were great! We each got a big seat to sit in with plugs to charge our phones. A couple hours into the journey the stewardess came and made the beds for us. The 2 seats turned into a bottom bunk and there was a top bunk that folded down. The steward added sheets and pillows and hung up the curtains. I slept on the Upper Berth. It was easy to climb up and really comfortable for me (I’m 5’3”). It’s also the cheaper option! If you’re taller and need more space, I would suggest the Lower Berth because it was a little longer than the upper bunk. My boyfriend is 6’4” and he fit perfectly. But both bunks were spacious and really comfortable. There were bathrooms very close by. They didn’t clean them throughout or restock anything but we came to realize that this is totally normal in Thailand! In the morning the stewardess came back to put our beds away.
The train ride lasted about 12 hours. We left Chiang Mai at 7pm and got off at the stop in Bangkok at about 7am. We thoroughly enjoyed the entire experience!
What to Wear/Bring:
One thing to note is that the lights stay on the entire night. So I would definitely bring an eye mask. I would also suggest ear plugs if you’re a light sleeper. It’s extremely cold in the train and they don’t give you a heavy comforter, just a sheet. So, wear something warm and comfortable. I wore leggings with big wool socks, a t-shirt and a big comfy sweater. Bring toilet paper or some tissues too! The train ran out by the morning. 😋
Overnight Train Essentials:
Why a Train and not a Plane?
The quickest way to get to Bangkok from Chiang Mai is obviously by plane. And it is very inexpensive to fly from city to city in Thailand. So if you’re on a tight schedule, I would suggest flying. The flight would have only been a few hours compared to the 12 hours on the train. So why didn’t we fly? Because it was way cheaper to ride the train! If we were to fly we would have had to pay for the plane ticket and then a hotel for an extra night in Bangkok. With the train it was both our transportation and our hotel room for the night for only $33.50 each. That’s hard to pass up!
We were able to check in to our hotel in Bangkok early, shower, and enjoy the whole day! 🙂
Not sure what to wear in Bangkok? Check out what to wear in the temples of Thailand.
So that was my Thailand overnight train experience! Have you ever been on an overnight train? What was your experience like? Let me know in the comments!