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Taking the train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai?

Travel Forums Asia Taking the train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai?

1. Posted by jlkauf (Budding Member, 3 posts) 14 Dec '06 00:24

jlkauf has indicated that this thread is about Thailand

Well. We need to get from BK to CM and the train sounds awesome. We found the official website (hi, King Bhumibol!), we found the schedule, we found the prices. But calling up and making a reservation... NOT so easy. In short, it didn't happen. We couldn't understand each other, they gave me an email address for online booking, and I never got a response. D'oh! Lonely Planet's shoestring book says we need to book way early. Has anyone taken this train before, and if so, how far ahead did you book? Was it a good experience? We won't actually be in Thailand until a few days before we'd need to be on the train. Hmm. Any advice?

thanks, y'all.

Jessica & Kenny

2. Posted by Laura_B (Respected Member, 352 posts) 14 Dec '06 01:46

I did this trip & booked a few days in advance. You can either go to the station (Hua Lum Phong) in Bangkok & book your ticket or you can use a travel agent in Bangkok who will buy a ticket on your behalf, obviously they will charge you a small fee to do this.

I enjoyed the experience, I had a 2nd class ticket with air con, note- the air con is freezing so bring some layers or book a ticket with a fan instead of air con. It takes around 12 hours overnight. Buses are another option, think it takes less time as well.

3. Posted by honeythief (Budding Member, 29 posts) 14 Dec '06 06:27

i went on the overnight train to chiang mai and only booked it 3 days in advance. that was in mid febuary which is coming toward the end of the high season. it maybe more busy in dec and jan . i never slept a wink the whole way
lovely place chiang mai . enjoy ... j

4. Posted by allthai (Full Member, 85 posts) 14 Dec '06 16:05

You shouldn't have any problem unless you want a 1st class cabin. With the low cost air carriers now the Thais are taking to the skies rather than riding the train. The only way the secong class might be full is maybe on a Friday or Sunday night when some Thais travel by train to enjoy a weekend in Chiang Mai or Bangkok.

Randy and Ning

5. Posted by Mel. (Travel Guru, 4567 posts) 15 Dec '06 11:45

Hello jlkauf

A few days before u are taking the train is enough in advance, to book it. If u are particular about which time and which class u want to travel, then book it soon after u get to Bangkok.

I have taken a few train trips, in Thailand. I never book them. I just go to the train station and take the next available one. Last time, i had to wait, for a few hours, because i wanted a third class ticket. If i would accept any ticket, then i would probably not have had to wait long.

The experience was ok. Comfortable as one would expect third class to be, and food vendors got on often, to sell reasonably priced food. All the other passangers were nice and friendly.

Mel

6. Posted by buzzard (Respected Member, 187 posts) 15 Dec '06 20:21

The trains in Thailand are great. Cheap, safe, and comfortable. For most long distance trips they will also give first and second class passengers a small boxed lunch and water.
Yes, there are overnight trains, but I prefer the day trains because I love seeing the scenery, which is especially nice between Phitsanulok and Chiangmai. Passing through Lopburi (old Khmer temple ruins, and lots of monkeys) is also scenic. If you don't want to make the fairly long trip from Bangkok to Chiangmai (about 11 hours) you can break it up by stopping off in a smaller city such as Phitsanulok or Uttaradit. P-Lok is a riverside town with nice atmosphere and few interesting old temples. It's also only an hour away from the ancient capital of Sukhothai, where more amazing ruins await you.

7. Posted by jlkauf (Budding Member, 3 posts) 20 Dec '06 20:04

Wow, awesome advice. Thanks, everyone!

8. Posted by karazyal (Travel Guru, 1261 posts) 20 Dec '06 21:39

Quoting jlkauf

Well. We need to get from BK to CM and the train sounds awesome. We found the official website (hi, King Bhumibol!), we found the schedule, we found the prices. But calling up and making a reservation... NOT so easy. In short, it didn't happen. We couldn't understand each other, they gave me an email address for online booking, and I never got a response. D'oh! Lonely Planet's shoestring book says we need to book way early. Has anyone taken this train before, and if so, how far ahead did you book? Was it a good experience? We won't actually be in Thailand until a few days before we'd need to be on the train. Hmm. Any advice?

thanks, y'all.

Jessica & Kenny

You should be able to get a booking with a couple days notice but I would try to do it as soon as possible just to make sure.

If your hotel is in the Sukhumvit area you can use the Skytrain to connect to the subway, the national train station is on a subway stop.

You can take a taxi to the train station if you want - ask the driver to use the meter and the price will be cheaper than bargaining. Tuk-tuks are usually MORE expensive than a meter taxi (unless you are a Thai.)

There are thousands of airconditioned taxi cabs in Bangkok, if a driver doesn't want to use the meter - grab another taxi! Wave a moving taxi cab over for your ride, parked taxi cabs at hotels and bus stations are more likely to want to bargain which usually means you end up paying more for the ride. For a major, metropolitan city, taxi cabs in Bangkok are some of the cheapest taxi rides you can find in the world.

At the train station avoid the touts outside and inside the train station, even the touts that have "official representative" on their name tags. Go directly to the ticket windows inside the train station for your ticket or info.

Bring some snacks and water with you. The train will offer to have a breakfast available for the morning, it's cheap - but if you like eggs and bacon a little well done "forgetaboutit!"

Another advantage of taking the train is that you also save paying for another night in a hotel.

Good luck.

9. Posted by RichyF (Budding Member, 17 posts) 21 Dec '06 13:17

i took the bus to chang mai from bangkok HA what a mission that was!

we were in chang mai for the flower festival in early november, wat a lively and great city it was!!!

i hope your travels are awesome dude, travel safe!