Sleeper train Bangkok to Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai Travel Blog

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Adam settling in nicely on the sleeper train

We travelled on sleeper trains in both China and Vietnam and had mixed experiences as to the standard so we were a little bit worried about the trip in 2nd class Aircon from Bangkok to Chiang Mai. One of the problem with sleepers is that they obviously tend to leave in the evenings and you have the horrible gap between checking out of the hotel and getting going on the train. Generally it's not a problem but with he sweaty conditions here in Thailand it doesn't make for the best trip when you have to spend a day wandering around before getting on the train. We decided that we'd head straight over to Hualamphong train station from the Kao San Rd as we have absolutely no faith in taxi's and tuk tuks as here in Bangkok, they are all a bunch of crooks and getting to your destination without a detour to some suspect clothing shop or 'gem' store is a challenge in itself.

Adam on the bottom bunk of the train, as seen from the top bunk
It's best not to use them at all. You can't walk two paces without them shouting Taxi and Tuk Tuk at you, the only option is to blank them completely as if they don't exist. It feels rude at first but they are so obnoxious that after a while it actually becomes quite enjoyable. So we used the good old bus, which has very helpful staff is ultra cheap (7 baht, which is about 10p) and gives you the chance to take in the sights and sounds of the city much better.

Once we got to the station we had the same old dual pricing policy at the left luggage to contend with. Thais and other asians + practically free, westerners = 70 baht a bag!! Lovely to be on the end of a bit of negative discrimination, yet again. As disgusting and racist as it is there's not much you can do about it so we coughed up the cash and headed off to explore a new part of the city.

Steph on the top bunk of the train, as seen from the bootom bunk
We decided to try the relatively new underground system which consists of one line which loops out around the east of the city. Best of all the aircon is at full power and the trains are nice and cold. A huge relief as we were both dripping with sweat from lugging our bags around. The humidity has been through the roof here recently too!

We jumped off around the Sukhumvit Road area which didn't really seem to have that much to offer during the day but apparantly is very lively in the wrong way at night. We walked around in serach of a couple of veggie restaurants but when we found them they were way too much for our wallet so we had to come up with a new plan. We found a bar that is probably a really sleazy joint in the evening but was fine during the day and took advantage of their aircon to cool off and literally dry out a bit. We found a place called Dosa King and had some lunch then headed back to the station on the underground.

We boarded the train early and any worries we had were soon dispelled. The train was great and the super friendly and helpful staff were excellent. The seats are huge and each pair face each other during the day before being converted by the staff to a top and bottom bunk at night when you're ready to go to sleep. The staff were coming around offering food and drinks and you can order set meals or breakfast from them. We'd stocked up with provisions before hand just in case but we still ordered some food and it was fine. Our carriage was mostly filled with westerners making the trip to Chiang Mai but we did have two young Thai guys across the aisle from us who disappeared to the dining car for a few too many drinks. We didn't see them again until being woken up by the sound of one of them throwing up on his own flip flops half way through the night. Adam gave him a few minutes to give him a chance to clear it up but then did his 'Dad' act on him and shook him awake and told him to sort it out. He was very shame faced and to his credit did a decent job of cleaning up. Last thing you want is the smell of vomit all night!! Apart from this we both had a reasonable nights sleep except that Steph was on the top bunk and had some light issues as they leave the aisle lights on full all night. So take an eyemask if you're on the top bunk.  The staff convert the bunks back to seats on asking in the morning and the train arrived bang on time at 9.35 in Chiang Mai. Really we couldn't ask for more.

 

troywruck says:
Wish we could have enjoyed a second class sleeper on the train we took as the second class ticket without a sleeper was a much, much different experience. It was far from roomy, although the seats did tilt slightly. The food was far from the best we tasted in Thailand, and the flourescent green fish egg-like jelly wasn't something I want to be adventurous. The train swaying left-to-right for 12 hours wasn't so fun either and made it difficult to use the bathroom which to my surprise was a traditional "squatter". On a positive note, I did manage to sleep two of the twelve hours it took to get to Bangkok from Chiang Mai and we did save ourselves on one night accommodations. It was unfortunate these were the only tickets available, the last two of three remaining. But we couldn't get out of Chiang Mai that day by bus, sleeper train, or airplane because the traffic heading South was jammed up by the fact that backpackers were travelling South for the Full Moon Party. When we found this out, we decided to avoid the area and headed over the the other coast to Krabi, Koh Lanta, and Karon Beach (Phuket Province) and were very glad that we did as we rested up and really enjoyed ourselves for the remainder of our vacation.
Posted on: Mar 24, 2008
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Chiang Mai
photo by: Stevie_Wes