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Train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai – Thai Railways 13, Second Class

In this post, we review taking the train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, particularly Thai Railways #13, including how we booked our ride and our (sometimes a little rough) experiences on the train itself.

Having started our two months in Southeast Asia in Bangkok, we decided to make our way north through Chiang Mai and into Laos. The first step of this journey was getting from Bangkok to Chiang Mai. If you book a week out, you can get sub-$40 fares flying, but anything sooner and that option gets pricey.

Google Flights price graph from Bangkok to Chiang Mai.

We researched other options (bus, van, train), and it was clear train was the way to go. Particularly, the Thai Railways #13 train departing Bangkok at 19:35 and arriving in Chiang Mai at 8:40 the following morning looked like the way to go. We also save a night of accommodation by taking this overnight train option instead of flying.

Booking Train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai through 12Go Asia

We booked our tickets through 12Go Asia. Unfortunately, there is no online ticketing service for Thai Railways, and the tickets have to be physically purchased. When you input your information in 12Go Asia, they go to the station and physically purchase a ticket for you. Because they aren’t directly piped into Thai Railways’ system, their availability may be a little off, so you might not get exactly the ticket type you ask for.

We paid THB 2,382 for two Second Class AC tickets plus THB 97 for 12Go Asia’s fee. This totaled THB 2,479 or about $75 USD. If you buy earlier out, tickets look like they start at about THB 1,090 each.

First class sleeper tickets look to start at about THB 1,700 each, but they sell out fast. We didn’t see any availability within a week, and only limited availability two to three weeks out. 12Go Asia has great information on trains in Thailand if you want to know more (after finishing this review, of course).

Availability and prices over 3 weeks out for Thai Railways #13 First and Second classes

12Go Asia’s booking and payment interface is simple and standard. Because they aren’t piped directly into the Thai Railways system, they have a dropdown of what they should do if you precise selection is not available. Couples should plan to book one lower berth and one upper berth (more on that below).

12Go Asia offers various options for getting your ticket, but the most straightforward is just to pick it up from their office across from Hua Lamphong Station (the station the train departs from in Bangkok). We’ve had some trouble with our Visa cards making online payments in Thailand, so we wound up paying with our Citi Prestige (a mistake, as I forgot that card earns 3x points on air travel not all travel).

Retrieving Tickets and Bangkok Train Station

Before departing, you have to stop by the 12Go Asia office to pick up your tickets. It’s a simple process. If they couldn’t get exactly what you booked, they’ll give you the necessary refund (unless you previously told them not to book anything other than your exact request). The 12Go Asia office is located in the DBB Building across from Hua Lamphong station. (“Across” is used liberally here, as this is a big intersection.)

Search “12Go Office” on Google Maps

We walked there since we wanted to pass through Chinatown on our way out of the city. You can’t miss the office once you walk into the building, it’s right in front of you. There’s a small restaurant next to the office that fills up with travelers, especially as the time gets closer to the departure of Thai Railways 13.

The 12Go sign at the DBB Building. Go through those doors.

Kafe Kafe, next to the 12Go Asia office, is a good place to hang out and grab a bite before your train.

The train station is easily visible from 12Go Asia. To get to the train station from 12GoAsia, you just have to cross a few intersections. There’s probably a right way to do this, but we just made our way across streets as we could.

You just have to get across a few lanes of traffic to get to the train station.

There’s not much at the train station. Your platform number will be displayed on the big monitor a bit before departure. There’s some basic food and drink options at the station, as well as a convenience mart. We recommend grabbing some snacks and water to avoid needing anything on the train.

Hua Lamphong Train Station, Bangkok, Thailand

We went to the platform about 20 minutes before departure and got on the train. The cars were clearly marked by both class and carriage number.

Our Second Class Cabin on Thai Railways 13 (Bangkok to Chiang Mai)

Our second class cabin was filled with backpackers, mostly couples. The lower berth comprised two seats facing each other that converted into a single bed. The upper berth was just a bed. This worked well for couples, but for solo travelers paired up you’d have to agree on when to convert the seats into beds.

As soon as we boarded, attendants were walking through selling chips (“CHEEPY CHEEPY CHEEEEEEPY”) and beverages. There was a cafe car or you could order meals (breakfast or dinner) to be brought to you. We were fortunate to be seated across from an outlet, but it was the only one we saw in our train carriage, so don’t plan to have power.

Technology Tip: Put your phones into low power AND airplane mode while you sleep. If you’re not in airplane mode, you’ll lose battery while your phone searches for a signal the entire route.

Second Class Cabin on Thai Railways 13, Bangkok to Chiang Mai

We departed on-time at 19:35. Shortly after departure, one round of attendants came by to check tickets. Then attendants started coming through regularly asking to make up your bed. Our impression was you should just say yes the first time, as they clearly grew a little frustrated hearing “no” several times followed by a “yes!” right when they thought they were done for the night.

That was all mostly what we expected from a second class cabin. It wasn’t luxury, but we were comfortable. Except for the cockroaches, that is. We probably saw them a collective 10 times between the two of us, mostly across the walls and floor and one time across the actual bottom bed. They were little guys, but still nothing we wanted crawling around us while we slept or getting into our stuff so and going with us to our next Airbnb.

We wound up stuffing most of our stuff into the bottom of a sleep sheet (or travel sheet) with Emily who completed tucked her full body into the sheet so no bugs could touch her. (We’d definitely recommend bringing one of these if you have one, or maybe even purchasing one just for this purpose.) I was left to curl in a ball in the middle of the lower berth, finally getting good sleep at 5AM when I finally convinced myself that at least the cockroaches we’d seen in real life weren’t as big as the ones I’d had nightmares about all night long.

Besides that, there’s little to say about the ride itself. Some reviewers/bloggers suggest waking up early and watching the sunrise, preferably from the dining car, but we didn’t do that (we didn’t utilize the dining car at all). There were two toilets on our car, one with a squat toilet and one with a sitting toilet. As with all train toilets, we suggest using these earlier rather than later in your journey. They did have at least a limited amount of toilet paper (you should bring some just in case, though).

Just over an hour before arrival, they woke us up in order to un-make our beds. We arrived into Chiang Mai Station on time at about 8:45. The station is a little outside the main areas of the city. We walked, as our Airbnb was on that side of the city. If you’re located within the Old City or farther, you’ll probably want to take a Tuk Tuk, Songthaew, or Uber.

Closing Thoughts on the Train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai

This is tough. We’ve read reviews of trains from Bangkok to Chiang Mai that didn’t mention cockroaches, so it doesn’t seem to be a problem 100% of the time. But for a night train, where you’re planning to sleep, this is a disturbing occurrence. We’d probably be inclined to try to book earlier and find first class availability next time, but bugs aren’t always a matter of cabin class. Regardless, for the price it’s hard to beat a night train, and if we couldn’t get a first class cabin, we’d probably try this option again.


Monday 6th of August 2018

Good day,

Thanks for well written and informative blog.

Regarding online booking for Thai Railway trains, thought one is able to do booking through I have not yet actually done the online booking as I'm exploring doing a train trip back (just for adventure) in Dec from Chiang Mai back to Bangkok after the Chiang Mai Marathon.


Tuesday 7th of August 2018

Hi Tom! I'm glad you found it helpful! If you're looking for an adventure, this journey should certainly be that. Though not the most pleasant, it was do-able and we would do it again if we had to. You're running the Chiang Mai Marathon!? We ran it too! We have a review of the race on the blog if you're interested. Good luck!