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Chiang Mai to Bangkok Overnight train vs. Flight

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Seattle, Washington
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Chiang Mai to Bangkok Overnight train vs. Flight

So... an overnight train is like 49.00 USD for an upper birth in first class


a flight ranges from $39-$54 USD for a <2hour flight.

However, it seems most people opt for the train, and I'm unsure as of why... what am I missing? The flight to me sounds like the better deal.

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1. Re: Chiang Mai to Bangkok Overnight train vs. Flight

We didn't even consider taking the train. We booked two $50 tickets with Air Asia. Our flight was on time and didn't have any problems.

Cologne, Germany
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2. Re: Chiang Mai to Bangkok Overnight train vs. Flight

I took the train last year as it was cheaper. I paid 850 bhat for second class lower beth (more space than upper one), and I saved a night accomodation and didnt waste any day time. I found the journey rather relaxing, and would prefer train over flight - though if it is the same price for a flight and you dont travel in the middle of the day then flying might be the better option

Bangkok, Thailand
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3. Re: Chiang Mai to Bangkok Overnight train vs. Flight

Some people on a tight budget want to save the cost of one overnight accommodation by taking the train.

Others feel that taking the train gives them a better opportunity to meet locals and other tourists.

Some take even the daytime train to see the scenery.

I doubt that most tourist actually are taking the train but the flyers won't be writing here about what a wonderful and interesting flight they had since it will be a total nonevent if things go smoothly as they usually do.

Bangkok, Thailand
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4. Re: Chiang Mai to Bangkok Overnight train vs. Flight

If the cost is not much far better to take a flight for 2 hrs.

Canberra, Australia
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5. Re: Chiang Mai to Bangkok Overnight train vs. Flight

We flew to Chiang Mai from Bangkok and then took the overnight train (earlier this month - March 2013) on the return trip (first class sleeper) for a different experience.

We pre-booked our train tickets through Royal Exclusive Travel at a total cost of 4,106THB (about A$135) which included delivery of our tickets to us in Australia prior to our departure. For those who are on a tight budget, second class sleeper tickets are even cheaper but we were happy to pay for the extra comfort.

The train trip was very comfortable and we got a good view of the countryside after we left Chiang Mai (5:00pm) and the outskirts and suburbs of Bangkok as we arrived the next morning.

If you are time limited then naturally the plane flight is quicker but sometimes it's good to get a different view.

Edited: 20 March 2013, 05:08
Quainton, United...
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6. Re: Chiang Mai to Bangkok Overnight train vs. Flight

The flight - well, it's just another meaningless flight.

The sleeper train - that's a genuine Thai experience.

And it saves a hotel bill, there are no extra fees and costs as with getting to and from remote airports, there are no baggage fees, none of that nonsense with airport security and liquids and baggage sizes, and so forth.

Basically, if you are in Thailand for the experience and for a holiday, take the train. If you're there on a business trip, I suppose you are paid to rush around, so jet to CM, have your business meeting and jet home as quickly as possible! ;0)

Brisbane, Australia
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7. Re: Chiang Mai to Bangkok Overnight train vs. Flight

The flight from Bangkok to Chiang Mai is actually only around 1 hour, not 2.

It is a personal preference but I would rather get there quickly and enjoy actually being there.

I am only guessing here but I think far more people fly than get the train. There are multiple flights daily into Chiang Mai from Bangkok and Phuket.


Paphos, Cyprus
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8. Re: Chiang Mai to Bangkok Overnight train vs. Flight

Why not fly one way and take the train the other?

I have flown on my 2 visits, but next time I am going to take the train north, stopping off at 2 or 3 places over 6 days. Then after a few days in CM, fly back to Bangkok.


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9. Re: Chiang Mai to Bangkok Overnight train vs. Flight

I flew to Chiang Mai from Bangkok and it was an hour flight. 8am departure, 9:15 am arrival and the whole day ahead of me in Chiang Mai. Flew with Bangkok Air and they were fine. I did take the train from Chiang Mai to Phitsanulok and got off there - that is about 1/2 way to Bangkok, as it continues south from there... the scenery, in my opinion, from Chiang Mai to Phitsanulok was great and I really enjoyed the train ride - left Chiang Mai at 8:45 am and was supposed to arrive at Phitsanulok at 3pm but it was 2 hours late getting there, so ended up as a 7 hour journey.

I don't know what the scenery is like for the other half of the trip to Bangkok, but the journey "might" involve another couple of hours of lateness, getting you into Bangkok (or Chiang Mai - whichever way you travel) - a few hours later than you expect. Make sure to take water and snacks with you in case the journey is a long one.

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10. Re: Chiang Mai to Bangkok Overnight train vs. Flight

I generally take the train, even though I've been on that route rather a few times.

For me, the only reasons for taking 1st class in the train are that one wants solitude, a couple is in honeymoon mood, or if only 1st class is available and I must travel on that day.

2nd class aircon sleeper is my preferred way to make that trip - most of the time. On the times that I want to take photos or video, I prefer 2nd class non-aircon for its windows that open (for clearer views and photo/video).

Timing is a factor.

Northbound to CM, I prefer trains 13 and 51. Trains 13 and 1 have the better equipment. But train 1 departs and arrives too early for my taste - and doesn't offer passengers much in the way of views. Train 13 usually gives about 3 hours of sunlight - thus offering perhaps the best views on that run (the ~3 hours southeast of Chiang Mai). Train 51 has somewhat grubbier equipment, but the best, most relaxing trip (IMHO) of any means to CM (air, bus, or train) - plus more of those hilly northern views. The late departure of train 51 is usually best for me, and the late arrival lets me (1) sleep-in a bit later, (2) rise and go to the dining room for a cooked-to-order breakfast {I usually get Thai rice porridge with chicken} while enjoying the countryside views (as the train is now in somewhat hilly country in the northern part of the country), (3) see if a 2nd class non-aircon seat is free - if so I sneak into that seat for more comfortable views on that last leg, and (4) I arrive late enough to be able to check into my CM hotel, but early enough to continue elsewhere if I want.

Southbound, I again prefer 2nd class aircon sleeper if going straight to Bangkok. I also, usually, prefer a later departure and arrival. But often I stop over along the way - say, at Phitsanulok (for Sukhothai, etc.). Then I prefer morning trains 102 or 12.

2nd class sleeper is about 1/3 to 1/2 the cost of air. But I don't do this to save money. I also don't do it to save a hotel night. Though both of those reasons are valid - I do it because the vibe in 2nd class sleepers, and in the dining car, is the most pleasant between Bangkok and CM (and to most, if not all, other destinations served by rail).

I also usually arrive at Bangkok's Hualampong station about 90 minutes before scheduled departure. I usually have dinner (in a restaurant on mezzanine level for great views of the architecturally interesting main hall of the station), segue across to the other mezzanine for a coffee, walk through the in-station convenience store to pick up a beer and some snacks for the trip, then board the train. In CM I also stock up on snacks, at a 7-11 sort-of close to the CM train station if I didn't stock up earlier in town. You can also get some snacks on the platform, but at generally somewhat higher prices and lesser selection. But I do this to complement dining car meals - not to replace them.