Whilst planning my trip, I learned that a very unique Thai experience is taking an over night sleeper train. In comparison to flying, taking the train was only fractionally cheaper. However, I decided to take the plunge and try it out just for fun.
The go-to website to learn all about sleeper trains in Thailand is www.seat61.com/Thailand.htm. The website I used to book my train is www.12goasia.com.
I took the 6.10pm Chinese-built number 9 train from Hua Lamphong Station, Bangkok to Chaing Mai. The total journey time is around 14 hours, arriving at 7.25am in Chaing Mai. Although I booked my ticket weeks in advance, all first class tickets had sold out on all trains on the days I wished to travel. I chose a seat in a second-class air-conditioned cart.
In order to travel on the train, I had to collect my paper ticket at least one hour before my scheduled departure, from the 12 Go Office on the ground floor of the DOB Building, located opposite Hua Lamphong Station. The road separating the building and the station is traversed by two busy roads making up a distance of 180m. As I had my suitcase with me, I was concerned about getting across safely. Thankfully, I found a very useful tip here to take the MRT subway to Exit 1, therefore going under the roads instead of on the roads. As I had time to spare, I relaxed with my luggage in a little cafe next to the 12 Go Office.
When it was time to board my train, my train and platform were clearly shown in the electronic departure board inside the station. Finding my train and carriage was no problem. At various points along the train were assistants who would help passengers find their correct carriage. Once I had located my seat and settled in, I found the temperature very cold, to the point I had to wear a fleece, socks and a pair of trousers. As the train moved along, it quickly got dark outside, so I could not really see many views. When hungry, I found the restaurant carriage that was busy with other passengers where a long line had formed. I bought some vegetarian noodles in a hot foil container, a cup of tea. Various snacks, sandwiches and beverages were available to buy.
Gradually back in my carriage, an assistant made her way around making up the beds. My berth was one of the last to be made up. I found my little top berth quite cute. Inside the berth was a little shelf. I kept a small backpack and all my valuables with me.
My suitcase was kept under the bottom bunk.
At the end of the carriage was a sink where passengers could wash and brush their teeth, along with toilet facilities.
I was a little concerned about getting some sleep. Fortunately I did get quite a lot of sleep that night. If you travel via sleeper train one day, don’t expect a smooth ride; The journey was very bumpy! In spite of this I did sleep.