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Thailand Has A Sleeper Train From Bangkok To Chiang Mai With First-Class Cabins From $53

State Railway of Thailand Special Express No.9

It’s no secret that Bangkok has Singaporeans in a chokehold as far as quick South East Asian getaways go. You can’t really blame us; it is but a 2.5-hour flight away, and is simply brimming with so many things to do that we’ve had trouble cramming all its offerings in our Bangkok guide.

But, if you’ve got time to spare and would like to uncover the rest of Thailand’s charm beyond the capital, then consider planning for a ride on the State Railway of Thailand’s Special Express No. 9 train. It’s an overnight sleeper train that’s one of the many train routes in Bangkok that gets you to Chiang Mai. Here’s how you can land yourself a first-class cabin for under S$100.

What are sleeper trains in Bangkok?

Train At The Station
Image credit: @superalbstravels via Instagram

The State Railway of Thailand operates all of the country’s national rail lines; their rail network serves 47 provinces all over Thailand, and approximately 35 million passengers annually. They also operate sleeper trains, which are trains that chug across the country overnight, and serve as a popular mode of transport for both tourists and locals alike.

All of these long-distance sleeper trains depart from the Krung Thep Aphiwat Central Terminal Station in Bangkok, and they all serve different routes. For instance, trains No. 9 and 10 go from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, while trains No. 37 and 38 take travellers all the way from Bangkok to Su-ngai Kolok on the Malaysia-Thailand border.

How can I book a Bangkok sleeper train?

You can book seats on these sleeper trains online via the State Railway of Thailand’s website. The website’s pretty straightforward to navigate once you translate the site to English via the language toggle in the top-right.

The State Railway Of Thailand WebsiteImage adapted from: The State Railway of Thailand

After creating an account, key in “Krung Thep Aphiwat” in the “Origin” search box and your desired destination. Then, select your dates and number of passengers, and click search. You’ll be brought to a search results page listing the train services that serve that route, along with their ticket prices.

Bangkok Sleeper Train Tickets
Image credit: ADa via RED

After making the payment online, your tickets will be emailed to you and you can print them out at home before your trip. You’ll be able to book your tickets up to 180 days in advance, and we recommend booking your seats way ahead of time.

Popular sleeper trains like train No. 9 will have their first class seats sold out within minutes, so do snag your tickets early to avoid disappointment.

What kinds of seats are available on sleeper trains in Bangkok?

There are 2 classes of carriages available on the State Railway of Thailand’s sleeper trains, namely the first-class and second-class carriages. The first class carriages (from ฿1,253, ~S$46.18/pax) consist of 12 enclosed cabins, and they each contain 2 seats. The second-class carriages house 40 seats each, and cost about ฿631 (~S$23.26)/pax.

These carriages are air-conditioned, with the exception of certain second-class carriages which are fan-cooled instead. The seats on both carriages can be converted into beds when it’s time to turn in for the night, with 1 passenger taking the upper berth and another taking the lower berth.

What can you expect on the Special Express first-class sleeper train?

Map Of JourneyThe 12.5-hour long sleeper train journey from Bangkok to Chiang Mai.
Image adapted from: Google Maps

Today, we’re shining the spotlight on the State Railway of Thailand’s Special Express No.9 sleeper train. The one-way, 643km long journey will take passengers from Bangkok’s Krung Thep Aphiwat Central Terminal Station to Chiang Mai railway station in roughly 12.5 hours, so lounging in their first-class cabins will make the ride much more enjoyable.

The seats in these cabins will set you back just ฿1,446 (~S$53.29) for those on the upper berth, while ones on the lower berth cost ฿1,646 (~S$60.67). If you’re travelling solo and not too keen on bunking in with an unfamiliar roomie, then opt to book the whole cabin for yourself for ฿2,446, which comes out to ~S$90.15.

Aerial View Of Krung Thep Aphiwat Central Terminal
The Krung Thep Aphiwat Central Terminal is the largest railway station in Southeast Asia.
Image credit: @yod_redmachine via instagram

The train is scheduled to leave the station at 6.40pm daily, and feel free to dabao some snacks at the station, as you’re allowed to munch on them throughout your journey. Favourites from the nearby food court include hamburgers, satay, bubble tea, and locally-grown fruits like mangoes.

After stocking up, make your way to your cabins promptly as boarding begins 30 minutes before departure.

First-Class Cabin On Bangkok Sleeper Train
Don’t worry, the cabins of this Bangkok sleeper train are fitted with power sockets for when your phones run out of juice during your obligatory Netflix binges.
Image credit: @superalbstravels via Instagram

Your cabins are stocked with fresh sheets and blankets to tide you through your night, plus towels and soap for you to use at the communal toilets and shower rooms down the corridor. Also, adjacent cabins are connected to one another via an interconnecting door, which is great for groups travelling in groups of 3 or 4 to have a mini slumber party within their quarters.

View Of Sunset In First-Class Cabin
Image adapted from: CocoRun热带艺术 via RED

Of course, take the chance to gaze out of your cabin’s window during sunset and sunrise; you won’t be doing much sightseeing over the pitch-black cover of night anyway. Once you’ve gotten your IG-worthy snaps of the sunset at Bangkok’s outskirts, the staff will make their rounds at 8pm to assist passengers with setting up their beds.

Throughout the night, the train will make a total of 17 stops at stations like Don Mueang and Ayutthaya rail station, but only for a few minutes for new passengers to get on.

Restaurant Carriage
The restaurant carriage on the Special Express No.9 train.
Image credit: @superalbstravels via Instagram

As for filling your rumbling stomach, you can head to the train’s restaurant carriage to pick up breakfast and dinner, or snacks in between. You can buy and consume your food right there, or have it delivered to you to eat in the privacy of your cabin by ordering through the LCD screen in your cabin.

Eating Food In First-Class Cabin
Image credit: 97 大盛りください via RED

They’re open from 5.30am to 10pm daily, and have quite the plethora of set meals to whet your appetite. These include rice sets (฿190, ~S$7.01)  that’s paired with dishes like red curry, roasted duck, and garlic chicken. For something light, much on spring rolls (฿150, ~S$5.54) and french fries (฿150, ~S$5.54), or slurp on a hearty bowl of fish soup with pork (฿150, ~S$5.54).

Window View
Image credit: @nutnakphon via Instagram

The train will arrive at the Chiang Mai railway station in the Wat Ket district at around 7.15am, which is perfect for capturing the sun rising over the neighbourhood’s many temples. After alighting, you’re well-poised to spend the rest of your daylight exploring the New City, so hail a tuktuk, and off you go.

Book a trip on the Special Express No.9 train

If you’re not in a rush, hopping on a train like the Special Express No.9 is a great way to traverse across the vast country of Thailand. It’s eco-friendly, plus you get to experience travel across provinces as the locals do in an affordable manner.

For things to do once you’ve arrived in Thailand, here are some Chiang Mai cafes and restaurants to refuel at after your long trip. Those looking to catch some sun can keep these beach clubs in Phuket in mind, but if you can’t bear to leave the capital, then consider these new things to do in Bangkok.

Cover image adapted from: CocoRun热带艺术 via RED, @superalbstravels via Instagram