No Sleep Sleeper Train – Bangkok to Chiang Mai

Traveling and exploring many countries also mean that we want to experience all the transport methods available.  Luckily time is on our side and our next stop was Chiang Mai.  We decided to take Kayla (7) and Megan (5) on their first sleeper train. A train rocking the girls to sleep while Eben and I can get some time chatting the night away in the romantic dimmed light of our compartment. Right?? WRONG!

Let’s start at the beginning…

The route

The train leaves from Bangkok, Hua Lumphong railway station.  We left at 18:10 from Bangkok and arrived in Chiang Mai the next morning at 07:15.

At the Hua Lamphong Train Station

At the Hua Lamphong Train Station

Buying Tickets

This was a very easy and quick process.  We booked online through 12GoAsia to ensure we could prebook our tickets and select our berths.   You will receive an email confirming that your tickets are ready for collection.  You need to go and collect the tickets from 12GoAsia’s office which is  located at the DOB Building (grey building) opposite the Hua Lumphong railways station in Bangkok. Their office hours are Mon-Fri (9am – 8pm) & SAT-SUN (9am – 7pm) Collect your tickets at least 60 minutes before departure.

Hua Lumphong railway station

You can leave your luggage at the railway station (locked away at a fee) if you want to go and kill some time.  We opted to rather eat at the station’s food court while we waited for the time to pass.  At last it was time to board!!

Killing some time at the food court

Killing some time at the food court

The Train

We got into our carriage and quickly found our berths.  Two seats facing each other with the same setup on the opposite side of the corridor.  The train is very bright and clean.  The fact that there are only dividers between a 4 berth compartment, gives the train a more spacious feel. The toilets are separated from the compartment with an automatic glass sliding door. Very fancy indeed. There are a male and female toilet which is kept in pristine condition.  Luggage has to be stored below the seats, so keep this in mind.  We managed to fit in two backpacks on each side.

The Trip

The girls were having a great time, making some drawings until the guard came with a key to unlock the couchette (a narrow bed attached to the wall of the train that swings down) and convert the bottom seats into a bed.  No problem, time for the girls to go to bed anyway and we can catch up on good quality grown-up conversation…Uhm, no don’t think so… we were granted another 5 minutes before the guard returned with his key to setup our beds.   Guess it was time to call it a night and get into bed at 8pm….Each berth’s curtains closed, time to sleep.

Then the fun and games began…Kayla did acrobatic moves from the one top berth to the other.  The giggles started getting louder as Megan found this sneaky moves from her older sister very entertaining. So she decided to join in, now we had two little monkeys doing stretches and splits across the corridor.  I did not find this game entertaining at all as now my kids are displaying that behaviour that all parents fear – the one inviting annoyed looks from fellow travellers, where parenting skills are being judged, people thinking “those kids are out of control, no manners…bla bla bla”…You get the picture. So we stuck Megan into my bed and Kayla promised that she was going to try her best to go to sleep.  Then the thumping kicking sound started….aaargh!! Really??? “Kayla!!!! Get down here now!” Now 3 of us on one bed, lying in neck-twisting positions, all cramped up.  Fifteen minutes later and Kayla was sound asleep.

I snuck out and climbed up to the upper berth, closed my curtain for now I am going to embrace the peace and quiet and let the train rock me to sleep. Curtain closed, eyes closed …. Can someone please turn off that flashlight shining on my face!!! The fluorescent lights from the corridor are kept on throughout the night and can’t be switched off and it shines very brightly onto the top beds.  No wonder my two little monkeys were not able to sleep!!!

Despite the fact that I did not get in much sleep and the kids very little sleep, Eben (proud owner of the bottom bed) informed me that it was a great train ride and he enjoyed every single moment.  He slept like a baby…

What we would’ve done differently

  •  Buy some food beforehand to take onto the train.  There is a dining car but all the food was very spicy and our kids could not eat it.  You are allowed to bring outside food onto the train.
  • Let the kids sleep on the bottom beds
  • Take some eye masks to block the light.
  • Download some movies to watch for the kids / yourselves
  • Download some good and relaxing music to blend out the noises of the annoying kids from the neighbouring compartment.


Would we recommend this train? Traveling without kids – Definitely yes, it is a lovely and clean train.  Traveling with kids?  Go prepared!!

We made a video of our trip on the sleeper train, watch it here.

Would love to hear all about your stories and how you managed with kids making use of public transport!! Any advise would be welcome!

Safe Travels!


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