In September, 2016, we embarked on a journey from Bangkok, Thailand, to Chiang Mai in the north. It was our first experience of night trains in South East Asia, and was also the first experience of ‘traveling’ on this trip. What an epic journey it turned out to be; so much so that we thought we would film it to give you an idea of what it’s like to travel on a night train in Thailand.
Getting from our guesthouse to Hualamphong Central Station was a journey in itself. Taxi drivers in Bangkok usually speak enough English that you can explain to them where you want to go. And the taxis in the city are so numerous, you rarely have to wait long to come across one willing to take you where you want to go.
Well this was one of these rare occasions.
We approached no less than three cab drivers pronouncing Hualamphong Station as our destination, yet they had either not understood us, heard us, or simply did not know where it was. On the fourth attempt, we managed to find someone who knew!
We arrived at the station with an hour to spare so we got on the train and found our bunks. We were greeted by a jolly but topless guard who demanded our tickets, only to point us to bunks we’d already put our bags on. We settled down in our second class, air-conditioned bunks and pondered over the dinner menu we were pleasantly surprised to have received.
Eventually, the train started to chug away and we got comfortable as we tried to drift off to sleep. The bunks were very chilly because of the air conditioning, but the swaying of the train and the rhythmic click-clack of the tracks was enough to lull us into a comfortable slumber.
About 6am, we awoke to undulating green peaks shrouded in mist, with dirt tracks marking out the rural road route north. Local farmers clambered onto old motorbikes to attend to their agri-duties. The sun rose slowly but inexorably and the mist began to dissipate. This all made for an impressive initial foray into the Thai countryside. We were excited to reach Chiang Mai, a place about which we’d heard so many wonders.
The songthaew to our hostel was the last part of the journey which was tiring and exciting in equal measures. It’s a great way to travel in Asia and its pretty cheap too. Here’s a video of the highlights, apologies for the dodgy sound, we hadn’t yet worked out the camera settings.