Sep 15 2013

No trains to Chiang Mai from Sept. 16 to Nov. 1, 2013

Published by at 7:23 am under Transport


Following 13 train derailments so far this year, the State Railway of Thailand (SRT) is closing some 250 kilometres of track in northern Thailand to perform necessary upgrades. Though this a wise (and overdue) decision, it means that anyone trying to reach Chiang Mai by rail will actually do so partly by an SRT-provided bus instead, at least until November 1.

The trains could use an upgrade too.

The trains could use an upgrade too.

According to an official at Bangkok‘s Hualamphong rail station we spoke to, and other reports, the entire rail line from Sila At station in Uttaradit province to Chiang Mai (see map) will be closed starting Monday, September 16.

The projected reopening date is November 1, 2013, though deadlines are frequently missed in Thailand rail projects. As of Saturday, September 14, no announcement had been made on the SRT’s website and searches for Chiang Mai bound trains were listed as usual.

Passengers who have already booked tickets to the north can inquire about a refund, but the SRT will continue selling tickets to Chiang Mai. The trains will run as far as Sila At, where passengers will be transferred to air-conditioned buses for the remaining three hour journey by road. This option is also available to those heading to Lampang, Lamphun and other points along the closed line.

Apart from the tedious prospect of transferring to a bus in Uttaradit, a couple of alternate options are available to travellers who were hoping to take the popular Bangkok to Chiang Mai overnight train during the closure. Either hop on one of the buses that depart 24/7 from Bangkok’s Morchit (northern) terminal, or if you’ve a bit more to spend, book a flight with Air Asia, Nok Air, Bangkok Airways or Thai Airways.

Otherwise, who’s up for a 12-hour tuk tuk ride?

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4 Responses to “No trains to Chiang Mai from Sept. 16 to Nov. 1, 2013” ...

  1. Justynaon 21 Sep 2013 at 8:17 am

    Accordindg to your article there is no night train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai. But when I look here http://www.thairailticket.com/esrt/?language=1 there is one. Any suggestions?

  2. David Luekenson 21 Sep 2013 at 8:24 am

    The northern track is closed, so there are no trains to Chiang Mai. Period. You can still buy tickets, but in this case you will be transferred from the train to a bus (or van) in Uttaradit and taken by road for the remaining 3-4 hour journey. Given the circumstances, I’d personally be inclined to just take a bus the whole way.

  3. Justynaon 21 Sep 2013 at 8:47 am

    OK, I understand there will be a change to bus and you say the journey will take 3-4 hours. If I traveled alone I would take a bus with no hesitation, but we have two little children (2 and 4) and the train was a great option for us. We have to think this over. They made me mad!

  4. David Luekenson 22 Sep 2013 at 2:30 am

    I do see relate that train is a more favorable option with young kids. Keep in mind, though, that there are tons of different bus companies running from Bangkok to Chiang Mai. A great deal of them are ‘VIP’, meaning they have lots of space (32 or 24 seats total on the bus) and bathrooms on board, which I’ve found to generally be cleaner than the train bathrooms. I’m also fairly certain that whatever type of buses the SRT are using from Uttaradit to Chiang Mai do not have bathrooms. I believe they’re actually minivans, which can be quite cramped and uncomfortable. Trains are generally safer than buses, though with all of these recent derailments it seems that that’s even becoming questionable.

    In any case, happy trails. :)

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