Train 7 is a Special Express service from Bangkok to Chiang Mai. This is the fastest train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, and the only day train between the two cities.
Special Express No. 7 departs Bangkok at 09:05 and arrives at Chiang Mai at 19:30.
Here is what to expect on Train 7 and if it’s a better alternative to the overnight trains.
Bangkok: Krung Thep Aphiwat Central Terminal Station
Train 7 departs Bangkok from Krung Thep Aphiwat Central Terminal (briefly known as Bang Sue Grand Station). Train 7 previously departed from Bangkok Railway Station (Hua Lamphong), so make sure you are going to the right station.
The station is best accessed by the MRT Blue Line on Bangkok’s mass transit system. There is an underground walkway from the MRT station to the terminal building. I arrived a bit earlier so I could walk around and have a look at the amazing station.
[James at Krung Thep Aphiwat Central Terminal Station.]
Despite its enormity, finding your way around the station is easy enough. There are signs marking the way to the Northern Trains departure area. There are seats near the platform gates, and you can only enter the platform area once a boarding announcement has been made. This is more formal than the old Bangkok Station where you could wander in and out of the platform area.
Train 7 has allocated seating, so look for your carriage number.
Onboard Train 7
Train 7 is 2nd Class seats only in air-conditioned carriages. There are no sleeper cabins or 3rd class fan seats.
The train is a Special Express service, which makes it sound faster than it is. It’s a faster service compared to the sleeper train, but still slow by modern standards.
The 2nd class seats are comfortable seats that recline. There is no wifi, and no form of entertainment such as tv screens. There are no power outlets either, so come prepared. I happened to be sitting at the front seat for one section, and that had the only power outlet in the carriage.
The trains have toilets onboard.
The ticket includes lunch but it doesn’t give you the option to choose. Lunch is served in these sealed microwave packs with two types of meat dish, and a sealed tray of rice.
I was served lunch during the section between Bangkok and Phitsanulock, and I was served lunch when I took the train from Phitsanulok to Chiang Mai.
Train 7 is better for a multi-stop trip
I have used this train to visit places on the way to Chiang Mai, but I have never done the trip in one sitting (I either fly or get an overnight train).
With a total travel time of 10h 25m, this is a hard sell compared to flying, where there are cheap and plentiful flights on this route.
For these long distances in Thailand, overnight trains are a more popular option. There are four overnight trains between Bangkok and Chiang Mai.
Train 7 is a good option if you want to make multiple stops on the way to Chiang Mai. This train stops at some of the highlights of Central and Northern Thailand, which you would miss if you fly straight to Chiang Mai.
Some highlights include:
Ayutthaya: Ruins of the former capital.
Lopburi: The Monkey Temple (and thousands of monkeys).
Phitsanulok: Near Sukhothai Historical Park.
Lamphun: Historic provincial capital in Northern Thailand.
Phitsanulok is the midway point of this trip, so I stopped here on my last trip.
This train also has the advantage of travelling in daylight hours, so you can see the view that you miss on the night train (or flying).
The section from Phitsanulok to Chiang Mai becomes more mountainous and scenic. This is a slower section, but worth it for the views.
How to buy tickets for Bangkok to Chiang Mai trains
Tickets are available at the station, though I recommend buying tickets in advance as tickets sell out.
[Ticket office at Krung Thep Aphiwat Central Terminal Station.]
The easiest way to buy tickets is with 12Go. This site lets you compare all the train times alongside bus and air travel, in case your preferred option isn’t available.
You can choose your seat location, and the ticket is sent to you as a PDF which you can show on your phone to the ticket inspector.
Search for Bangkok to Chiang Mai train tickets.
[Nomadic Notes is.a 12Go affiliate, and I personally use the site for ticket bookings.]
Future Bangkok-Chiang Mai high-speed railway
Considering how much air traffic there is between Bangkok and Chiang Mai, there have been a number of proposals for a Bangkok to Chiang Mai high-speed railway, but there is nothing planned at the moment.