There are three main ways to travels around Thailand: bus, train or plane. Needing to get to the North of a Thailand (Chiang Mai), we looked into the cheapest, easiest and safest route possible. Even though the plane seems like the best option only taking a couple of hours, it was the most expensive- but not significantly more.
In the end we choose the overnight train, taking 14hours arriving in the morning the following day. The station was near the hotel, and by traveling overnight we saved money on accomadation.
After booking the tickets, I did a bit of online research about the train and realised there had been a lot of derailments due to the poor track on this route- which got me kind of worried, but crossed my fingers and got on.
We arrived slightly early for the train, so we could find out seats and put our bags away. We choose the top and bottom bunk, which is the best thing to do when travelling in pairs as the bags, unless stored on your bed, are under the bottom bunk.
At first the beds are seats, but within an hour of the journey are converted by some train officer into beds. The bottom being the larger one, but the top being sufficient in size anyway. For people who like the view, take the bottom bunk as this has the window to look out of in the morning. But by about 6.30-7.00am everyone is woken up to convert the beds back, so everyone has a chance to see the view when the sun has risen.
My advice about travelling in the train would be; pack PJ or something comfy to change into ( you are on the same seat for 14 hours) along with necessary toiletries such as toothbrush and paste, deodorant, face wipes – and ear plugs for those snorers in the cabin.
They give you a pillow and blanket, which is sufficient, unless picky- so may need to bring your own. In the same way they offer food- but this time it is best to bring your own. The prices aren’t too bad but even the Thai locals brought their own food ( so that might say something about the taste).
Travelling by train is an experience, and our carriage was mostly full of British people- so clearly popular choice for backpackers. But take into account train delays as everything is run by ‘Thai time’ not actual time!