The station master at the Chiang Mai Railway Station obviously takes great pride in the station’s appearance. The platforms are decorated with potted plants and statues of elephants.
The sparklingly clean ticket hall has portraits of Thai Kings, past and present, and a waiting area reserved for monks. There is even a Thai massage parlour which could be handy if you have a long wait for your connection.
It’s intriguing to think that you could board a train here which would take you, albeit with a couple of changes, all the way to your local station just south of Kuala Lumpur.
How long would it take? As you can see from this map, Chiang Mai to Kuala Lumpur is a long way, over 2,000km or about three hours flying time. By train, it would take about 51 hours and 50 minutes.
The train departs Chiang Mai at 18:00 and reaches Bangkok the next morning at 6:50. Then you have to wait seven hours and 55 minutes in Bangkok for the 14:45 departure to Malaysia arriving at the border town of Padang Besar at 8:55 the next morning (yes, that’s two nights already on Thai trains).
Unfortunately you will have just missed the connection to KL and will have to wait seven hours and 20 minutes for the next train, departing Padang Besar at 16:15.
From here though the pace accelerates, now that the new electrified ETS train service has been extended all the way up to the border. You will arrive in KL at 21:50 feeling quite weary.
Of course there are sleepers, first- and second-class, and restaurant cars on the Thai trains (no longer serving alcohol) so the journey would be reasonably comfortable.
The cost of the Chiang Mai/Kuala Lumpur train tickets, one-way, would be around US$100 (RM415.20) including sleepers. Not bad value at all but you could fly on AirAsia instead for just US$43 (RM178.55).
If you want to know anything about train travel in Thailand or Malaysia (and just about everywhere else in the world) I thoroughly recommend The Man in Seat 61 website.
This article first appeared on thriftytraveller.wordpress.com