Siem Reap to Chiang Mai by Bus and Train
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Planning our trip from Siem Reap to Chiang Mai Thailand
After a memorable week of exploring Angkor Wat and the floating villages near Siem Reap in Cambodia, it was time to return to our home base in Chiang Mai Thailand.
- 1 Planning our trip from Siem Reap to Chiang Mai Thailand
- 2 Booking the Bus from Siem Reap to Bangkok
- 3 Catching the Bus from Siem Reap to Bangkok
- 4 What we saw on our bus trip from Siem Reap to Bangkok
- 5 Thai – Cambodian border crossing at Poipet Cambodia
- 6 Arriving in Bangkok by Bus
- 7 Overnight train Bangkok to Chiang Mai
- 8 Summary of Siem Reap to Chiang Mai by Bus and Train
While exploring our options for the trip back to Chiang Mai, we decided we didn’t want to take the Siem Reap to Chiang Mai bus all the way back to Chiang Mai.
We also didn’t want to take any Siem Reap to Chiang Mai flights or Siem Reap to Bangkok flights. We wanted to try something different, in the end we chose to travel from Siam Reap to Chiang Mai by bus and train.
Our trip would begin by taking the direct bus from Siem Reap to Bangkok and then changing to the overnight Bangkok to Chiang Mai train.
A decision we’re glad we made as we had an enjoyable, event free jaunt back to Chiang Mai.
Booking the Bus from Siem Reap to Bangkok
After our experience getting to Siem Reap, both Alan and I agreed that we didn’t want to take the VIP bus company from Siem Reap to Bangkok. To learn why click here
Instead we booked a VET Travel bus (Virak-Buntham Express) through Naga Guest House in Siem Reap, as most of the local travel agents only sold VIP bus tickets.
It was an easy process, the helpful staff at Naga Guest House booked our ticket and we were told to meet in front of the guest house at 7am on the morning of departure for the 8am VET Travel bus from Siem Reap to Bangkok.
The VET Travel bus had two drop off points in Bangkok, central Bangkok or Bangkok Hua Lamphong Railway Station. Of course, we chose Bangkok Hua Lamphong Railway Station because we were taking the train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai.
Catching the Bus from Siem Reap to Bangkok
Just after 7am we were picked up from the Naga Guest house and taken to our direct bus from Siem Reap to Bangkok.
The Siem Reap to Bangkok bus was a sleek red double decker beauty, a far cry from the cramped minivan we had on our Bangkok to Siem Reap bus trip. We climbed onboard and settled in for our 11-hour journey to Bangkok.
You will only be supplied with a bottle of water so make sure you stock up on snacks as there are only 2 comfort stops. There is an onboard toilet for any of those emergency breaks you may need along the way.
What we saw on our bus trip from Siem Reap to Bangkok
We soon left bustling Siem Reap behind made our way through a wide flat landscape of rice paddies. We passed small rural villages, clusters of houses were grouped together to form communal living.
The shaded area under the stilted houses played host to families and friends as they sat together chatting and laughing. Children played and fed grass to the cows that lived within these family compounds. In the distance farmers ploughed and worked in the rice paddies.
We occasionally passed through small towns, bike repair shops sat alongside small food stalls busy with customers. Small boutiques and beauty salons displayed the latest trends and decorative Buddhist temples lay at the heart of every community.
Thai – Cambodian border crossing at Poipet Cambodia
We soon came to the Cambodian/Thai border at Poipet. A VET Travel bus representative explained the border crossing process. Our bus would drop us at the Cambodian border and meet us at Star Plaza on the Thailand side, so we needed to take our baggage with us.
The border crossing ran smoothly, having time for a comfort stop and grabbed a quick bite to eat at the Star Plaza complex.
Arriving in Bangkok by Bus
We hit Bangkok rush hour traffic mid-afternoon and from that moment it was a slow 3-hour crawl to Bangkok Hua Lamphong Railway Station.
I was thankful we hadn’t booked our train ticket, but I knew there were trains leaving at 7.35pm and 10pm so hopefully we would make one of them, otherwise we would spend the night in Bangkok.
The bus dropped us off at 7pm, we had enough time to buy a Chiang Mai Thailand train ticket for an overnight sleeper on the 7.35pm service to Chiang Mai, luck was certainly on our side.
Overnight train Bangkok to Chiang Mai
Often people ask how to get from Bangkok to Chiang Mai. We have taken many flights from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, the flight takes just over an hour and our favourite airline is Thai Smile.
We have also had the pleasure of taking the bus from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, a journey that takes around 9 hours.
The other option is the overnight Bangkok to Chiang Mai train, a trip we have been wanting to do for years and as we climbed onboard the night train, we were filled with excitement.
This was our first overnight train experience and it would take 13 hours to cover the Bangkok to Chiang Mai distance of around 681 km.
Our train to Chiang Mai had a seating area and table that converted into upper and lower bunks during the night. A hostess gave out menus and took meal orders, we chose a set menu of Thai dishes, which were delicious and large enough to share.
We looked out the window, catching glimpses of city life until the landscapes of Bangkok receded into the distance.
When it came time to sleep the bunk was enclosed with a dark curtain for privacy, it was like your own little cocoon from the outside world. Pretty soon we were rocked to sleep with the motion of the train.
We woke early, looking out the window we were surrounded by the lush greenery of the mountains a truly magnificent vista. Soon there was a break in the vegetation and we started to see small villages and rice paddies.
We passed through pretty Northern Thai railway stations, colourful flowers hung in baskets with the platform decorations looking clean and fresh.
Soon we arrived at Chiang Mai train station, what can I say, it’s one of the loveliest train stations I’ve seen in a long time, reminiscent of the Victorian railway stations you see in English movies.
We had a great trip and would like to thank the State Railway of Thailand for such a fantastic train journey.
Summary of Siem Reap to Chiang Mai by Bus and Train
We really enjoyed our trip from Siem Reap to Chiang Mai by bus and train. It gave us a chance to see more of Cambodia and Thailand and we liked it so much that we plan to do more train and bus journeys in the future.
What is your favourite bus or train journey? Does anyone have any bus or train travel hacks they’d like to share? Feel free to comment, we’d love to hear your story.
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