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Sprinter Train Service Report

. Sprinting from Chiang Mai to Bangkok


Jerking, stopping, backing, then finally stopping a while to meditate, the Chiangmai to Bangkok sprinter train took a while to really get into the mood to do some sprinting.  Eventually though, we were rocking and rolling along the various levels and angles of tracks on our way to Bangkok.

The sprinter consisted of three cars, each powered by their own separate engine/automatic transmission combinations. Hooked together, they were like 3 separate trains tied tail to nose.  Steering them down the track is the engineer, sitting on a stool in a closet up front.

This whole journey started while trying to find a cheap way to get to the Suvanabhumi Airport in BangkokAirlines serving Chiang Mai  fares ranged around 1,500 to 2,700 Baht, while the Sprinter train was only 611 Baht, so being of Scotish Blood, I was sold.  Starting around 0830 in Chiang Mai at the train station off Narawat Road, it pulls into Huwalampung Station in Bangkok around 2000.

The first five hours will be a delightful ramble through the hills, mountains, and valleys, with little village train stations spaced between the tunnels and bridges.  If you want tidy stations with synchronized clocks and boxes full of red geraniums, you will need to head to Switzerland.  Never the less you will enjoy on this trip will be the unique and delightful Thai approach to life, as well as getting in some good people watching, and seeing the back-country in a way you can't while driving.

The sprinter doesn’t stop at every station like the regular second class train.  It will pick up people at about only 5 or 6 stations, and these stops are quite quick. Eventually the scattering of people aboard when leaving Chiangmai, will turn into every seat being filled by the time you get near Bangkok.  It’s a coin toss who you will end up sitting beside, but that is part of the Train adventure, and sometimes will make your trip memorable, either as the trip from hell or the wonders of Thailand.

When starting your journey you will be given a small meal and some snacks. Look for a small container of rice with a few bits and pieces on the side.  Compared to AirAsia which gives nothing, it’s not bad, but don’t expect to gain weight on the “Sprinter Diet”.  You might want to grab a take out box from a local restaurant before you leave, which will give more control over your selection, quality and amount of food.

Once you leave the hills of northern Thailand, it will be rice paddy after rice paddy slipping past your window.  Now you know why Thailand is justly proud of their rice, and exports rice around the world.  But eventually the rice paddies blend together as your eyes glaze over and you fall into a unconsciousness.  Perking you up and putting things into perspective are the bedraggled, limp, worn, and sticky faces of the backpackers disconsolately peering out the open windows of the third class trains parked on the side rails.

Since I wanted to go to Suvanabuhmi Airport, I sparked an animated discussion among the passengers nearby, of whether it was best to transfer at the old Don Muang airport stop, or go on to the downtown train station and try to find a bus or taxi from there.  Finally the westerner guy sitting across the aisle said to go to Don Muang and he would guide me through.

We got off at Don Muang, walked over the highway to the airport and caught an airport bus to terminal 2 where there was a lady sitting at a little table who charged me 50 baht to be the last person packed into a commuter van whose only reason for existence was to roar back and forth between the airports.  It was packed with people associated with the airlines, who obviously were pretty jaded since they all fell asleep as soon as the van started moving, swaying in unison as the van screamed around the corners and between cars on the freeway.

So I never made it all the way into Bangkok city proper, but found the Sprinter Train Service to be an inexpensive, safe and interesting option of travel between Chiang Mai and Bangkok by train. So then see Train schedules to and from Northern Thailand

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