7 things I wish I had known before embarking on a 13-hour train journey through Thailand

The 467-mile journey between Chiang Mai and Bangkok is one of the longest rail lines in Thailand. It takes more than 13 hours to cross the dense jungle in the Northern Province to reach the country’s capital.

An aerial view of Chiang Mai and Bangkok.

An aerial view of Chiang Mai and Bangkok.

Marielle Descalsota/Insider

During a reporting trip to Thailand at the end of July, I traveled on a sleeper train for the first time. I boarded the Special Express 14 train in Chiang Mai, the largest province in northern Thailand. More than 13 hours later, after crossing nine provinces and 18 train stations, I arrived in Bangkok on a busy morning.

Since Thailand just had fully opened to tourists on July 1, not all amenities on the sleeper train and train stations were back to normal. There was no food for sale on board, hardly any stops on a 10-hour journey, and no cell service or Wi-Fi for more than half of the journey.

But it was a trip worth trying – it allowed me to experience Thailand, a country I’ve visited many times, in a whole new way. Here are seven things I wish I had known before traveling on the Special Express.

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