We’d heard many great things about Chiang Mai, in particular its abundance of temples and ethical elephant sanctuaries, so we were very excited to make our way there and start exploring one of the biggest cities in Thailand.
But first; the overnight bus journey from Ayutthaya to Chiang Mai with Thai Sriram.
Late night, long ride
By this stage, we’d become quite accustomed to the overnight bus life in Thailand after taking a couple of trips between Krabi and Bangkok.
Our confirmation email ticket said to arrive at the designated 7-Eleven meeting point at least half an hour before the bus departure time (10:00 pm), so as ever, I made sure we arrived a good 45-minutes before as I’m always nervous about something going wrong!
We took a Grab taxi from the centre of Ayutthaya to the 7-Eleven just at the side of the highway which cost us 144THB (around $4.61). It was a relatively short journey so we felt that this was a little expensive, but there were no Tuk Tuks around as it was after 9:00 pm and we knew we just had to get there.
Food for thought
The 7-Eleven was pretty huge so we stocked up on our favourite ‘Extra Barbecue’ Lays crisps and a couple of bottles of water for the journey. If you’re not really in the mood for ‘carbolicious’ snacks, fear not, as there are numerous food stalls selling everything from fried chicken to local Thai curries and various meat skewers.
The bus arrived at 9:50 pm, just 10 minutes before the scheduled departure time so by the time we’d shown the driver our electronic “ticket” and deposited our backpacks into the hold-all area of the bus, we set off right on time!
We were delighted to discover that the bus wasn’t very busy at all and as we weren’t given a designated seat number (like you sometimes are when traveling by bus in Thailand), we headed straight for the back of the bus where we managed to secure two seats each!
Unfortunately, I was feeling pretty unwell for most of the evening, so it was actually a blessing in disguise that we managed to grab two seats to ourselves as it meant that I could spread out and have plenty of room to myself.
Despite being a “VIP” bus, the seats were slightly less spacious and not quite as luxurious as some other “VIP” buses we’d experienced in Thailand.
At around 12:30 am, the bus stopped at a huge service station-style rest area where you could get off the bus, stretch your legs and grab a bite to eat.
One thing that I thought was great about this bus is that you get a free food voucher included in the price of your bus ticket so you can choose a light meal at one of the food counters, completely free of charge. This was a pleasant surprise to us as I didn’t realise the bus tickets included a food voucher.
However, as I was feeling worse for wear, I decided against eating as I didn’t want to upset myself even further. Also, my boyfriend is severely allergic to peanuts and as we’ve found from many places in Thailand, lots of the dishes include peanuts.
The stall owners barely spoke a word of English and none of the food was labelled so he also decided against eating as he didn’t want to risk an anaphylactic shock on the overnight bus!
Stop! Breakdown time!
I’d really anticipated getting at least a few hours’ sleep on the bus but after tossing and turning for a while and being unable to find a comfortable sleeping position, I gave up and watched some downloaded Netflix episodes instead.
At around 3:00 am, the bus driver pulled the bus to the side of the road and proceeded to jut it forwards a few meters every couple of minutes. We’re still not 100% sure what happened but we presumed there was an issue with the bus as the driver kept revving the engine while we were pulled to the side of the road and kept getting out to check things.
He also blasted the air-conditioning on full power so that it was freezing cold inside the bus and thus made it uncomfortable for people to sleep properly.
The bus was fixed at around 4:00 am, so we were on our way again. However, due to this delay, as well as quite a bit of road traffic on the way into the city, it meant that we arrived into Chiang Mai two hours late.
We finally pulled up outside a random hostel in the middle of Chiang Mai just after 8:00 am where we then disembarked the bus and were told that there would be free Tuk Tuks available in half an hour to take us to our respective hostels.
It’s safe to say that by this time I was more than exhausted after not sleeping all night!
Overall, the bus journey from Ayutthaya to Chiang Mai wasn’t bad at all, though I’m sure my experience was made much less enjoyable due to the fact that I wasn’t feeling on top form. I think if I had been feeling well, I would have enjoyed stretching out on the seats and getting a few hours’ sleep as and when I could.