Train journeys in Thailand
The train journeys in Thailand are quite an experience. It’s a nice way to get a feel for the country. Trains are comfortable to rustic depending on what class you travel in. In the first class you get a cabin for two people, The second class is open, comfortable and has curtains for limited privacy in the night. Both the classes come with bed rolls and food service. Beer is freely available on the trains and can be ordered. A ticket for 2nd class travel would cost anywhere from 500 to 1500 bahts. I paid 1100 bahts for a second class ticket to Surat Thani from Chiang mai.
Thailand’s trains are meter-guage which means they are smaller than broad guage. The trains are comfortable, pretty convenient and clean. The train classes are 1st class – A cabin with one or two berths, bed rolls are given and its air conditioned.
The most popular is the 2nd class sleeper. It is not a cabin but neat partitions, nice way to meet Thai people and other tourists. There is also a 2nd class rail car for journey in the day.
Where to buy Train tickets in Thailand?
Train tickets can be bought at the railway stations across Thailand. There are some travel agents in bigger cities like Bangkok and Chiang mai. Going to the train station to buy tickets is better as you can inquire about all trains available to any destination. Many of the ticketing staff at the train stations in Thailand speak some English. It is suggested that you buy tickets at least 2 days in advance. Here is a picture of the train tickets.
If you are in Bangkok there are many travel agents on Khao san road. you can also get them at New Joe’s on Khao san road. I had them book my tickets while I stayed there.
Bangkok’s main train station is Hua Lumphong station.The Thai word for train is “Rotfai”. The best place to buy a train ticket would be at the train station itself. It is good to book the tickets a few days in advance but that’s not to say you cant do it in the last minute. I did buy tickets 2 hours before the journey as well.
Bangkok to Singapore by train
My train journey from Chiang mai to Surat Thani.
It was with a break at Bangkok to take the connecting train to Surat Thani. Hua Lumphong train station has good thai breakfast on offer at 6 am. After a steaming bowl of Jok which is rice porridge with shredded pork, I was all set to board the train to Surat.
It happened to be a chair car, air conditioned and serviced. I boarded the train and shortly after it left Bangkok, the ticket inspector walked the aisle along both the coaches of the train. It felt more like bus than a train. He quietly asked for the tickets then punched the ticket and returned them to the passengers. Many of them were foreigners, I could hear some french and other European languages. The train passed the urban settings of Bangkok and nearby suburbs to enter the ever greener country side. As it went further south, the scenery outside was getting greener and denser. One striking feature throughout the journey was the ever present rice farms, lined with coconut trees.
Just as I was beginning to notice the differences in the vegetation outside, a uniformed sweet Thai lady handed me a Styrofoam pack of lunch, She was the hostess from SRT -State Railway of Thailand. “its free” she added. I smiled back and opened the pack with curiosity. I found some rice and a green curry pork. I had that delicious meal certainly one I won’t forget, it was simple, nice and very Thai. I wanted to take a pee, I figured the toilets were at the end of the coach, so I walked towards it not knowing what to to expect. To my surprise it wasn’t terrible or even bad, it wasn’t great either. I relieved myself and walked back to my seat.
Three hours passed and the train pulled up at Hua Hin, another seaside town, famous for its beaches. Many passenger got off the train and a few new ones hopped on, an older western man in a beige hat walked past the seat pulling his heavy trolley behind him. A sun tanned Thai man holding a fishing rod passed me, he found his seat a few rows ahead. The train started, a few crossings later I was staring out the window and the sun bathed Thai country side was stunning, paddy fields gave way to more wood, forests lined with lime stone hills, the occasional rivulet whizzed by as the train sped over it. I was so enchanted by the landscape that I failed to notice the change in the passengers suddenly it looked unlike Thailand, there were several women covered in head scarves, like they were from Malaysia or Indonesia. It wasn’t like the Buddhist liberal Thailand, well they were all quiet. I turned away and gazed back out the window, there was something new that I saw , wooden houses with neat garages. There were Toyota Hilux pick ups all over the place, in garages, on the roads at the crossings. I was convinced that was the most popular pick up in Thailand. I scooped out my digital camera and shot the houses and the rural scene. It was getting darker, I dozed off. A few hours later I woke up to bright light shining on me, it was the light from a reflective surface of what looked like a convex mirror. I turned to look around the coach, an older Thai lady broke into a smile and said something in Thai. She was holding out bottles of Orange juice. I was wondering if she had any coffee. I bought an Orange juice for 50 bahts. Strangely, I realized that was well over 3 times the price of juice from anywhere in Thailand but I was on a train so that was OK. The train pulled into Surat Thani. I grabbed my bags and hopped out of this awesome 2 car train. I was standing on the platform of the Surat Thani train station.