The International Express train from Butterworth (Penang) arrives at Bangkok's Hualamphong Station.

Arriving in Bangkok by train from Singapore, you get a real sense of arrival.  Note the picture of the King of Thailand, visible over the exit from the platforms.

 

Click for interactive train route map...

Thailand train route map
 

I recommend hotelscombined.com, world's leading hotel comparison site at the World Travel Awards 2013:

 

How to use the trains in Thailand...

Thailand has one of the best metre-gauge rail systems in the world, and train travel is easily the best way to get around & see the country.  Train travel in Thailand is comfortable, safe, cheap, environmentally friendly.  And unlike flying, it's a genuine Thai experience making the journey as much a part of your trip as the destination.  Taking the train is easily the best way to travel between Bangkok & Chiang Mai, a train+ferry combo is the best way from Bangkok to Ko Samui, and a train+bus combo is the best way from Bangkok to Krabi or Phuket.  Heading for Laos?  Take the new Bangkok-Vientiane train.  Taking the train is also a wonderful way to travel between Bangkok, Penang, Kuala Lumpur & Singapore, the 1,233-mile journey to Singapore takes 48 hours & costs a mere $60/£40 or so one-way including a sleeper berth for both nights.  This page has schedules & fares for key train routes in Thailand, and explains how to buy tickets both within & from outside Thailand.  On this page you'll find:

Train times & fares for popular routes...

  Bangkok - Chiang Mai

  Bangkok - Nong Khai (for Vientiane, see the Laos page)

  Bangkok - Ubon Ratchathani

  Bangkok - Aranyaprathet (for Phnom Penh, Siem Reap & Cambodia)

  Bangkok - Kanchanaburi - River Kwai Bridge - Nam Tok

  Bangkok - Ayutthaya

  Bangkok - Samut Songkhram the Mahachai Mae Khlong Market train

  Bangkok - Hua Hin - Surat Thani - Trang - Hat Yai - Sungai Kolok

  Bangkok - Penang - Kuala Lumpur - Singapore by comfortable train

Bus & ferry links...

  Bangkok to Koh Tao (train+ferry)

  Bangkok to Ko Samui & Ko Phangan (train+ferry)

  Bangkok to Phuket (train+bus) & Ko Phi Phi (ferry)

  Bangkok to Krabi (train+bus)

  Bangkok to Sukhothai (train+bus)

  Bangkok to Chiang Rai (train+bus)

  Singapore, Kuala Lumpur & Penang to Ko Samui

  Singapore, Kuala Lumpur & Penang to Phuket

  Online bus tickets

General information for train travel in Thailand...

  How to buy tickets online

  How to buy tickets in person at the station

  What are Thai trains like?

  Food on Thai trains  Sample restaurant car menu

  Bangkok Hualamphong station location & facilities

  Luggage, left luggage & taking bikes

  Train route map

  Useful country information - currency, visas, time zone, dialling code

  Travel insurance & overseas SIM cards

  Flights to Thailand

  London to Thailand overland by Trans-Siberian Railway

  Hotel suggestions in Bangkok & Chiang Mai

International trains & buses from Thailand...

  Bangkok to Penang, Kuala Lumpur & Singapore by scheduled daily train for just $55

  Bangkok to Singapore by Eastern & Oriental Express deluxe cruise train from around $2,000.

  Bangkok to Siem Reap, Angkor Wat & Phnom Penh (Cambodia) by train & bus

  Bangkok to Vientiane (Laos) by train

  Bangkok to Saigon (Vietnam) by train & bus via Cambodia

  Saigon to Hanoi by train   Hanoi to Beijing by train

  Train travel in Singapore & Malaysia   

  Singapore to Jakarta by ferry & train travel in Indonesia

Sponsored links...

 


Useful country information

Train operator in Thailand:

State Railways of Thailand (SRT), www.railway.co.th. For online booking see www.thailandtrainticket.com.

   

Time zone:

GMT+7 all year.      Map of train routes in Southeast Asia

Dialling code:

+66

Currency:

£1 = 48 Baht.   $1 = 30 Baht.     Currency converter

Tourist information:

www.tourismthailand.org    Visiting the Bridge Over the River Kwai

Best guidebooks    Health & vaccinations

Flights:

Scan multiple airlines to find the cheapest flights to Bangkok

Hotels in Bangkok:

Scan multiple hotel booking sites to find the best hotel rates     Find backpacker hostels

Visas:

UK, US, Canadian, German, French, Italian & Japanese citizens can visit Thailand without a visa for up to 30 days.  From November 2013 the 30-day limit applies to these nationalities whether entering Thailand by air or overland, for some time the limit has been only 15 days if arriving overland.  To avoid any problems with airlines not allowing you to board flights to Thailand without an onward or return ticket, you can buy a tourist visa for 1,000 baht (£20), see www.thaiembassyuk.org.uk.  Australians and most other nationalities only qualify for a 15-day visa-exemption if arriving in Thailand overland, 30 days if arriving by air, but you should check the current situation with your local Thai consulate.

Page last updated:

3 December 2014


General train information for Thailand

 

FREE DOWNLOAD...

Train timetable for State Railways of Thailand

Download Dave Bernstein's superb PDF format Thai timetable and take it with you.

Download complete Thai train timetable

Download shorter summary version

 
   

State railways of Thailand website, www.railway.co.th.

You can check train times in Thailand at the Thai Railways website, www.railway.co.th.  They completely revamped their website in March 2011, and it's now easy to check train times and fares online.  It can help to know that the Northern Line means the line to Chiang Mai, the Southern Line means the line south to Surat Thani and Hat Yai, also the line to Kanchanaburi & the River Kwai.  The Thai Railways main website doesn't sell tickets, so to buy tickets see the advice here.

Free PDF download:  English-language timetable & train guide for Thailand...

Thai rail expert Dave Bernstein has produced a superb PDF format timetable for the State Railway of Thailand which you can download, print out and take with you to help you travel around Thailand.  It features timetables for all the main routes in English, maps, fares, refund & ticket purchase arrangements, details of bus/ferry connections and much more.  Highly recommended!  Download complete Thai train timetableDownload shorter summary version.

Maps of the Thai train network

Click here for an interactive route map showing trains and connecting buses & ferries across Southeast Asia.  For a more detailed map of the Thai rail network itself, see Dave Bernstein's excellent downloadable Thai Rail Timetable here.

Bangkok Airport rail link:  www.srtet.co.th/en or www.bangkokairporttrain.com

A modern rail link between Suvarnabhumi airport and central Bangkok opened on 23 August 2010, see www.srtet.co.th/en or www.bangkokairporttrain.com.  Non-stop trains now run between Suvarnabhumi Airport and the City Air terminal at Makkasan (SA Express) every 30-45 minutes 06:00-24:00, journey time 15 minutes, fare 90 baht (£2 or $3).  There's also a stopping service between the airport and the city centre at Phaya Thai Skytrain station (SA City Line) every 30 minutes, journey time 17 minutes, fare 90 baht (£2 or $3).  There is interchange stations with the MRT (metro) at Phetchaburi station and with the Skytrain at Phaya Thai station.  It does not directly serve Bangkok's main Hualamphong station.  State Railways of Thailand trains between Bangkok and Ayutthaya, Chiang Mai & Nong Khai (for Vientiane in Laos) call at Don Muang station, right next to the old Bangkok Airport, about 50 minutes (22 km) from central Bangkok.  However, most long-haul flights were transferred from the original Dong Muang Bangkok Airport to the new Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport in September 2006.


What are Thai trains like?

Alcohol ban, from 11 July 2014:  The sale & consumption of alcohol has unfortunately been banned on SRT stations from 11 July 2014, a knee-jerk reaction to a specific incident.  You can no longer buy beer from a vendor or in the restaurant car.  However, so far reports suggest that the ban is not being enforced for passengers who bring their own.  If you keep your beer out of sight in your baggage there seems little problem drinking it in the privacy of your own sleeper.  Feedback appreciated.

Which class to use?

Thai trains have three classes:  1st, 2nd, 3rd.  1st class only exists as modern air-conditioned sleeping-cars on overnight trains.  2nd class comes in seat and sleeper versions, in air-conditioned and non-air-con varieties, and is very comfortable especially on sleeper trains and the air-conditioned express railcars.  Even 3rd class is surprisingly clean and acceptable by European standards, and is an enjoyable way to travel for many shorter trips.  The photos below will help you decide which is best for you.  The sitting and sleeper areas of all trains are non-smoking.

Quick links:  1st class sleepers  2nd class sleepers  Restaurant cars  2nd class express railcars (DRC)  2nd class seats  3rd class seats

1st class sleepers - regular type...

1st class sleeping-cars are modern and air-conditioned, with lockable 2-berth compartments with washbasin.  Clean sheets and blankets, soap & towels are provided.  There's a western-style toilet at the end of the car even has a basic shower (cold water, but very welcome).  Passengers travelling alone share with another passenger of the same sex unless they to pay for sole occupancy.  The berths convert to a leatherette sofa for evening & morning use.  If there are 3 or 4 of you, you can book two adjacent 2-berth sleepers with an inter-connecting door between them (berths 1 & 2 connect to berths 3 & 4, berths 5 & 6 connect to 7 & 8, and so on).  On key routes such as Bangkok-Chiang Mai, Bangkok-Nong Khai or Bangkok-Surat Thani-Hat Yai, a steward or stewardess from the restaurant car will come round and take your food or drink order, offering you a set menu with several choices, around 180 baht for dinner and 100 baht for breakfast.  The meal will be delivered to your sleeper compartment, and if that suits you that's great, but it can be more fun and more social to go along to the restaurant car, where you'll get a wider choice - just be warned that as the attendants get commission, they have been known to deny that there's a restaurant car on the train when there is and you're free to go there if you want! 

The Man in Seat 61 says:  "There's usually just one 1st class sleeping-car per train, so book earlier rather than later.  First-time visitors often obsess about going 1st class, and I suppose if I were on my honeymoon I'd go 1st class for the space and privacy.  But like many more experienced travellers I actually prefer the more fun & sociable open-plan 2nd class sleepers to rattling round in a grey fascia box in the 1st class car, especially if I'm travelling solo.  The 2nd class sleepers have individual curtains for privacy at night, and are fine for most travellers.  So don't feel you have to go 1st class."

First class sleeping-car on train 1 from Bangkok to Chiang Mai   2-berth sleeper on Thai train, in daytime mode

1st class sleeping-car of the normal Thai type, about to leave Hualamphong Station at the rear of Special Express train number 1 from Bangkok to Chiang Mai...

 

1st class 2-berth sleeper of the normal Thai type, in evening mode.  You can see how the seat back hinges up to form the upper berth.

Thai 1st class sleeper, sink   Looking at the corridor-side of the compartment   Thai 1st class sleeper in night mode with beds made up

There's a small sink with small tubs of mineral water...

 

A view towards the corridor side of the compartment...

 

The attendant will make up your beds.  Courtesy of David Reason.

1st class sleeper - ex-Japanese type, used on trains 13/14...

Train 13/14 Bangkok-Chiang Mai is an exception, as it has an ex-Japanese 1st class sleeper, which (uniquely for Thailand) has single-berth compartments, see the photos below.  There are no 2-berth compartments on this train, but pairs of adjacent single-berth compartments have a connecting door, so berth 1 can be connected to berth 2, berth 3 to berth 4, and so on.

Ex-Japanese first class sleeping-car on train 13 from Bangkok to Chiang Mai   Ex-Japanese 1st class single-berth sleeper on train 13/14 Bangkkok-Chiang Mai

Trains 13 & 14 Bangkok-Chiang Mai have an ex-Japanese sleeping-car: Unlike all the other trains, trains 13 & 14 between Bangkok and Chiang Mai have an ex-Japanese Railways first class sleeping-car, which has 10 single-berth compartments.  So if you book first class as a couple on this particular train, you'll get two separate single-bed compartments, there are no 2-berth compartments.  The attendant will make up a mattress & bedding on the flat bed you see here,

2nd class sleepers...

Most western visitors use 2nd class sleepers, which are comfortable, safe and great fun.  Berths are not in compartments, but are arranged 'open plan' either side of a central aisle.  During the evening and morning part of the journey, pairs of seats face each other on each side of the aisle.  At night, each pair of seats pulls together to form the bottom bunk, and an upper bunk folds out from the wall.  The attendant will make up your bunk with a proper mattress and fresh clean bedding, and will hook up the individual curtains which are provided for each bunk to give you privacy (see how he does this in the video below!).  2nd class sleepers come in both air-conditioned and non-air-conditioned varieties, with the air-con ones usually being cleaner and more modern, but the non-a/c ones offering windows that open, better for photography.  The fare for an upper berth is a fraction cheaper, but the upper bunks tend to be narrower.  There's plenty of luggage room, take a bike lock if you want to chain up your luggage for peace of mind.  Security is not a problem, it's a great way to travel which saves time even compared to flying, and saves a hotel bill too.  Upper berths are fine for anyone up to 6' 2" tall, if you're taller than that you should choose a lower berth as these are significantly wider, allowing tall people to sleep comfortably on the diagonal.  On key routes such as Bangkok-Chiang Mai, Bangkok-Nong Khai or Bangkok-Surat Thani-Hat Yai, a steward or stewardess from the restaurant car may come round and take your food or drink order, offering you a set menu with several choices, around 180 baht for dinner and 100 baht for breakfast.  The meal will be delivered to your seat, and if that suits you that's great, but it can be more fun and more social to go along to the restaurant car, where you'll get a wider choice - just be warned that as the attendants get commission, they have been known to deny that there's a restaurant car on the train when there is and you're free to go there if you want!

The Man in Seat 61 says:  "The 2nd class sleepers are the best choice for most western travellers, and in fact I actually prefer them to the first class variety, especially if I'm travelling solo, and I'm not the only one who does!  The air-conditioned sleepers are more comfortable and usually newer and cleaner, but the non-air-con ones have windows which open, better for viewing the countryside and taking photographs on the daylight parts of the trip."

2nd class air-con sleepers, most modern type:  These modern air-conditioned sleepers operate on trains 1 & 2 between Bangkok & Chiang Mai, trains 35/36 between Bangkok & Hat Yai, and Bangkok to Butterworth (Penang) on the International Express.  There is a washing area with two sinks, and both western & squat toilets, at the end of the coach.  Soap & toilet paper are provided.

2nd class sleepers on the International Express train from Bangkok to Butterworth (Penang)   2nd class air-conditioned sleepers, made up as upper & lower berths

2nd class sleepers on the International Express from Bangkok at Butterworth (Penang).

 

At night, upper & lower berths fold out, each with curtains for privacy...

Thai 2nd class sleeper, most modern type   2nd class sleeper on a Thai train, in daytime mode.

2nd class sleepers are open-plan, with bays of seats either side of the aisle.

 

By day, a pair of spacious armchairs for two people, very civilised.  Who needs 1st class??

 

Video...

Making up the beds in a Thai 2nd class sleeper...

 

 
Older 2nd class sleeper, as used on the train from Bangkok to Nong Khai   2nd class sleeper cars on the overnight train from Bangkok to Nong Khai

2nd class air-con sleepers, older type:  These older air-conditioned sleepers operate on train 69/70 between Bangkok & Nong Khai, and on many other overnight express trains in Thailand.  The layout is the same as the newer type shown above.

Ex-Japanese sleeper cars on train 13 from Bangkok to Chiang Mai   A bay of 4 sleeper berths on train 13 from Bangkok to Chiang Mai

2nd class air-con sleepers, Japanese type used on trains 13 & 14 Bangkok-Chiang Mai:  Trains 13 & 14 between Bangkok & Chiang Mai now use very comfortable air-conditioned sleepers bought second-hand from Japan.  Unlike other Thai sleepers, the berths are arranged in bays of 4 in door-less compartments opening onto a side corridor.  Each berth has its own curtains for individual privacy.

Non-air-conditioned sleepers on a Thai train   Exterior of 2nd class non-air-condiitoned sleepers on a Thai train.

2nd class non-air-conditioned sleepers:  These are older and grubbier, but the fare is a fraction cheaper and some people prefer the ability to open a window, for example to take photographs.  There are fans on the ceiling, and window shutters to keep out the sun as well as glass panes.  Not sure about that green, though...

Restaurant cars...   Click here for sample menu

All the most important trains have a restaurant car, including trains 1, 2, 13, 14 Bangkok-Chiang Mai, trains 35 & 36 Bangkok-Hat Yai, trains 84 & 85 Bangkok-Surat Thani, trains 69 & 70 Bangkok-Nong Khai.  Some restaurant cars are air-conditioned like the one shown below, some are non-air-con.  The food is remarkably cheap and good, a set meal costs around 150-200 baht (£3-£4 or $5-$6) and you choose from a leaflet with pictures & English captions.  Beer is unfortunately no longer available as from July 2014.  Travel tip:  In a 1st class sleeper, an attendant may take your order and serve it in your compartment.  If this suits you that's great, but it's more fun & more social to go to the restaurant car, where you'll get a wider choice - just be warned that as the attendants get commission, they have been known to deny that there's a restaurant car on the train when there certainly is and you're free to go there if you want!  Click here for sample menu & food photos.

Food & drink vendors:  On almost all Thai trains, even 3rd class ones, you'll find vendors selling fruit & soft drinks.  Obviously, you can bring your own food and drink if you like, bought at the station or nearby supermarket.

One traveller reports "We particularly enjoyed the restaurant car, the food was better than expected and they switched on the disco lights and 70's bogie music after the sun went down!"

Alcohol:  Sipping a beer on a Thai train  has always been one of the pleasures of train travel, but sale and consumption of alcohol has been banned from 11 July as a knee-jerk reaction to a specific incident.  Restaurant cars therefore no longer sell beer.

Restaurant car on the train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai   Food in the restaurant car on a Thai train

Air-conditioned restaurant on train 1 from Bangkok to Chiang Mai.

 

The seafood dinner, 200 baht (£4 or $6).

2nd class seats on a Special Express DRC (Diesel Rail Car)

The air-conditioned express diesel railcars (DRC) are an excellent option for daytime travel on routes such as Bangkok to Chiang Mai and Bangkok to Hua Hin, Chumphon & Surat Thani.  These air-conditioned trains were built by Daewoo in the mid 1990s and have comfortable 2nd class reclining seats.  There is a hostess service of a light meal, coffee & soft drinks included in the fare.  The pre-packed rice-based lunch isn't hugely substantial, so feel free to take some other supplies with you if you're hungry.  Relax and enjoy the journey as the scenery rolls by...

Passengers boarding the daytime express DRC train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai   A hostess serves complimentary drinks and snacks on train 9 from Bangkok to Chiang Mai

Boarding train 9 from Bangkok to Chiang Mai...

 

A hostess serves complimentary refreshments...

Seats on the daytime 'DRC' express train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai   A Special Express DRC train, as used from Bangkok to Chiang Mai or Bangkok to Surat Thani

On board train 9, the daytime 'Special Express DRC' from Bangkok to Chiang Mai.  It has 2nd class air-con seating.

 

A Special Express DRC as used from Bangkok-Chiang Mai on trains 9 & 12 and Bangkok-Surat Thani on trains 40 & 43.

2nd class seats, ordinary express trains

A pleasant and comfortable way to travel for long-distance daytime journeys, although slower than the express railcars.  There are both air-conditioned and non-air-con varieties.  The advantage of the non-air-con coaches is the open windows and unrestricted views, a breeze wafting in as the train clickety-clacks through the Thai countryside.  Photos courtesy of Graeme Thorley.

2nd class non-air-con seats on a Thai train Exterior of a 2nd class seats car on a Thai train

2nd class non-air-conditioned coach...

 

2nd class seats...

3rd class seats, ordinary express & local trains

In spite of its name, 3rd class is a perfectly good option for short trips such as Bangkok to Kanchanaburi or Ayutthaya, as it's generally clean, not usually crowded outside the commuter peaks, unbelievably cheap, and sitting next to an open window as the train clickety-clacks through the countryside is a very pleasant experience.  Although, 2nd class would be better for long trips such as Bangkok to Nong Khai or Chiang Mai.  3rd class usually has padded seats, but some older carriages have wooden seats.  It's normally non-air-con, but air-con 3rd class exists on a few long distance routes.

A 3rd class train from Kanchanaburi to Bangkok. 3rd class seats on a Thai train, with a vendor selling soft drinks & beer.

3rd class non-air-conditioned coaches.

 

3rd class seats, with soft drinks vendor.


How to buy train tickets, when in Thailand

How to buy tickets at the station...

It's easy to buy tickets yourself at the station when you get to Thailand, but remember to take your passport, as it may now be required to buy a ticket.  All long-distance express trains require a reservation, which can be made on the day of travel or up to 60 days in advance.  Reservations are computerised, and the booking office at any main station can reserve seats or berths for any journey in Thailand.  Your ticket will have the train time and your seat or berth number printed on it.  3rd class local trains such as Bangkok-Ayutthaya or Bangkok-Kanchanaburi don't require a reservation, you just turn up, buy a ticket from the ticket office and hop on.

Buying tickets at Bangkok's Hualamphong station...

Bangkok's main Hualamphong Station has a well-organised ticket office on the main concourse.  TV screens above each window show what tickets each window sells.  Windows 15-22 are open for advance ticket sales daily from 08:30-16:00, see the photo below.  The other ticket windows are open at all other times selling tickets for travel today.  Incidentally, the old 'advance ticket office' in the corner near platform 3 closed in early 2011, you now need windows 15-22 of the main ticket office.  Take your passport, as it may now be required to buy a ticket.

Ticket scalping by agencies?  I've had at least one report (July 2013) that trains to Chiang Mai were 'full' when the traveller asked at the official booking office for a train in two days' time, but they were later directed to a travel agency on one of the upper levels inside Hualamphong station who sold them first class sleeper tickets on the train they wanted for an extra 700 baht each.  Agencies sometimes buy up blocks of tickets to re-sell, a practice known as scalping.  SRT should stop this, but in the meantime, if you find a train full it's worth asking a travel agency inside the station, if you're willing to pay the extra!  Feedback appreciated.

The ticket office at Bangkok's Hualamphong station   The information counter at Bangkok's Hualamphong Station

Bangkok Hualamphong Station, showing ticket office & the advance booking windows....

 

Bangkok's Hualamphong station information point, on the main concourse...

Busy periods... 

New Year (30 December to 3 January) & Songkran (Thai New Year, usually 11-16 April).  Normally there's no problem buying tickets when you get to Thailand, if you are flexible as to the exact day, train and class, although obviously if it's mission-critical that you travel on a particular train in a particular class on a particular date, you should pre-book using one of the methods suggested below.  However, there are a few holiday periods when booking ahead is strongly recommended under all circumstances.  The two biggest are New Year (30 December to 3 January) and Songkran (Thai New Year, usually 11-16 April).  If you want to travel at these periods you should definitely pre-book, preferably on the very day booking opens (60 days before departure).

Example train ticket...

As you can see from the example below, long-distance train tickets include a reservation on a specific train, in this case train 35 from Bangkok to Butterworth.  It's for a 2nd class sleeper, upper berth, in coach 2, berth number 17.  The 'TRV' at the bottom is the issuing office, in this case Travex, in other words ticketing agency www.thailandtrainticket.com.

State Railways of Thailand train ticket

How to buy train tickets, from outside Thailand

Although it's easy to buy tickets at the station when you get there, if you absolutely positively have to be on a specific train soon after arrival in Thailand, or you want to travel at peak Thai holiday periods (for example, around Christmas & New Year), it's a good idea to book in advance.  You can do this in several ways:  (1) Online at thairailticket.com, but as from January 20913 this service is sadly discontinued.  (2) By online enquiry or email with one of several reputable Thai travel agencies such as www.thailandtrainticket.com; (3) By email direct to Thai Railways.  Each of these options is explained below.

 

Option 1:  Buy tickets online from State Railways of Thailand. No longer possible!

Option 2:  Buy train tickets from a reliable Thai agency...

Option 3:  Buy train tickets by email from State Railways of Thailand...

How quickly do trains get fully booked?  


Bangkok's Hualamphong Station

All trains operate from Bangkok's wonderful Hualamphong station right in the city centre, except for a few local trains (notably trains to Kanchanaburi & the River Kwai) which use the much smaller Thonburi (Noi) station on the far bank of the river.  Map of Bangkok showing Hualamphong station & Thonburi (Noi) station

Bangkok's Hualamphong railway station, in the morning sun   Inside Bangkok's Hualamphong Station

Hualamphong Station opened in 1916, designed by an Italian architect brought to Thailand by the King of Siam...

 

The concourse at Bangkok Hualamphong Station. Note the King's picture above the entrance to the platforms...

Bangkok station facilities...

Train information counter:  In the photo above, it's on the far right-hand side of the concourse, with the white lightbox visible above it.  They can give you a simple pocket timetable in English for any of the main Thai rail lines.

Tickets for travel today:  To buy tickets for immediate travel, go to any of the ticket windows each side of the King's picture in the photo above.  In theory, the TV screens above each window say for which trains that window is selling tickets, but most screens merely say 'All trains'.

Advance ticket sales:  To buy tickets from 1 to 60 days in advance, go to the Advance Booking Office, open daily 08:30 to 16:00.  In the picture above right, head to the far right-hand corner of the concourse past the information counter and round the right-hand side of the concourse/platforms dividing wall towards platform 3.  The Advance Booking office is tucked away on the right.  When you enter, look for the machine issuing numbered queuing tickets, and wait till your number is called.  The helpful staff will soon sort you out with a train ticket!

Left luggage:  If you need to leave your bags somewhere, there's a staffed privatised left luggage office at the rear left-hand corner of the concourse, roughly underneath where the photo above was taken.  It's open 04:00 to 23:00 daily, prices 30, 50, 70 or 80-100 baht for a small/medium/large/extra large item per 24 hours, although what constitutes a small or large item isn't specified!

Food & drink:  There's a KFC outside the front of the station just outside the main front doors.  If you're desperate for a cappuccino, there's a good coffee shop on the left-hand balcony (the one from which the photo above is taken) or a more basic Thai restaurant on the right-hand balcony.  To buy supplies of drinks and snacks for the journey, there's a 'Tiffy Mart' in the far left-hand corner of the concourse towards the taxi rank.

Taxis:  The taxi rank is on the left-hand side of the station.  In the photo above, you'd head towards the King's picture then turn left.  Expect a taxi to any city centre hotel to cost around 50 baht (£1 or $1.50).

Toilets & showers:  The toilets and showers are beyond the information counter in the far right-hand corner of the concourse.  They are of a reasonable standard, and a small fee is charged, 3 baht for toilets, 10 baht for showers.

To ease congestion, State Railways of Thailand ultimately intend to move long-distance services out to a new terminal at Bang Sue junction station, 7km North of Hualamphong station, and at some point all long-distance trains will start from there instead of Hualamphong.  Suburban and short-distance trains will continue to run from Hualamphong, linking it to Bang Sue.  The new Bangkok metro also links Bang Sue to the rest of Bangkok.  For a metro map, see www.bangkokmetro.co.th.  However, all long distance trains are still using Hualamphong at the moment.


Luggage & bikes

Taking luggage on Thai trains...

Luggage arrangements are very simple.  You take your own luggage onto the train with you, and put it on the luggage rack next to your seat or berth or inside your 1st class sleeper compartment. It will be quite safe, although some travellers take a bike lock with them to padlock it to the rack at night.  You can put your daypack with camera, passport, and so on, in the berth alongside you at night.

Luggage limits:  Officially, every passenger is allowed one big suitcase and one smaller item although this is not rigorously enforced.  Your bags won't be weighed, but in principle baggage limits are a generous 60 Kg (110 lbs) for 1st class passengers, 40 Kg (88 lbs) for 2nd class passengers and 30 Kg (66 lbs) for 3rd class passengers.

Excess baggage:  Large items in excess of the allowance such as golf clubs or additional suitcases can be carried in the baggage car if you buy a cargo ticket.  You follow exactly the same procedure as for taking a bike, see the paragraph below.

Left luggage offices at stations...

There are left luggage offices at Bangkok Hualamphong station (see above), Chiang Mai, Surat Thani, Ayutthaya and most other major Thai stations where you can leave your luggage for a small fee whilst you explore the town.

Taking a bicycle on Thai trains...

You can take a bicycle on any train on any route in Thailand for a small fee, except on the diesel railcar (DRC) trains which don't take bikes or any other sort of cargo (and also not on the Bangkok airport rail link) and except on the trains to and from Malaysia south of Hat Yai as there is no baggage car.  First, buy your passenger ticket, either in advance or at the station on the day.  You cannot pre-book your bike, even if you pre-book your passenger ticket.  On the day of travel, go to the station with your passenger ticket, locate the cargo desk and buy a cargo ticket for your bike.  The cargo desk will be a chair, a desk and a set of scales on or near the platform, the location varies from station to station and some smaller stations don't have a cargo desk.  A cargo ticket costs around 90 to 130 baht (£2.00-£2.70 or $3-$5).  The price is a flat fee based on where the train is going, not on where you're going, so on a train going from Bangkok to Hat Yai, the cargo price is the same to Hua Hin as it is to Hat Yai.  Part of the cargo ticket will be attached to your bike, the other part to your passenger ticket.  If you arrive immediately before the train departs, or if there isn't a cargo desk at that station, you may be told to pay on the train.  When the train is ready for boarding, you take you bike to the baggage car for loading.  It's a good idea to provide something to secure your bike, a couple of luggage elastics or even just some plastic string picked up from one of the vendors on the platform, don't rely on this being provided.  Ask if you can secure your bike to the inside of the baggage car yourself, which they usually allow, as otherwise they may just lean it against other cargo and it could be damaged when the train is in motion.  Some 3rd class trains don't have a baggage car, so on these you'll have to manhandle your bike into a passenger carriage and stash it in the corridor next to one of the washrooms.  Now take your seat in the train.  At your destination, go to the baggage car, show your cargo ticket and collect your bike.  There is nothing further to pay when you arrive.

 

Buy a luggage ticket for 90 to 130 baht on the day at the station...

 

...Then load your bike or motorbike into the baggage van.  Photos courtesy of Peter Provaznik

Traveller David Mitchell reports on taking a bike on a train in Thailand:  "I can confirm that it is indeed possible to take bicycles on Thai trains, or at least the Bangkok to Chiang Mai route, though I’m sure it is similar for the others. You have to send the bike as cargo and it travels in the cargo/guards van.  The procedure is to buy your ticket, then locate the cargo office where they will fill out a cargo ticket.  They will attach part of the cargo ticket to the bike and part to your passenger ticket – the cost for a bike was 90 baht each way. You then have to drop off the bike in the cargo car yourself before taking your seat.  At your destination you go to the cargo car and collect the bike – you will have to show your ticket & cargo ticket before they will release it.  The cargo car sometimes gets full so it is worth turning up early to make sure that there is enough space in it to accommodate your bike."

Traveller Saibal Chatterjee took a bike from Thailand to Singapore by train:  "In April 2012 I set out to ride my bike from Chang Mai to Singapore. I managed to bike as far as Surat Thani but then fell sick due to heat & exhaustion.  So I carried on my journey towards Singapore by train.  I took the overnight Thai Railways train to Hat Yai with my bike safe in the luggage compartment. From Hat Yai I took the Malaysian Railway train to Padang Besar and on to Kuala Lumpur (same train).  I was allowed to take my bike on the Malaysian Railway train (at no extra charge). Initially I parked the bike between the space between the two toilets but the train conductor asked me to put it in the lockable luggage space on the other side of the compartment. I arrived at Kuala Lumpur station no problems.  At Kuala Lumpur station I had to talk with the station manager to be able to take my bike on the train to Singapore. After a bit of sweet talk he allowed me to take my bike on the day (chair car) train to Singapore only if I bought a first class ticket (no extra charge for bike). I boarded the train and placed my bike between the last and the second last chairs. Later the ticket checker asked me to place the bike in the generator car so that it did not cause problems for other passengers. I did place my bike in the generator car and chained it with the door handle and reached Singapore without problems.


Buses & bus tickets

Check Thai bus times & buy bus tickets online...

You'll need to use buses for some routes where there are no trains, for example Phuket to Koh Samui.  There are many bus operators in Thailand, you can check times & buy tickets online for many routes throughout Thailand using 12Go.Asia, a new site that is still expanding.  You can even use it to check train times in Thailand and Malaysia, although it cannot (yet) sell train tickets online.

If you use 12Go.Asia, feedback would be appreciated


Bangkok to Chiang Mai

  Take the train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai.  Train 1 waits to leave Bangkok.
 

All aboard for Chiang Mai!  Special Express number 1 to Chiang Mai at Bangkok...

It's easy to travel from Bangkok to Chiang Mai by train, for just 881 baht (£18 or $25) one-way by overnight sleeper or 611 baht (£12 or $18) by day through the countryside on the air-conditioned express railcar.  Travelling from Bangkok to Chiang Mai by sleeper is effectively faster than flying, far less hassle, far more environmentally friendly, more of a real Thai experience, and saves you a hotel bill, too.  Think you don't see much from a night train?  In fact, the scenery on the last third of the trip up into the mountains approaching Chiang Mai is particularly good, and even on the sleeper, watching the sunrise from the train in the morning is wonderful.  And of course, the sleeper train itself is the scenery, a real Thai train with a chance to meet Thai people.

For the record, train service was temporarily suspended from 16 September to 30 November 2013 between Uttaradit & Chiang Mai while the track was given a major 2.8bn baht renovation.  Trains resumed on 1 December 2013, and in 2014 are now running normally.

 Bangkok ► Chiang Mai

Km

Train number:

111

9 *

3

109

1 *

13 *

107

51

Facilities on board:

2,3,R

DRC

DRC

s,2,3,R

1,S,R

1,S,R

S,s,2,3,R

S,s,2,3,R

0 km

 Bangkok Hualamphong depart:

07:00

08:30

10:50

12:45

18:10

19:35

20:10

22:00

22

 Don Muang depart:

07:52

09:14

11:40

13:34

18:57

20:23

21:01

22:49

71

 Ayutthaya depart:

08:37

09:43

12:15

14:18

19:45

21:01

21:42

23:30

133

 Lopburi  arrive/depart:

09:44

10:29

13:00

15:19

20:41

21:55

22:36

00:27

389

 Phitsanulok  arrive/depart:

14:14

13:19

16:00

19:21

00:11

01:50

02:49

04:41

729

 Lamphun  arrive/depart:

-

20:05

-

03:38

07:40

09:24

-

12:37

751

 Chiang Mai arrive:

-

20:30

-

04:05

08:15

09:55

-

13:05

*  Recommended trains from Bangkok to Chiang Mai.  Of the sleeper options, train 1 is faster so gets into Chiang Mai significantly earlier, but train 13 will show you more of the scenery approaching Chiang Mai in daylight.  Train 13/14 has no 1st class 2-berth sleepers, only ex-Japanese 1st class single-berth sleepers & 2nd class sleepers.

Train classes:

1 = 1st class sleepers.  S = 2nd class sleepers (air-conditioned).  s = 2nd class sleepers (non-air-con).  2 = 2nd class seats.  R = Restaurant car.

3 = 3rd class seats.  DRC = Diesel Railcar express with 2nd class air-con seats, meals included, but no sleepers so not recommended for overnight journeys).

You can check train times at the Thai railways website www.railway.co.th (see advice on translating it here).  Many additional trains link Bangkok & Ayutthaya.

Quick links:  How to buy tickets   What are Thai trains like?   Map of train routes in SE Asia   Luggage & bikes   Hotel suggestions Chiang Mai & Bangkok

 Chiang Mai ► Bangkok

Train number:

106

112

102

12 *

108

14 *

2 *

52

Facilities on board:

2,3

2,3

2,3,R

DRC

S,s,2,3,R

1,S,R

1,S,R

S,s,2,3,R

 Chiang Mai depart:

-

-

05:45

08:45

-

16:00

17:00

17:30

 Lamphun  arrive/depart

-

-

06:10

09:13

-

16:24

17:23

17:53

 Phitsanulok  arrive/depart

08:59

10:18

14:01

15:08

22:06

23:39

00:09

01:31

 Lopburi arrive/depart

12:27

14:48

17:55

18:05

02:16

03:41

03:54

05:40

 Ayutthaya arrive:

13:28

16:05

19:14

18:53

03:14

04:45

04:59

06:45

 Don Muang arrive:

14:13

17:03

20:09

19:27

04:12

05:34

05:58

07:36

 Bangkok Hualamphong arrive:

15:05

18:00

21:10

20:25

05:10

06:30

06:50

08:30

 Fares

 

1st class sleeper 

a/c express train 

2nd class sleeper 

a/c express train

2nd class seat

a/c fast railcar 

2nd class seat

ordinary train

3rd class seat

ordinary train

Bangkok to Chiang Mai

(751 km)

1,453 (£30, $48)

881 (£18, $29)

611 (£12, $20)

431 (£9, $14)

271 (£5, $9)

Children aged 0 to 3 and less than 100cm in height travel free, children aged 4 to 11 and under 150cm travel at half fare, children 12 years old and upwards (or over 150cm high) pay full fare.

Sole occupancy of a 1st class sleeper:  The 1st class fare shown above is for one person in one bed in a shared 2-berth sleeper.  You can have sole occupancy of a 2-berth sleeper for an extra 500 baht (£10 or $16).  Note that the ex-Japanese 1st class sleeping-car used on train 13/14 only has single-berth compartments so the sole occupancy charge has to be paid, making the 1st class sleeper fare 1,953 baht (£40, $64) per person per compartment on this particular train.

Upper or lower berths?  The sleeper fares shown here are for a lower bunk, a narrower upper bunk is 50-100 baht less.  Non-air-con 2nd class sleepers (available on a few trains) cost 160-200 baht less than the air-con variety.  You can check fares at www.railway.co.th (but do this by selecting 'timetables' as the fares shown at the bottom of each timetable page include the air-conditioning supplement, sleeper & special express supplements.  If you select the fares option, the fares shown don't include those supplements.



Bangkok to Nong Khai (for Vientiane in Laos)

  The internationalo train from Laos to Thailand

The international train from Thanaleng to Nong KhaiPhoto courtesy of Glen Chivers.

  The new railway station at Tha Naleng, Laos.
 

Railway to Laos open from March 2009...  This is the new rail terminal at Thanaleng, just on the Laos side of the Friendship bridge.  See the Laos page. Photo courtesy of Bob Fletcher

Here are trains between Bangkok & Nong Khai, near the border with Laos.  If you're travelling into Laos, see the Laos page for information on the new Bangkok-Vientiane train service & on local transport across the Friendship Bridge between Nong Khai & Vientiane.

 Bangkok ► Nong Khai

Km

Train number:

77

69 *

133

Facilities on board:

DRC

1,S,s,2,R

3,R

0 km

 Bangkok Hualamphong depart:

18:35

20:00

20:45

22

 Don Muang depart:

19:25

20:50

21:31

71

 Ayutthaya depart:

20:00

21:41

22:17

569

 Udon Thani arrive:

04:30

06:56

08:44

621

 Nong Khai arrive:

05:15

07:45

09:35

Train classes:

1 = 1st class sleepers.  S = 2nd class sleepers (air-con).  s = 2nd class sleepers (non-air-con).  2 = 2nd class seats.  3 = 3rd class seats.  R = Restaurant car.  DRC = Diesel Railcar express with 2nd class air-conditioned seats, meals included (no sleepers).

* Recommended trains.

A train connection to Vientiane started in March 2009:  The Bangkok-Nong Khai railway has been extended across the Friendship Bridge into Laos, to a new station at Thanaleng on the Laos side of the Friendship Bridge some 13 km from Vientiane.  Two daily local shuttle trains link Nong Khai with Thanaleng in each direction, one of them providing a connection out of / in to train 69/70 to/from Bangkok, to provide a cheap and comfortable Bangkok-Vientiane train service.  See the Laos page for information on the new Bangkok-Thanaleng train service, and on local transport between Nong Khai or Thanaleng & Vientiane.

 Nong Khai ► Bangkok

Train number:

76 *

70 *

134

Facilities on board:

DRC

1,S,s,2,R

3,R

 Nong Khai depart:

06:00

18:20

19:15

 Udon Thani depart:

06:54

19:20

20:10

 Ayutthaya arrive:

15:30

04:04

05:50

 Don Muang arrive:

16:14

05:02

06:54

 Bangkok Hualamphong arrive:

17:10

06:00

08:00

How to buy tickets     What are Thai trains like?     Map of train routes in SE Asia     Luggage & bikes     Hotels in Thailand

 Fares

 

1st class sleeper 

a/c express train 

2nd class sleeper 

a/c express train

2nd class seat

a/c fast railcar 

2nd class seat

ordinary train

3rd class seat

ordinary train

Bangkok to Nong Khai (or vice versa)

1,317 (£27, $43)

778 (£16, $26)

498 (£10, $17)

388 (£8, $13)

258 (£5, $9)

Children aged 0 to 3 and less than 100cm in height travel free, children aged 4 to 11 and under 150cm travel at half fare, children 12 years old and upwards (or over 150cm high) pay full fare.

Sole occupancy of a 1st class sleeper:  The 1st class fare is for travel in a shared 2-berth sleeper.  Sole occupancy is available for an extra 500 baht (£10 or $16).

Upper or lower berths?  The sleeper fares shown here are for a lower bunk, a narrower upper bunk is 50-100 baht less.  Non-air-con 2nd class sleepers (available on a few trains) cost 160-200 baht less than the air-con variety.  You can check fares at www.railway.co.th (see the advice on translating it here).


Bangkok to Ubon Ratchathani

 Bangkok ► Ubon Ratchathani

Km

Train number:

21 *

135

139

67 *

141

Facilities on board:

DRC

2,3,R

s,2,3,R

1,S,s,2,R

2,3,R

0 km

 Bangkok Hualamphong depart:

05:45

06:40

18:55

20:30

22:25

22

 Don Muang depart:

06:29

07:39

19:42

21:09

23:10

71

 Ayutthaya depart:

06:59

08:26

20:26

21:51

23:51

575

 Ubon Ratchathani arrive:

14:20

18:00

06:15

07:25

10:20

Train classes:

1 = 1st class sleepers.  S = 2nd class sleepers (air-conditioned).  s = 2nd class sleepers (non-air-con).  2 = 2nd class seats

3 = 3rd class seats.  R = Restaurant car.  DRC = Diesel Railcar express with 2nd class air-conditioned seats, meals included (but no sleepers).

* Recommended trains (express railcar by day or sleeper overnight).

 Ubon Ratchathani ► Bangkok

Train number:

136

146

22 *

142

68 *

140

Facilities on board:

2,3,R

2,3,R

DRC

2,3,R

1,S,s,2,R

s,2,3,R

 Ubon Ratchathani depart:

07:00

08:45

14:50

16:50

18:30

19:30

 Ayutthaya arrive:

16:37

19:05

21:46

02:37

03:55

05:25

 Don Muang arrive:

17:40

19:56

22:28

03:29

04:51

06:27

 Bangkok Hualamphong arrive:

18:40

21:00

23:15

04:25

05:50

07:30

How to buy tickets    What are Thai trains like?    Map of train routes in SE Asia    Luggage & taking bikes    Hotels in Thailand

 Fares

 

1st class sleeper 

a/c express train 

2nd class sleeper 

a/c express train

2nd class seat

a/c fast railcar 

2nd class seat

ordinary train

3rd class seat

ordinary train

Bangkok-Ubon Ratchathani

1,180 (£24, $39)

761 (£15, $25)

551 (£11, $18)

388 (£8, $13)

245 (£5, $8)

Children aged 0 to 3 and less than 100cm in height travel free, children aged 4 to 11 and under 150cm travel at half fare, children 12 years old and upwards (or over 150cm high) pay full fare.  

Traveller Ian Craven from Sydney reports:  I recently travelled on the State Railways of Thailand on the Bangkok-Ubon run.  We took daytime train 21, the express diesel rail car, in 2nd class air conditioned seats.  We easily bought tickets the day before from a Bangkok travel agent for a very reasonable commission, about 50 baht.  The train consisted of only three cars, and predictably we were the only farang on board.  Train left just 5 minutes late, at 0550, and took at least an hour to get out of the suburbs of Bangkok, with the country eventually giving way to rice paddies as far as the eye can see; the train then climbs through some low hilly country with mainly teak plantations and orchards, and eventually gives way to a vast plain, again with rice predominate, along with sugar and banana’s, and all kinds of towns and villages, large and small.  The seating was very comfortable, the air con just right (not too cold which is often the case), and the service impeccable.  Despite a rather gruff visage, the conductor was in fact a very amiable fat controller, turned out in an immaculately pressed uniform.  The train even features a 'trolley dolly', who serves breakfast (croissant & sweet bun), water, orange juice, tea and coffee (why is railway coffee uniformly bad everywhere in the world?!) and lunch (like an airline pack featuring a small chicken curry and rice, and some kind of putrid fish that even the locals were poking at with disdain!).  All this comes included in the price of the ticket.  Train arrived in Ubon dead on time at 1410, despite some unscheduled stops along the way to let off passengers.  While it is certainly not one of the great train journeys of the world, it is not overly long and provides some excellent views of Thai rural life, and is a cheap, efficient and very effective way to get to the southern Lao PDR frontier.  I would highly recommend it to anyone. The international bus from Ubon-Pakse runs twice daily, about 3 hours, 200 baht.


Bangkok to Aranyaprathet (for Cambodia)

  The train from Bangkok at Aranyaprathet
 

Above:  The morning train from Bangkok arrives at Aranyaprathet.  Photo courtesy of Michael Allsop.

Aranyaprathet, 255 km from Bangkok, is just 6 km from the Cambodian border post at Poiphet from where buses run to Siem Reap and Bttambang for onward bus or speedboat to Phnom Penh.  See the Cambodia page for information about onward bus transport to Phnom Penh & Seam Reap (for the Angkor Wat temples) in Cambodia, and about onwards bus transport from Phnom Penh to Saigon in Vietnam.  Trains 275-280 have 3rd class seats, but Thai 3rd class is quite clean and comfortable, and in fact a very pleasant way to travel, with vendors selling food & soft drinks.  Train 279/280 is a diesel railcar.

 Bangkok Aranyaprathet

 

 Aranyaprathet Bangkok

Train number:

275

279

Train number:

280

276

Facilities on board:

3

3

Facilities on board:

3

3

 Bangkok Hualamphong depart:

05:55

13:05

 Aranyaprathet depart:

06:40

13:55

 Aranyaprathet arrive:

11:35

17:35

 Bangkok Hualamphong arrive:

12:05

19:55

 

 Fares

Bangkok to Aranyaprathet (255 km):  48 baht (£1 or $1.60)

No reservation required - just turn up, buy a ticket and hop on.


Bangkok to Kanchanaburi (for River Kwai Bridge)

  The Bridge over the River Kwai...
 

The infamous Bridge on the River Kwai...

See the Bridge on the River Kwai page for details...

The best way to reach Kanchanaburi is by train, using the infamous Death Railway itself, for just 100 baht (£2 or $3)!  A regular State Railways of Thailand passenger service still runs over the 'Death Railway' from Bangkok via Kanchanaburi as far as Nam Tok, crossing the famous 'Bridge over the River Kwai' a few km beyond Kanchanaburi.  There are two trains a day from Bangkok Thonburi station (also known as Bangkok Noi, on the West side of the river in Bangkok) to Kanchanaburi and Nam Tok, calling at River Kwai Bridge station on the Bangkok side of the Bridge a few minutes after Kan'buri.

The trains are 3rd class only, but don't let this put you off - they are clean and comfortable, and sitting next to an open window whilst clickety-clacking through the Thai countryside is easily the most pleasant way to reach Kanchanaburi.

If you're coming from Singapore, Malaysia or Southern Thailand, you can travel direct to Kanchanaburi and the River Kwai Bridge without going into Bangkok - just change trains at Nakhon Pathom (64 km south of Bangkok), where the branch line to Kanchanaburi leaves the main line.

There is also a special railcar (2nd class air-conditioned) for tourists at weekends, leaving Hualamphong station at 06:30 for Kanchanaburi at 09:25, Nam Tok 11:30, returning from Nam Tok at 14:40 and Kan'buri at 16:55 arriving Bangkok 19:30.  Special fares apply, reservation required, details here.


Bangkok to Sukhothai

Sukhothai has no rail station, but you can take a comfortable train from Bangkok to Phitsanulok on the Bangkok-Chiang Mai main line, which is about 59 km from Sukhothai by bus.  Buses leave Phitsanulok for Sukhothai frequently between 07:00 and 19:00, fare around 40 baht or so, journey time 1 hour.  On arrival by train at Phitsanulok, simply ask one of the tuk-tuk taxis waiting outside the station to take you to the nearby bus station.  This train/bus combo avoids a nightmare 7 hours on a bus from Bangkok.  The 08:30 or 11:50 DRC express railcars from Bangkok would be a good choice to reach Phitsanulok, see here for train times.  Once capital of the Sukhothai Kingdom, the UNESCO-designated ruins are 12 km outside Sukhothai town, easily reached by local transport.


Bangkok to Chiang Rai

To reach Chiang Rai, first take a train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, see above for train times.  Ordinary (non-air-con) buses leave Chiang Mai Arcade bus station every hour or two from 06:00 to 17:30, journey time 3 hours 50 minutes, fare around 60 baht.  Air-conditioned buses also leave from Chiang Mai Arcade bus station every hour or so from 07:00 to 17:00, journey time 3 hours 10 minutes, fare 102 baht.  You'll find full details in the downloadable Thai timetable.


Bangkok to Ayutthaya

  Take the train from Bangkok to Ayutthaya.  This is Ayutthaya station.
 

Ayutthaya station, just 90 minutes from Bangkok by local train...

Ayutthaya is the ancient capital of Thailand, with impressive ruins and temples to visit.  It makes a great day trip from Bangkok, and it's really easy to get there by train.  There is a local train from Bangkok's main Hualamphong station to Ayutthaya roughly every hour or so with basic but clean 3rd class seats, taking a leisurely 1 hour 45 minutes for the 71 km (44 miles).  No reservation is necessary, just turn up, buy a ticket and hop on.  3rd class is not crowded outside peak times, and as a day tripper from Bangkok you'll be going in the opposite direction from the commuter crowds in any case.  It's a very pleasant way to get there, sitting next to an open window with a cool breeze blowing in, as the train clickety-clacks along, and you'll often find vendors selling soft drinks & snacks on board.  See www.railway.co.th for exact train times if you really feel you need them.  The ruined capital is walking distance from the station.

 Fares

Bangkok to Ayutthaya (71 km):  15 baht (£0.30 or $0.50) 3rd class

No reservation required - just turn up, buy a ticket and hop on.

You can also travel between Bangkok & Ayutthaya on a faster air-conditioned express train taking only 1 hour 15 minutes, but these are less frequent.  A reservation is necessary on express trains, but tickets to Ayutthaya on these trains are only sold on the day of travel at the station or online at www.thairailticket.com a maximum of 1 day ahead, you cannot pre-book more than 1 day ahead.  This is so that short-distance passengers to Ayutthaya don't take up seats that could be used by long-distance passengers.

Why not stop off at Ayutthaya on the way to or from Chiang Mai or Nong Khai, as trains between Bangkok and these destinations stop at Ayutthaya?  It's easiest to use 3rd class local trains for the Bangkok-Ayutthaya section rather than booking a seat on an express, as the local trains are cheaper, more frequent and no reservation is necessary.  Then see the Chiang Mai or Nong Khai timetable above for express train times Ayutthaya-Chiang Mai or Ayutthaya-Nong Khai.  Ayutthaya has a left luggage office (on the platform, marked 'Cloak Room') where you can stash your bags for a 10 baht fee between trains.


Bangkok to Samut Songkhram

The Mahachai Mae Khlong Market Train...

You may have heard of a little train near Bangkok that runs right through the middle of a market.  This is the Bangkok - Mahachai - Mae Khlong Line, which runs within inches of the market stalls approaching its terminus at Samut Songkhram, some 70 km (45 miles) from Bangkok and known locally as Mae Khlong after the river on which it is situated.  In fact, it's not one rail line but two, separated by a ferry across the Tha Chin river in the middle.  These two lines are part of the State Railways of Thailand, but were originally built in 1905 as private lines and they are not physically linked to the rest of the network.  A trip to Mae Khlong makes an interesting trip from Bangkok if you've a day spare.  Watch this video to see the train pass through a busy market, when the train passes the market traders replace their canopies and you'd never know a train track was there...

Outward journey:  To reach Samut Songkhram, you first take a little silver diesel railcar from Bangkok's Wong Wian Yai station to Samut Sakhon, known locally as Mahachai.  Bangkok's Wong Wian Yai station is located on the west side of the Bangkok river, a 20 minute walk from the BTS Skytrain station at Wangwan Yai, see map of Bangkok showing stations.  Trains run from Bangkok Wong Wian Yai to Mahachai roughly every hour from 05:30 until 20:10, journey time around 59 minutes, 3rd class only, fare 10 baht, distance 31km (19 miles).  Most trains are non-air-conditioned with opening windows (better for photography), but you'll find some air-con cars on a few departures.  You then cross the Tha Chin river by ferry to Ban Laem, 3 baht.  On the other side, three trains a day run from Ban Laem to Samut Songkhram (Mae Khlong), departing 08:00, 12:10,  16:40, journey time 1 hour, fare 10 baht, distance 33 km.

Return journey:  In the return direction, trains leave Samut Songkhram (Mae Khlong) at 06:20, 10:20, 14:30 taking 1 hour to Ban Laem.  Cross the river by ferry from Ban Laem to Samut Sakhon (Mahachai).  Trains return from Samut Sakhon (Mahachai) to Bangkok every hour from 04:30 to 19:00.  See the downloadable timetable page 51 for a complete timetable.

For more information, photos and a video, see www.nomadicnotes.com/travel-blog/maeklong-market-railway-thailand-the-train-that-goes-through-a-market.  The trip makes an interesting excursion from Bangkok.



Bangkok to Southern Thailand

  Take the train from Bangkok to Surat Thani.  This scenery just north of Surat Thani.
 

Scenery between Bangkok & Surat Thani

There are plenty of good air-conditioned trains from Bangkok to southern Thailand, with connections by ferry or bus to Thailand's popular beaches and islands such as Phuket, Krabi or Ko Samui.  You can also travel along the mainline via Hat Yai & Padang Besar to Penang, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, see the Bangkok to Malaysia & Singapore section below.  This takes you along the west coast main line route. 

Alternatively, you can take a train to Sungai Kolok on the eastern end of the frontier with Malaysia.  You can walk across the frontier and get a bus a few miles on to Kota Bharu.  The railway station for Kota Bharu is Wakaf Bahru (3 miles or so from Kota Bharu), from where there are daily trains to Singapore and Kuala Lumpur via the scenic 'Jungle Line', see the Malaysia page.  This route forms an interesting alternative to the usual mainline route via Padang Besar, although you need to be aware of some security concerns around Sungai Kolok and the eastern end of the Thai/Malay border.

Bus/ferry connections to:  Phuket   Krabi   Ko Samui & Ko Phangan   Ko Tao

 Bangkok ► Hua Hin ► Surat Thani ► Hat Yai ► Sungai Kolok

Km

Train number:

43 *

261**

171

35 *

37 *

169

83 *

173

167

85 *

39/41

Facilities on board:

DRC

3

S,s,2,3,R

1,S,R

1,S,2,3,R

S,s,2,3,R

1,S,2,3,R

S,s,2,3,R

S,s,2,3,R

1,S,s,2,3,R

DRC

0 km

 Bangkok Hualamphong depart:

08:05

09:20

13:00

14:45

15:10

15:35

17:05

17:35

18:30

19:30

22:50

64

 Nakhon Pathom depart

09:22

10:48

14:37

16:11

16:38

17:15

18:33

19:12

19:58

20:59

00:09

229

 Hua Hin arrive/depart

11:29

13:35

17:17

18:45

19:13

20:10

21:10

21:54

22:34

23:36

02:24

485

 Chumphon (for Koh Tao ferry)

14:41

-

21:21

22:45

23:24

00:52

01:27

02:58

03:28

04:23

05:59

651

 Surat Thani (for Ko Samui, Krabi)

16:45

-

00:27

01:26

02:03

03:48

04:27

06:03

06:28

07:16

08:05

845

 Trang arrive:

-

-

|

|

|

|

08:05

-

10:36

-

|

945

 Hat Yai arrive:

-

-

06:45

07:00

07:35

09:30

-

-

-

-

12:50

1159

 Sungai Kolok arrive:

-

-

10:45

|

11:20

-

-

-

-

-

-

1161

 Butterworth (Penang):

-

-

-

   13:30***

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Train classes:

1 = 1st class sleepers.  S = 2nd class sleepers (air-conditioned).  s = 2nd class sleepers (non-air-con).  2 = 2nd class seats.  R = Restaurant car.

3 = 3rd class seats.  DRC = Diesel Railcar express with 2nd class air-conditioned seats, meals included, but no sleepers, so not recommended for overnight journeys.

* Recommended trains - express railcar by day, the best air-con sleepers overnight.

** Useful 3rd class train Bangkok-Hua Hin. No reservation required so cannot sell out - just buy a ticket on the day and hop on!

*** Only two 2nd class sleeping-cars run all the way to/from Butterworth, the rest of the train only runs Bangkok-Hat Yai.

 Sungai Kolok ► Hat Yai ► Surat Thani ► Hua Hin ► Bangkok

Train number:

40 *

174

86 *

42/44

168

170

84 *

172

38 *

36 *

262**

Facilities on board:

DRC

S,s,2,3,R

1,S,s,2,3,R

DRC

S,s,2,3,R

S,s,2,3,R

1,S,2,3,R

S,s,2,3,R

1,S,2,3,R

1,S,R

3

 Butterworth (Penang) depart:

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

   14:30***

-

 Sungai Kolok depart:

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

11:30

14:20

|

-

 Hat Yai depart:

-

-

-

16:23

-

14:45

-

15:39

18:10

18:45

-

 Trang depart:

-

-

-

|

13:29

|

17:25

|

|

|

-

 Surat Thani arrive/depart:

10:40

16:47

18:37

20:41

17:38

20:14

21:04

21:26

23:28

23:54

-

 Chumphon arrive/depart:

12:46

19:36

21:22

22:49

20:31

23:23

23:59

00:44

02:06

02:34

-

 Hua Hin arrive/depart:

16:01

00:42

01:47

02:22

01:16

04:28

04:15

04:56

06:05

06:29

14:10

 Nakhon Pathom arrive:

18:26

03:40

05:00

04:38

04:05

07:26

07:04

07:44

08:42

09:03

17:16

 Bangkok Hualamphong arrive: 

19:45

05:10

06:30

05:55

05:35

09:00

08:35

09:15

10:10

10:30

19:10

How to buy tickets     What are Thai trains like?      Map of train routes in SE Asia      Luggage & bikes     Hotels in Thailand

 Fares

From Bangkok to:

1st class sleeper 

a/c express train 

2nd class sleeper 

a/c express train

2nd class seat

a/c fast railcar 

2nd class seat

ordinary train

3rd class seat

ordinary train

Hua Hin

-

-

412 (£9, $14)

150 (£3, $5)

44 (£1, $1.50)

Chumphon

1,234 (£26, $41)

770 (£16, $26)

480 (£10, $16)

380 (£8, $13)

272 (£5, $9)

Surat Thani

1,379 (£29, $46)

848 (£18, $28)

578 (£12, $19)

438 (£9, $15)

297 (£6, $10)

Hat Yai

1,594 (£33, $53)

945 (£20, $32)

675 (£14, $23)

535 (£11, $18)

339 (£7, $11)

Children aged 0 to 3 and less than 100cm in height travel free, children aged 4 to 11 and under 150cm travel at half fare, children 12 years old and upwards (or over 150cm high) pay full fare.

Sole occupancy of a 1st class sleeper:  The 1st class fare is for travel in a shared 2-berth sleeper.  Sole occupancy is available for an extra 500 baht (£10 or $16).

Upper or lower berth?  The sleeper fares shown here are for a lower berth, a narrower upper berth is 50-100 baht less.  Non-air-con 2nd class sleepers (available on a few trains) cost 160-200 baht less than the air-con variety.  You can check fares at www.railway.co.th (see the advice on translating it here).

Security warnings in Southern Thailand:  You may be aware of the security warnings for southern Thailand.  These primarily apply to the eastern end of the Malaysia-Thailand border around Yala & Sungai Kolok, where there is a risk of being in the wrong place at the wrong time if you were to hang around.  Bombs have gone off outside bars and police stations in Yala and Sungai Kolok, and the eastern Sungai Kolok-Yala-Hat Yai rail line has been affected on a number of occasions, so use this route with extreme care if at all.  However, the Bangkok-Hat Yai-Penang-Kuala Lumpur-Singapore main line passes through the border at the western end which isn't as badly affected.  Although I must make it clear that I'm no security expert, there are unlikely to be problems simply passing through a small part of the less-affected area non-stop on board a train via the main Singapore-KL-Penang-Hat Yai-Bangkok line via Padang Besar.  However, travellers should always take advice and be aware of the current situation.  I certainly don't claim to provide current security advice!


Bangkok to Ko Tao

Bangkok to Ko Tao by train+ferry, via Chumphon...

Simply take any train from Bangkok to Chumphon shown in the train times above, then hop on a ferry to Koh Tao, see the ferry times below.

 Chumphon ► Ko Tao (ferry)

 

 Ko Tao ► Chumphon (ferry)

Ferry operator:

LC

KTC

SEB

LC

KJCF

NB

Ferry operator:

LC

KTC

LC

SEB

NB

KJCF

 Chumphon depart:

07:00

07:00

07:00

13:00

23:00

24:00

 Koh Tao depart:

10:00

10:30

14:30

14:30

22:00

23:00

 Koh Tao arrive:

08:30

09:30

10:00

14:30

05:00

06:00

 Chumphon arrive:

11:45

13:00

16:10

17:30

03:00

05:00

Ferry operators:  LC = Lomprayah Catamaran (www.lomprayah.com);  KTC = Koh Tao Cruiser;  SEB = Songserm Express Boat (www.songserm-expressboat.com).

KJCF = Ko Jaroen Car Ferry; NB = Night Boat.  The Lomprayah Catamaran fare is 600 baht (£12 or $17) one-way.

 Combined train + ferry fares

One-way

train+ferry fare...

1st class sleeper 

a/c express train 

2nd class sleeper 

a/c express train

Bangkok to Koh Tao

1,744 (£35)

1,240 (£23)

These combined train & ferry fares include the Bangkok-Chumphon train, bus transfer from Chumphon railway station to pier and the ferry to Koh Tao.  They can be bought at Bangkok Hualamphong station or through the usual agencies such as www.thailandtrainticket.com.  Children aged 0 to 3 and less than 100cm in height travel free, children aged 4 to 11 and under 150cm travel at half fare, children 12 years old and upwards (or over 150cm high) pay full fare.  Find a hotel in Ko Tao.

Bangkok to Ko Tao by train+ferry, via Surat Thani...

The train-ferry connections actually work better via Surat Thani and Ko Samui, even though it's the long way round.  To travel from Bangkok to Ko Tao via Surat Thani, see the Bangkok to Ko Samui section below, looking for the Lomprayah ferry option.

Singapore, Malaysia to Koh Tao by train+ferry...

Travel by train from Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, or Penang via Hat Yai to Surat Thani, see train times & info Singapore-Malaysia-Surat Thani.  Then hop on a daytime or overnight ferry from Surat Thani to Koh Tao, see the ferry times below.

 Surat Thani ► Koh Tao (ferry)

 

 Koh Tao ► Surat Thani (ferry)

Ferry operator:

NB

Ferry operator:

NB

 Surat Thani (Bandon Rd pier) depart:

23:00

 Koh Tao depart:

20:30

 Koh Tao arrive:

08:30

 Surat Thani (Bandon Rd pier) arrive:

05:30

Ferry operators:  NB = Night Boat.  Fare:  500 baht.  Tickets are sold at the pier.

You can check ferry times at www.kohtaoonline.com/timetable.htm.  There are also ferries from Koh Tao to Ko Samui, see www.seatranferry.com and look for Seatran Express.


Bangkok to Ko Samui & Ko Phangan

  Poster advertising the train & ferry service from Bangkok to Ko Samui.
 

Train+ferry to Ko Samui:  Poster advertising the combined train & ferry service from Bangkok to Ko Samui.  An excellent choice!

Bangkok to Ko Samui by train + ferry...

It's easy to travel from Bangkok to Ko Samui or Ko Phangan using a combined train+ferry ticket.  It's the safe, comfortable & environmentally-friendly way to travel, too, far better than cramped buses or short-haul flights.  The overnight sleeper option takes no more time out of your holiday than flying and is a lot more fun, and far more of an experience.  Simply take a train from Bangkok to Surat Thani.  On arrival at Surat Thani railway station (located at Phun Phin, 14 km from Surat Thani town centre), shuttle buses meet the train and take you to the Don Sak ferry terminal 60 km east of Surat Thani.  The bus is included in the train+ferry fare.  Ferries sail every hour from Don Sak to Ko Samui, crossing time 1.5 hours, see the ferry information below.  Some ferries continue to Ko Phangan.  You can buy the combined train+ferry tickets at Bangkok Hualamphong station reservations office, or online for a small handling fee from www.thailandtrainticket.com.  Here is the recommended timetable via both the Raja and Lomprayah ferry companies.  Just pick whichever looks most convenient.

...via Lomprayah Ferry  (high-speed catamaran)

 Bangkok ► Ko Samui, Ko Phangan, Ko Tao

 

 Ko Samui, Ko Phangan & Ko Tao ► Bangkok

Train number:

167

85

 Ferry operator:

Lomprayah

Lomprayah

Facilities on board train:

S,s,2,3,R

1,S,2,3,R

 Ko Tao depart by ferry:

-

09:30

 Bangkok Hualamphong depart by train

18:30

19:30

 Ko Phangan depart by ferry:

07:15

12:00

 Surat Thani station arrive by train:

06:23

07:16

 Ko Samui depart by ferry:

08:00

12:45

Shuttle bus to Don Sak Pier.  Ferry operator:

Lomprayah

Lomprayah

 Don Sak pier arrive by ferry:

09:55

14:40

 Don Sak pier depart by ferry:

10:10

10:10

Take shuttle bus to rail station.  Train number:

40

86

 Ko Samui arrive:

10:55

10:55

Facilities on board train:

DRC

1,S,2,3,R

 Ko Phangan arrive:

11:45

11:45

 Surat Thani rail station depart by train:

10:40

18:37

 Ko Tao arrive:

14:45

14:45

 Bangkok Hualamphong arrive by train:

19:45

06:30

...via Raja Ferry  (conventional ferry)

 Bangkok ► Ko Samui

 

 Ko Samui ► Bangkok

Train number:

43

167

85

 Ferry operator:

Raja

Raja

Train facilities:

DRC

S,s,2,3,R

1,S,2,3,R

 Ko Samui depart by ferry:

07:00

18:00

 Bangkok Hualamphong depart by train

08:05

18:30

19:30

 Don Sak pier arrive by ferry:

08:30

19:30

 Surat Thani station arrive by train:

16:45

06:23

07:16

Take shuttle bus to rail station.  Train number:

40

84

Shuttle bus to Don Sak Pier.  Ferry operator:

Raja

Raja

Raja

Train facilities:

DRC

S,2,3,R

 Don Sak pier depart by ferry:

19:00

08:00

09:00

 Surat Thani rail station depart by train:

10:40

21:04

 Ko Samui arrive:

20:30

09:30

10:30

 Bangkok Hualamphong arrive by train:

19:45

08:35

Train classes:

1 = 1st class sleepers.  S = 2nd class sleepers (air-conditioned).  s = 2nd class sleepers (non-air-con).  2 = 2nd class seats.   3 = 3rd class seats.

R = Restaurant car.  DRC = Diesel Railcar express with 2nd class air-conditioned seats, meals included.

The ferries shown here are operated by Raja Ferry, leaving from Don Sak pier.  Others are operated by Seatran ferries from Ban Don pier.

 Combined train + ferry fare

One-way

train+ferry fare...

1st class sleeper 

a/c express train 

2nd class sleeper 

a/c express train

2nd class seat

a/c fast railcar 

Bangkok to Ko Samui

1,539 (£32, $51)

968 (£21, $32)

778 (£16, $26)

Bangkok to Ko Phangan

1,639 (£34, $55)

1,068 (£22, $36)

878 (£18, $29)

How to buy tickets:  These combined train + ferry fares can be bought at Bangkok Hualamphong station or through an agency such as www.thailandtrainticket.com.  They cannot be booked online.  Children aged 0 to 3 and less than 100cm in height travel free, children aged 4 to 11 and under 150cm travel at half fare, children 12 years old and upwards (or over 150cm high) pay full fare.  Find a hotel in Ko Samui.

Singapore, Kuala Lumpur & Penang to Ko Samui...

Singapore, Kuala Lumpur & Penang ► Ko Samui

Ko Samui ► Penang, Kuala Lumpur & Singapore

Surat Thani to Ko Samui ferry information...

Several ferry companies operate from Surat Thani to Ko Samui, including the Seatran ferry (hourly sailings, 1.5 hour crossing), the Songserm express catamaran (1 hour crossing, 2 daily sailings), and the Songserm overnight boat.

 Surat Thani ► Ko Samui  (Seatran ferry)

 Surat Thani (Don Sak pier) depart:

06:00

and hourly until...

19:00

 Ko Samui arrive:

07:30

20:30

 Ko Samui ► Surat Thani  (Seatran ferry)

 Ko Samui depart:

05:00

and hourly until...

18:00

 Surat Thani (Don Sak pier) arrive:

06:30

19:30

You can check ferry times and fares at www.seatranferry.com.  The ferry fare is 110 baht (£2 or $3) one-way.  A combined bus+ferry ticket from Surat Thani railway station to Ko Samui costs about 250 baht (£5 or $7).  The Songserm overnight boat can be useful if you arrive in Surat Thani after the last Seatran ferry.  It sails from the Ban Don ferry pier close to central Surat Thani at 23:00, and arrives Ko Samui 05:00.  Upper deck tickets give you a mattress and pillow, the lower deck just has straw mats.

For ferries from Ko Samui to Koh Tao, see www.seatranferry.com.

Phuket to Ko Samui

This is best done by bus, with a couple of daily direct buses, use 12GoAsia to book a Phuket to Koh Samui bus online.


Bangkok to Phuket & Ko Phi Phi

  Surat Thani station, Thailand
 

Train & bus from Bangkok to Phuket:  Take the comfortable sleeper train from Bangkok to Surat Thani, then a bus to Phuket.

Bangkok to Phuket by train & bus...

Taking train+bus from Bangkok to Phuket is the comfortable & environmentally-friendly way to go, avoiding a gruelling 14-16 hour overnight bus journey in a cramped bus seat or an unnecessary short-haul flight.  You simply take the comfy overnight sleeper train from Bangkok to Surat Thani, and next morning hop on an air-conditioned bus from Surat Thani to Phuket taking around 4-6 hours.

 Combined train + bus fare

Combined train+bus fare:   

1st class sleeper 

a/c express train 

2nd class sleeper 

a/c express train

Bangkok to Phuket

1,589 (£32, $53)

1,018 (£21, $34)

The buses which accept the combined train+bus tickets are modern air-conditioned buses run by The Phantip Company, www.phantiptravel.com.  There are actually around 14 buses a day from Surat Thani to Phuket between 05:00 & 17:30, run by various operators, you can check times & buy tickets at 12Go.Asia.  If you buy separate train and bus tickets, the bus fare is around 220 Baht (£5).  Phantip also operate an hourly minibus service between Surat Thani station and Phuket 06:00-17:00, fare 220 baht, journey 4 hours.

 Bangkok ► Phuket

 

 Phuket ► Bangkok

Train number:

43

167

85

Train number:

43

168

84

Facilities on board train:

DRC

S,s,2,3,R

1,S,2,3,R

Facilities on board train:

DRC

S,s,2,3,R

1,S,2,3,R

 Bangkok Hualamphong depart by train

08:05

18:30

19:30

 Phuket Town depart by bus:

06:00*

12:00

16:00

 Surat Thani station arrive by train:

16:45

06:28

07:16

 Surat Thani rail station arrive by bus:

10:00*

16:30

20:00

------ change from train to air-conditioned bus ------

------ change from air-conditioned bus to train ------

 Surat Thani rail station depart by bus:

17:30

07:00

09:00

 Surat Thani station depart by train:

10:40

17:38

21:04

 Phuket Town arrive by bus:

21:30

11:00

13:00

 Bangkok Hualamphong arrive:

19:45

05:35

08:35

Train classes:

1 = 1st class sleepers.  S = 2nd class sleepers (air-conditioned).  s = 2nd class sleepers (non-air-con).  2 = 2nd class seats.  3 = 3rd class seats.

R = Restaurant car.  DRC = Diesel Railcar express with 2nd class air-conditioned seats, meals included.

* Minibus, not big bus, also operated by www.phantiptravel.com.  You can check Surat Thani to Phuket bus times online at 12Go.Asia.

How to buy tickets:  These combined train + bus fares can be bought at Bangkok Hualamphong station or through a reputable agency such as www.thailandtrainticket.com.  They cannot be bought online.  Children aged 0 to 3 and less than 100cm in height travel free, children aged 4 to 11 and under 150cm travel at half fare, children 12 years old and upwards (or over 150cm high) pay full fare.  Bus tickets to Phuket can also be bought at Surat Thani rail station for 220 baht each way.  Find a hotel in Phuket.

Singapore, Kuala Lumpur & Penang to Phuket by train+bus...

Singapore, Kuala Lumpur & Penang ► Phuket

Phuket ► Penang, Kuala Lumpur & Singapore

Ko Phi Phi...

A ferry links Phuket and Ko Phi Phi.  The ferry sails from Phuket at 08:30 and 13:30, and from Ko Phi Phi at   09:00 and 14:00.  Crossing time 90 minutes.

Ko Samui to Phuket

This is best done by bus, with a couple of daily direct buses, use 12GoAsia to book a Koh Samui to Phuket bus online.


Bangkok to Krabi

Bangkok to Krabi by train + bus...

Krabi hasn't got a railway station, but it's easy to get there using a comfortable train to Surat Thani (or coming up from the south, a train to Hat Yai) and then an air-conditioned bus for the last leg.  Using the overnight sleeper train from Bangkok, the train+bus to Krabi takes no more time out of your holiday than flying, but is a lot more interesting, cheaper, and far more environmentally friendly.  You're likely to find a number of buses to Krabi waiting at Surat Thani station after the arrival of your train.  The bus fare is about 220 baht (£4.50 or $7), the journey time from Surat Thani to Krabi is about 3 hours, but you can buy combined train+bus tickets from Bangkok to Krabi.  Here's the recommended timetable for through train+bus journeys:

 Bangkok ► Krabi

 

 Krabi ► Bangkok

Train number:

43

85

Train number:

40

84

Facilities on board train:

DRC

1,S,2,3,R

Facilities on board train:

DRC

1,S,2,3,R

 Bangkok Hualamphong depart by train

08:05

19:30

 Krabi depart by bus:

06:30

16:00

 Surat Thani station arrive by train:

16:45

07:16

 Surat Thani bus terminal arrive by bus:

09:30

19:00

Transfer from station to bus terminal in central Surat Thani

Transfer from bus terminal to station

 Surat Thani bus terminal depart by bus:

18:10

08:00

 Surat Thani station depart by train:

10:40

21:04

 Krabi arrive by bus:

21:10

11:00

 Bangkok Hualamphong arrive:

19:45

08:35

 Combined train + bus fare Combined train+bus fare: 1st class sleeper  a/c express train  2nd class sleeper  a/c express train Bangkok to Phuket 1,589 (£32) 1,018 (£21).

Train classes:

1 = 1st class sleepers.  S = 2nd class sleepers (air-conditioned).  s = 2nd class sleepers (non-air-con).  2 = 2nd class seats.  3 = 3rd class seats.

R = Restaurant car.  DRC = Diesel Railcar express with 2nd class air-conditioned seats, meals included.

The buses shown here which accept the combined train+bus tickets are modern air-conditioned buses run by The Phantip Company, www.phantiptravel.com.  They in fact run up to 12 daily buses between Surat Thani station and Krabi, see www.phantiptravel.com.

 Combined train + bus fare

Combined train+bus fare:  

1st class sleeper 

a/c express train 

2nd class sleeper 

a/c express train

Bangkok to Krabi

1,539 (£32, $51)

968 (£20, $33)

How to buy tickets:  These combined train & bus fares can be bought in person at Bangkok Hualamphong station or by email through the usual agencies such as www.thailandtrainticket.com.  Children aged 0 to 3 and less than 100cm in height travel free, children aged 4 to 11 and under 150cm travel at half fare, children 12 years old and upwards (or over 150cm high) pay full fare.   Bus tickets to Krabi can also be bought at Surat Thani rail station for 170 baht each way.  Find a hotel in Krabi.

Singapore & Kuala Lumpur to Krabi by train+bus...

Northbound, Singapore & Kuala Lumpur to Krabi:  Travel on the morning train from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur and spend the afternoon exploring KL.  Then take the comfortable & convenient overnight train (train number 20) leaving Kuala Lumpur Sentral Station around 21:00 in the evening and arriving in Hat Yai around 10:30 next morning, see the Malaysia page for exact timetable & fares.  This train has safe & cosy Malaysian 2nd class sleepers.  The fare is RM 57 including a sleeper berth (£12 or $17) and you can book the KL to Hat Yai train either by email or phone to the KTM call centre or online at the KTM website as explained here.  Then take a bus or minibus from Hat Yai to Krabi.  Minibuses leave Hat Yai for Krabi regularly, journey time 4 hours, fare around 300 baht (£6 or $9), probably the best bet for a connection off the train from KL.  You'll find plenty of people trying to sell you minibus tickets at the station when you get off the train.

Southbound, Krabi to Kuala Lumpur & Singapore:  Minibuses run regularly from Krabi to Hat Yai, journey time 4 hours, fare around 300 baht (£6 or $9).  A direct train (train number 21, see the Malaysia page for exact timetable & fares) leaves Hat Yai at 16:00 and arrives in Kuala Lumpur Sentral Station around 05:30 next morning, with safe & comfortable Malaysian 2nd class sleepers.  Change in KL for onward trains to Singapore.  Buy your bus ticket locally in Phuket.  You can book the Hat Yai to Kuala Lumpur train either at the station, by email or phone to the KTM call centre, or online at the KTM (Malaysian Railways) website as explained here.


 

Bangkok - Penang - Kuala Lumpur - Singapore

It's remarkably easy, safe, and comfortable to travel from Bangkok to Malaysia & Singapore by train.  The whole 1,920 km (1,233 miles) trip costs just £33 or US$ 50 one-way, including sleepers, a real bargain.  It's the environmentally sound way to travel, too.  Trains are daily, and you change trains in either Hat Yai & Kuala Lumpur or Butterworth (Penang) & Kuala Lumpur.  If done all in one go, the complete journey from Bangkok to Singapore takes two nights, though you can stop off wherever you like for as long as you like.  I'd suggest stopping off at least in Penang and KL.  Map of train routes in Southeast Asia.

The daily International Express links Bangkok & Butterworth (linked by frequent ferry to Penang island) in less than 24 hours, with modern air-conditioned 2nd class sleeping-cars of the Thai railways.  A Thai restaurant car (pictured right) runs between Bangkok and Hat Yai, serving dinner & breakfast.  From Butterworth to Kuala Lumpur there is a daily overnight sleeper train or two daytime trains.  From KL to Singapore there is a choice of 2 daytime & one overnight sleeper train.

How to read the timetable below:  Each column is a separate train, and you read downwards.  So for example, in the second column you see that train number 35, with 2nd class sleepers, runs daily, leaving Bangkok at 14:45, and arriving Butterworth (for the Penang Ferry) at 13:51 next day.  You could change trains at Hat Yai onto train 21, shown two columns to the right.  Or you could stay on till Butterworth, spend the afternoon seeing Penang, then catch train 21 to KL from there.  You can book any train between any two stations, on any date you like.  It's up to you.  How to buy tickets.

 Bangkok & Southern Thailand ► Malaysia ► Singapore

 Train number (read the notes below):

35

41

21

13

1

25

Other Thai

trains

 Types of seat & sleeper on board (see explanation): 

S

2

S,2,3*

1,2

1,2

L,S

 Days of running: 

daily

daily

daily

daily

daily

daily

 Bangkok Hualamphong Station 

depart

14:45

-

-

-

-

-

x

 Nakon Pathom (for River Kwai train)

depart

16:11

-

-

-

-

-

x

 Hua Hin

depart

18:45

-

-

-

-

-

x

 Chumphon (for Koh Tao ferry)

depart

22:45

-

-

-

-

-

x

 Surat Thani (for Ko Samui ferry)

depart

01:26

08:15

-

-

-

-

x

 Hat Yai

arrive

06:35

12:50

-

-

-

-

x

depart

06:57

-

16:00

-

-

-

-

 Padang Besar (Malaysian border)

depart

10:00

-

18:45

-

-

-

-

 Arau (for Kuala Perlis & Langkawi)

arr/dep

10:32

-

19:17

-

-

-

-

 Alor Setar (for Kuala Kedah & Langkawi)

arr/dep

11:09

-

19:55

-

-

-

-

 Butterworth - for Penang by ferry

arrive

13:00

-

22:20

-

-

-

-

depart

-

-

22:20

-

08:00

-

-

 Ipoh

arr/dep  

-

-

01:58

-

11:07

-

-

 Kuala Lumpur historic 1910 station

arr/dep  

-

-

01:58

-

14:15

-

-

 Kuala Lumpur Sentral station

arrive

-

-

05:40

-

14:35

-

-

depart

-

-

-

08:00

14:35

23:00

-

 Pulau-Sebang/Tampin (for Malacca)

arr/dep

-

-

-

09:49

16:30

00:58

-

 Gemas

arr/dep

-

-

-

10:26

17:10

01:46

-

 Kluang

arr/dep

-

-

-

12:28

19:09

04:08

-

 Johor Bahru central station

arrive

-

-

-

14:35

21:35

06:50

-

 Singapore Woodlands  Where is this?

arrive

-

-

-

14:40

21:40

06:55

-

* = Only one 2nd class sleeper & one 2nd class seats car runs to/from Hat Yai.  Most of this train including the 1st class sleepers only runs between Kuala Lumpur & Padang Besar.  If travelling to or from Hat Yai, the comfy 2nd class sleepers are fine, forget about 1st class.

x = many other trains links these stations, see the Bangkok to Southern Thailand timetable below.

Classes...

L = Premier Deluxe sleeper, 1 or 2-bed compartments with private shower & toilet, air-conditioned.

F = 1st class (Premier Night) sleeper, 2-bed compartments with washbasin (not Hat Yai to Butterworth).

S = 2nd class (Standard Night) sleepers, upper & lower berths with curtains for privacy, air-conditioned.

1 = 1st class (Premier) seats.  Quite luxurious, air-conditioned.

2 = 2nd class (Superior) seats.  Comfortable, air-conditioned.

3 = 3rd class (Economy) seats.  Modern & comfortable but basic.

See the notes by train number below.       How to buy tickets       Map of Singapore showing location of Woodlands station

 Singapore ► Malaysia ► Southern Thailand & Bangkok

 Train number (read the notes below):

2

20

170

12

36

24

Other

Thai

trains

 Types of seat & sleeper on board (see explanation):

1,2

F,S,2,3*

2,3

1,2

S

L,S

 Days of running: 

daily

daily

daily

daily

daily

daily

 Singapore Woodlands  Where is this?

depart

08:30

-

-

16:00

-

23:30

-

 Johor Bahru central station

depart

08:50

-

-

16:20

-

23:55

-

 Kluang

arr/dep

11:02

-

-

18:09

-

02:04

-

 Gemas

arr/dep

13:04

-

-

20:19

-

04:12

-

 Pulau Sebang/Tampin  (for Malacca)

arr/dep  

13:44

-

-

20:55

-

04:52

-

 Kuala Lumpur Sentral station

arrive

16:05

-

-

22:45

-

06:50

-

depart

16:05

22:00

-

-

-

-

-

 Kuala Lumpur historic 1910 station

arr/dep

16:10

22:06

-

-

-

-

-

 Ipoh

arr/dep

19:14

01:57

-

-

-

-

-

Butterworth - for Penang by ferry

arrive

22:20

06:00

-

-

-

-

-

depart

-

06:00

-

-

14:00

-

-

 Alor Setar (for Langkawi)

arr/dep

-

07:56

-

-

15:53

-

-

 Arau (for Langkawi)

arr/dep

-

08:34

-

-

16:30

-

-

 Padang Besar (Malay/Thai border)

arrive

-

10:30

-

-

18:40

-

-

 Hat Yai (for bus to Phuket) (Thai time):

arrive

-

10:30

-

-

18:30

-

-

depart

-

-

14:45

-

18:45

-

x

 Surat Thani (for Ko Samui ferry)

arrive

-

-

20:14

-

23:54

-

x

 Chumphon (for Koh Tao ferry)

arrive

-

-

23:23

-

02:34

-

x

 Hua Hin

arrive

-

-

-

-

06:29

-

x

 Nakhon Pathom (for train to River Kwai)

arrive

-

-

-

-

09:03

-

x

 Bangkok Hualamphong Station

arrive

-

-

-

-

10:30

-

x

Notes by train number...

Train 1 & 2:  Ekspress Rakyat.  Runs every day.  1st & 2nd class seats with refreshment trolley, all fully air-conditioned.

Train 12 & 13:  Ekspress Sinaran Selatan.  Runs every day.  1st & 2nd class seats, air-conditioned, refreshments available.

Train 20 & 21:  Express Senandung Langkawi.  Runs every day.  Most of this train including the 1st class sleeper only run between Kuala Lumpur & Padang Besar on the Thai frontier.  Just one Malaysian 2nd class sleeping-car & one 2nd class seats car run to/from Hat Yai in Thailand.

Train 24 & 25:  Ekspress Senendung Sutera:  Runs every day.  1 & 2 berth deluxe sleepers with private shower & toilet, 2nd class sleepers, 2nd & 3rd class seats, all air-conditioned.  Watch the sleeper video.

Train 35 & 36: International Express (Ekspress Antarabangsa).  Runs every day.  Consists of two or three modern air-conditioned 2nd class sleepers between Butterworth & Bangkok provided by the State Railways of Thailand.  Between Hat Yai & Bangkok, these are attached to a restaurant car, a 1st class sleeper & more 2nd class sleepers.  However, I strongly recommend sticking with the excellent Thai 2nd class sleepers and not worrying about trying to travel 1st class, it's really not necessary.

Train 41:  Hat Yai-Surat Thani fast air-conditioned railcar with 2nd class reclining seats.  Actually goes to/from Bangkok, but is not recommended for Bangkok passengers as it has no sleepers.

Train 170:  rapid train, 2nd & 3rd class non-air-con seats.

 Fares

 The cost of a Bangkok-Singapore train journey is the sum of 3 separate train tickets.  Just add them up!

 1.  Bangkok to Butterworth (Penang)

1,161 km

1,210 (£25 or $40) in 2nd class sleeper (only 2nd class sleepers available).

 2.  Butterworth (Penang) to Kuala Lumpur

388 km

About 40 Ringgit (£7, $13) one-way in a 2nd class open-plan sleeper.

 3.  Kuala Lumpur to Singapore

397 km

About 34 Ringgit (£6 or $11) in a 2nd class seat or 68 Ringgit (£13 or $24) in 1st class on a daytime express.  For sleeper fares on the overnight train, see the Malaysia page.

Children aged 0 to 3 and less than 100cm in height travel free, children aged 4 to 11 and under 150cm travel at half fare, children 12 years old and upwards (or over 150cm high) pay full fare.

The International Express (train 35/36) from Bangkok to Butterworth (for Penang)...

2nd class sleepers on the International Express train from Bangkok to Butterworth (Penang)   2nd class air-conditioned sleepers, made up as upper & lower berths

This is train 35/36 from Bangkok at Butterworth (Penang).

 

By night, upper & lower berths, each with curtains for privacy...

Thai 2nd class sleeper, most modern type   2nd class sleeper on a Thai train, in daytime mode.

The cars are open-plan, with bays of seats either side of the aisle.

 

By day, a pair of spacious armchairs for two people, very civilised...

A restaurant car is attached between Hat Yai and Bangkok.  The food is remarkably cheap and good, a set meal costs around 180-200 baht (£4 or $6).  You choose from a leaflet with both pictures and English captions.  See sample menu

Restaurant car on the train from Bangkok to Hat Yai   Food in the restaurant car on a Thai train

Air-conditioned restaurant on train 35 from Bangkok to Hat Yai.

 

The seafood dinner, 200 baht (£4 or $6).

Onwards from Butterworth to Kuala Lumpur & Singapore by Malaysian Railways (KTM)...

Second class seats on a Malaysian train from Penang to Kuala lumpur & Singapore   The Rakyat Express from Penang to Kuala lumpur & Singapore at a wayside station

2nd class seats on a the Ekspres Rakyat, train 1, from Butterworth to Kuala Lumpur & Singapore...

 

Above, the Ekspres Rakyat from Butterworth to Kuala Lumpur & Singapore calls at a wayside station.

See the Malaysia page for details of Malaysian train fares, and what Malaysian trains are like.

Do I need a reservation

Yes.  All long-distance express trains in Thailand & Malaysia are 'reservation obligatory', so you will need a seat or berth reservation for each train you take.  Reservations open one month before departure.  A Bangkok to Singapore journey involves three trains and will be ticketed as three separate train journeys, either Bangkok-Hat Yai, Hat Yai-Kuala Lumpur and KL to Singapore, or Bangkok to Butterworth, Butterworth to KL, KL to Singapore.  Each ticket will have your date of departure, the train number and your seat or berth number printed on it.

Can I stop off along the way?

Yes, of course!  But you cannot buy an open ticket and randomly hop on and off trains without a reservation.  All express trains in Thailand & Malaysia are 'reservation compulsory', so you need to buy a separate ticket (which will include a reservation on a specific train) for each individual train journey you make, for the specific date you want to make it.  You can arrange all your tickets in advance or buy them as you go, keeping your options open, it's entirely up to you.  Penang and Kuala Lumpur are both well worth a stopover.

How to buy Bangkok to Singapore tickets...

You need a separate ticket for each of the two or three trains involved in this journey.  To spell it out, if you choose to change at Butterworth & KL, this means booking (1) a sleeper ticket for the Bangkok-Butterworth 'International Express', (2) another sleeper ticket for the Butterworth-KL overnight train, and (3) a KL-Singapore ticket either for one of the two daytime express trains or for the overnight sleeper.  If you choose to change at Hat Yai & KL, you need (1) a Bangkok-Hat Yai ticket on one of the several overnight trains, (2) a ticket for the Hat Yai-KL direct sleeper, and (3) a ticket for one of the two daytime trains or the overnight sleeper from KL to Singapore.  Penang is a wonderful historic city for a stopover, even if that's just an afternoon between trains, so I'd suggest changing at Butterworth (the station for Penang) rather than Hat Yai.

Step 1 is to book a sleeper on the International Express from Bangkok to Butterworth, either at the reservation office at Bangkok Hualamphong station when you get there, or by email with Thai Railways, or through one of the reputable Thai travel agencies recommended above.

Step 2 is to buy your onward Butterworth-KL & KL-Singapore tickets.  You must buy these separately, as reservations for trains within Malaysia are held on the Malaysian Railways (KTM) computer reservation system which is not accessible by Thai station reservations offices or Thai travel agencies.  So either wait till you get to Butterworth and buy your onward tickets at the station there (but be warned that if you're travelling straight through without a stopover you may find the sleepers on the Butterworth-KL train sold out for that evening's departure), or (probably the better option) book your Butterworth-KL and KL-Singapore trains online at the Malaysian Railways website, www.ktmb.com.my.  Look for 'e-ticketing'.  You pay by credit card and either print out your ticket on your PC printer or pick up tickets at the station in Malaysia.  Remember that Malaysian train reservations only open 30 days before departure.  You can't book before reservations open!  If you have any difficulty booking online, you can book by email with KTM's call centre, via callcenter@ktmb.com.my, who should reply within 3 days.  If all else fails, call KTM reservations on +60 3 2267 1200.

How to buy northbound Singapore to Bangkok tickets...

See the Malaysia page for information on how to book a northbound journey from Singapore to Bangkok

Security warnings for parts of southern Thailand...

If crossing into Thailand, you may be aware of the security warnings for the provinces of Pattani, Yala, Narathiwat and parts of Songkhla in southern Thailand.  These are mainly at the eastern end of the Thai/Malay border, whereas the Singapore-KL-Penang-Bangkok mainline passes through the safe western end via Padang Besar.

Does the Singapore-KL-Bangkok railway pass through the affected areas at all?  It does not pass through any part of Pattani, Yala or Narathiwat provinces, but it does just clip the northwest corner of Songkhla province for a relatively short 80km (50 miles) through Hat Yai.  Many Thais, Malays and western tourists pass through this section of line every day and I have no hesitation in using this route myself.  It's a shame that government warnings don't allow for the fact that people have to pass through this short stretch on the main road and rail links from Malaysia to Bangkok.  The Thai terrorists aren't targeting western travellers, but in the affected provinces, bombs have gone off outside bars and police stations, and the rail line to Yala and Sungai Kolok has been affected on a number of occasions - note that Yala & Sungai Kolok are not on the Singapore-KL-Bangkok main line but on the separate line to the eastern end of the border, see the map here.

I must emphasise that travellers should always take advice and be aware of the latest situation, I certainly don't claim to provide current security advice, your decision is entirely your own.  But purely for myself, whilst I personally would avoid visiting Sungai Kolok or Yala (although many westerners do go there), I don't worry unduly about passing swiftly through the 50 miles of the northern part of Songkhla Province on a direct train on the Singapore-Bangkok main line.  After all, even the luxurious tourist-orientated Eastern & Oriental Express goes this way!

Bangkok to Singapore by luxury train:  See the Eastern & Oriental Express page

There is one other option for train travel between Bangkok, Butterworth & Singapore...  This is the luxurious Eastern & Oriental Express which runs direct once, twice or three times per month between these cities.  It's operated by Venice Simplon Express Limited, and uses sleeping-cars originally built in Japan for the New Zealand Railways Wellington-Auckland Silver Star sleeper train (1972-1979).  However, a one-way ticket even from Butterworth to Bangkok costs at least £800, compared with the £22 charged for travel in a sleeper on the daily International Express (although admittedly, meals on the International Express are extra!).  If you're interested, see the Eastern & oriental Express page.


Bangkok to Phnom Penh & Saigon

For train & bus travel from Bangkok to Siem Reap, Phnom Penh, & Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City), see the Train travel in Cambodia page.


London to Thailand overland

London - Moscow - Beijing - Hanoi - Saigon - Bangkok (or vice versa)

If you have the time (we're talking a minimum of 3 weeks one-way), you can travel from London to Bangkok overland, see the route map here.  The links below cover travel in either direction, from London or to London:

How to arrange this trip...

Some inspiration...

You won't be the first to travel between Europe and Southeast Asia overland this way, far from it.  Check out this excellent blog from Tom Woods, "Woodlands to Woking",  woodlandstowoking.wordpress.com, and Matthew Woodward's equally excellent blog from Newcastle to Singapore http://toadstraveladventures.blogspot.co.uk.



Recommended guidebooks

Lonely Planet Thailand - click to buy onlineRough Guide to Thailand - click to buy onlineRough Guide to Southeast Asia - click to buy onlineLonely Planet South-East Asia on a Shoestring - click to buy online

Make sure you take a good guidebook.  Easily the best guidebooks for the independent traveller are the Lonely Planets and Rough Guides.  Both have stacks of practical information plus historical and cultural background.  You won't regret buying either one of these guides! 

Buy at Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com...

 

Alternatively, you can download just the chapters or areas you need in .PDF format from the Lonely Planet Website, from around £2.99 or US$4.95 a chapter.


Find hotels in Thailand

Find hotels in Thailand & Southeast Asia...

 

◄◄ Hotel search & price comparison.

www.hotelscombined.com checks all the main hotel booking sites at once to find the widest choice of hotels & the cheapest seller.  It was named as the World's Leading Hotel Comparison Site at the World Travel Awards 2013 and I highly recommend it, both to find hotels in even the smallest places and to check that another retailer isn't selling your hotel for less!

www.booking.com is my favourite booking site.  It's really clear and you can usually book with free cancellation and so confirm your accommodation at no risk months before train booking opens.

Suggested hotels in Bangkok...

Check out the Shanghai Mansion (£40 or so a night for a double, close to Hualamphong station, excellent reviews), the Centre Point Sillom (£45 or so per night, excellent reviews, river views), the Chillax Resort (£55 or so per night, free wifi, swimming pool, great reviews in spite of the name!),  Inn a Day (£75 or so per night, rave reviews, close to palace & river, balconies to all rooms, free WiFi), Shangri-La Hotel (£140 or so per night, on the river, pool, rave reviews).

Suggested hotels in Chiang Mai...

Try the Sila Boutique B&B (£37 or so for a double, rave reviews, free WiFi, inside old city), La Pillow (£35 or so per night, great reviews, free WiFi, inside the old city), Villa Thapae (£65 or so per night, free WiFi, swimming pool, all rooms with balcony, rave reviews), Tamarind Village (£100 or so per night, spa, pool, poolside restaurant, tour desk, free WiFi, inside the old city and great reviews), De Naga Hotel (£95 or so per night, inside the old city, free WiFi, swimming pool, spa, great reviews), Rachamankha Hotel (£125 or so per night, pool, spa, free WiFi, great reviews).

Deluxe choice in Bangkok:  Mandarin Oriental Hotel...  Click here to book

Known by locals (and taxi drivers) by its original name, plain Oriental Hotel, this is Bangkok's oldest and grandest hotel.  Located on the banks of the Chao Phraya River, its outdoor restaurant tables line the riverbank, where they do a great evening buffet.  Most of the rooms are now housed in two huge modern tower blocks, but hidden behind palm trees in the courtyard is the diminutive original block, today restored to within an inch of its life and housing just a few of the more expensive suites.

Hall in the original historic block, Mandarin Oriental Hotel   Suite in the old block at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel

Above left, the main hall in the original Oriental Hotel block. Above right, the sitting room of the least expensive suite in this old block.

   

The original block at the Oriental Hotel...

 

Breakfast on the riverbank terrace...

Other hotels in Bangkok or Chiang Mai...

Click for hotels in Bangkok - Click for hotels in Chiang Mai

Backpacker hostels...

www.hostelbookers.com:  If you're on a tight budget, don't forget about backpacker hostels.  Hostelbookers offers online booking of cheap private rooms or dorm beds in backpacker hostels in Paris and most other European cities at rock-bottom prices.


Flights to Bangkok

Overland travel by train & bus around Southeast Asia is an essential part of the experience, so once there, don't cheat and fly, stay on the ground!  But a long-haul flight might be unavoidable to reach Thailand in the first place.

1)  Check flight prices at www.opodo.com...

2)  Use Skyscanner to compare flight prices & routes worldwide across 600 airlines...

skyscanner generic 728x90

3)  Lounge passes...

Make the airport experience a little more bearable with a VIP lounge pass, it's not as expensive as you think, see www.loungepass.com


Travel insurance

 

 

Columbus direct travel insurance

Take out decent travel insurance, it's essential...

Never travel overseas without travel insurance from a reliable insurer, with at least £1m or preferably £5m medical cover.  It should also cover cancellation and loss of cash and belongings, up to a sensible limit.  An annual multi-trip policy is usually cheaper than several single-trip policies even for just 2 or 3 trips a year, I have an annual policy myself.  Here are some suggested insurers.  Seat61 gets a small commission if you buy through these links.

In the UK, try Columbus Direct or use Confused.com to compare prices & policies from many different insurers.

If you have a pre-existing medical condition or are over 65 (no age limit), see www.JustTravelCover.com.

        If you live in Australia, New Zealand, Ireland or the EU, try Columbus Direct's other websites.

  If you live in the USA try Travel Guard USA.

Carry a spare credit card, designed for foreign travel with no currency exchange loading & low or no ATM fees...

It costs nothing to take out an extra credit card.  If you keep it in a different part of your luggage so you're not left stranded if your wallet gets stolen, this is a form of extra travel insurance in itself.  In addition, some credit cards are significantly better for overseas travel than others.  Martin Lewis's www.moneysavingexpert.com/travel/cheap-travel-money explains which UK credit cards have the lowest currency exchange commission loadings when you buy something overseas, and the lowest cash withdrawal fees when you use an ATM abroad.  Taking this advice can save you quite a lot on each trip compared to using your normal high-street bank credit card!

You can avoid ATM charges and expensive exchange rates with a Caxton FX euro currency Visa Card, or their multi-currency 'Global Traveller' Visa Card, see www.caxtonfx.com for info.

Get an international SIM card to save on calls & mobile data...

Mobile phones can cost a fortune to use abroad, so consider getting a global pre-paid SIM card for your mobile phone which can cut call & data costs by up to 90%.  At the time of writing, www.roamsure.com claims a definite 25% saving within the EU and up to 90% saving in the rest of the world.  Incoming calls are free in 73 countries, including the USA, Australia, South Africa and EU.  There's no contract or commitment, and at time I write this Roamsure is offering a global SIM card for free when you buy £20 of call credit.  Seat61 gets some commission to support the site if you buy airtime from Roamsure.

 


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