The International Express train from Butterworth 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.

Buy train tickets

 

Click for interactive train route map...

Thailand train route map

  Buy tickets for train, bus, ferry in Thailand

In Thailand, take the train...

Thailand has one of the best metre-gauge rail systems in the world, taking the train is easily the best way to get around & see the country.  It's comfortable, safe, cheap, environmentally friendly, and unlike flying it's a genuine Thai experience.  Ride the train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai or take train+ferry or train+bus from Bangkok to Ko Samui, Phuket or Krabi.  You can travel Bangkok-Vientiane, Bangkok-Cambodia or Bangkok-Penang-Kuala Lumpur-Singapore by train, too.  The 1,200-mile journey to Singapore takes 48 hours & costs only $80/£55.  This page has schedules & fares for key train routes in Thailand and explains how to buy tickets.

Important: Bangkok Krung Thep Aphiwat Central station is now open!  The new Krung Thep Aphiwat Central Station (KTW) opened on 19 January 2023 and all long-distance trains now start/terminate there instead of Bangkok's original Hualamphong station.  Some 13 daily local trains in each direction still run to/from Hualamphong, linking it with KTW.

Restaurant car update:  Restaurant cars in Thailand were suspended due to Covid, they reopened on the Chinese-built sleeper trains 9/10, 23/24, 25/26, 31/32 in December 2022, restaurant cars on other trains will be restored by April 2023.

small bullet point  How to buy train tickets online

small bullet point  How to buy tickets at the station

small bullet point  Which station in Bangkok?

small bullet point  Bangkok's new Krung Thep Aphiwat Central station

small bullet point  Bangkok's original Hualamphong station

small bullet point  Luggage, left luggage, taking bikes & motorbikes

small bullet point  What are Thai trains like?

small bullet point  Food on Thai trains  Sample restaurant car menu

small bullet point  Map of train routes in Southeast Asia

Timetable & fares for popular routes...

small bullet point  Bangkok to Chiang Mai

small bullet point  Bangkok to Nong Khai for Laos

small bullet point  Bangkok to Ubon Ratchathani

small bullet point  Bangkok to Aranyaprathet & Cambodian border

small bullet point  Bangkok to Kanchanaburi, River Kwai & Nam Tok

small bullet point  Bangkok to Ayutthaya

small bullet point  Bangkok to Samut Songkhram - the Market train

small bullet point  Bangkok to Pattaya

small bullet point  Bangkok to Hua Hin, Surat Thani, Hat Yai & S.Kolok

Bus & ferry links...

small bullet point  Bangkok to Koh Tao (train+ferry)

small bullet point  Bangkok to Ko Samui & Ko Phangan (train+ferry)

small bullet point  Bangkok to Phuket (train+bus)

small bullet point  Bangkok to Krabi (train+bus)

small bullet point  Bangkok to the Phi Phi islands

small bullet point  Bangkok to Sukhothai (train+bus)

small bullet point  Bangkok to Chiang Rai (train+bus)

small bullet point  Singapore, Kuala Lumpur & Penang to Ko Samui

small bullet point  Singapore, Kuala Lumpur & Penang to Phuket

small bullet point  Singapore, Kuala Lumpur & Penang to Krabi

International trains & buses...

small bullet point  Bangkok to Penang, Kuala Lumpur & Singapore by train for around $80

small bullet point  Bangkok to Singapore by Eastern & Oriental Express deluxe cruise train for around $2,000.

small bullet point  Bangkok to Siem Reap, Angkor Wat, Phnom Penh & Cambodia by train & bus

small bullet point  Bangkok to Vientiane & Laos by train

small bullet point  Bangkok to Moulmein, Yangon & Burma

small bullet point  Bangkok to Saigon & Vietnam by train & bus

small bullet point  Saigon to Hanoi & Hanoi to Beijing by train

small bullet point  Train travel in Singapore & Malaysia   

small bullet point  Singapore to Jakarta by ferry

small bullet point  Europe to Thailand by Trans-Siberian Railway

Other useful information...

small bullet point  Online bus & ferry tickets

small bullet point  Train route map

small bullet point  Useful country information: visas, time zone...

small bullet point  Flights to Thailand

small bullet point  Hotels in Bangkok & Chiang Mai

small bullet point  Travel insurance, Curve card & VPN


Useful country information

Train operator:   

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

   

Time zone:

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

Dialling code:

+66

Currency:

£1 = 40 Baht.   €1 = 35 Baht.  $1 = 33 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, whether entering by air or 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:   

22 January 2023


General train travel information

How to check train times & fares...

Map of the Thai train network

Are the trains on time?

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

Buses & bus tickets...

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How to buy train tickets online

Do you need to buy tickets in advance?

When does booking open?

  Buy Thai train tickets from 12go.asia

Tickets can be collected in Bangkok, Chiang Mai or Surat Thani, or for an extra fee sent by registered post to addresses worldwide.

In Bangkok, you collect tickets from the 12Go.Asia office on the ground floor of the DOB building opposite Hualamphong station, open daily 10:00-20:00.

Ticket collection in Bangkok

Click here to see the DOB Building on Google Streetview If you arrive at Hualamphong metro (MRT) station, use exit 1 and you will see the DOB Building just 30 metres away.  Or walk out of Hualamphong mainline station and look for the DOB building across the road to the right of the line of shops.

Ticket collection office in Bangkok

12go.asia's collection point on the ground floor inside the DOB building...

Option 1, buy online from 12Go.Asia...

Option 2, buy online at www.baolau.com, recommended...

Option 3, order from a Thai travel agency...

Option 4, buy from State Railways of Thailand...

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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 90 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 Hualamphong...

Even though all long-distance trains now leave from the new Krung Thep Aphiwat Central (KTW) station 11km out of town, you can still buy tickets at the more centrally-located Hualamphong station, worth a visit in its own right.

The main ticket office are on the concourse and well organised.  TV screens above each window show what tickets each window sells.

Ticket scalping by agencies?  I've had at least one report 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   Train 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 online.  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.

Buy by phone when in Thailand on 1690.

You can call State Railways of Thailand when in Thailand by dialling 1690 - there now seems to be no 'proper' phone number accessible from outside Thailand.  It's reported that they are very helpful and are comfortable speaking English.  You'll need to give your name, passport number and contact number.  They'll give you a 10-digit reference number to collect your ticket at the ticket office, so have pen & paper handy.  However, you must book by phone at least 5 days before travel and you have to pick up and pay for the tickets at the station within 24 hoursFeedback appreciated.

Example train ticket...

As you can see from the example below, long-distance train tickets include a reservation on a specific train.  It's for a 2nd class sleeper, upper berth, in coach 2, berth number 17.  'ANS40' is the coach type, in this case A for air-conditioned, N for day & night (meaning sleeper berth), S for second class, 40-berth type.  ANF would mean air-conditioned 1st class sleeper, BNS would mean fan-cooled 2nd class sleeper.  ANSH would mean air-con 2nd class sleeper, handicapped-accessible.  The 'TRV' at the bottom is the issuing office, in this case Travex.

State Railways of Thailand example train ticket

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Which station in Bangkok?  See map...

Krung Thep Aphiwat Central station (KTW)...

The new Krung Thep Aphiwat Central station opened on 19 January 2023 and all long-distance expresses now use it instead of Hualamphong.  Officially abbreviated as KTW, this vast new transport hub is located alongside Bang Sue junction station on the old line, 7 km north of Hualamphong station, see location map.  Krung Thep is simply Bangkok in Thai.

Overview & platforms:  The street entrance is at ground level (Level 1), use entrance gate 4 for State Railways of Thailand long-distance trains.  The trains leave from the 1st floor (Level 2), follow signs to Long distance trains.  Access to the platforms is only allowed when the train becomes ready for boarding, around 20 minutes before departure.

Northern & Northeastern line trains to Chiang Mai & Nong Khai leave from platforms 1 & 2 and arrive on platforms 5 & 6.  Southern line trains to Hua Hin, Surat Thani, Hat Yai & Padang Besar leave from platforms 7 & 8 and arrive on platforms 11 & 12.  The trains exit the station on a new section of elevated railway with views over the city.

Ticket office:  The station has plenty of ticket counters for State Railways of Thailand ticket sales.  You can still buy tickets at the more centrally-located Hualamphong station if you find that more convenient.

Luggage lockers:  There is currently no left luggage facility, although luggage lockers may be added at some point.

Food & drink:  There are various food outlets, food options currently a bit limited but more may open in due course.

Toilets & showers:  There are toilets which are free to use, with baby-changing facilities.  There are also several showers which are also free to use, but you will need to ask the toilet attendant to unlock one for you.

Metro (MRT):  The red line & blue line metro (MRT) platforms are in the basement.

How to reach Krung Thep Aphiwat Central station:

By free shuttle bus:  Runs between Hualamphong station and KTW every 15 minutes from 04:30 to 23:00 every day, taking around 25 minutes.

By metro (MRT):  Metro trains run from Hualamphong & various other downtown MRT station to Bang Sue MRT station.  From Hualamphong, take the Blue Line to Tha Phra and change onto another Blue Line train to Bang Sue.  Trains run every few minutes, metro journey time 31 minutes, so around 50 minutes in total including walking and waiting.  Fare 43 baht.  The metro accept contactless MasterCard & Visa cards, just touch in and out at the ticket gates with a contactless card.

For Bangkok metro information see metro.bemplc.co.th

By local train from Hualamphong:  You may still want to experience a departure (or arrival) in Bangkok's classic central Hualamphong station.  Some 13 trains per day will still run the 7 km from Hualamphong to Bang Sue junction station on the original line, even after KTW opens.  The line takes you over many busy level crossings (a key reason the long-distance trains were moved out to KTW) and through the station serving Bangkok's royal palace. 

Check train times from Bangkok to Bang Sue Junction at www.railway.co.th/Station/StationList.  Fare 2 baht, buy at the station on the day, no reservation necessary.

Bang Sue junction station is across the road from the new KTW station.  On arrival at Bang Sue, walk towards the rear of the train and over the crossing at the southern end of the platform, cross the road on the nearby pedestrian crossing and you're there.  Just don't cut it fine if catching a long-distance train, these local trains can be delayed.

 

By taxi:  From downtown Bangkok it takes about 25 minutes and costs around 130 baht.  Taxi fare calulator: www.worldtaximeter.com/bangkok.

Bangkok Krung Thep Aphiwat Central station   Bangkok Krung Thep Aphiwat ticket counters

Main entrance.  Courtesy of Thai Train Guide.

Ticket counters.  Courtesy of Thai Train Guide.

Bangkok Krung Thep Aphiwat Central station concourse

Long-distance train concourse at Krung Thep Aphiwat Central.  Courtesy of Thai Train Guide.

Bangkok Krung Thep Aphiwat Central platform

Long-distance platform at Krung Thep Aphiwat Central.  Courtesy of Thai Train Guide.

Bangkok Hualamphong station...

Bangkok Hualamphong is Bangkok's original central station, opened in 1916 in downtown Bangkok.  It still handles local trains to Ayutthaya, the trains to Aranyaprathet and Ban Klong Luk on the Cambodian border, and the weekend excursion train to Kanchanaburi, Bridge on the River Kwai and Nam Tok waterfall.  There are regular (roughly hourly)  departures to Ban Sue junction station, adjacent to the new Krung Thep Aphiwat Central station.

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 to the left of the King's picture in the concourse photo below.  In theory, the TV screens above each window say for which trains that window is selling tickets, but most screens merely say 'All trains'.

Left luggage office:  This closed during the pandemic and has not yet reopened.  Feedback appreciated.

Food & drink:  There are various food outlets and a cafe or two on the station.  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).  Taxi fare calculator for Bangkok.

Toilets:  The toilets are beyond the information counter in the far right-hand corner of the concourse.  They are of a reasonable standard, now free.

Bangkok's Hualamphong railway station, in the morning sun

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

Inside Bangkok's Hualamphong Station

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

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Luggage on Thai trains

Luggage arrangements are really simple.  You take your own luggage onto the train with you, and put it on any suitable 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, just for peace of mind.  You can put your daypack with camera, passport, and so on, in the berth alongside you at night.  A very large suitcase would simply go on the floor alongside your seat.

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.

Luggage on Thai trains   Luggage on Thai trains

Space under seats in a 2nd class sleeper...

 

Overhead rack in the same 2nd class sleeper...

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.  The new Krung Thep Aphiwat station does not have any left luggage facilities at present, although it's possible that luggage lockers may be added at some point.

Taking a bicycle or motorbike...

You can take a bicycle or motorbike on most Thai trains for a small fee.  You can't take them on the diesel railcar (DRC) trains, or the on the Bangkok airport rail link, or on the sleeper train to/from Padang Besar in Malaysia which has no baggage car.  The new Krung Thep Aphiwat Central station handles bicycles, but not motorbikes.

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, find 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 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) for a bike, but can be up to 1230 baht for a motorbike.  It's 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 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.

Train luggage ticket   Motorbikes on train

Buy a luggage ticket on the day at the station...  Courtesy of Peter Provaznik

 

...and load your bike or motorbike into the baggage van.  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.

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What are Thai trains like?

Which class?

Thai trains have 3 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.  Indeed, many experienced travellers including myself actually prefer a cosy & sociable 2nd class sleeper to a 1st class one.  Even 3rd class is surprisingly clean and acceptable by European standards, and is an enjoyable way to travel on local trains for 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

Alcohol ban since 2014:  The sale & consumption of alcohol has unfortunately been banned on SRT stations since July 2014, a knee-jerk reaction to a specific incident.  You can no longer buy beer from a vendor or in the restaurant car.  So far most 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 usually seems little problem drinking it in the privacy of your own sleeper, although one traveller experienced a bag search and his cans of beer were confiscated.  Feedback appreciated.

1st class sleepers...

1st class sleeping-cars are air-conditioned with 9 lockable 2-berth compartments with washbasin opening off a side-corridor.  Clean sheets, blankets, soap & towels are provided.  There's a western-style toilet at the end of the corridor and even a shower, with hot water in the new Chinese-built cars but luke warm water in the older cars.  

Berths are sold individually, so one ticket buys one bed.  Solo travellers will share with another passenger of the same gender unless they pay for two tickets.  The berths convert to a 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 (berths 1 & 2 connect with berths 3 & 4, berths 5 & 6 connect with 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 may come round and take your food & 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 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 early as the 1st class car often gets fully-booked a month ahead.  If there are two of you, select one upper berth & one lower berth when booking online to get a whole compartment to yourselves.  First-time visitors often obsess about 1st class, perhaps if I were on my honeymoon I'd go 1st class for the privacy - and the new Chinese 1st class looks very nice.  But like many experienced travellers I actually prefer the more sociable open-plan 2nd class sleepers to rattling round in a 1st class compartment, especially if I'm solo.  The 2nd class bunks have curtains for privacy at night and are fine for most travellers, even families with children.  So don't feel you have to go 1st class.  You really don't!"

New high-quality 1st class sleepers on trains 9, 10, 23, 24, 25, 26, 31, 32...

High-quality 1st class sleeping-cars built in China entered service on 11 November 2016 between Bangkok & Chiang Mai on trains 9 & 10 and Bangkok & Ubon Ratchathani on trains 23 & 24.  These were joined from 2 December by trains 25 & 25 between Bangkok & Nong Khai (for Vientiane) and trains 31 & 32 between Bangkok & Hat Yai.  Their layout is similar to the regular Thai type, with nine 2-berth compartments with washbasin opening off a side corridor.  They feature TV information screens and power sockets for laptops & mobiles.  There are toilets and a hot shower at the end of the corridor.  A slightly higher fare is charged for travel in these new cars.  See the video here or this article here.

New Chinese-built train between Bangkok & Chiang Mai

A 1st class sleeping-car boarding at Ubon Ratchathani, note the monk in his orange robes.  These new Chinese-built 1st & 2nd class sleeping-cars entered service in November 2016 on trains 9 & 10 between Bangkok & Chiang Mai & trains 23 & 24 between Bangkok & Ubon Ratchathani.  Photos courtesy of Miriam Laffi & Andy & Fiona.

Corridor in new Thai 1st class sleeper   New 1st class sleeper with beds folded out   1st class sleeper on new Thai train

The side corridor...

 

Beds made up.

 

1st class 2-bed sleeper in seats mode.  Larger photo.

Regular 1st class sleepers on all other trains except 51 & 52...

If your train has a 1st class sleeper, it will be of this regular Thai type, unless it one of the trains which have been equipped with new Chinese-built sleepers (trains 9, 10, 23, 24, 25, 26, 31, 32), or trains 51 & 52 which use a second-hand Japanese sleeping-car as shown in the next section.  These cars have nine lockable 2-berth compartments opening off a side corridor.  There are toilets are at the end of the corridor, along with a cold but still very welcome shower.

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 older Thai type, about to leave Hualamphong Station at the rear of a Special Express train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai...

 

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

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.

Japanese 1st class sleeper on trains 51, 52.

Train 51/52 between Bangkok & Chiang Mai is an exception.  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.  Incidentally, until 10 November 2016, these cars were used on train 13/14, but from 11 November 2016 they are reassigned to train 51/52.

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

Train 51/52 has an ex-Japanese sleeping-car: Unlike all the other trains, trains 51 & 52 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.  This car was reassigned from trains 13 & 14 to train 51 & 52 from 11 November 2016.

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, seats are arranged in cosy face-to-face pairs on each side of the aisle, see the photos below.  At night, the attendant makes up the sleeping berths by pulling together each pair of seats to form a lower berth, and folding an upper berth out from the wall above.  He then arranges a mattress, pillow and fresh clean bedding on each berth, and hooks up the curtains on each bunk for privacy - see him do this in the video below!

Luggage goes on the overhead racks or under the seats, or on the floor next to your seats.  Some people bring a bike lock to chain it up for peace of mind, but you'd normally take daypacks with any valuables into the berth with you.

2nd class sleepers come in both air-conditioned and non-air-conditioned varieties, the air-con ones are usually cleaner and more modern, but the non-a/c ones have windows which open, better for taking photographs of the scenery.  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."

New high-quality 2nd class sleepers on trains 9, 10, 23, 24, 25, 26, 31, 32...

New high-quality Chinese-built sleepers came into service on trains 9 & 10 between Bangkok & Chiang Mai, and trains 23 & 24 between Bangkok & Ubon Ratchathani starting 11 November 2016.  These were joined on 2 December by trains 25 & 26 between Bangkok & Nong Khai (for Vientiane) and trains 31 & 32 between Bangkok & Hat Yai.  The layout of these cars is essentially the same as the previous most-modern type shown below.  See the video here.

New Chinese-built train between Bangkok & Chiang Mai

A new Chinese-built 2nd class sleeper at Bangkok Hualamphong...  Photos courtesy of Miriam Laffi & Andy & Fiona.

2nd class sleepers   Attendant makes up the beds   Curtains for privacy at night

Bays of 2 seats each side of aisle. Seats pull together to form lower berth, upper berth folds from wall.  Larger photo

 

Beds are made up by the attendant...

 

Each berth has its own curtains for privacy...

Modern air-con 2nd class sleepers used on the next-best trains...

These modern air-conditioned sleepers now operate on trains 13 & 14 between Bangkok & Chiang Mai, amongst others trains.  There is a washing area with two sinks and western & squat toilets at the end of the coach.  Soap & toilet paper are provided.  At night, upper & lower berths fold out, each with curtains for privacy.  The modern cars previously running in trains 1 & 2 Bangkok-Chiang Mai were reassigned to trains 13 & 14 in November 2016.

2nd class air-conditioned sleepers, made up as upper & lower berths   2nd class sleepers on the International Express trainr
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?  Larger photo.

Watch the video:  Making up the beds in a 2nd class sleeper...

Older air-con sleepers used on less important trains...

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.

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

Non-air-con 2nd class sleepers with fan...

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...

Non-air-conditioned sleepers on a Thai train   Exterior of older non-air-con carriages on a Thai express train

Restaurant cars...  See sample menu

All the most important trains have a restaurant car, including trains 9, 10, 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 July 2014 as a knee-jerk reaction to a specific incident.  Restaurant cars therefore no longer sell beer.

Update 2023:  Restaurant cars in Thailand were suspended due to Covid, they reopened on all premier trains using the Chinese-built rolling stock in December 2022, restaurant cars on other long-distance trains will be restored by April 2023.

Restaurant car on Chinese-built Thai train   Thai restaurant car meal

A set meal in one of the new Chinese-built restaurant cars used on trains 9 & 10 Bangkok-Chiang Mai, trains 23 & 24 Bangkok-Ubon Ratchathani, train 25 & 26 Bangkok-Nong Khai, train 31 & 32 Bangkok-Hat Yai.  There a several choices of set meal costing about 210 baht.  Courtesy of www.DiscoverbyRail.comLarger photo.

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

Meal in Thai restaurant car...

 

Older air-conditioned restaurant car...

2nd class seats...

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 7 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

Train 7, the daytime Special Express DRC from Bangkok to Chiang Mai with 2nd class air-con seating.

 

Special Express DRC as used on trains 7 & 8 Bangkok-Chiang Mai & 40-43 Bangkok-Surat Thani.

2nd class seats on 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 older non-air-con carriages on a Thai express train

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

 

2nd class seats...

3rd class seats...

Third class 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.

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Bangkok to Chiang Mai

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

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

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It's Thailand's most popular train route.  Travelling from Bangkok to Chiang Mai by sleeper is effectively faster than flying, far less stressful, far more fun, better for the environment and it saves you a hotel bill, too.  Think you don't see much from a night train?  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.  The new Chinese-built high-quality sleepers on trains 9 & 10 are excellent, and of course, the sleeper train itself is the scenery, a real Thai train with a chance to meet Thai people.

 Bangkok ► Chiang Mai

Km

Train number:

111

7***

3

109

9*

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,2,3,R

0 km

 Bangkok KTW depart:

07:30

09:05

11:20

14:15

18:40

20:05

20:45

22:30

15

 Don Muang depart:

07:47

09:20

11:40

14:32

18:57

20:22

21:02

22:47

64

 Ayutthaya depart:

08:38

09:55

12:16

15:19

19:45

21:07

21:48

23:36

126

 Lopburi  arrive/depart:

09:44

10:29

13:00

16:23

20:42

22:00

22:39

00:31

382

 Phitsanulok  arrive/depart:

13:45

13:22

16:04

20:37

00:18

01:49

02:38

04:40

722

 Lamphun  arrive/depart:

-

19:15

-

03:44

06:51

08:21

-

11:50

744

 Chiang Mai arrive:

-

19:30

-

04:05

07:15

08:40

-

12:10

 Chiang Mai ► Bangkok

Train number:

106

112

102

 8**

108

52

 14**

10*

Facilities on board:

2,3

2,3

2,3,R

DRC

S,2,3,R

S,2,3,R

1,S,R

1,S,R

 Chiang Mai depart:

-

-

06:30

08:50

-

15:30

17:00

18:00

 Lamphun  arrive/depart

-

-

06:52

09:05

-

15:48

17:20

18:20

 Phitsanulok  arrive/depart

08:55

10:03

13:18

14:44

22:09

23:01

00:01

00:50

 Lopburi arrive/depart

12:20

14:39

18:06

17:28

02:28

02:45

03:39

04:05

 Ayutthaya arrive:

13:11

15:59

19:16

18:06

03:21

03:57

04:54

04:59

 Don Muang arrive:

13:53

17:03

20:13

18:40

04:14

04:30

05:18

05:58

 Bangkok KTW arrive:

14:40

17:20

20:25

18:55

04:30

05:10

06:10

06:50

*  Train 9/10 is the best train to take as it uses new high-quality Chinese-built sleeping-cars introduced in 2016.

**  Train 13/14 is the second-best sleeper train using the next most modern cars, northbound it passes the best scenery near Chiang Mai in daylight.

*** Train 7/8 is the best daytime option, the air-conditioned express railcar.

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).

How to buy tickets   What are Thai trains like?   Map of train routes in SE Asia   Luggage & bikes   Recommended hotels in Chiang Mai & Bangkok

 How much does it cost?

 One-way per person in Thai baht, 2023

1st class a/c sleeper

2nd class a/c sleeper

2nd class a/c seat

2nd class seat

3rd class seat

 Bangkok to Chiang Mai on train 9/10

Upper berth 1,446

Lower berth 1,646

Single use 2,446

Upper berth 938

Lower berth 1,038

-

-

-

 Bangkok to Chiang Mai on train 13/14

Upper berth 1,246

Lower berth 1,446

Single use 1,946

Upper berth 768

Lower berth 838

-

-

-

 Bangkok to Chiang Mai on train 51/52

-

Upper berth 748

Lower berth 818

Older type, upper 728

Older type, lower 798

-

428

270

 Bangkok to Chiang Mai on train 7/8

-

-

638

-

-

 Bangkok to Chiang Mai on train 109/110

-

Upper berth 688

Lower berth 758

-

388

230

Fares are in Thai baht.  £1 = 40 baht.   €1 = 35 baht.  $1 = 33 baht.

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

Buy train tickets

Chiang Mai station Chiang Mai ticket office

Chiang Mai station.  Photos courtesy of Maureen Spencer.

 

Chiang Mai ticket office & information desk.

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Bangkok to Nong Khai for Laos

 

Buy train tickets

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:

75*

77

25**

133

Facilities on board:

DRC

DRC

1,S,R

3

0 km

 Bangkok KTW dep.

08:45

18:35

20:25

21:25

15

 Don Muang depart:

09:02

19:25

20:42

21:42

64

 Ayutthaya depart:

09:42

20:04

21:39

22:30

562

 Udon Thani arrive:

16:58

03:35

05:44

07:07

614

 Nong Khai arrive:

17:30

04:15

06:25

07:55

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 daytime train, air-con express diesel railcar.

** Recommended train, high-quality sleeper train with modern Chinese-built sleeping-cars introduced in December 2016.

A train connection to Vientiane in Laos opened in 2009:  The railway was extended across the Friendship Bridge to a new station at Thanaleng on the Laos side of the Friendship Bridge some 13 km from downtown Vientiane.  Two daily local shuttle trains link Nong Khai with Thanaleng in each direction, one of them providing a connection with train 69/70 to/from Bangkok.  See the Laos page for travel between Bangkok & Vientiane.

 Nong Khai ► Bangkok

Train number:

76*

78

134

26**

Facilities on board:

DRC

DRC

3

1,S,R

 Nong Khai depart:

07:45

18:15

18:50

19:40

 Udon Thani depart:

08:16

18:52

19:38

20:20

 Ayutthaya arrive:

15:35

02:50

04:14

04:33

 Don Muang arrive:

16:19

03:36

05:13

05:33

 Bangkok KTW arrive:

16:35

04:35

05:30

05:50

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

 How much does it cost?

 One-way per person in Thai baht, 2023

1st class a/c sleeper

2nd class a/c sleeper

2nd class a/c seat

2nd class seat

3rd class seat

 Bangkok to Nong Khai on train 25/26

Upper berth 1,350

Lower berth 1,550

Single use 2,350

Upper berth 894

Lower berth 994

-

-

-

 Bangkok to Nong Khai on train 75/76

-

-

494

-

251

 Bangkok to Nong Khai on train 133/134

-

-

-

344

211

Fares are in Thai baht.  £1 = 40 baht.   €1 = 35 baht.  $1 = 33 baht.

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

Buy train tickets

Nong Khai station Nong Khai station

Nong Khai station.  Photos courtesy of David Smith.

 

Nong Khai ticket office & waiting area.

Train 134 from Nong Khai to Bangkok

Train 134 to Bangkok at Nong Khai with 3rd class seats.  Most westerners will prefer sleeper train 26!  Courtesy of David Smith.

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Bangkok to Ubon Ratchathani

 Bangkok ► Ubon Ratchathani

Km

Train number:

21*

135

71*

139

 23**

141

Facilities on board:

DRC

2,3,R

DRC

s,2,3,R

1,S,R

2,3,R

0 km

 Bangkok KTW depart:

06:10

07:10

10:35

19:25

21:05

23:05

15

 Don Muang depart:

06:27

07:27

10:52

19:41

21:22

23:26

64

 Ayutthaya depart:

06:59

08:28

11:31

20:26

22:02

00:16

568

 Ubon Ratchathani arrive:

14:00

18:00

19:50

06:15

06:35

10:20

Train classes:

1 = 1st class sleepers.  S = 2nd class air-con sleepers.  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 train for daytime travel, air-con express diesel railcar.  Train 71/71 is an older railcar which also has 3rd class non-a/c seats.

** Recommended overnight train, train 23/24 uses new high-quality Chinese-built 1st & 2nd class air-con sleepers, introduced November 2016.

 Ubon Ratchathani ► Bangkok

Train number:

72*

136

146

22*

142

24**

140

Facilities on board:

DRC

2,3,R

2,3,R

DRC

2,3,R

1,S,R

S,s,2,3,R

 Ubon Ratchathani depart:

05:40

07:00

09:30

14:50

17:35

19:00

20:40

 Ayutthaya arrive:

13:24

16:37

19:24

21:42

03:12

03:42

05:50

 Don Muang arrive:

14:14

17:38

20:16

22:20

04:02

04:33

06:53

 Bangkok KTW arrive:

14:30

17:55

21:10

22:35

05:00

04:50

07:10

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

 How much does it cost?

 One-way per person, Thai baht, 2023

1st class a/c sleeper

2nd class a/c sleeper

2nd class a/c seat

2nd class seat

3rd class seat

 Bangkok to Ubon Ratchathani train 23/24

Upper berth 1,317

Lower berth 1,517

Single use 2,317

Upper berth 879

Lower berth 979

-

-

-

 Bangkok to Ubon Ratchathani train 21/22

-

-

579

-

-

 Bangkok to Ubon Ratchathani train 71/72

-

-

479

-

245

 Bangkok to Ubon Ratchathani train 135/136

-

-

-

329

205

Fares are in Thai baht.  £1 = 40 baht.   €1 = 35 baht.  $1 = 33 baht.

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

Buy train tickets

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.

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Bangkok to Aranyaprathet & the Cambodian border

Ban Klong Luk is located at the Cambodian border, just metres from the border post.  Trains used to run to Aranyaprathet, 255 km from Bangkok and 6 km from the Cambodian border, but were extended to Ban Klong Luk in July 2019, just 200m from the Thai border post.  You can now walk through the Thai & Cambodian border posts into Poiphet on the Cambodian side from where buses run to Siem Reap & Phnom Penh.  See the Cambodia page for information about the journey from Bangkok to Siem Reap (for the Angkor Wat temples) & Phnom Penh, and about onwards bus transport to Saigon in Vietnam.  Trains 275-280 have 3rd class seats, but Thai 3rd class is clean and comfortable, a very pleasant way to travel with vendors selling food & soft drinks.  Train 279/280 is a diesel railcar.

Update 2023:  These trains continue to use Bangkok Hualamphong station.

 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

 Ban Klong Luk (border) depart:

06:58

13:53

 Aranyaprathet arrive:

11:10

17:20

 Aranyaprathet depart:

07:05

14:00

 Ban Klong Luk (border) arrive:

11:17

17:27

 Bangkok Hualamphong arrive:

12:05

19:40

 How much does it cost?

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

 No reservation required, just turn up, buy a ticket & go

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 train to Bangkok at Aranyaprathet

Train 276 to Bangkok, at Aranyaprathet.  Trains 275 & 276 are locomotive-hauled carriages like this...

Train 279 Bangkok to Aranyaprathet

Train 276 (on the left) passes Bangkok to Ban Klong Luk train 279 (on the right).  Trains 279 & 280 are diesel railcars like this.  This is Kabin Buri, where eastbound & westbound trains are scheduled to pass each other.  Photo courtesy of David Smith.

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Bangkok to Kanchanaburi See the Bridge on the River Kwai page...

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, see the Bridge on the River Kwai page for details.

The infamous Bridge on the River Kwai

The infamous Bridge on the River Kwai...

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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.  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.  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.

Buses leave Phitsanulok for Sukhothai frequently between 07:00 and 19:00, fare around 40 baht or so, journey time 1 hour.

One-time capital of the Sukhothai Kingdom, the UNESCO-designated ruins are 12 km outside Sukhothai town, easily reached by local transport.

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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.

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

Ayutthaya station, 1h45 from Bangkok...

Bangkok to Ayutthaya

Ayutthaya is the UNESCO-listed ancient capital of Siam, with impressive ruins and temples.  It's a great day trip from Bangkok, or you can stop off on your way between Bangkok & Chiang Mai.  The start of the UNESCO-listed area is some 3.5 km from Ayutthaya station, a 44-minute walk or short hop by tuk-tuk, see map.

Bangkok-Ayutthaya by local train...

There are a range of local trains from the conveniently-located Bangkok Hualamphong station to Ayutthaya with basic but clean 3rd class seats, taking a leisurely 1h45 for the 71 km (44 miles).  No reservation is necessary, just turn up, buy a ticket at the station and hop on.  3rd class isn't crowded outside peak times, as a day tripper from Bangkok you'll be going in the opposite direction from commuter crowds in any case.  It's a pleasant way to get there, sitting next to an open window with a cool breeze blowing in, as the train clickety-clacks along.

 Bangkok ► Ayutthaya

Train number:

303

339

201

209

233

211

207

301

341

317

313

Facilities on board:

3

3

3

3

3

3

3

3

3

3

3

 Bangkok Hualamphong depart:

04:15

05:05

09:30

11:15

11:30

12:55

14:10

16:30

17:00

17:30

18:20

 Ayutthaya arrive:

05:48

06:44

11:27

13:01

13:06

14:31

15:57

18:23

18:52

19:12

20:08

To check these train times, go to See www.railway.co.th and look for Timetables.

 Ayutthaya ► Bangkok

Train number:

314

302

342

318

208

304

340

212

202

234

210

Facilities on board:

3

3

3

3

3

3

3

3

3

3

3

 Ayutthaya depart:

05:07

05:46

06:38

07:10

08:26

09:00

09:41

10:27

12:14

12:40

18:48

 Bangkok Hualamphong arrive:

06:50

07:35

08:30

08:50

10:15

10:30

11:10

12:10

14:05

14:25

20:35

 Fares

 Bangkok to Ayutthaya:  20 baht (£0.45 or $0.50) 3rd class

 No reservation required - just turn up, buy a ticket & go.

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.

Bangkok-Ayutthaya by express train...

You can also travel between Bangkok & Ayutthaya by express train.  These are faster (typically 1 hour), more comfortable and you get a reserved seat.  On the downside, all express trains now leave from the less-convenient Krung Thep Aphiwat Central station 7 km north of Hualamphong, and tickets need to be pre-booked. 

Book online at www.baolau.com with instant confirmation,  You print your own ticket and can board the train with the printout.

You must book at least the day before.  On the day of travel, tickets aren't sold online, only at stations.

Booking for most trains opens 30 days ahead, but there are a few long-distance express trains (including express air-con railcar SP7 on its way to Chiang Mai) for which short-hop tickets such as Bangkok to Ayutthaya are only sold the day before, to avoid short-hop passengers using up long-distance places.

Using www.baolau.com you'll see that each train number is preceded by RP (rapid), EX (express) or SP (special express).  The Bangkok-Ayutthaya fare on a rapid (RP) train is 20 baht in non-a/c 3rd class, 61 baht in non-a/c 2nd class.

Fares for EX & SP trains are significantly higher because they carry an express surcharge and they may have air-con cars or sleepers with higher fares.  A non-a/c 2nd class seat on a rapid (RP) train is a good choice if the timings suit you, the cars have opening windows making it a pleasant option.

Incidentally, if you're returning from Ayutthaya to Bangkok in the afternoon, the long gap in 3rd class local trains between lunchtime and early evening may make a seat on an express train look a good option - and it might well be!  Just remember that whilst the 18:48 local train might be more or less on time, a late afternoon express train coming from way up country could be an hour late by the time it reaches Ayutthaya.  Not a reason not to book it, but bear that in mind when deciding between the 18:48 3rd class local train or the 16:37 Rapid - though I reckon the 16:37 rapid still usually gets to Bangkok first!

Stop off at Ayutthaya on the way to Chiang Mai?

All trains between Bangkok and Chiang Mai, Nong Khai & Ubon Ratchathai stop at Ayutthaya.  It's easiest to use the 3rd class local trains for the Bangkok-Ayutthaya section rather than booking a seat on an express, 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.

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Bangkok to Samut SongkhramThe 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...

Bangkok ► Mae Khlong Market

Mae Khlong Market ► Bangkok

For more information, photos and a video, see www.nomadicnotes.comk.  The trip makes an interesting excursion from Bangkok.

Mae Khlong market

Mae Khlong market, with many tourists photographing the train.  Photo courtesy of Ian Hutton...

Train at Maekhlong station

Train at Mae Khlong station...  Courtesy of Steve Mason

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Bangkok to Southern Thailand...

There are plenty of good air-conditioned trains from Bangkok to Hua Hin, Chumphon, Surat Thani & Hat Yai, with connections by ferry or bus to Thailand's popular beaches and islands such as Phuket, Krabi or Ko Samui.

You can also travel to Malaysia & Singapore this way, by train from Bangkok to Penang, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, see the Bangkok to Malaysia & Singapore page.  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 the security concerns around Sungai Kolok at the eastern end of the Thai/Malay border.

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

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

Km

Train number:

43*

261**

171

31*

37 *

45*

169

83*

173

167

85*

39/41

Facilities on board:

DRC

3

S,s,2,3

1,S,R

1,S,2,3,R

S

S,s,2,3

1,S,2,3,R

S,s,2,3,R

S,s,2,3,R

1,S,s,2,3,R

DRC

-7

 Bangkok Hualamphong depart:

-

09:20

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

0 km

 Bangkok KTW depart:

08:10

|

13:10

14:50

15:35

15:35

15:35

17:30

18:10

18:50

20:10

22:20

57

 Nakhon Pathom depart

09:11

10:55

14:11

15:53

16:46

16:46

17:15

18:34

19:11

19:59

21:13

23:20

222

 Hua Hin arrive/depart

12:09

14:15

17:39

19:07

20:06

20:06

20:10

21:52

22:56

23:29

00:49

02:18

478

 Chumphon (for Koh Tao ferry)

16:36

-

22:10

23:19

00:21

00:21

00:52

02:40

04:10

04:56

05:53

07:12

644

 Surat Thani (for Ko Samui, Krabi)

18:50

-

01:33

02:31

03:35

03:35

03:48

05:25

06:55

07:47

08:32

09:25

838

 Trang arrive:

-

-

|

|

|

|

|

08:50

-

11:37

-

|

938

 Hat Yai arrive:

-

-

06:34

07:25

08:41

08:41

09:30

-

-

-

-

13:22

1152

 Sungai Kolok arrive:

-

-

10:45

-

11:20

|

-

-

-

-

-

-

983

 Padang Besar I (Malay border):

-

-

-

-

-

 10:50*

-

-

-

-

-

-

1154

 Butterworth (Penang, Malaysia):

-

-

-

-

-

(14:26)

-

-

-

-

-

-

* Malaysian time is one hour ahead of Thai time, times shown for Padang Besar & Butterworth are Malaysian time.  Be warned that State Railways of Thailand timetables usually show Padang Besar times in Thai time!

To/from Butterworth, you change trains at Padang Besar, hence the Butterworth time is in italics & (brackets).

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 so not recommended for overnight journeys.

* Recommended trains - express railcar by day, air-con sleepers by night.  Train 31/32 uses high-quality Chinese-built sleeping-cars introduced December 2016

** Useful 3rd class train between Bangkok Hualamphong & Hua Hin. No reservation needed, cannot sell out - 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 ► Chumphon ► Hua Hin ► Bangkok

Train number:

40*

174

86*

42/44

168

170

84*

172

46*

38*

32*

262**

Facilities on board:

DRC

S,s,2,3,R

1,S,s,2,3,R

DRC

S,s,2,3

S,s,2,3

1,S,2,3,R

S,s,2,3,R

S

1,S,2,3,R

1,S,R

3

 Butterworth (Penang) depart:

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

(14:25)

-

-

-

 Padang Besar (Malay border) depart:

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

18:00

-

-

-

 Sungai Kolok depart:

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

12:00

|

14:20

-

-

 Hat Yai depart:

-

-

-

16:33

-

14:21

-

15:40

18:15

18:15

17:45

-

 Trang depart:

-

-

-

|

13:14

|

17:00

|

|

|

|

-

 Surat Thani arrive/depart:

10:40

16:13

18:37

21:05

16:58

19:31

20:11

21:06

23:04

23:04

22:24

-

 Chumphon arrive/depart:

12:46

19:00

21:15

23:18

19:48

22:09

22:41

23:58

01:32

01:32

00:50

-

 Hua Hin arrive/depart:

16:01

00:13

02:30

04:27

01:27

03:39

04:10

05:24

06:59

06:59

05:52

14:30

 Nakhon Pathom arrive:

18:26

03:47

06:24

07:33

05:28

07:07

08:11

09:10

10:48

10:48

09:29

18:27

 Bangkok KTW arrive: 

20:30

05:10

07:45

08:45

07:00

08:25

09:25

10:30

12:05

12:05

10:50

|

 Bangkok Hualamphong arrive:

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

20:20

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

 How much does it cost?

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

rapid train

3rd class seat

rapid train

Hua Hin

-

-

410

150

94

Chumphon

Upper berth 1,030

Lower berth 1,230

Single use 1,730

Upper berth 659

Lower berth 729

509

299

192

Surat Thani

Upper berth 1,372

Lower berth 1,572

Single use 2,372

Upper berth 904

Lower berth 1,004

604

354

216

Hat Yai

Upper berth 1,590

Lower berth 1,790

Single use 2,590

Upper berth 1,003

Lower berth 1,103

675

453

258

Fares are in Thai baht.  £1 = 40 baht.   €1 = 39 baht.  $1 = 33 baht.

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

Buy train tickets

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 any problems simply passing through a small part of the less-affected area non-stop on board a train via the Singapore-KL-Penang-Hat Yai-Bangkok main rail line via Padang Besar.  Although travellers should always take advice and be aware of the current situation.  I certainly don't claim to provide current security advice!

Scenery from the train in southern Thailand

Scenery along the single-track railway linking Bangkok with southern Thailand...

Surat Thani station

Surat Thani station...

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Bangkok to Ko Tao

Option 1, via Lomprayah Ferry (fast catamaran)

Book a comfy sleeper train from Bangkok to Chumphon overnight and have breakfast on arrival - Chumphon station is in the town centre.  A Lomprayah minivan leaves from outside the station for the 26 km drive to the Lomprayah pier for the Lomprayah catamaran to Ko Tao.

 Bangkok ► Ko Tao 

 

 Ko Tao ► Bangkok  

Train number:

85

 Ferry + minivan operator:

Lomprayah

Facilities on board train:

1,S,2,3,R

 Ko Tao (Mae Haad) depart by ferry:

10:15

 Bangkok KTW depart by train

20:10

 Chumphon Thung Makham Noi Pier arrive:

12:45

 Chumphon station arrive by train:

05:53

 Chumphon station arrive by minivan:

13:00

Minivan & ferry operated by:

Lomprayah

Take shuttle bus to rail station.  Train number:

174

86

 Chumphon station depart by minivan:

12:00

Facilities on board train:

S,2,3,R

1,S,2,3,R

 Chumphon Thung Makham Noi Pier ferry:

13:00

 Chumphon station depart by train:

19:00

21:15

 Ko Tao arrive by ferry:

14:45

 Bangkok KTW arrive by train:

05:10

07:45

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 train can run an hour or two late, these schedules allow for that.  The minivan+ferry is run by www.lomprayah.com.

How much does it cost?

How to buy tickets...

Option 2, via Surat Thani...

The train-ferry connections actually work just as well via Surat Thani & Ko Samui, though it's a long way round.  See the section below.

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Bangkok to Ko Samui & Ko Phangan

It's easy to travel from Bangkok to Ko Samui, Ko Phangan or Ko Tao, using a train to Surat Thani then a combined minivan+ferry service operated by Lomprayah.  It's the safe, comfortable & environmentally-friendly way to travel, much 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.  You then take the fast ferry from Don Sak to Ko Samui, Ko Phangan & Ko Tao.  Here is the recommended timetable.

Option 1, via Lomprayah Ferry (fast catamaran)

 Bangkok ► Ko Samui, Ko Phangan, Ko Tao 

 

 Ko Samui, Ko Phangan & Ko Tao ► Bangkok  

Train number:

83

173

 Ferry operator:

Lomprayah

Facilities on board train:

1,S,2,3,R

S,2,3,R

 Ko Tao depart by ferry:

09:30

 Bangkok KTW depart by train

17:30

18:10

 Ko Phangan depart by ferry:

11:00

 Surat Thani station arrive by train:

05:25

06:55

 Ko Samui (Nathon pier) depart by ferry:

11:45

Shuttle bus & ferry operated by:

Lomprayah

 Surat Thani Don Sak pier arrive by ferry:

12:45

 Surat Thani station depart by minivan:

09:30

 Surat Thani station arrive by minivan:

14:15

 Don Sak pier depart by ferry:

11:00

Take shuttle bus to rail station.  Train number:

174

86

 Ko Samui (Nathon pier) arrive:

11:45

Facilities on board train:

S,2,3,R

1,S,2,3,R

 Ko Phangan arrive:

12:45

 Surat Thani station depart by train:

16:13

18:37

 Ko Tao arrive:

14:15

 Bangkok KTW arrive by train:

05:10

07:45

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 train can run an hour or two late, these schedules allow for that.  Have breakfast in Surat Thani!  The minivan+ferry is run by www.lomprayah.com.

How much does it cost?

How to buy tickets...

Option 2, via Seatrans Ferry (conventional ferry)

 Bangkok ► Ko Samui

 

 Ko Samui ► Bangkok

Train number:

83

173

 Ferry operator:

Seatran

Seatran

Train facilities:

1,S,2,3,R

S,2,3,R

 Ko Samui (Nathon pier) depart by ferry:

06:00

14:00

 Bangkok KTW depart by train

17:30

18:10

 Don Sak pier arrive by ferry:

07:30

15:30

 Surat Thani station arrive by train:

05:25

06:55

 Surat Thani station arrive by minivan:

09:30

17:30

Shuttle bus to Don Sak Pier.  Ferry operator:

Seatran

Seatran

Take shuttle bus to rail station.  Train number:

40

86

 Surat Thani station depart by minivan:

08:00

09:30

Train facilities:

DRC

1,S,2,3,R

 Don Sak pier depart by ferry:

11:00

12:00

 Surat Thani station depart by train:

10:40

18:37

 Ko Samui (Nathon pier) arrive:

12:30

13:30

 Bangkok KTW arrive by train:

19:45

07:45

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 train can run an hour or two late, these schedules allow for that.  Have breakfast in Surat Thani!  The minivan+ferry is run by www.seatranferry.com.

How much does it cost?

How to buy tickets...

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Bangkok to Phuket

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 4h30.

Bangkok  ► Phuket

Phuket  ► Bangkok

How much does it cost?

How to buy tickets...

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Bangkok to Krabi...

Krabi hasn't got a railway station, but it's easy to get there using a comfortable train to Surat Thani 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.

Bangkok  ► Krabi

Krabi  ► Bangkok

How much does it cost?

How to buy tickets...

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Bangkok to Phi Phi islands...

The Phi Phi islands can be reached by ferry from either Phuket or Krabi.

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Bangkok to Pattaya

A train line links Bangkok with the popular resort of Pattaya.  A 3rd class train runs Monday-Fridays, comfortable enough, cheap, no reservation is necessary, just turn up, buy a ticket and hop on, see the 3rd class photos here.  At weekends State Railways of Thailand run an air-conditioned Special Express railcar, with 2nd class reserved seats.  Both trains are a good and pleasant way to reach Pattaya, and they continue to use Bangkok's original Hualamphong station.  You can check these times at www.baolau.com.

 Bangkok ► Pattaya

 

 Pattaya ► Bangkok

Days of operation:

Mon-Fri

Sat & Sun

Days of operation:

Mon-Fri

Sat & Sun

Train number:

283

SP997

Train number:

284

SP998

Classes on board:

3rd

2nd AC

Facilities on board:

3rd

2nd AC

 Bangkok Hualamphong depart:

06:55

06:45

 Pattaya depart:

14:21

16:26

 Pattaya station arrive:

10:34

09:13

 Bangkok Hualamphong arrive:

18:15

18:45

Fares...

How to buy tickets...

Weekend express railcar from Bangkok to Pattaya

Special Express 997 from Bangkok to Pattaya.  If it looks a bit like a British class 158 train, that's because it is a 158, British-built to a similar design  Photo courtesy of Paul Loynes.

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Bangkok - Kuala Lumpur - Singapore

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Bangkok to Phnom Penh, Saigon

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Bangkok to Yangon & Burma

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

Singapore & Malaysia ► Ko Samui

Ko Samui ► Malaysia & Singapore

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Singapore, Kuala Lumpur & Penang to Phuket...

Singapore & Malaysia ► Phuket

Phuket ► Malaysia & Singapore

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Singapore, Kuala Lumpur & Penang to Krabi...

Singapore & Malaysia ► Krabi

Krabi ► Malaysia & Singapore

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London to Thailand by Trans-Siberian Railway

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, eastbound from London to Bangkok or westbound from Bangkok 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 Edinburgh to Singapore www.matthew-woodward.com/edinburgh-to-singapore.

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Recommended guidebooks

Take a good guidebook, a sound investment even in the age of free info on the internet.  Easily the best guidebooks for the independent traveller are the Lonely Planets and Rough Guides, they'll zero you in on the most important sights, with stacks of practical information plus historical and cultural background.  You won't regret buying either of these guides...Amazon logo

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.

Lonely Planet Thailand - click to buy online Rough Guide to Thailand - click to buy online Rough Guide to Southeast Asia - click to buy online Lonely Planet Southeast Asia on a Shoestring - click to buy online

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Hotels in Thailand

Suggested hotels in Bangkok...

Consider the Shanghai Mansion (close to Hualamphong station, excellent reviews), the Centre Point Sillom (excellent reviews, river views), the Chillax Resort (free wifi, swimming pool, great reviews in spite of the name!),  Inn a Day (rave reviews, close to palace & river, balconies to all rooms, free WiFi), Shangri-La Hotel (on the river, pool, rave reviews).

Suggested hotels in Chiang Mai...

Try the Sila Boutique B&B (rave reviews, free WiFi, inside old city), La Pillow (great reviews, free WiFi, inside the old city), Villa Thapae (free WiFi, swimming pool, all rooms with balcony, rave reviews), Tamarind Village (spa, pool, poolside restaurant, tour desk, free WiFi, inside the old city and great reviews), De Naga Hotel (inside the old city, free WiFi, swimming pool, spa, great reviews), Rachamankha Hotel (pool, spa, free WiFi, great reviews).

The classic choice in Bangkok Mandarin Oriental Hotel...

Known by locals (and taxi drivers) by its original name, plain Oriental Hotel, the Mandarin Oriental 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, main hall in the original Oriental Hotel. Above right, the sitting room of the least expensive suite in this old block.

Oriental Hotel, old buidling   Oriental Hotel, old building   Breakfast on the terrace at the Oriental Hotel, Bangkok

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

Find hotels at Booking.comMy favourite hotel search site: www.booking.com

www.booking.com is my favourite hotel booking site and I generally prefer booking my hotels all in one place here.  You can usually book with free cancellation - this allows you to confirm your accommodation at no risk before train booking opens.  It also means you can hold accommodation while you finalise your itinerary, and alter your plans as they evolve - a feature I use all the time when putting a trip together.  I never book hotels non-refundably.  I have also come to trust their review scores - you won't be disappointed with anything over 8.0.

Tip:  It can pay to compare prices across multiple hotel sites:  HotelsCombined.com is a price comparison site which compares hotel prices on Booking.com, Hotels.com, Expedia, Accor, Agoda and many others.  Though if there's not much in it, I prefer keeping all my bookings together in one place at www.booking.com.

Backpacker hostels...

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

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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 & VPN

 

Staysure travel insurance

 

Confused.com logo

Always take out travel insurance...

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.

UK flagwww.staysure.co.uk offers enhanced Covid-19 protection & covers you even if the FCDO advises against non-essential travel.

UK flagIf you have a pre-existing medical condition or are over 65, see www.JustTravelCover.com.

UK flagYou can use Confused.com to compare prices & policies from many different insurers.

  US flag If you live in the USA try Travel Guard USA.

A Curve card saves foreign transaction fees...

 

Curve card

Most banks give you a poor exchange rate, then charge you a currency conversion fee.  A Curve MasterCard means no foreign transaction fees and gives you the mid-market exchange rate, at least up to a certain limit, £500 per month at time of writing.  The balance goes straight onto one of your existing debit or credit cards.

How it works:  1. Download the app for iPhone or Android.  2. Enter your details & they'll send you a Curve MasterCard - they send to most European addresses including the UK.  3. Link your existing credit & debit cards to the app.  4. Now use the Curve MasterCard to buy things online or in person or take cash from ATMs, just like a normal MasterCard. Curve does the currency conversion and puts the balance onto whichever of your debit or credit cards you choose.  You can even change your mind about which card it goes onto, within 14 days of the transaction.

I have a Curve Blue card myself - I get some commission if you sign up to Curve, but I'm recommending it here because it's great.  See details, download the app and get a Curve card - they'll give you £5 cashback through that link, too.

 

Express VPN

Get a VPN for safe browsing.  VPNs & why you need one explained...

When you're travelling you often use free WiFi in public places which may not be secure.  A VPN means your connection to the internet is encrypted & always secure, even using unsecured WiFi.  In countries such as China where access to Twitter & Facebook is restricted, a VPN gets around these restrictions.  And lastly, you can select the geographic location of the IP address you browse with, to get around geographic restrictions which some websites apply - for example one booking site charges a booking fee to non-European visitors but none to European visitors, so if you're not located in Europe you can avoid this fee by browsing with a UK IP address using a VPN.  VPNs & why you need one explainedExpressVPN is a best buy and I use it myself - I've signed up as an ExpressVPN affiliate, and if you go with expressvpn.com using the links on this page, you should see a special deal, 3 months free with an annual subscription, and I get a small commission to help support this site.

 

Anker Powerrbank

Carry an Anker powerbank...

With so much now held on your mobile phone (tickets, reservations, vaccination records, etc) I recommend carrying an Anker powerbank.  This can recharge your phone several times over if you're on the move and can't get to a power outlet.  I never travel without one.


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