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 and train travel 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.  The train is the best way from Bangkok to Chiang Mai and train+ferry or train+bus the best way 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 1,233-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.

COVID-19 update:  Trains were briefly suspended, but most have now been restored (although not yet the one to/from Padang Besar, Malaysia).  Restrictions may apply on foreigners entering Thailand.  You must fill in a health form before taking the train, download here.  Masks must be worn.  Download current timetable with covid-19 adjustments.

small bullet point  How to buy train tickets online

small bullet point  How to buy tickets at the station

small bullet point  Bangkok 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 - Chiang Mai

small bullet point  Bangkok - Nong Khai for Laos

small bullet point  Bangkok - Ubon Ratchathani

small bullet point  Bangkok - Aranyaprathet for Cambodia

small bullet point  Bangkok - Kanchanaburi - River Kwai & Nam Tok

small bullet point  Bangkok - Ayutthaya

small bullet point  Bangkok - Samut Songkhram - the Market train

small bullet point  Bangkok - Pattaya

small bullet point  Bangkok - Hua Hin - Surat Thani - Hat Yai - S.Kolok

Bus & ferry links...

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

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

small bullet point  Bangkok - Phuket (train+bus) & Ko Phi Phi (ferry)

small bullet point  Bangkok - Krabi (train+bus)

small bullet point  Bangkok - Sukhothai (train+bus)

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

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

small bullet point  Singapore, Kuala Lumpur & Penang to Phuket

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

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  Europe to Thailand by Trans-Siberian Railway

small bullet point  Hotels in Bangkok & Chiang Mai

small bullet point  Travel insurance, Curve card & VPN


large bullet pointUseful 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 = 43 Baht.   €1 = 39 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.  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:   

18 November 2020


large bullet pointGeneral train travel information

 

FREE

DOWNLOAD

Train timetable for State Railways of Thailand

Click here to download Dave Bernstein's excellent  complete Thai train timetable & take it with you...

 

How to check train times & fares...

Free download:  Timetable & train guide for Thailand...

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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large bullet pointHow 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, recommended...

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

Option 3, order from other Thai agencies...

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

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large bullet pointHow to buy tickets at the station

Buying 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...

Special ticket office for foreigners...  For a while, Bangkok Hualamphong Station had a special ticket office for foreigners to the left of the main ticket windows (pictured below right), But this seems to be permanently closed now, so just use the main ticket windows.  Take your passport, as it is now required to buy a ticket.  Photo below courtesy of Tim Eyre.

Ticket office for foreigners, Bangkok Hualamphong station   Ticket office for foreigners, Bangkok Hualamphong station

Main ticket windows...  You can buy from the main ticket office on the concourse, which is well organised.  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.

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 using one of the methods suggested above.  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).

Buy by phone, 1690, +66 2265 8080

You can call State Railways of Thailand by dialling 1690 within Thailand or + 66 2265 8080 from outside.  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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large bullet pointBangkok's Hualamphong Station

Which station in Bangkok?

All trains operate from Bangkok's wonderful Hualamphong Station located 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

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...

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 office:  If you need to leave your bags somewhere, there's a privatised staffed left luggage office at the rear left-hand corner of the concourse, if you look at the photo of the station concourse above, the left luggage office is in the corner from which the photo was taken, at ground floor level.  It's open 04:00 to 23:00 daily, price 20 baht for up to 100x30x40cm if <10Kg, 40 baht for up to 100x30x40cm and >10Kg, 60 baht for up to 150x60x80cm if <10Kg or 80 baht for up to 150x60x80cm and >10Kg, per item per 24 hours.  They appear to measure weight in kilometres, but just go with it! 

Tip:  Recent reports say the left luggage office may try to overcharge foreigners.  If so, one correspondent reports an alternative.  Leave the station and make an immediate left heading down the small street which runs down the east side of the station.  The Train Guesthouse were happy to securely store backpacks for 25 baht a piece.

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.

Long-distance trains will move to the new Bang Sue station, probably July 2021...

To ease congestion, State Railways of Thailand intend to move long-distance services out to a new terminal under construction at Bang Sue junction station, 11km North of Hualamphong station, and at some point - possibly July 2021 - 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.

Bangkok Bang Sue rail terminal under construction

Bangkok's new rail terminal at Bang Sue, seen under construction from a passing train.  Courtesy of David Smith.

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large bullet pointLuggage & bikes

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.

Taking a bicycle or motorbike...

You can take a bicycle or motorbike 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) for a bike, but can be up to 1230 baht for a motorbike.  The bike 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.

Train luggage ticket   Motorbikes on train

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.

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large bullet pointWhat are Thai trains like?

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.

Which class, 1st, 2nd or 3rd?

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.  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.

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

Japanese 2nd class sleepers used on trains 51 & 52...

Trains 51 & 52 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.  Train 51/52 may also have a few Thai-type sleepers as well.  These ex-Japanese cars were reassigned from train 13/14 to train 51/52 in November 2016.

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

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.

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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large bullet pointBangkok 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...

Buy train tickets

Thailand's most popular train route...

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.  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,s,2,3,R

0 km

 Bangkok Hualamphong depart:

07:00

08:30

10:50

13:45

18:10

19:35

20:10

22:00

22

 Don Muang depart:

07:49

09:14

11:40

14:34

18:57

20:23

21:00

22:50

71

 Ayutthaya depart:

08:38

09:48

12:16

15:19

19:45

21:07

21:44

23:36

133

 Lopburi  arrive/depart:

09:44

10:29

13:00

16:23

20:42

22:00

22:39

00:31

389

 Phitsanulok  arrive/depart:

13:45

13:22

16:04

20:37

00:18

01:49

02:38

04:40

729

 Lamphun  arrive/depart:

-

19:15

-

03:44

06:51

08:21

-

11:50

751

 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,s,2,3,R

S,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

14:38

18:06

17:28

02:28

02:45

03:24

04:05

 Ayutthaya arrive:

13:11

15:59

19:26

18:06

03:21

03:39

04:24

04:59

 Don Muang arrive:

13:53

17:03

20:13

18:40

04:14

04:30

05:18

05:58

 Bangkok Hualamphong arrive:

14:40

18:00

21:10

19:25

05:10

05:25

06:15

06:50

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

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

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

CHANGES IN NOVEMBER 2016:  Trains 1 & 2 were replaced by new train 9 & 10 in the same timings using brand-new Chinese-built high-quality sleeping-cars.  The modern cars previously running in train 1 & 2 were reassigned to train 13 & 14.  The ex-Japanese Railways cars previously running in train 13 & 14 were reassigned to train 51 & 52.

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.

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

Hotel suggestions in Chiang Mai & Bangkok

 Fares

 One-way per person, either direction

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

1,653

1,041

641

391

231

Fares are in Thai baht.  £1 = 43 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.

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.  In theory you can have sole occupancy of a 2-berth sleeper for an extra 500 baht (£10 or $16) but as this supplement cannot be bought online, in practice to buy sole occupancy of a 2-bed 1st class sleeper online you'll need to buy two tickets.  Note that the ex-Japanese 1st class sleeping-car 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 the particular train where it's used.

Upper or lower berths?  The sleeper fares shown here are for a lower bunk on train 9/10, a narrower upper bunk is 50-100 baht less, and other trains cost a bit 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.

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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large bullet pointBangkok to Nong Khai

The rail way to Vientiane & 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,R

0 km

 Bangkok Hualamphong dep.

08:20

18:35

20:00

20:45

22

 Don Muang depart:

09:05

19:25

20:50

21:31

71

 Ayutthaya depart:

09:42

20:02

21:41

22:18

569

 Udon Thani arrive:

17:10

03:36

05:58

07:40

621

 Nong Khai arrive:

17:45

04:15

06:45

08:35

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 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 has been running since 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*

78

134

26**

Facilities on board:

DRC

DRC

3,R

1,S,R

 Nong Khai depart:

07:00

18:15

18:30

19:10

 Udon Thani depart:

07:38

18:52

19:19

19:59

 Ayutthaya arrive:

15:35

03:15

03:48

04:04

 Don Muang arrive:

16:19

04:00

04:42

05:02

 Bangkok Hualamphong arrive:

17:10

05:00

05:45

06:00

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

 Fares

 One-way, either direction

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

1,557

998

498

388

258

Fares are in Thai baht.  £1 = 43 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.

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.  In theory you can have sole occupancy of a 2-berth sleeper for an extra 500 baht (£10 or $16) but as this supplement cannot be bought online, in practice to buy sole occupancy of a 2-bed 1st class sleeper online you'll need to buy two tickets.

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).

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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large bullet pointBangkok to Ubon Ratchathani

 Bangkok ► Ubon Ratchathani

Km

Train number:

21*

135

71

139

 23**

67

141

Facilities on board:

DRC

2,3,R

DRC

s,2,3,R

1,S,R

1,S,R

2,3,R

0 km

 Bangkok Hualamphong depart:

05:45

06:40

10:05

18:55

20:30

21:30

22:45

22

 Don Muang depart:

06:29

07:39

10:51

19:42

21:11

22:09

23:26

71

 Ayutthaya depart:

06:59

08:26

11:25

20:26

21:53

22:51

00:16

575

 Ubon Ratchathani arrive:

14:00

18:00

19:50

06:15

06:35

07:50

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 (no sleepers).

* Recommended train for daytime travel, air-con express diesel railcar.

** Recommended overnight train.  Train 23/24 uses new high-quality Chinese-built 1st & 2nd class air-con sleepers, introduced 11 November 2016.

 Ubon Ratchathani ► Bangkok

Train number:

72*

136

146

22 *

142

24**

68

140

Facilities on board:

DRC

2,3,R

2,3,R

DRC

2,3,R

1,S,s,2,R

1,S,2,R

S,s,2,3,R

 Ubon Ratchathani depart:

05:40

07:00

09:30

14:50

17:35

19:00

19:30

20:40

 Ayutthaya arrive:

13:16

16:37

19:24

21:42

03:12

03:42

04:57

05:30

 Don Muang arrive:

14:02

17:40

20:16

22:16

04:02

04:27

05:48

06:23

 Bangkok Hualamphong arrive:

14:55

18:40

21:10

22:55

05:00

05:15

06:40

07:20

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

 Fares

 One-way, either direction

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

1,520

981

551

388

245

Fares are in Thai baht.  £1 = 43 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

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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large bullet pointBangkok to Aranyaprathet

To the Cambodian border by train...

Aranyaprathet, 255 km from Bangkok, is just 6 km from the Cambodian border post at Poiphet from where buses run to Siem Reap and Battambang 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.

Update:  From 1 July 2019 the trains are extended to/from Ban Klong Luk, located just 200m from the Thai/Cambodia border post.

 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

 Fares

 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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large bullet pointBangkok 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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large bullet pointBangkok to Sukhothai

Bus connection 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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large bullet pointBangkok to Chiang Rai

Bus connection 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.

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large bullet pointBangkok to Ayutthaya

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

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

Take a trip to the temples, by 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:  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.

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.dticket.railway.co.th 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.

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large bullet pointBangkok to Samut Songkhram

The Mahachai Mae Khlong 'Market Train'...

The market train line was temporarily closed for maintenance from May 2015 until March 2016, but is now up and running again.

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...

Return journey...

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.

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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large bullet pointBangkok to Southern Thailand

Bangkok to Surat Thani, Hat Yai & Sungai Kolok...

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

0 km

 Bangkok Hualamphong depart:

08:05

09:20

13:00

14:45

15:10

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

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

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

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

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

07:35

09:30

-

-

-

-

12:50

1159

 Sungai Kolok arrive:

-

-

10:45

-

11:20

|

-

-

-

-

-

-

990

 Padang Besar I (Malay border):

-

-

-

-

-

09:54

-

-

-

-

-

-

1161

 Butterworth (Penang, Malaysia):

-

-

-

-

-

(13:54)

-

-

-

-

-

-

Malaysia time is one hour ahead of Thailand time, times shown for Padang Besar & Butterworth are Malay 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 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.

IMPORTANT CHANGES IN NOVEMBER 2016:  A new sleeper train with new high-quality Chinese-built 1st & 2nd class air-con sleepers has been introduced between Bangkok & Hat Yai as train 31 & 32.  Train 35 & 36 is discontinued.  The Bangkok-Padang Besar sleepers previously running in trains 35/36 now run as train 45/46 which is combined with train 37/38 between Bangkok & Hat Yai - passengers on train 45/46 can use the restaurant car on 37/38.

 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:

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

11:30

|

14:20

-

-

 Hat Yai depart:

-

-

-

16:23

-

14:45

-

15:39

18:10

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

23:28

23:54

-

 Chumphon arrive/depart:

12:46

19:36

21:22

22:49

20:31

23:23

23:59

00:44

02:06

02:06

02:34

-

 Hua Hin arrive/depart:

16:01

00:42

01:47

02:22

01:16

04:28

04:15

04:56

06:05

06:05

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

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

10:10

10:30

19:10

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

 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

150

44

Chumphon

1,424

920

480

380

272

Surat Thani

1,579

1,008

578

438

297

Hat Yai

1,794

1,105

675

535

339

Fares are in Thai baht.  £1 = 43 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.

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.  In theory you can have sole occupancy of a 2-berth sleeper for an extra 500 baht (£10 or $16) but as this supplement cannot be bought online, in practice to buy sole occupancy of a 2-bed 1st class sleeper online you'll need to buy two tickets.

Upper or lower berth?  The sleeper fares shown here are for a lower berth on the best train, 31/32, a narrower upper berth is 50-100 baht less.  Other trains cost a bit 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).

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, and the British Foreign Office advice now formally recognises that the Hat Yai-Padang Besar railway is fine.  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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large bullet pointBangkok 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.  You can use 12go.asia to find combined train+ferry times.

 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

1,240

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 ordered online through reliable agency 12go.asia as explained above with ticket collection in Bangkok or postage to any address worldwide or of course they can be bought at Bangkok Hualamphong station.  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.  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 as it avoids a 4am sleeper train arrival at Chumphon.  To travel from Bangkok to Ko Tao via Surat Thani, see the Bangkok to Ko Samui section below, looking for the Lomprayah ferry option.  Tickets for this route can also be ordered online through reliable agency 12go.asia as explained above with ticket collection in Bangkok or postage to any address worldwide.  Just use 12go.asia to find the suggested train & ferry times.

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.  There are also ferries from Koh Tao to Ko Samui, see www.seatranferry.com and look for Seatran Express.

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large bullet pointBangkok to K.Samui, K.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.  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

968

778

 Bangkok to Ko Phangan

1,639

1,068

878

£1 = 43 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.

How to buy tickets... 

Buy tickets from Bangkok    Buy tickets back to Bangkok    Remember to change the date at the top.  Booking opens 60 days ahead..

These combined train+ferry fares can be ordered online through reliable agency 12go.asia as explained above with ticket collection in Bangkok or postage to any address worldwide, just use the links above.  They can of course be bought at Bangkok Hualamphong station, but trains get fully-booked at times, so pre-booking is recommended.  Tickets cannot be booked online direct from State Railways of Thailand.  Find a hotel in Ko Samui.

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.

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.

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large bullet pointBangkok to Phuket & Ko Phi Phi

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

1,018

£1 = 43 Baht.   €1 = 39 Baht.  $1 = 33 Baht.

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 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...

Buy tickets from Bangkok    Buy tickets back to Bangkok    Remember to change the date at the top.  Booking opens 60 days ahead...

These combined train+bus tickets can be ordered online through reliable agency 12go.asia as explained above with ticket collection in Bangkok or postage to any address worldwide, just use the links above.  Or they can of course be bought at Bangkok Hualamphong station, but trains can get fully-booked at times, so pre-booking is recommended.  Tickets cannot be bought online direct from State Railways of Thailand.  Find a hotel in Phuket.

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.  Bus tickets to Phuket can also be bought at Surat Thani rail station for 220 baht each way.

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.

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large bullet pointBangkok 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

968

£1 = 43 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.

How to buy tickets...

These combined train & bus fares can be ordered online through reliable agency 12go.asia as explained above with ticket collection in Bangkok or postage to any address worldwide (they only sell the southbound direction) or of course bought in person at Bangkok Hualamphong station.  Sleepers can get fully-booked at times so pre-booking is recommended.  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.   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 by train from Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, or Penang to Hat Yai, see train times & info Singapore-Malaysia-Surat Thani..  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).  Then travel by train from Hat Yai to Butterworth (Penang), KL or Singapore, see train times & info Singapore-Malaysia-Surat Thani.

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large bullet pointBangkok to Pattaya

Bangkok to Pattaya by train...

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.  However, at weekends State Railways of Thailand run an air-conditioned Special Express railcar, with 2nd class reserved seats.  Both types of train are a good and pleasant way to reach Pattaya.  You can check these times at www.baolau.com.

 Bangkok ► Pattaya

 

 Pattaya ► Bangkok

Days of operation:

Mon-Fri

Saturday

Sunday

Days of operation:

Mon-Fri

Saturday

Sunday

Train number:

283

SP997

SP997

Train number:

284

SP998

SP998

Classes on board:

3rd

2nd AC

2nd AC

Facilities on board:

3rd

2nd AC

2nd AC

 Bangkok Hualamphong depart:

06:55

06:45

06:45

 Pattaya depart:

14:21

16:26

16:26

 Pattaya station arrive:

10:34

09:13

09:50

 Bangkok Hualamphong arrive:

18:15

18:55

18:55

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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large bullet pointBangkok - KL - Singapore

It's remarkably easy, safe and comfortable to travel from Bangkok to Malaysia & Singapore by train, over 1,200 miles for around £40 or $60 one-way, including sleepers, a real bargain.  It's the environmentally sound way to travel, too.  Trains run daily, and 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.

Bangkok to Penang, Kuala Lumpur & Singapore by cheap regular train (Malaysia & Singapore page).

Bangkok to Singapore by luxury train (Eastern & Oriental Express page).

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large bullet pointBangkok to Phnom Penh, Saigon

It's easy to travel between Bangkok, Siem Reap, Phnom Penh, & Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) by train & bus, for details see the Train travel in Cambodia page.

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large bullet pointBangkok to Yangon & Burma

It's possible to travel overland between Bangkok, Moulmein & Yangon in Burma (Myanmar) by train & bus, for details see the Train travel in Burma page.

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large bullet pointLondon 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...

There aren't any travel agencies who can arrange the whole trip, so you will need to plan it out and arrange each stage of the journey yourself.  It's an exercise in project management!  Unless time is absolutely no object, you should book the key sections in advance through various travel agencies.

Book London-Moscow through a UK European train ticketing agency such as DB's English-speaking line or europeanrail.com as shown on the London to Russia page;

Book Moscow-Beijing & Beijing-Hanoi through a local Russian agency such as Svezhy Veter or Real Russia as shown on the Trans-Siberian page & Vietnam page.

Tickets for other parts of the trip, for example, Hanoi-Saigon-Phnom Penh-Bangkok can all be bought locally, as you go along.  You'll need to pre-arrange visas for Belarus, Russia, possibly Mongolia, China & Vietnam, and in many ways complying with the various visa requirements (and in some cases, requirements for confirmed onward tickets to be held) is actually the biggest hassle, not buying the tickets for the trains, so check this out carefully using the relevant embassy websites.

Where do you start?  First, read through the seat61 pages linked above.  Then sketch out your itinerary using a simple spreadsheet like this, deciding where and for how long you want to stop off.  Next, check out the visa situation for each country.  Finally, follow the advice on each seat61 page to buy tickets for each train journey that you want to pre-book.

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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large bullet pointRecommended guidebooks

Lonely Planet Thailand - click to buy onlineRough Guide to Thailand - click to buy onlineRough Guide to Southeast Asia - click to buy onlineAmazon logoLonely Planet Southeast 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.

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large bullet pointHotels in Thailand

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).

Top-end 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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large bullet pointFlights 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


large bullet pointTravel insurance

 

Columbus direct 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 flagIn the UK, reliable insurers include Columbus Direct.

UK flagIf you have a pre-existing medical condition or are over 65, see www.JustTravelCover.com - 10% discount with code seat61.

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

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

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

A Curve card saves on 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.


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