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Tips for Train Travel in Thailand

Bookings:

Travellers are able to book tickets up to sixty (60) days in advance (except on some local trains where tickets are only available shortly before departure time).

For busy tourist routes, such as Bangkok–Chiang Mai, it is advisable to book ahead as these services can be fully booked for weeks in advance at peak holiday times. There are a number of ways to book and purchase a ticket.


In theory this should be a smooth process. In practice, it isn’t. There is a box showing a 60-day advanced booking and you can choose your destinations, but sadly the links are mainly broken. Nonetheless, it is worth checking out the site to see what is available and the prices of tickets.

Any reputable travel agent can do this, but usually a booking fee of up to 300 baht per person is levied.


Any train station can book and issue tickets to you, as they are all linked by computer. You can book your ticket at Pattaya train station between the hours of 8:00am to 4:30pm Monday to Friday. To get to Pattaya Train Station take the Siam Country Club turn off Sukhumvit Road, turn left before you cross the railway line, and the station is a few hundred metres along on your right hand side. Check your tickets after booking: the correct train by its number, date and departure time, class you are travelling in, and sleeper, if an overnight train, accommodation you have booked. it is also essential to make these checks for any onward or return travel.


  1. On-line...www.railway.co.th/home/default.asp?lenguage=Eng.

    In theory this should be a smooth process. In practice, it isn’t. There is a box showing a 60-day advanced booking and you can choose your destinations, but sadly the links are mainly broken. Nonetheless, it is worth checking out the site to see what is available and the prices of tickets.


  2. Travel Agents.

    Any reputable travel agent can do this, but usually a booking fee of up to 300 baht per person is levied.


  3. At the station.

    Any train station can book and issue tickets to you, as they are all linked by computer. You can Train Stationbook your ticket at Pattaya train station between the hours of 8:00am to 4:30pm Monday to Friday. To get to Pattaya Train Station take the Siam Country Club turn off Sukhumvit Road, turn left before you cross the railway line, and the station is a few hundred metres along on your right hand side. Check your tickets after booking: the correct train by its number, date and departure time, class you are travelling in, and sleeper, if an overnight train, accommodation you have booked. it is also essential to make these checks for any onward or return travel.


Cancellations

If you are unable to go and need to cancel your trip, it is possible to obtain a refund, again from any station, although there is a cancellation fee.


Classes:

It is possible to get First Class private compartments on all overnight trains, on some these are restricted to a single occupant, whilst others will accommodate two people. All are air-conditioned. Second Class sleeper accommodation can either have air conditioning or fans for cooling. In both cases travellers have a choice of ‘upper’ or ‘lower’ bunks. The lower bunk being a little larger affords the traveller a window and is priced a little higher than the upper bunks. When choosing your location, try to select the middle of the carriage, that way you are away from the draughts of the connecting doors, and also the smells from the toilets. Third Class has no air conditioning, no fans and generally hard seating and no sleeper accommodation.

An excellent web site to visit is www.seat61.com/thailand.htm where there is considerable advice on all aspects of train travel within Thailand and the region.


How to catch your train

The vast majority of the time you will probably have to link up with your train at Hua Lamphong Station in Bangkok.


    To get there from Pattaya:
  1. Taxi direct to Bangkok.

  2. By train from Pattaya, only Monday to Friday. Tickets are only available on the day of travel, and go on sale 30 minutes before the stated departure time of the train. It is scheduled to leave at 14:21 (2:21pm) and stated arrival time is given as 18:25 (6:25pm). The great majority of trains leave Hua Lamphong on time, those arriving are nearly always delayed and late.

  3. By bus: from the North Pattaya bus station to Ekamai. The journey takes around two hours, depending on the traffic. Walk from Ekamai to the Ekamai Skytrain (BTS) station and take it to the Asoke terminal. Go downstairs and take the MRT direct to Hua Lamphong. (If your bus is running late in traffic, ask the driver to let you off at the next available BTS station and then take the Skytrain to Asoke). At Hua Lamphong you will find details of your train on fixed notice boards or on the electronic information display which alternates between Thai and English. For long distance services, the train is usually standing on the platform quite some time before departure. You should have plenty of time to find your designated carriage and seat or sleeping location as given on your ticket, prior to departure.