Classes of Train Travel in Thailand

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Thai rail mapThailand train travel is one of the best ways to get around the country and is certainly the safest mode of transport for a long journeys. Thailand trains are economical, clean and comfortable and the service is well run.

Where can I Travel by Train in Thailand?

The Thailand rail network (see map on right) extends all over the country, with lines to Chiang Mai in the north, Nong Khai and Ubon in the northeast, Pattaya and Aranya Prathet in the east, Kanchanaburi in the west and two lines to Malaysia in the south.

  • From Bangkok trains travel north 700klms to Chiang Mai, the journey taking about 11 to 12 hours.
  • From Bangkok trains travel south 950klms to Hat Yai taking about 16 to 17 hours.
  • From Bangkok trains travel east 150klms to Pattaya taking about 3 to 4 hours.
  • And northeast trains travel from Bangkok 690klms to Nong Khai with a journey of about 11 to 12 hours.

Classes of Trains in Thailand

Train travel in Thailand come in a somewhat confusing variety of types: Ordinary, Rapid, Express and Special Express, with the additional feature that some are designated “Diesel Rail Cars” – where the seating section and the locomotive section are part of the same vehicle. Ordinary trains normally offer only third class seating, and seem to stop at every town; the rest seem pretty much alike in journey time, and offer sometimes mainly second and third class seating and/or sleepers.

  • First Class Trains are available on many long distance services, with air-conditioned day and night compartments, each accommodating two persons. Every compartment has its own wash basin, though bathrooms are shared. Room service is available at most times.
  • Second Class is available on most routes, and has upholstered seats Thai second class trainwhich convert into bunks, one up, one down; some trains also offer a choice of air-con and non-air-con. The photograph on the right shows a typical second class seat with the upper bunk folded away.  The lower bunk is a little wider and a little more expensive than the upper bunk.
  • For day-time travel, non-air-con is often a good choice, especially if you like to shoot photos out of the window, as some air-con carriage windows are re-reinforced non-opening, and after an hour or two, not very clean. Always try to get a seat away from the often noisy carriage doors, especially for overnight travel as railway staff walk up and down constantly, as do passengers seeking the bathroom.
  • Second Class Sleeper is not too bad, but you are not guaranteed a seat (or upholstery on the seat), and the fans do not always work. In some carriages seats are upholstered and, if the train is not crowded (which they usually are) the trip can be quite pleasant; some trains, and most trains from Thonburi station, have wooden benches only.
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Updated: June 11, 2011 by admin

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