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Thailand - Rail Travel
Trains in Thailand have 3 different ticket classes. These are 1st, 2nd and 3rd. The first class carries are air conditioned sleeping cars which are found on the overnight trains. Second class carriages are available in both sleeper and seated versions and may or may not be air conditioned. Third class carriages are fairly basic but are always clean and comfortable. All train carriages are non-smoking.
On first class sleeper carriages there are self-contained 2-berth compartments and the train company provides all bedding, towels and soap. Bathroom facilities are at the end of each carriage and are shared. If you are travelling alone you will find that you are given a compartment to share with another passenger of the same sex but paying for sole occupancy is also an option. Beds in sleeper carriages can be converted to a sofa for use in the daytime. On some routes having a meal delivered to your compartment is usual.
Second class sleeper carriages are not arranged in compartments but are open plan on each side of the main aisle. The beds are converted from the seats and are made up each evening by the attendant and there are curtains hooked up for privacy.
In order to purchase tickets for a train in Thailand the easiest way is to simply do so at the ticket office when you get to the station, but this is for shorter local journeys. If you are travelling long distance or overnight you need to make a reservation in order to be sure of a seat or a berth. Tickets can be booked up to 60 days in advance. You can go to any station in Thailand in order to reserve a ticket on any train. A reservation will allocate you a specific seat.
There are luggage limits on trains in Thailand although luggage allowances are usually more than they are on planes. There is no system of weighing, but if it appears that you are taking too much luggage on board then you may be asked to reduce it. For very bulky or heavy items you can purchase a cargo ticket so that it can be stored in the baggage van. Most stations have a left luggage office, although this may not be the case at the smaller rural stations.
Bangkok to Chiang Mai is a 12 hour train journey but can be done for around 880 THB if travelling overnight or around 600 THB if travelling during the day. A trip from the capital city to Nong Khai near the Laos border takes around 13 hours and these trips are usually done overnight and passengers can travel quite comfortably for around 800 THB. From Bangkok to Aranyaprathet near the Cambodia border the rail journey is around 250 km and takes around 5 and a half hours. This costs just 58 THB and there is no need to reserve a ticket for this train. You can simply purchase one at the station and board the train.
There are generally no discounts available on tickets as the cost is fairly low anyway, although on some services babies and young children are able to travel free of charge.
It should be noted that not all towns in Thailand have a railway station. One example is for those who wish to travel from Bangkok to Krabi. One can take the train to Surat Thani but the final leg of the journey is done on an air conditioned bus. When you arrive at Surat Thani there is usually more than one bus waiting so you can choose which to take. The train takes almost 9 hours to reach Surat Thani from Bangkok then the final part of the journey is around 3 hours on the bus. The combined cost of this journey is around 1500 THB.
Those who have mobility problems may find that there are some railway stations that do not have disabled access, although there is usually someone around who can help. If you need specific assistance then you can normally arrange this in advance.
Bangkok has an underground train system known as MRT (Mass Rapid Transport). This system opened in the early 2000s and there are currently more than 20 km of underground tunnels and 18 different stations. Services begin at 5 am and run until midnight each day. The ticket system works on sensors and customers taking a single journey is able to purchase a token. At peak times trains are every few minutes.
Online ticket agency
The State Railway of Thailand
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