Travelling by train can be one of the best ways to discover a new country – relaxing in your carriage, watching the scenery roll on by. And while sure, travelling through Thailand by train might not always be a piece of cake, it’s an essential experience to have in the country.
It’s a good option covering longer distances, as you can travel overnight and arrive in the morning. Here’s some handy travel tips for navigating the train system here.
Travelling Through Thailand by Train: Essential Tips
1. Choose Your Seat Class Wisely
The comfort levels on trains in Thailand vary hugely, so keep this in mind when choosing your ticket. Seats range from hard seats (fine for short journeys) to AC sleeper bunks on overnight trains.
Keep in mind that air conditioning on the sleeper trains can be absolutely freezing, so always bring a warm fleece and socks if travelling overnight, and book a bottom bunk – it’s a pain climbing in and out of the top!
2. Don’t Expect Trains to Arrive Bang on Time
We suggest you be at the platform at least 15 minutes before the scheduled departure time, especially if it’s the first stop on the route, but delays often happen. You should just roll with the inevitable stops (and possible breakdowns) along the way, and keep plans flexible.
3. Try to Book in Advance
2nd-class tickets are most likely to sell out in advance, and you need to buy long distance (eg. Bangkok to Chiang Mai) tickets at least one day before the departure.
You can check timetables and fares on the official State Railway of Thailand website, but you’ll have to book via a travel agent, the station itself or a third-party website.
4. Bring Toilet Paper!
You’ll be glad to have a few sheets of toilet paper (and soap or hand sanitiser) when travelling on trains in Thailand. There’s toilets in every carriage, but they’re basic at best.
5. Try to Keep Luggage Light
The space on the trains can be tight, so try to avoid bringing large suitcases or huge, bulky backpacks. The corridors are very narrow so you might struggle to get your bag down to your carriage. If you’re in a sleeper berth, the only real space for storage is under the bottom bunk and chances are your bed partner will have nabbed this space for themselves.
6. Bring Snacks and Entertainment for Long Journeys
You can buy some snacks and food on longer train journeys in the restaurant car, but it’s mostly overpriced. You can’t buy beer anymore (since 2014), and it’s best not to bring your own. If you’re going to be taking a long journey we suggest bringing your own food and snacks.
You won’t have WiFi, so load up on those podcasts and bring a book.
7. Keep Personal Belongings Close By
Petty crimes are rare on public transport, but if you’re taking an overnight train and will be sleeping then it’s best to play it safe and keep all valuables on you at all times.