Train travel in Thailand

Before going to Thailand some friends recommended getting around on the sleeper trains in Thailand.  I enjoyed the trains for 3 reasons:

  1. I got a pretty good nights sleep on the train, particularly when on the bottom bunk
  2. It felt much safer than getting minibuses and buses over long distances. It felt immensely safer than a sleeper bus that we took in Cambodia.  I can’t speak for the sleeper buses in Thailand as we didn’t take one.
  3. We got to see some great scenery once it got light out especially by walking down the train to the restaurant car with open windows.

We did also take an internal flight and got a lot of minibuses around which seems mandatory in Thailand unless you want to spend lots of money on private taxis.  We did sometimes do this but tried to keep it to a minimum.

To book our train tickets we used a website called 12 Go Asia. I am not affiliated with this website in any way. The first time we booked online and then picked up the tickets from their office near Hua Lamphong Station in Bangkok.  The second time we picked up from the parcels office at the station itself in Surat Thani. Both times we travelled 2nd class AC which was comfortable and even had some decent food on board for reasonable prices.

Since you will be most likely travelling with your luggage and clothing it should not be a problem but be warned that they crank the AC and the top bunks in particular get freezing.  Have some warmer clothing handy.

Below are some pictures I took on our journeys and some descriptions. If you have the time definitely get the sleeper trains in Thailand! There is some video of the trains and beds in my Planes, Trains and Tuk Tuk’s video here.

Surat Thani Station
The trains are quite long so give yourself lots of time to get to your carriage


Outside the station there were lots of people sleeping overnight to wait for their morning train. I think some of these people were homeless as well.
The Monks get their own waiting area. I did ask permission to take this and they kindly let me.
If you don’t buy your tickets online then you can buy here. I am not sure how much of a challenge this is but most likely easier than buying train tickets in India which is whole other story that I will write about sometime.
We got the train to Chiang Mai the first time.
Head to this car when it gets light out to get a nice view.
Some last minute welding…
Comfortable lower bunk. We put our big backpacks in their flight bags as the train stops very often and people get on and off a lot so you never know if someone might try to steal things while you sleep.
I am 6ft tall and was comfortable on the lower bunk. The upper was long enough but a bit narrow for me. This was partially because I slept with my camera bag next to me for safety.
Beautiful scenery on the way to Chiang Mai.


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