Train Journeys in Thailand

I have always enjoyed travelling by train. I did it a lot when I was backpacking across Asia. For someone with long legs, train travel is preferable to buses. Not only is there more room to stretch your legs, but you can easily walk around too. I’ve done a few train trips in Thailand, but not much for a while. So, as part of my new year’s resolution for 2020, I decided I would set myself a challenge to ride all of the four main lines in Thailand within one year.

Thailand has 4,044 kilometres of railway tracks passing through 47 of 77 the provinces. There are four main lines: Northern Line (781 km), which terminates in Chiang Mai, the Northeastern Line (1,094 km), which terminates at Ubon Ratchathani and a branch line in Nong Khai, the Eastern Line (534 km), which terminates at the Cambodian border in Sa Kaeo Province, and the Southern Line (1,570 km), which terminates at the Malaysian border in Songkhla and Narathiwat Provinces. There are also a number of branch lines of interest including one that goes to Pattaya and another along the Death Railway.

I’m still working out the details of the challenge, but I’m planning on taking the slow train on the outbound route, stopping at provincial cities and major destinations. The stops have to be a minimum of an hour or so or even an overnight stay. Then, after reaching the final stop, I plan to take an express train back. Outbound from Bangkok will be by 3rd class and inbound to Bangkok by any class. All outbound trains have to be during daylight hours. Coming back can be by sleeper train if available. I’ve already done the first train trip this year. It was the weekend excursion train to Hua Hin. I had a lot of fun on that trip.

In the coming weeks and months I will be writing a free travel guide to train journeys in Thailand as I take part in my challenge to ride the entire lengths of the four main railway lines in Thailand in a 3rd Class carriage. You can follow my train adventures here.

Please let me know in the comments if you have any favorite train trips in Thailand. I am looking forward to riding the train in Northern Thailand. I’ve caught trains there several times in the past between Bangkok and Chiang Mai, but it was always a sleeper train. I hear that the northern part is particularly picturesque.

One thought on “Train Journeys in Thailand

  • January 24, 2020 at 7:26 pm

    Whenever I need to go to Bangkok, or back home in Buriram, I now take the night sleeper. It is a great service, much better than the night bus. Obviously, it costs substantially more, but the modern rolling stock that SRT purchased in China is really good. We normally book a 1st Class 2-berth, but it looks like the second class coaches that for the majority of the train are equally fine, but obviously you give up some privacy.
    The trip is very long (7 hours!) because the train is slow and it stops so many times. On the other hand, as it is a sleeper, who cares, really? One adorable feature of take the train in Thailand is that everything is so vintage. The main Hua Lamphong Station in BKK dates back to 1916, and most stations (including Buriram’s) make you feel like it is 1955 again, while everything is very well maintained.
    Overall, if noether time nor budget are objections, this has to be the very best and relaxing way to travel in Thailand, IMHO.


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