Thailand has over 4,000 km of railway tracks, nearly double the length in Vietnam, which has around 2,600 km. Thailand also has a wider variety of different kinds of passenger trains in operation than Vietnam, from very basic fan cooled passenger services to more sophisticated suburban electric train services.
About Train Travel in Thailand
Thailand has five major intercity train lines, all in Bangkok, compared the one major long distance line in Vietnam. This is largely due to the differences in geography between the two countries. Vietnam is a long thin country with mountainous area inland from the coast. Thailand is wider and flatter allowing the railway to easily reach much more of the country. You can travel almost everywhere by train in Thailand, except for most of the popular west coast area on the Andaman Sea and the area to the north of Chiang Mai. Train services in Thailand are relatively cheap, although a little slow, and travel by train is a very popular option for both tourists and budget conscious Thai nationals.
The five major train lines in Thailand are:
- Northern Line: This line runs from Bangkok to Chiang Mai. This journey is the most popular train journey in Thailand for foreign visitors.
- North Eastern Line: This line has two branches. One branch goes north east from Bangkok to Nong Khai, on the border with Laos, and the other branch goes eastward to Ubon Ratchathani, which not far from the border with Southern Laos.
- Southern Line: The Southern Line is Thailand’s longest train line, running 1,144 km from Bangkok to Sungai Kolok, which is on the border with Malaysia. The Southern Line passes through several popular tourist area such as Hua Hin and Hat Yai, as well as Chumphon, where you can connect to ferry services to Koh Tao, and Surat Thani, the connection point for ferry services to Koh Samui and Koh Phangan. The Southern Line also has several branch lines, including a line to Padang Besar where passengers can connect with Malaysian train services.
- Eastern Line: This train line also has two branches. One branch runs eastward to Aranyaprathet near the border with Cambodia, and work is currently being undertaken to connect the Eastern Line with Cambodian rail services. The other branch goes south to the industrial port of Marp Ta Put, via Pattaya.
- Kanchanaburi Line: This line originally stretched all the way into Southern Myanmar, built by prisoners of war and forced labour under the direction of the Japanese Imperial Army during World War II. The line now only goes as far as Nam Tok in Thailand via the popular tourist town of Kanchanaburi.
About Trains in Thailand
The only train types running on the Eastern Line and the Kanchanaburi Line are seat only fan cooled carriages, tickets for which are very cheap. On all the other lines there are also express trains and trains with sleeper carriages. A lot of Thailand’s passengers trains are fairly old with manually opening doors and well worn seating. Thailand does, however, have some more modern train carriages purchased from China in 2016 and these are the most expensive trains to travel on.
The main seat types on Thailand trains are as follows:
- 1st Class Sleeper: Private compartment with lockable door. These compartments are all air-conditioned have either one or two beds in them arranged bunk bed style. They have a sink, an electric point, and a light switch, but no private toilet.
- 2nd Class A/C Sleeper: These have a row of bunk beds, one lower and another above reached by a ladder, on each side of a walk way with the beds positioned length ways along a carriage. Each berth has a privacy curtain. Typically there are 40 berths in each carriage.
- 2nd Class Fan Sleeper: Same as the 2nd Class A/C Sleeper except with ceiling fans, instead of air-conditioning units, in the carriage. Passengers on the lower berth have the option of opening a window for extra cooling on hot nights.
- 2nd Class A/C Seat: This seat type is generally only found on ‘sprinter’ trains in Thailand, which are three carriage trains that travel the fastest of any of the train services on the Thai railway network. The seats are generally similar to aeroplane seats. A meal and drink, which is brought to your seat, is normally included in the ticket price.
- 2nd Class Fan Seats: These are fairly comfortable seats in fan cooled carriages. 2nd Class Fan Seats are often found on trains which also have sleeper berths and foreign tourists often end up in these seats for overnight journeys if they haven’t booked in advance.
- 3rd Class Seats: These seats are hard benches in fan cooled carriages. The tickets for these types of seats are very cheap and they are the seat type of choice for Thai nationals with lower incomes, particularly conscripts in the Thai Armed forces travelling home to see their family during breaks from their national service.
Buy Thailand Train Tickets
Use the Search Box below to book your Thailand train tickets in advance online.
You need a ticket printed by the State Railways of Thailand in order to travel. Train tickets ordered online can either be picked up at (or near) the train station before you travel or be posted to you at an address of your choosing.