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Train Travel in Thailand: A Budget-Friendly Adventure


Sam

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Exploring Thailand through its train routes was a journey filled with surprises and a dash of quirkiness. The country's reputation for being one of Southeast Asia's most budget-friendly destinations extends to its public transport, making train travel an affordable and intriguing way to get around.

My recent train venture covered almost 700 kilometers from Surat Thani to Bangkok. But before that, my train escapade kicked off from Hua Hin to Surat Thani, a central stop leading to places like Phuket and Koh Samui.

I learned the hard way that when it comes to booking train tickets and checking out prices, it’s best to stick with the official Thai Government website at https://dticket.railway.co.th/DTicketPublicWeb/home/Home. Sure, there are other websites, but some might sneak in extra fees.

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When we reached the station, we found ourselves running a tad late. Unfortunately, all the cozy AC and sleeper coaches were fully booked. So, we settled into a fan-seated coach for an 8-hour trip. It wasn't the most comfortable, but it did the job. The people in Thailand are incredibly friendly and always ready to lend a helping hand.

A handy tip before boarding: pack plenty of food! Although vendors make rounds during the journey, their offerings might not suit everyone's taste. So, grabbing some snacks from nearby 7-Elevens at stations is a wise move.

Thai train stations are an absolute delight. They're clean, charming, and have a unique character of their own. The Hua Hin station, in particular, is a visual treat. You can leave your luggage at the station for 20-40 baht per bag and they will take care of it till you go out and explore the surroundings.

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During the journey, I noticed something unexpected: smoking is allowed. It seemed almost everyone had a cigarette, especially near the doorways. Speaking of which, doors are often left open, which can be surprising for many travelers. Another surprising thing was that there were seats reserved for monks in the train, make sure you don't sit on those and respect the Thai culture.

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As for the toilets, there are both western-style and traditional seated ones. I made my choice based on cleanliness. 

Most of the time, trains run right on schedule. But, on my return trip from Surat Thani to Bangkok, the train faced a delay of about an hour, leading to a 1.5-hour late arrival. I met a wonderful girl from Slovenia who had a flight from Bangkok. Due to the delay, she had to rush but thankfully made her flight. Keep this in mind, especially if you have a flight to catch after your train journey.

Overall, the train ride was quite an adventure and definitely worth the fare. One minor hiccup was the inspectors converting sleeper coaches into seating chairs around 7 am, cutting short a comfy snooze. But hey, it’s all part of the unique charm that Thai train travel brings to your journey.

 

 

 

 

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