There are 2 trains from Bangkok to Trang (depart 17.05 and 18.30 arrive 8.05 and 10.31), the later and a bit slower Rapid has non aircon sleepers from 521 Baaht, the Express has aircon sleepers from 761 Baht (aircon is usualy to cold for my taste, but in low season, May to October, the only way to get to Koh Lipe is by speedboat from Pak Bara at around 11:30hrs), i had never problems getting a bed on the same day.
For a short time it was possible to book online, at the moment you can only check the timetable and prices.
In Trang (nice place if you have time to spend) next to the train station you see several places selling minibuses to Pak Bara for boats to Ko Lipe, and minibuses to Lo Lanta.
Sometime ago it was possible to book online, at the moment you can only see the timetable...
on the pull down buttons Bangkok is on top, the other stations are unfortunately to the order of the Thai letters, it might be easier to go to "Download Timetable" and click on the for you relevant line then you get a old fashioned timetable, but this does not work for the northern line at the moment. If you go to "Timetable" you get only the times of the first and the last station, clicking on "Fares" gives you at the moment only the fares from the northern line in english, all the other lines only in Thai. (Hopefully this site will improve)
Second class sleeper is quite comfortable, but if it is aircon it might be quite cold.
If you want to know more about trains in Thailand, just visit the Main in Seat 61 website. I can't possibly give better advice. I can give personal experience - I took the overnight train to Butterworth. It's cheap, clean, safe and comfortable, and if you get a seat in the middle of the carriage you won't get bumped around too much in the night. The second class sleepers are fine, and you get two seats for one bed during the day part of the journey, so there's plenty of room. We found the people on board to be very friendly, and it was one of the most memorable moments of the trip. I still didn't get much sleep, though.
The tickets can get bought up pretty fast, especially first class, so it's best to buy them in advance. If you aren't in the country you can make use of a specialist travel agent who will pick up the tickets for you, typically for a small fee of a couple of euros. I booked through Royal Exclusive Travel, who were very friendly and efficient. I had the tickets waiting in my hotel before I had even arrived.
One small word of caution: Check the political situation before heading south to Malaysia overland. After booking my tickets I realised that the southern states had warnings against them for "all but essential travel" by the British Foreign Office. I did some background reading and figured that as the train only passed through Hat Yai, and there's been very little trouble there recently, I'd probably be ok. But situations can turn quickly, so do your own research.
A good way to travel from Bangkok to Laos is by night train until Nong Khai. Then, follow the sings until the border, friendship bridge.
I made this trip in an air-conditioned sleeper. I could sleep 4 hours.
20:45 - 09:10
Thai Railways basically has 4 lines, the Northern, the Northeastern, the Eastern and the Southern which serve Nong Khai, Chiang Mai, Aranyaprathet, Ubon Ratchathani, and Had Yai. For long trips to Chaing Mai, Nong Khai and Had Yai it may be worth considering to take a sleeper train as it will save a night's accommodation charge. The trains are generally clean, safe and the staff courteous. For sleeper berths it is probably best to try and book a few days in advance, just to be sure of getting an available place. Around Thai New Year and other public holidays it will be difficult to find a ticket as many locals will be traveling.
There are first class and second class sleepers, both at reasonable prices.
Bangkok--Chiang Mai. Trains take between 12 and 15 hours depending on which one you are on, and prices are 900-1500 Baht depending on the sleeper class.
Bangkok --- Nong Khai Trains take 11-12 hours depending on which one you take. Sleepers are 800-1,300 Baht depending on the sleeper class.
Bangkok----Ubon Ratchathani Trains take 10-12 hours and sleepers cost 750-1,200 depending on the class.
Bangkok---Had Yai Trains take 16-18 hours, and prices for sleepers are 950-1,600 Baht depending on the class.
You should be able to figure everything out by looking at the three websites below.
The train runs only to Nong Khai, near the border, from where you change to a bus. you could also go by bus (either via Nong Khai or direct, more expensive), but the train is more comfortable (sleeper) or cheaper (seat) than the bus.
After faffing around for a couple of days before realising that the State railways do NOT sell tickets on their website, although they do give all the info on times and prices, I went and had a look at www.seat61.com, a known expert on trains throughout the world. 5Have a look at the site just for fun, it's worth it the info that's on there. On the site they recommend using www.thailandtrainticket.com so I tried. After my trip and being back for a couple of weeks that makes it over 3 months and I'm still waiting for an answer from them. I gave up around the New Year and got in touch with www.asia-discovery.com. Two days later I had a mail from staff saying no problem and which hotel and when would I like to go. I used my CC and within another two days I had my booking confirmed and pics of my tickets on an e-mail. Four days and all done and dusted. Admittedly they do take a commission for doing this (5€) but it was well worth it. You can of course go to the station and buy your tickets there, if you don't like using your CC on the 'net and hopefully the trains won't be full......Happened to a mate wanting to get out of Chiang Mai, booked solid for four days!!!! But I do recommend using their services, tickets were waiting at the hotel for us as planned.
From Hua Lamphong train station leaves a daily train at 05:55 to Aranya Pratet which arrives at about noon. There is another train leaving later but you have no time enough to reach Siem Reap on the same day! Lonely planet informs 5 hours, but I spent more time on train. From Aranya Pratet there are many tuktuks to the Poipet border.
Train fare: 48 baths
Tuktuk fare: 50-60 bahts.
A bus is much more faster than a train. I have done both and the train was more enjoyable, but much slower, like two hours longer. It is about four hours away and there is no need to pre-book unless you are coming up on a Thai holiday. I bought my ticket at the station...very simple and waited 45 minutes before I boarded the train and then waited ten minutes before it started rolling. Now that I know, by taking the bus, you board, you are there in less than two hours. Their drop off spot is just down the road from the rail road station..i say it is more coinvenant also. As I remember there is a train that leaves about every 90 minutes in that direction and points south after 12 noon.. It is a experience as the trains move through many little towns not seen on the road. There are some towns where the market is set up on and around the tracks, and when the slow moving train comes into the town, you can see the vendors pulling up their stalls and giving just enough room for the train to get by. The flood waters have receeded enough for train travel south and you shouldn't have a problem.
Here is a link to the schedule...>>>http://www.seat61.com/Thailand.htm#Southern Thailand >>>>>>>>>>>>>
If you have the time, take the train, if in a hurry, take the bus....bus fare is about 128 bahts, I think the train is about the same.
cheers tommy x
If you are heading North from Bangkok towards Chiang Mai, chances are you will take the overnight sleeper from Hualamphong Station in BKK. I was actually only going as far as Lampang, which is a couple of hours South of Chiang Rai, but I have done the complete journey before. There are buses which are quicker plying the same route but I prefer the train as it is a lot more comfortable, sociable and for the sheer enjoyment that train travel brings me.
Getting a ticket at Hualamphong is made very simple and my upper level, second class air-con bunk cost 734 baht. The train was due to leave at 1735 (it was late and even later on arrival).
On the train, I knew the drill. Got my bunk sorted and headed straight for the buffet car which, oddly, is the only place on the train you are supposed to smoke, although people do so between the carriages as well. The buffet car on the Backpacker Express, as I call it, is something to behold. Most, as I say, are going to Chiang Mai, a journey of about 14 hours and there is nothing else to do but drink beer and have a party, so that is what we did. I ended up seated with two young physiotherapy students from Zurich and another Swiss guy about my age. We had a great old time as they crank up the sound system with (pretty rubbish) Western pop. I remember the last time there were people dancing and the place resembles a nightclub more than a train carriage. It was slightly more muted this time and they have also taken to closing the bar at 11 which didn't used to be the case.
As for the accomodation itself, I find it most comfortable and always manage a good night's sleep. The bunk accomodates my 6'5" frame with no difficulty and there are clean bedclothes provided for each journey by the helpful attendants. The photo shows the carriage made up for the night.
If you are only going to Lampang, and I recommend you do, do not worry about oversleeping and missing your stop. You will be billeted in the last carriage which is detached at Lampang and they will soon rouse you.
I have heard other travellers complain about the sleepers but an overnight riding the rails is always a highlight of my trips to Thailand.
There is a night train service to Chiang Mai in the north of Thailand overnight.
It is a convenient reliable service, which is not that easy to find in South East Asia.
To buy a ticket just go to one of the many travel agents who can buy it for you for a small fee, note book it earlier as it can easily get sold out.
A 2nd class sleeper, upper bed, cost me 550 B on a weekday. A lower bed is about 50 B more expensive - the upper bed might be a bit smaller, but it's more enclosed than the lower bed.
I bought the ticket at a travel agency; at the train station it would have been 480 B I think - but you should buy the ticket ahead, and a tuktuk to and from the trainstation is probably more expensive than the difference of 70 B. The train left at 8:45 pm and was scheduled to arrive in Nong Khai at 9:10 am, but we were about two hours late.
Bought train tickets from Chiangmai to Bangkok at the train station. From Chiangmai, there are several trains departing for Bangkok at several timings but only one train has a sleeper class. For a sleeper class overnight train journey on the lower bunk, it cost 881THB (US$30) but slightly cheaper for the upper bunk.
I recommend getting the lower bunk despite the higher price because of the slightly bigger bed space. Besides that, you won't get distracted by the lightings when you're trying to get some shuteye.
The train departs at 17:55hrs and arrives Bangkok at 0:700hrs the following day. So if possible, do wake-up early to catch the morning sunrise and also the dawning of the Thai people getting a headstart for their day.
Staffs are friendly and security officers are always available throughout the travel. Meals can be bought onboard and enjoyed at the dining cart.
Train travel is pretty inexpensive for what you get.....we took a 12 hr overnight train to BKK from the south and again, took a 12 hr overnight train to Chaing Mai. the schedules are quite frequent but never ontime....expect to arrive anywhere from 1/2 hr to 3hrs after the expected arrival time. Both occassion we took the overnight they were different trains and sizes...with more room on one, less on the other......food was also variable between the two.....in any case, train travel was great! The cabins you see us using had upper and lower beds....when you board the train the beds are not made up but rather a seating area for the two people (in the upper and the lower)....when the two decide to go to bed a worker will break down the sitting srea into two beds.....if your traveling with someone be sure to get the upper and lower in the same section vs. two lower beds across the aisle from one another......Also, at the train station there are various travel agents ready to help you out with bookings and plans....they are friendly and helpful, but of course you know why........with this said, last time we had the agent book our train to Chaing Mai, transfer to the hotel, the hotel for four days, and a flight back to Bangkok at the end....commission was approx $250 Baht for the whole thing.....not bad for them to sort you out with everything.
Sometimes budget flights offered by Thai Air Asia or Nok Air to Udon Thani are nearly as cheap as the train or bus to Nong Khai. (Notice the correct spellings for these 2 places.) But they have to be booked via their internet website weeks in advance for the best fares.
"Regarding train travel, is there an express that we could get, and if so, how much should it cost and how long are we talking. Would tickets need to be booked in advance, if so is it possible to do so online?"
While there are express and rapido day trains, many travelers prefer to take the overnight sleeper compartments to save on the cost of a night's lodging. The train departs around 8 or 9pm from Bangkok's main Hualamphong Train Station and arrives between 9-10AM (supposed to arrive at 9 but is frequently late).
The train sleeping compartments do get booked out for holidays and weekends so it's best to book in advance or ASAP upon arrival. There are even some travel agencies which can book for you but you'll pay a hefty service fee. Upper and lower bunk AC compartments run about 700 Thai bahts=~U$20 with lover costing slightly more.
But even if your train is late, you'll still be able to get to Vang Vieng on the same day if you catch the bus from Vientiane's Talat Sao/Morning Market Bus Station. There are also private bus companies (one departs at 10AM) and shared minivans from VTE to Vang Vieng and you can check with VTE travel agencies or hotels/guesthouses upon arrival.
Regarding the bus option from Bangkok, there are several bus companies that take you ALL the way from Bangkok to Vientiane (including the border/immigration procedures/crossing) and one even goes all the way to Vang Vieng on the same ticket/bus. Best to buy them in the Khao San Road area of BKK and they also run about ~700bahts=U$20.
There are also overnight VIP buses leaving from Bangkok's Mochit Bus Station to Nong Khai that costs about 500bahts but it'll cost you 100bahts just to get to Mochit and comparable for the cost of crossing from Nong Khai, and getting into VTE.
Hope this helps!