These are some ideas for train trips over the next few months. Once I have done the trip, I will do a full write up.
- Sleeper train to Nong Khai
- Sukhothai Historical Park
- Bangkok to Penang in Malaysia
- Bangkok to Pattaya and Sattahip
- No.51 Train to Chiang Mai
- Suphanburi Branch Line
Lam Narai Branch Line
BANGKOK TO LUANG PRABANG IN LAOS
This is a six-day trip to Luang Prabang in Laos by train. I’m just waiting for Khamsavath Station in Vientiane to open and then I will go. This station, which has metre-gauge tracks and is being built with help from Thailand, will be the terminal station for trains from Thailand. It is not known yet whether trains from Bangkok will terminate in Vientiane or whether there will be a shuttle train over the Friendship Bridge.
DAYS 1-2: The plan is to take the Special Express No. 25 that leaves Bangkok at 8:00pm and arrives in Nong Khai at 6:25am the next morning. Ticket Price is 998 baht for lower berth. I will spend the night in Vientiane.
DAYS 3-4: I will take the C82 train from Vientiane to Luang Prabang at 7:30am. Journey time is just under two hours. I will then spend two full days in Luang Prabang.
DAYS 5-6: I will take C81 from Luang Prabang to Vientiane at 1:45pm. It will arrive in the capital at 3:45pm. I will cross the border to Nong Khai and catch Special Express No. 26 at 7:40pm arriving in Bangkok at 6:00am, the next morning. Alternatively, I might spend the night in Nong Khai and then come back on the day train Express No. 76 that leaves Nong Khai at 7:45am and arrives in Bangkok at 5:10pm. Ticket price is 168 Baht in 3rd Class.
NOTES: Tickets for the China-Laos railway go on sale three days in advance. Apparently there is no online ticket sales yet and you have to pay at the ticket office using an app or UnionPay credit card. At the moment it is suggested to use an agency such as Baolau to book the tickets.
BANGKOK TO PENANG IN MALAYSIA
This seven-day train trip will retrace the route before sleeper trains became popular. Back then, the railways had their own hotel department and ran hotels at stations such as in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Hua Hin and Hat Yai. Only the latter two are still standing. The plan is do stop-overs at these two hotels before crossing the border into Malaysia.
DAY 1: The plan is to take Special Express No. 43 that leaves Bangkok at 7:50am and arrives in Hua Hin at 12:05pm. Ticket price is 412 baht. I will spend one night at Centara Grand which used to be the old railway hotel. I will have one and a half days to explore.
DAYS 2-3: I will take Special Express No. 31 that leaves Hua Hin at 7:15pm and arrives in Hat Yai at 7:25am. Ticket price is 1,029 baht for lower bunk in 2nd Class carriage. I will spend one night in Hat Yai in the railway hotel at the station. I will have one full day to explore.
DAYS 4-5: I will take the No. 947 shuttle train from Hat Yai to Padang Besar. It leaves at 7:30am and takes one hour to reach the border. Ticket price is 50 baht. I haven’t planned after that. But I will stay in Penang for two nights.
DAYS 6-7: For the return journey, I will take No. 950 that leaves Padang Besar at 3:40pm and takes an hour to get to Hat Yai. I will then take Special Express No. 32 that leaves at 5:45pm and gets into Bangkok at 5:52am the next morning. Ticket price is 1,105 baht for lower bunk in 2nd Class.
NOTES: You can use an agency such as Baolau to book the train tickets for Malaysia in advance or buy at the station when you arrive.
Sukhothai Historical Park
DAY 1-2: The plan is for this to be a three-day trip. I will take Special Express No. 7 that leaves Bangkok at 8:30am and arrives in Phitsanulok at 1:22pm. Ticket price is 479 baht for 2nd Class air-con. I will then take a local bus to Sukhothai Historical Park where I will stay two nights. I will have one full day to explore.
DAY 3: I will then take a bus back to Phitsanulok. While waiting for the train I will explore the city including a visit to Wat Phra Si Rattana Mahathat Woramahawihan. The return journey will be by Special Express No. 8 that leaves at 2:44pm and arrives back in Bangkok at 7:25pm.
An alternative is to take the Rapid No. 111 there and No. 102 back which costs 179 baht for 3rd class and 269 baht for 2nd Class.