First Class Train Travel In Thailand
I'm currently traveling through Japan and you can bet yourself I've taken a lot of trains recently. A couple of weeks ago, I rode a first-class sleeper train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai in Thailand. It was a really unique experience and I'm going to be writing about what the experience was like and giving a couple of tips for booking your own train travel in Thailand!
I started in Bangkok:
Hua Lamphong is one of Bangkok's largest train terminals with many daily departures to destinations all over Thailand. The station isn't luxurious by any means, but you only need to show up about ten minutes before your train departs so it's no big deal. Bang-sue Mega station is scheduled to open in January 2021 and take over for this station.
The Man In Seat 61 is a great travel blog about all things trains. I love reading his posts and if you've never read it, you should defiantly check it out. Per his suggestion, I took train #9, a newer Chinese-built sleeper train that entered service in 2016. The train pulled up to the station about an hour before departure at 6:10 pm.
Identifying the train and which car to get on was actually very easy. The train tickets are in English as well as Thai and there is a large screen in both languages showing which platform to go to. In addition to this, each car has an electronic screen on it identifying the train and car number. We were in car #13, the last car on the train.
Starting The Journey:
I had never been on an overnight train journey before this, so I didn't know quite what to expect. When the train arrived, I got on car number 13, took a right and headed down the hall.
There are just 10 first-class sleeper compartments on the train and that led to a very exclusive feeling upon boarding. I settled down in my compartment and soon after was brought water, soap, blankets and other amenities.
The compartment was rather nice. It consisted of two single beds, (one that could be turned into a couch during the daytime), a sink, mirror, two TV's, window, small table, and outlets.
Soon after the train's departure, we were brought menus from the staff to order dinner. You have the choice of either eating in your car or being served in the dining car. We chose to eat in our room due to being exhausted, but we did check out the dining car later and it was fairly nice.
One thing I liked in particular about the room was that the door had an easy to use -sturdy lock, and all lightning controls could be easily reached.
After dinner, my friends and I hung out for a little while before heading to bed. Sleeping was a bit difficult due to the rocking of the train but if you aren't a light sleeper and don't have issues generally falling asleep this shouldn't be too bad. I found that It's less shaky on the bottom bunk.
Tips For Booking:
If you ever think about traveling by train in Thailand, there are a few useful things to know! The first is that you can get connecting compartments. Some of the rooms have doors to connect them which is what my friends and I got. This made the room feel much bigger when the door was open and allowed us all the be together.
We booked our tickets through 12go.asia, which was fairly easy. You can request connecting rooms just make sure to book in advance.
Another helpful tip I recommend if you'd like to do this is to keep an open mind and read about it first. I enjoyed taking the train and found it to be a nice experience! However, if you don't enjoy trains, are a light sleeper, don't do well in smaller spaces, etc, you may not end up enjoying it and there's a good chance you could fly to your destination for the same price or less.
My friends and I arrived in Chiang Mai around 7:30am and overall had a good experience. If I had to do it again, I'd probably take the day train and see some more scenery next time!