There is a lot to be said for travelling through Thailand by train. We recently needed to travel from Hua Hin to Chiang Mai. After checking out all of the travel options available we decided to take the trains!
Trip 1: Hua Hin to Bangkok
For the princely sum of 44 baht each (about $1.50), we enjoyed a relaxing five and a half hour day trip on a slowish train. Leaving the seaside resort town of Hua Hin just after 2:00 pm, we sat back, relaxed and enjoyed all the passing scenes, arriving in Bangkok around 7:30 pm.
The views from the train window were great: farmland, rice paddies, villages, small towns, thick tropical vegetation, people going about their daily business, vehicles stopped at all the crossings. While all of this was going on OUTSIDE the train, there was plenty of action INSIDE the train as well. School boys having fun, young kids interacting with other passengers and lots of salespeople coming up and down the train selling food and drinks.
Trip 2: Bangkok to Chiang Mai
After the value of the local train, we booked the overnight sleeper to Chiang Mai. This was advertised as a 15 hour trip, leaving Bangkok at 10 pm and due in Chiang Mai at lunch time the next day. We each had our own bed, Jenny a ‘lower’ and me an ‘upper.’ Again, this was sensational value at $20 per person, for a journey similar to Adelaide – Sydney. Only the foreigners could afford this luxury though. The local Thais sat happily upright in other carriages for the entire journey, obviously paying much less!
After clearing the lights of Bangkok, we settled into a relaxing sleep. We woke not long after sunrise and again were met with stunning views of rural Thailand. One of the most amazing things was the variety of ‘homes’ we saw along the way. From valuable mansions to flimsy thatch-covered huts, Thailand has them all. Hot coffee and pre-ordered breakfasts were delivered as the train chugged on.
Several hours out of Chiang Mai the train appeared to be struggling up the steep mountain rises. Our speed slowed considerably. At the next station we were transferred on to buses for the rest of the journey. We were soon relaxing in the swimming pool at Eco Lodge, reflecting on our amazing journey.
Best link for train travel: if you want to travel by train in Thailand, or ANYWHERE (!!) check out this incredible website:
http://www.seat61.com/ It has to be the best privately developed travel website I have ever seen! It has information on train trips, great
advice and then direct links for you to buy the tickets! Amazing!