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Travelling by train

  • neeners

    Joined Travelfish
    1st May, 2006
    Posts: 41
    Total reviews: 4

    Hi everyone!

    I've been pretty much a lurker here, and I must say, Travelfish is one of my favorite Thailand resource site! Great job you guys! :)

    I'll be going to Thailand in 14 days (yay!), and I've already booked my train tickets to Ko Samui. I'll be taking the express train that leaves Bangkok at 22:50. My question is, how does this train travel work? Do I have to be there an hour or so prior to departure? Do I have to check in somewhere or do I just go ahead and jump into the (hopefully) right train?

    Also, how do I go from the train station to the pier for the ferry to Samui? Is the bus station near the train station? Am I asking too many inane questions? Sorry, I'm just too excited and scared about heading off on my own ^_^;

    Your replies and advice will be greatly appreciated :)

    #1 Posted: 3/5/2006 - 21:30

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  • exacto

    Joined Travelfish
    12th February, 2006
    Location United States
    Posts: 2396
    Total reviews: 47
    Places visited:
    At least 98

    Hey Neeners!

    Are you asking too many questions? Of course not!
    Glad to see that you are excited about your trip to Thailand and Samui. We leave for Thailand in one month and are pretty excited too.

    I'm guessing that you are leaving from the main Hualamphong train station in Bangkok. It is a pretty nice station, and fairly easy to navigate for English speakers. You'll see a sign that will tell you which track your train is on (by train number and destination), so you'll likely be able to find the right place without too much difficulty. If not, there is an information booth near the entrance to the tracks where you can get a friendly point in the right direction. The trains also have their numbers, as well as the car number, in little boxes near the entry doors on each train car.

    It used to be you just showed you ticket to the guys minding the gates, and then walked onto your train. I'm not sure you'll need to be there a full hour ahead of time (but you can always buy snacks and stuff at the station if you arrive early), but 30 minutes should be good and they generally allow you to board the train at least that far in advance. Keep in mind that Bangkok traffic can get pretty snarled, even late at night, so give yourself plenty of time to get to the station. The new subway has a stop near there too. Hua Lamphong.

    Your tickets will be checked by the conductor onboard after the train has departed. You'll hear them coming down the aisles clicking away.

    The train station for Surat Thani is in Phun Phin, which is a fair distance from the ferry terminal. Our "Explorer" host Somtam2000 has better info on that, but basically you can take a bus from the train station to the ferry terminal. You might still also be able to purchase separately or upgrade to a combo ticket issued by the State Railway of Thailand adding the bus ride from the train station to the ferry boat and the ferry boat itself. You don't really save money that way, but the convenience is worth the extra cash.

    I have a question for you too please. You said that you already had your train tickets for Samui in hand. Did you purchase those online or through a travel agent? Thanks. Have a great trip.

    #2 Posted: 4/5/2006 - 09:46

  • neeners

    Joined Travelfish
    1st May, 2006
    Posts: 41
    Total reviews: 4

    Hey, thanks for the reply, exacto! :)

    I bought my train+bus+ferry ticket from travelconnecxion.com
    They're advertised here in Travelfish, and is recommended by people from other forums as well.

    You have the option to pick it up at their Bangkok office in Khao San Road, have it delivered to the airport, delivered to a Thailand address or delivered to your home country for an extra fee. They also charge THB 250 for their services. You can pay them via credit card or wire the payment.

    Actually, all of my transport and accomodations are booked online. :)

    Good luck on your trip too!

    #3 Posted: 4/5/2006 - 15:40

  • totallygone

    Joined Travelfish
    6th May, 2006
    Posts: 6

    One tip for train travel in Thailand - book 2nd class lower berth, A/C in the hot season (now). Upper berth you don't get a window and the light's on all night, so that's annoying.

    I blogged my last journey - have a read if you like

    #4 Posted: 6/5/2006 - 12:34

  • exacto

    Joined Travelfish
    12th February, 2006
    Location United States
    Posts: 2396
    Total reviews: 47
    Places visited:
    At least 98

    neeners,

    thanks for the tip on the travelconnecxion.com travel agent. they responded to my online train ticket request within 48 hours, and the online payment portion was really easy. we're sorted. cheers.

    totallygone has a good point too about booking the lower berth for the overnight sleepers. you'll get a lot more room and better air flow in the lower birth. if you are travelling with another person, booking both an upper and a lower means that you'll get to sit across from your travel partner, which is fun for meals, playing cards, or just lets you put your feet up.

    like totallygone says, A/C is great during the hot season, but be sure you've got a sweatshirt or wrap or something, because the train's idea of aircon is cold cold cold.

    i'm a big fan of splurging on overnight train trips and booking the first class compartments. they have two beds in there, a sink, and a locking door for privacy and security (although the trains are generally safe anyway). if you are travelling by yourself, you can pay a surcharge to hire the entire first class compartment for yourself. that is still only about 1600 baht for a first class, overnight train ride from bangkok to chiang mai or surat thani. even that is still a bargain, and a great splurge if you have the money (or need to be sure of a decent night's sleep).

    cheers you guys and thanks for the suggestions.

    #5 Posted: 7/5/2006 - 02:43

  • neeners

    Joined Travelfish
    1st May, 2006
    Posts: 41
    Total reviews: 4

    Thanks for the tips guys. But I'll be taking the 2nd class seated sprinter... so yeah, 9 hours sitting down. Anyway, I grew up taking 14-hour bus rides so it'd be nothing new. Besides, I think I'd be too paranoid to sleep anyway, doubly so since I'll be travelling alone. (is it obvious I've read too much travel horror stories?)

    Again, thanks for all the tips! I'll post an update on the train travel after my trip :)

    #6 Posted: 7/5/2006 - 23:39

  • exacto

    Joined Travelfish
    12th February, 2006
    Location United States
    Posts: 2396
    Total reviews: 47
    Places visited:
    At least 98

    neeners,

    i've taken those diesel sprinters on overnight trips. it's a comfortable enough ride.

    i'd be interested to hear about the connections on your train trip too, and if you thought the package deal for transfer from the train to the ferry and the ferry ride to the island were a good deal or not. have a good trip.

    #7 Posted: 8/5/2006 - 09:55

  • neeners

    Joined Travelfish
    1st May, 2006
    Posts: 41
    Total reviews: 4

    I finally have a reply for you, exacto.

    The bus was waiting outside the train station in Suratthani. When you get out, look to your left. The bus is actually on another street.. you have to walk about a minute to get to it. It wasn't one of those VIP busses. This bus is one of those with a 2-3 seat configuration. It left the station around 8:40am. It didn't go straight to the ferry pier, unfortunately. It stopped for an hour at a terminal, waiting for more passengers and cargo.

    What type of ferry did you ride going to Ko Samui? The one we got on was one that also carries vehicles. It was about an hour ride to Samui.

    I suppose that's what you get for 200 baht bus + ferry fare. Not too bad.. it was bearable, but not the most comfortable.

    #8 Posted: 21/5/2006 - 20:50

  • totallygone

    Joined Travelfish
    6th May, 2006
    Posts: 6

    200 baht bus and ferry fare? You'd not get two coffees in a Starbucks (even in BKK) for that. Be grateful you got there alive! VIP buses are the most comfortable, don't cost much more, but can be a little cold.

    As for being paranoid travelling alone on Thai sleepers - don't be - they're safe. The lights are left on (see above) and in your curtained 'compartment' there are hooks for you to hang your valuables. And there's enough room for a small bag/camera etc in the berth with you.

    You've been reading far too many penny-dreadfuls. You're safe travelling on trains here - the staff take excellent care of passengers on trains, and in the four months I've been in Thailand, I've not heard a raised voice or seen a raised fist. It's a long, long way from London!

    #9 Posted: 22/5/2006 - 19:43

  • totallygone

    Joined Travelfish
    6th May, 2006
    Posts: 6

    200 baht bus and ferry fare? You'd not get two coffees in a Starbucks (even in BKK) for that. Be grateful you got there alive! VIP buses are the most comfortable, don't cost much more, but can be a little cold.

    As for being paranoid travelling alone on Thai sleepers - don't be - they're safe. The lights are left on (see above) and in your curtained 'compartment' there are hooks for you to hang your valuables. And there's enough room for a small bag/camera etc in the berth with you.

    You've been reading far too many penny-dreadfuls. You're safe travelling on trains here - the staff take excellent care of passengers on trains, and in the four months I've been in Thailand, I've not heard a raised voice or seen a raised fist. It's a long, long way from London!

    #10 Posted: 22/5/2006 - 19:44

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  • exacto

    Joined Travelfish
    12th February, 2006
    Location United States
    Posts: 2396
    Total reviews: 47
    Places visited:
    At least 98

    hey neeners,

    thanks for the feedback on your bus/ferry connection. that gives us some good options once we arrive in surat thani.

    where did the bus you took across to samui drop you? did it take you right to the beach where you wanted to go, or did it just drop you at the ferry terminal in surat where you needed to catch another bus/truck?

    #11 Posted: 23/5/2006 - 03:10

  • neeners

    Joined Travelfish
    1st May, 2006
    Posts: 41
    Total reviews: 4

    It just drops you at the ferry station at Suratthani (Donsak pier). It was odd though, the bus we took also got in the ferry and crossed over to Samui. After getting off the ferry, I noticed the Thai passengers that were in the bus with us got on again... I was too tired and hungry by then, so I just took the taxi to my resort.

    #12 Posted: 25/5/2006 - 17:39

  • thaibeachlo-
    vers

    Joined Travelfish
    25th May, 2006
    Posts: 38

    totallygone,
    I think that you're confusing buses. The bus that takes you from the rail station to the ferry is just a local bus, while the ( cold ) VIP buses are the long distance buses.
    neeners,
    if you'd got on the bus again, it would have taken you to Na Thon where you could have got the round the island songthew.
    If travelling 2nd class sleeper, it's a good idea to take a cable lock to secure your luggage, which is outside your berth, to the rack. Helps your peace of mind.

    #13 Posted: 26/5/2006 - 06:55

  • dineshkjani

    Joined Travelfish
    15th November, 2012
    Location India
    Posts: 6

    read details and experiences of our friends about travelling by train/bus and ferry within thailand
    now i need good help from travel to thailand-from singapore-by train-in fact FIRSt i was to be at Thailand first but then due to event to be held on 27-28-29-30 November-at singapore i then changed my mind to be First at business site to singapore then by train to Thailand- and return by flight back to re board my return journey to india
    time i have kept for return journey is 16th december...!!may change if i find good company and experinced fellow known to places in Thailand-
    shall i await some one's details to my e mail id....dinesh.jani@gmail.com and cc to drdineshkjani@gmail.com
    pl give details-i will reach at singapore on 26 or 27 nov then from 4th december...till back.....!!!
    rgds
    dinesh k jani

    #14 Posted: 20/11/2012 - 03:10

  • waterlessfi-
    sh

    Joined Travelfish
    20th November, 2012
    Posts: 4

    Hello Dinesh,

    To get from Singapore to Thailand on the train by purchasing three separate tickets (Singapore to Kuala Lumpur , Kuala Lumpur to Butterworth, Butterworth to wherever you're going in Thailand). You can't purchase one single ticket all the way there.

    Where are you going in Thailand? You'll have to check whether there's actually a train station at your destination. You can buy a single ticket from Butterworth to Bangkok. If you're travelling past there, you'll need to buy another ticket in Bangkok.

    There's also a weird glitch where tickets in Singapore are more expensive than tickets in Malaysia despite being for the same journey. Ie, a 34 Ringgit ticket will cost 34 Singaporean Dollars. Thus, you might be better off travelling by train to Johor Bahru and then buying all of your tickets there instead.

    You can find more information at the following websites:

    Malaysia Railway: http://www.ktmb.com.my/
    State Rail of Thailand: http://www.railway.co.th/home/Default.asp?lenguage=Eng

    Hope that helps!

    #15 Posted: 20/11/2012 - 04:03

  • dineshkjani

    Joined Travelfish
    15th November, 2012
    Location India
    Posts: 6

    great suggestion
    in fact my plan was to be at thailand first then to singapore etc but time had NOt permitted me to do so-as i am needed at singapore FIRSt from 27 till 30th nov...then FREe to go any where
    okay-i will reach johr bahru and will buy tickets for bangkok-...? or for KL...?i am un aware
    where is train station at JB...is that closer to Bus stop-as then i will reach JB by bus or by shared taxi.....i will reach there
    can you give some ideass about time the train is available from Jb to be to Kl or straight to bangkok....?so-no wastes of hours at station
    again pl guide me- on reaching Thailand- have time nd time and time-so can plan to make stop over at good location...on way...then ultimately on 16th dec shall hv to catch my return flight-this i can even arrange from BKK or any other air port intl air port for india journey...from bkk?
    sorry to bother you but i am thrilled....and will love to loiter in thailand areas....after 1st dec till whats o ever...
    thanks again
    rgds
    dinesh

    #16 Posted: 20/11/2012 - 05:25

  • dineshkjani

    Joined Travelfish
    15th November, 2012
    Location India
    Posts: 6

    in Thai areas to reach BK K will take 16-17 hours-fine-open eyes and fine sky
    how about journey for two days at Vientiane Lao...is it worth..?or should i spend in some other region by train travel....will prefer....should be from BK K train station or from any in between station from thai region
    -visa/master do the train station accepts credit cards?or not..?

    pl guide

    #17 Posted: 20/11/2012 - 05:31

  • waterlessfi-
    sh

    Joined Travelfish
    20th November, 2012
    Posts: 4

    Hello Dinesh,

    I'm not sure about where the train station is in relation to the bus station in Johor. I'm sure you could catch a taxi between the two very easily though. As for the times, everything should be found on the websites I linked you to. You'll find the necessary schedules there.

    About Thailand, spending two days to go to Vientiane is probably not worth it. You can catch an overnight train from Bangkok to Nong Khai (which is across the border from Vientiane). From there, you'll have to cross the Thai/Laos border though which will take a few hours. You'll only have about 24 hours to spend in Vientiane which isn't much. I'd recommend going somewhere else which is closer to Bangkok. Ayutthaya or Kanchanaburi are a few hours away by train and are quite scenic!

    In my experience, train stations in Southeast Asia don't accept credit cards. Cash is always king here. I might be wrong about the Malaysian stations though...

    #18 Posted: 22/11/2012 - 23:13

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