Hoping for some advice in relation to whether our transfer plans are realistic on arrival in BKK airport, Boyf and I are first time travelers to Thailand. We arrive on 3rd April 2014
Our flight is due to land at BKK at 7:50pm local time and our hope was to get the 10pm sleeper train to Chiang Mai from Hualamphong station
We have been warned by a friend that waiting to buy tickets can take ages so are contemplating booking them in advance through Thailandtraintickets.com who have an option to collect the tickets from the station when we arrive.
So questions are
1. How long is it likely to take us to get out of the airport (we are only taking hand luggage) UK Passports, nothing to declare etc
2. How long will it take to get to the Train station? and what is the quickest way? It had been suggested we take a motorbike taxi....will this be a harrowing exp??
3. If we pre book our tickets to collect at the station is it quicker than waiting to buy them when we arrive (aware that if we pre book and are delayed we will loose the value of the tickets but if the journey is feasible it might still be worth the risk) and has anyone had any issues collecting tickets this late in the day/close to departure time?
4. If we miss the sleeper train is there any super close hotels you would recommend?
Any advice would be greatly appreciated
Much easier to fly. Flights start around $40 and u might be able to check luggage thru to CM. Saves a lot of hassle. Thai trains are old and unreliable. Been a few crashes recently. Train tracks r in poor condition.
Last flight from BKK to Chiang Mai is 21:30, would that allow us enough time to check in? Sure a site I read said they were strict about the 1 hour prior to flight check in rule?
It's a tricky one. Personally I'd say too tight.
In my experience a very fast run through BKK with carry on from leaving flight, through immigration then to getting into taxi is about 30 minutes. But I've queued for up to an hour to get through immigration and likewise at the taxi stand for 20 minutes or so. Taxi from BKK to Hualamphong would take around 45minutes with average traffic - but if traffic bad could easily take north of an hour.
So with two hours and ten minutes, assuming your flight is on time you'd need a quick run through immigration, a short taxi queue and light to medium traffic.
Do you feel lucky? ;-)
I wouldn't get a motorbike taxi for a trip of that length - I don't know where you'd even get one from BKK.
The quickest way would be the Express rail link from BKK to Makassan (about 15 minutes) and then walk to Petchaburi subway and get the subway to Hualamphong. It's a bit of chopping and changing, but should be faster than a cab.
The ticket agent should be able to advise re picking up the tickets late - I'd be inclined to use the agency as you'll be cutting it fine anyway. Plus if you just show up the sleeper may be full.
Good alt suggestion by Leonard, but bear in mind the cheap domestic flights will be leaving from DMK, not BKK so you'll have to transfer between airports and again, if traffic is heavy you'll be out of luck.
Hotels near the train station, I've stayed at @hualamphong a few times - it is fine -- and is one of of top 20 hostels in Bangkok actually.
#4 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 7,755
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again mostly ''just open that guidebook'' Qs.
1. BUYing train tic at the windows does not take ages- I hardly ever saw even a Q-up. BUT leaving it till the same day is risky-3d cl. the hard wooden situp+beg types will be open, but THAT train only has few 2nd cl. old-style sleeper carriages and is also dead-slow.
2.One can save about 30 mins by NOT going into HLPong (this is the usual ignorance even on this site-that claims to know all) but the MRT to OTHER end=Bang Sue station where ANY train out of HLpong stops 25-30 mins later. But I think trains are horrendously overrated due to seat61, the self-appointed ''greenies'' on every forum (they have never seent he dieselfumes out of the ages-old loco's, I guess) and the distrust of todays newbees in anything that is not online-like 95% of TH nightbuses.
CHmai and any north/east train ALSO stops about 50- mins later at Don Muang-opposite the old airprot, and so one can use the free shuttle bus BKK/swampy to DMK. or a faster taxi.
Motosai are not even allowed in the airport-area. Utter nonsense.
2.It has never taken me more as 50 mins to exit airport after arrival, with or without luggage hardly matters-its the immigr that eats time.
@4. around HLpong and with immediate view are at least 3-4 hoStels and also now a mid-class real HTL.
PS5: be aware of Thai New year=14/4, songkran, that will play havoc with any travels around that date. Its about the very worst travel time of the year.
#6 captainbkk has been a member since 16/2/2012. Posts: 472
I would never even remotely consider getting off of a flight from Europe and then bussing or training it to Chiang Mai. This would suck. A lot.
You just got off the plane and it's your first time in Thailand and you want to blow out of Bangkok without seeing anything but the train station? Bangkok is arguably the most important city in SEA and is loaded with tourist attractions, nightlife, food, you name it.
Is there a reason you are doing this? Like your aunt is going to die on 5 April and you need to be there before then? Cause I don't get it.
As mentioned a flight would be better, train travel in SEA is quite overrated. Sure if you have never been on a train before it might be worth the experience but otherwise it is nothing great.
Not mentioned yet is that the train to CM is often late, the train you would be taking isn't schedule to arrive until 1 PM so don't be surprised if it is 3 or 4. If you do decide to take train buy your tickets ahead and hope you get there on time, otherwise you could very well end up without a sleeper.
What I would do is find a decent place to stay in Bangkok. Spend a night out on the town if that is your kind of thing. Then if you are in a hurry to get to CM have a flight that leaves the next morning, you will get to CM before you would with the train and everything will be a much more comfortable experience for only a few dollars more. If you have time you might even want to consider spending a day or two in Bangkok and this is coming from someone that didn't even care for Bangkok that much(worth taking a look around though).
Air Asia or Nok Air have cheap flights around $40, these leave from Don Muang Airport. If you want a cheap Thai railway experience you can take a train from Hualamphong to Don Muang although give yourself lots of time, otherwise use a taxi or bus.
As for a place to stay near the train station. I stayed in Cozy Bangkok Place which was decent, the location isn't great but you are within walking distance to many places including the MRT/Train station. They have private rooms or dormitory beds depending on what you want. They do book up, and I would advise getting a room with AC(I think their double rooms have it) as it will be very warm that time of year.
Thank you everyone. After reading all your advice and hours more researching we are now going to spend a couple of nights in Bangkok on arrival and then take the sleeper up to Chiang Mai a few days later (no, I dont have an aunt dying, lol, but we were trying to see as much as possible before Songkran) which we have now decided to spend in Chiang Rai/Mai so not so much rush :) We will fly back down south on the 16th after Songkran and adventures in the North :)