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Train travel - Bangkok-Chiang Mai

Posted by rayc101 on 23/2/2006 at 05:17

Hello
I understand that there are 3 types of train running the Bangkok-Chiang Mai route, Rapid, Express and Special Express. The Rapids are the slowest and take 15 hrs, whilst the others travel at night and take 10-12 hrs.
Only the Rapids travel during the day, but tourists seem to prefer the night trains. I want to see the countryside on my journey.
Are the Rapids really bad as suggested, or am I missing something fundamental?
Thanks, Rayc101

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Posted by somtam2000 on 23/2/2006 at 06:33 admin

Posted from within Vietnam.

The rapid trains are fine and the scenery is excellent. Tourists tend to take the night trains as that saves them a night's accommodation. Note there is also a daytime Sprinter, which takes around 12 hours from memory - enjoy the trip!

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Posted by rayc101 on 23/2/2006 at 12:44

Thanks for the prompt reply.

The opportunity cost of saving one nights accomodation is missing 700K of priceless Thai scenery, which seems like specious logic to me. Thanks again.

Regards
Rayc101

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Posted by exacto on 26/2/2006 at 07:17

i've made this train trip to/from bangkok/chiang mai over a dozen times, and i'd recommend the overnight sleeper train. the last train out of bangkok won't arrive in chiang mai until several hours after the sun is up, even if it does arrive on time, which will give you those several hours of travel gazing at the priceless Thai scenery. i think you'll find that a few hundred kms goes a long way, and that 12 hours on a day train is a painfully long time.

if you decide to take the day trip, i'd recommend the diesel rail car, as it is quicker and more comfortable. in all cases, buy the best seat you can afford (first is better than second class, etc.), as a 3rd class train trip of that length is unbearable.

when my friends were visiting me in bangkok, i'd typically send them up to ayutthaya on the train early in the day, then have them catch the last train to chiang mai in the evening. that way they'd have the entire day to enjoy the sights of ayutthaya, including an hour or two under the lights at night, and still have the fun of the train trip to chiang mai.

also, i'd recommend getting your train tickets as far in advance as possible. it used to be easy to get the seat you wanted, even for an overnight sleeper, but the word is out, and these seats can fill up fast, even in the off season. enjoy your trip. regards.

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Posted by PKK on 27/2/2006 at 14:27

Is Ayutthaya seen in one day?? I am planing to head straight to Ayutthaya from BKK airport.

Is Sukhothai worth visiting or should I go directly to Chiang Mai from Ayutthaya?? If yes to Sukhothai, direct bus from Ayutthaya or train to Phitsanulok + bus from there to Sukhothai, which one do you prefer??

Thanks!!
-p-

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Posted by somtam2000 on 27/2/2006 at 16:33 admin

PKK, if you have the time, I'd recommend an overnight stay in both Ayutthaya and Sukothai. Note that the train doesn't pass through Sukhothai, rather you have to alight at Phitsanulok and get the bus from there.

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Posted by exacto on 28/2/2006 at 09:37

i agree with somtam that an overnight stay in ayutthaya is worth it if you have the time. you could spend several days wandering around the ruins, but you could also get a good sense of the place in one day. again, it depends on how much time you have and how much you enjoy ruins. sukothai is great too, if you have the time. if you only had time for one, i'd recommend ayutthaya over sukhothai. sorry, i don't know if train or bus is better to get to sukhothai from ayutthaya, but your guest house in ayutthaya might help you. finally, depending on when you are arriving at bangkok airport, you can take the walkover bridge right to the train station and catch a train to ayutthaya straight away. that is lots of fun, really cheap, and the easiest arrival point in ayutthaya. check out the state railway of thailand website to see if your arrival time in bangkok matches up with an ayutthaya-bound train. cheers.

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Posted by PKK on 28/2/2006 at 13:54

Thanks for the information. I'll think I visit both Ayutthaya & Sukhothai and stay overnight in both too. I have planned two weeks for northern Thailand OR 1 week northern Thailand + 1 week in Laos. In latter plan time may run short but I really don't know yet and my plans tend to change daily..

I should have no problems in catching a train from airport to Ayutthaya as my plane arrives around 2 p.m. Thanks again!!
-p-

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