Can anyone tell me if we should go 2nd class air con or 2nd class no air con for the journey overnight to Chiang-Mai. I hate being cold and maybe the air con will be too cold if you cant control the temp. I have 2 kids in tow as well aged 10 & 8. Reading another review someone suggested 2nd class as it was a little bit more interesting with a little more action than 1st class. Or would it be more appropriate for our family to travel 1st class on this journey. We'll be travelling in Mid Jan, so I would like to book via email as another forum user suggested. Any suggestions on which evening train to get would be helpful too!
Any other useful info welcome!
#1 paulascott has been a member since 22/9/2006. Posts: 20
I'd recommend no a/c. Those a/c train cars can be like refrigerators. Also, you can drop the big windows in the non a/c cars. I'm sure you'll kids will enjoy it more, especially when the food vendors come rushing up to the window with trays of food to sell balancing on their heads.
If you go 2nd class, Tilapia is right that you'll want the no a/c option. The a/c cars get quite chilly, and there is no way to control the temp. So, if you hate being cold, the fan cars are the way to go. If all you can get is the a/c car, then plan ahead with something warm to wear!
I'm a big fan of the 1st class option myself. The compartments are quite nice, and you can control the air flow. They have plenty of space for secure luggage storage (not that theft is a huge problem in 2nd class), and a door that secures while you are sleeping. Plus, I'm more able to relax and actually get a good night's sleep in the nicer beds in those private 1st class cabins. I could never afford something like that here in the states, which is why I like to splurge and go 1st class in Thailand.
We've travelled with friends before, and really liked how there is a door between adjacent compartments that you can open if you wish. Great for travelling with kids too. Of course, if it is just the three of you, then I don't know if the extra cost would be worth it for you or not.
Tilapia is right that there is more going on with vendors in 2nd class, so if that experience is important to you, factor that into your decision. Either way, you should have a great and memorable time.
I hope that helps. Cheers.
The air con on trains is freezing! Luckily I had a few layers, but next time I use the trains I go with just a fan. Second class was fine for me, but if you want a decent nights sleep and more comfort for for 1st class.
#4 Laura_B has been a member since 30/6/2006. Posts: 54
What are the bedding arrangments? I am travelling with a mate. A good bloke but I'm not jumping in the same bed as him
#5 TRENTA has been a member since 24/8/2006. Posts: 11
I can't speak for the 1st. class cars, but the 2nd. class cars have two berths (upper and lower) of single fold-down beds. A porter will come along and make your bed for you, fluff your pillow, etc., then take it all apart in the morning and set up your seats again.
Check out this site. There are photos, fares, timetables, and class information.
Thank you all so much for your feedback. This website ROCKS!! One more question - does anyone manage to get any sleep in 2nd class?
#7 paulascott has been a member since 22/9/2006. Posts: 20
Tilapia is right again. The 2nd class has an upper and a lower berth. The lower berth is larger and much more comfortable. For most folks it is harder to sleep in the upper berths because you are closer to the lights and it is harder to keep the light out of your sleeping space.
First class compartments also have an upper and a lower berth, but they are the same size and quite comfy. Because you are in your own room and can secure the door, it usually makes for a better night's sleep.
So, Trenta, you should be good to go either way. Cheers mate.
If you want to see the trains, the timetables, or book a seat/berth in advance then the best website is www.seat61.com. In fact whereever you might be travelling in the world by train then that is the website to start.
#9 LancasterLad has been a member since 13/9/2006. Posts: 62
@paulascott re sleep in 2nd class. I didn't get much sleep, because I was at the end of the carriage, and would constantly hear the door open as people went to use the bathroom (which is inbetween carriages). There also some noisy drunk French who kept us up. Still I think if you get a berth in the middle of the carriage and others around you are trying to sleep you should get a few hours kip!
#10 Laura_B has been a member since 30/6/2006. Posts: 54
Damn this has again opened the debate for me personally on which 'class' to use and also 'fan or a/c'!!!! I heard that it is dusty dirty and noisy if you go with the fan option??? Is this true?? I hate being cold but was thinking of going a/c because I heard its quite 'dirty' with the open windows etc on fan?
Also I am travelling with my 13yo son and cant decide whether the fun factor is better 2nd class as opposed to the privacy factor of 1st?!?!
Can someone help me decide?! Or better yet make the decision for me?!?!?! :-)
Noisy: Oh a little I guess, but the whole train is a bit of a rattler!
Temperature: Can be comfortably cool.
Privacy: Well there's a curtain...
Noisy: Oh a little I guess, but the whole train is a bit of a rattler!
Temperature: Akin to a cryogenic chamber, can be absolutely freezing
Personally, I prefer having a window open to get the breeze, and that combined with a fan is more than enough -- afterall it's only for a night... Note with the fan cars, there is the window and a shutter, so at night you close the shutter but keep the window open -- that gives you the breeze.
The fun factor is good -- be sure to take a wander up to the food car to introduce your son to the staff...
One warning regarding travelling with kids on the train, is the carriage doors are often left open, or opened along the way, so keep an eye on your son!
Dont listen to these guys, second class air con is the way to go, i have done both but a/c is so much more comfortable, they give you warm cozy blankets and if your a traveller like me getting the air con for a night is nice when you arent getting it every night... plus the second class air con cars are a lot nicer then non air con second class cars... seriously its worth the few bucks and they are really a lot more comfortable then sweating your butt off trying to get a little breeze from the fan...
#14 jldm has been a member since 9/7/2006. Posts: 8
We just took 3 2nd class train trips (incl Bkk-CM) and they were all enjoyable.
The breeze, the view and general not-cooped feeling means the fan is a better option than aircon. You might feel warm to start with it, but i realised that through the night it gets quite comfy. There are curtains for every berth so you get some amount of privacy. The only thing I did not quite get was why all the lights are on throughout the night!
Again though, the curtains do help in bocking the light out.
All in all, an easily reccomended idea.
#15 shakester has been a member since 5/9/2006. Posts: 37
two years ago travelled second class fan bkk-cm, lower bunk. quite comfortable and was pretty well rested in the morning.
last year had the top bunk next to the toilet and the fan. could not get a minute of sleep because of the urine smell, the lights and the fan blowing in my face. booked a first class cabin on the way back. which was very comfortable (room service, wake up call, water basin).
i would recommend the second class just for the experience. not being able to sleep for the entire 12 hour journey was still worth it. first class is really uneventful but really comfortable.
maybe you could travel second class from bkk to cm and first on your way back. would be a shame if you missed out on the experience of second class travel.
#16 MJS has been a member since 27/10/2006. Posts: 19
Thanks guys. Always trying to save money so might do the 2nd class fan on the way to CM.... flying back to BKK but then taking train south so if I hate the fan thing I can always try get us a 1st class for the 2nd leg!
Appreciate hearing everyones experiences! Only 35 sleeps until Thailand now! Yah!!!!
we did exactly the same thing, emjay!
10pm train from Bkk to CM. It got in at about 12 the next day, so we had loads of scenery gazing the next morning ( anyway the 7.30pm train doesnt have a fan option).
Then we flew back to Bkk via Air Asia which delayed its flight by about 2hours, so we almost missed our 7.30pm train to Surat Thani!
(there were other delays too on the way to Pha Ngan , but nevermind...!)
when you book your tickets, make sure to ask for the upper/lower berth for the 2 of you, so you're together.
Where are you booking your tickets?
#18 shakester has been a member since 5/9/2006. Posts: 37
i would recommend two lower bunks facing each other! i think they cost slightly more than the upper bunks but are more comfortable. the light and fan didnt bother me at all when i had the lower bunk, and you don't have to climb down, locate your shoes, and climb up again when you need to go to the toilet.
#19 MJS has been a member since 27/10/2006. Posts: 19
My husband and I were wondering what exactly the arrangement was for seating and bedding on the second class sleepers? We obviously would like to sit together and I am assuming we would be facing each other in the seats and then when they put the bunks down, one of us would go to the top and one of us would go to the bottom? So we should book an upper and a lower? Would we still be sitting next to each other (or facing each other) during the daytime hours? It's not that we are afraid of people, we just want to know what the deal is :)
#20 plew10 has been a member since 4/1/2010. Posts: 20
Yep correct .. order upper n lower and you sit opposite each other... the beds get made up after a couple of hours then you can sit together on the bottom bunk until tired... after many trains since initially enquiring above in 2006 I have to say 2nd class air is the best despite the cold upstairs! we used a fan 2nd class on the last trip and it was CRAWLING with small cockroaches.. we ended up upgrading right before the train left.. couldnt imagine sleeping with the cockroaches all night! Just take a light cardigan on your trip for the overnight train or convince the partner sleeping downstairs to part with their blanket for the night since they wont need it! also try get in the middle of the carriage... as if you are near the toilets at the end of the carriage they can become a little too smelly during the trip!
Man, this all reminds me of the trip I took from Nairobi to Mombassa on the night train. No AC, no fan - none really needed either. Had a private sleeping car that I shared with a lovely Kikuyu woman. The dining car was tight, but the food and wine were good, the service was excellent. Ahhh the good ol days.
#22 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
I've done the overnight trip 3 times. A return trip with friends and once travelling solo. After much internet research prior to the initial experience my criteria was 1. 2nd class a/c sleeper, 2. lower bunk (more room), 3. middle of the carriage (less noise from doors and other passengers), and most importantly, 4. ear plugs.
I intend taking the overnight sleeper from Udon Thani to Bangkok this coming August and my criteria will once again be applied.