As part of our trip to Thailand, we wanted to combine the city and beach for a mixed experience of the country. With just two short weeks to do so, we were keen to maximise our time in the country.
Having considered the options for travelling between our two destinations, we settled on using the train as discussed and booked here.
So, onto the actual experience. Well, it was pretty positive. We went into it as openly as possible with realistic expectations that were pleasantly met.
Upon arrival at the station, we went to platform 4 to board the 7.30pm express train from Bangkok. This was a typical experience with platforms clearly signposted across the station. Top tip: Ensure that you buy tickets in advance wherever possible, the queues are big and avoidable if you plan ahead.
Once you arrive on board, the seats are well labelled but the guards do check all tickets before departure in case of any confusion. We were booked into the second class sleepers which are structured as two seats that fold down into beds. If you are able to travel light then now is the time to do so! We had several suitcases within our group which does make it tricky with space and security of belongings. Be sure to keep valuables on you, such as jewellery, money, phones and your passport.
The train does offer full facilities such a shower, toilet and wash basins but the cleanliness of these does leave a lot to be desired. None of us opted to shower whilst on board…
With this being a first in overland train travel for all in the group, we were a little uncertain of what to expect. The process pretty much goes as follows:
- Find your seat and get comfortable.
- The guards will come on board to check tickets, have yours to hand.
- Once the train is in motion, the night guard will come round, around 8pm to assist with lowering and spreading the beds.
- Chill out, read a book, play a board game (ask others to join in if you’re travelling alone) eat food, or go to sleep. This is your time. They ask that the noise is kept down from 9pm. We had young children in our carriage so made an extra effort to keep the noise down during a game of chess and amongst the group in general.
- Get some rest! If you’re travelling to a mainline station like Surat Thani for Koh Samui, then the guard will announce it through the carriage. Whilst this is handy, take note of when you are expected to arrive and set an alarm.
Sleep with essential belongings on you – I can’t stress this enough! Travellers are a target on board these trains so keep valuables close.
Respect the space and privacy of others. In our case, children were on board and parents were noticeably trying to get then to sleep. Respecting those around you is general travel courtesy. This situation is no different.
If you are unclear about stations (they aren’t labelled or announced on a tannoy except for mainline stops) then ask the guard. Also, other travellers may be able to assist.
After departing the train (we were unfortunately delayed for three hours) we took a bus to Surat Thani before boarding the ferry to Koh Samui. Travel agents are around at this point to ensure that you make the right connection. Also, if making this trip, you can often book the connections with one ticket saving money and the hassle of multiple purchases. Whilst we were delayed, there was no issue with boarding the next available bus and ferry, another convenience of booking with a sole agent like Thailand Train Ticket.
Overall, we really enjoyed the experience of travelling overland in Thailand. It was fun, cheap and a safe experience for us. It also gave us more knowledge of Thailand, connecting stations and a real sense of the size of the country which we can now appreciate at a whole new level.