Trains in Bangkok
Flying is one way to get to different cities in Thailand. But if you’re after an epic journey that lets you wind through dramatic valleys, forests, and mountains, then you should hit the rails.
From short jaunts to cross-country trips, here are 7 scenic trains in Bangkok for you to indulge in slow travel. We’ve even provided helpful train travel tips because you’ll most likely want to book a trip after seeing what’s in store.
Ticket pricing & booking info
The best way to buy tickets for your trips is through the official D-Ticket website or via its app.
Local trains and some long-distance routes such as Bangkok to Vientiane depart from Hua Lamphong Bangkok Station. However, if you’re heading to Samut Sakhon, you’ll need to board the train from Wong Yai Station and buy tickets via travel agencies like 12go.asia or at the ticket counter.
The price of a train ticket starts from ฿20 (~S$0.78). Depending on which class you choose, you’ll be able to have up to 60kg of luggage onboard. As with all types of travel, remember to lock your suitcases up to prevent any mishaps.
1. Bangkok to Kanchanaburi on Death Railway
Not much can compare to the historical splendour of a train ride across the Death Railway.
Image credit: @bangkok via Instagram
As the steam engine rambles through the forests and mountains, its rail line hugs rugged cliffs that stretch across mountainous terrain. Built during WWII by the blood and sweat of hundreds of war prisoners, this 415km track connects Bangkok to Kanchanaburi and has since become a memorial site for tourists to pay respect to the fallen.
On the way, you’ll pass the famous century-old Hellfire Pass railway section and the cast-iron River Kwai bridge before arriving at Kanchanaburi – home of the longest wooden bridge in Thailand.
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2. Bangkok to Chiang Mai on a 1-night sleeper train
Of all the ways to visit Chiang Mai, a sleeper train from Bangkok might be the most stylish and scenic.
Image credit: @lisasavage_tc via Instagram
On the 1-night journey that traverses 9 provinces, you’ll get to enjoy unobstructed views of the mountains, glittering lakes, and rice paddies. The train departs late in the afternoon so you can spend the night snoozing on a bunk bed or cabin, and wake up in Chiang Mai.
If you need some privacy, go for a first-class cabin that comes with a private single bed, sink, wardrobe, and TV. Otherwise, opt for a shared room in the second-class carriage. Food and drinks can be purchased onboard, but it’s a good idea to bring extra.
3. Bangkok to Pasak Chonlasit Dam on “floating train”
The scenery of Pasak Chonlasit Dam is nothing short of spectacular, and the best way to soak it up is by train.
Image credit: @tanguyenanhkhuong via Instagram
Departing from Bangkok, this route moves through several rural stations before hitting the dam. Get off the train at this point to take in the dramatic landscapes before resuming the journey towards Khok Salung station. The train operates between November and January and is pretty popular among the locals. So, book tickets in advance.
3. Bangkok to Ayutthaya on steam engines
The last time someone complained about a trip to Ayutthaya was probably… never.
Image credit: @nino_sarabutra via Instagram
Lined with ancient ruins of temples and palaces, the old city was once the centre of the Kingdom of Thailand. These days, it’s a must-visit city that’s located just a 1.5-hour train ride from Bangkok. Daily trains depart from Hua Lamphong station year-round, but if you’re after a unique travel experience, opt for a ride on the steam locomotive.
Image credit: The Cloud
Operating 3 times a year in March, July, and October, the old-timey train oozes vintage vibes and gets booked up real quick by locals and tourists alike.
4. Bangkok to Hua Hin with iconic train station built in the 1920s
Assuming you have 4 hours to spare, hop on the train from Bangkok to meander up North and arrive at Hua Hin.
Image credit: @thailandinsider via Instagram
The journey snakes through dense forests and wraps around the glistening coastline, allowing you to peep at the foliage and breath in the fresh sea breeze all at once. After the ride, you’ll find yourself in one of Thailand’s cosiest beach towns.
Built in 1926, based on gingerbread houses’ style, Hua Hin’s iconic red and white train station is a reason to visit the city on its own. But other hotspots such as the Petchaburi Salt Farm and the mysterious mound inside Phraya Nakhon Cave are also sights to see.
5. Bangkok to Samut Sakhon with railway market
Getting to Mae Klong Railway Market in Samut Sakhon involves 2 train rides and a ferry, but it’ll be worth it.
Image credit: @cam_shn66 via Instagram
The 2.5-hour trip includes a drive through a secret serene green tunnel before sending you into the hectic scene of hundreds of stalls selling goods right next to the railway. You’ll be able to find everything from food and drinks to souvenirs and clothing here. Just make sure you keep your eyes peeled for the chugging engine that cruises through 8 times a day.
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6. Bangkok to Vientiane on overnight train
If time is of no essence, hop on the sleeper train from Bangkok to Vientiane to see some of Laos’ most spectacular sights.
Patuxai Victory Monument in Vientiane.
Image credit: @rom_sama6 via Instagram
As with most sleeper trains, you can expect to spend the majority of your time sleeping since you’ll board later in the afternoon. But your day will be filled with adventures through stunning vistas as the train travels alongside farmlands, villages, and mountains before it reaches Nong Khai – where the Laos border lies.
From here, clear immigration before embarking on another shorter excursion to Thanaleng station before arriving in Vientiane.
Bonus: Chiang Mai to Lam Pang via Thailand’s longest tunnel
There is a vivid but underrated display along the railway that connects Chiang Mai and Lam Pang.
Image credit: @n_makewonder via Instagram
This 2-hour voyage brings you through Khuntan Tunnel – the longest tunnel in Thailand – along Doi Khuntan national park, and across the White Bridge. The route zigzags past miles of quintessential Thai countryside scenery and towering mountain peaks. There’s no AC onboard but you’ll get to feel the wind on your skin.
Tips for taking the train in Thailand
The beauty of train travel is that it’s often more about the journey than the destination. Which, in the case of Thailand, happens to be true. Just make sure you sort your tickets out in advance.
On either the ticketing website or app, simply key in your destination and dates and choose an option that best suits your itinerary. You can book tickets up to 30 days in advance. Some popular routes such as Bangkok to Chiang Mai and the steam train to Ayutthaya might require you to set an alarm and secure tickets as soon as they are released.
Image credit: @pattana_ball via Instagram
Thai trains are split into 3 classes. Generally speaking, the first- and second-class seats are more modern in comparison to third-class seats. The former 2 carriages also come with AC and seat assignments, as opposed to the latter, which requires you to fight for a seat and dry your sweat with the help of fans.
When you think of a Thail holiday, rail travel is probably one of the last things that comes to mind. But these unique train journeys will hopefully change that and also give you the opportunity to see the country through a different lens.
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Cover image adapted from: @bangkok, @tanguyenanhkhuong, @cam_shn66 via Instagram
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