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Everything you need to know about the State Railway of Thailand

Choosing Thai Railways with Virail

By teaming up with Virail and Thai Railways, you can enjoy exploring areas that the majority of tourists never get to see. Traveling Thailand by rail still brings out those romantic notions of crammed third-class rail cars and chatting to the locals balancing chickens in bamboo cages on their knees. While on some rural routes you may get close during rush-hour, the reality is, traveling Thailand by train is a great, safe, and economical way to enjoy the real Thailand, away from the tourist hot spots. Team up with Virail, once you’ve planned your journey, dates, and time of travel, we will direct you to the Thai Railways booking portal, to confirm and pay for your trip.

About the State Railway of Thailand

The first meter of track for the Royal State Railways of Siam was laid in 1891. Designated the Northern Line, the first section, stretching 71 km between Bangkok and Ayutthaya, was opened in 1896. The Northern Line stretched from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, and over the ensuing years, work began on the Northeastern Line, the Eastern Line, and the Southern Line. Today, Thai Railways boasts over 4,500 kilometers of track. Whether you want to get to the Thai/Laos border, the Thai/Malaysian border, or visit the Bridge over the River Kwai, you can plan it simply and easily online when you team up with Virail.

Main Routes and Stations

With hundreds of stations, thousands of kilometers of track, and countrywide areas of travel, Thailand’s State Railway has something for everyone. If you’ve never before considered exploring a country by rail, Thailand provides a great opportunity to dive in and savor a whole new experience. You can enjoy fast intercity routes such as:

Bangkok to Chiang Mai: Stopping at Ayutthaya – Lopburi - Nakhon Sawan – Phitsanulok – Lampang.

Bangkok to Butterworth (The Malaysian Express): Stopping at Nakhon Pathom - Hua Hin - Surathani - Hat Yai.

Bangkok to Ban Phlu Ta Luang: Stopping at Chachoengsao - Chonburi - Pattaya.

The State Railway of Thailand also operates a number of local commuter rail services from Bangkok, and an airport service is also available from Downtown Bangkok to Suvarnabhumi Airport.

The State Railway of Thailand ticket pricing and categories

Thai Railways has three types of rail cars: First, Second, and Third Class, and these are split up into sub-classes. Ticket prices are based on the class of coach you wish to travel in. However, not all routes have all three classes.

First-Class Coaches: Separate compartments suitable for two or four people with drop-down bunks on long overnight routes. Includes air-con, a small washbasin, toiletries, and bed linen. A toilet and cold water shower are available in each coach. Some routes include a restaurant car, or you can have your meals served in your compartment. Meals are paid for on the train. On some routes, you can travel at the first-class VIP level.

Second-Class Coaches: The most popular class for Thai and foreign travelers. Second-class cars are divided into those with air-con, and those with opening windows. Seating is arranged along both sides of the car. For overnight travelers, these can be converted into upper and lower bunks, with fresh bed linen included in the price. Be aware, upper bunks are a little shorter than lower bunks, so specify when booking.

Third-Class Coaches: Generally found on shorter, rural routes, and popular with the locals - and adventurous travelers looking for some good photo opportunities. Cars are usually fitted with fans – often not working. Older coaches will likely have the old-style wooden slatted seating, with seats facing across the car. In third class, animals can be carried in a pet carrier, priced at around 150 baht.

The earlier you book your train tickets the cheaper the fare, and the better the chance of meeting all your travel requirements. So, if you’re flying into Thailand to explore the country by rail, try to book your tickets online with Virail 25-30 days before you fly.

Main transportation types used by Thai Railways

The Thai railroad operates seven types of trains, and each type is identifiable by its number.

Special Express: Designated numbers 1–48. The most expensive but quickest option for intercity travel.

** Express Trains:** Designated numbers 51–98. Pulling first, second, and third-class cars and stopping at more stations.

Rapid Trains: Designated numbers 101–198. Popular trains pulling second and third-class cars.

Ordinary Trains: Designated numbers 298–300. Slow, all stops, and maximum distance 500 km, pulling third-class cars only.

Commuter Trains: Designated numbers 301–398. Similar operation and makeup as ordinary trains.

Local Trains: Designated numbers 401–498. Short-haul, town-to-town, pulling third-class cars.

Diesel Railcar: Designated DRC. Pulling just two or three second-class cars.

Main amenities offered by Thai Railways

On Thai Railways, the level of passenger comfort depends on the class you choose.

First-class rail cars offer:

*Two or four-person compartments. *Washing facilities. *Drop-down bunks. *Air-conditioning. *Restaurant car.

Second-class rail cars offer:

*Some air-conditioning on newer rail cars. *Seating convertible to bunks for overnight travelers, with fresh linen included.

Third-class rail cars offer:

*The basics, often with rather uncomfortable seating or standing room only.

Thai Railways – Frequently Asked Questions

What are Thai Railways stations like?

In big cities like Bangkok, they are similar to American and European rail stations. Smaller towns or rural stations often have no platform as such, or it is on the same level as the rails.

How do I book a ticket? Visit Virail’s route planning website. Fill in the relevant sections, and Virail will transfer you to Thai Railways’ booking portal to complete your transaction.

How much luggage am I allowed?

You are allowed one carry-on bag and one traveling case per person. If traveling first class, that can be up to 60 kg, second class up to 40 kg, and third class up to 30 kg.

Are there any boarding regulations?

First and second-class tickets are checked prior to boarding. Third-class tickets are checked onboard by the conductor. Third-class tickets can also be bought onboard.

Can I get to the islands by train from Bangkok?

To reach the islands from Bangkok you purchase a ‘combo’ ticket, which is good for the train (or bus) journey, and the ferry to the islands.

Your journey with Thai Railways

If something's worth doing, it’s worth doing properly. Join up with Virail, and plan your next visit to Thailand a little differently. By exploring this awe-inspiring country by rail, you get to enjoy the real countryside, the real Thailand, and the ‘real’ Thais; who keep this beautiful country at the heart of Southeast Asia.

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