Enjoy off-the-beaten-path holiday experiences? You’ll want to check out rail travel in Thailand. Thailand’s railways have been around for a long time and it’s also a common means of transport for many locals. Instead of getting on a coach, a great way to travel around Thailand and Southeast Asia is to experience rail travel.
Here are some rides you can hop on to enjoy unusual scenes and travel like a rail local in Thailand:
Maeklong Railway Market
This market is famous precisely because a railway cuts through it. Onboard the train, you’ll get to see the hustle and bustle of the common folks’ everyday lives. You’ll see vibrant stalls and take in the exciting market scene. Tourists usually get to the market by car and try to capture photos of the train passing by. Being on the train, however, gives you quite a different perspective!
Upon arriving at Maeklong Railway Market, you can get off and explore the area. What’s more, Amphawa Floating Market is 7.5km away, which makes for a pretty good market-hopping itinerary!
Bangkok to Lopburi
One of Thailand’s oldest cities, Lopburi is a deeply cultural site with ruins and temples. Ruins like the Phra Prang Sam Yod (Khmer origin) has been around for thousands of years and is a famous ancient historical site. Lopburi itself is a small town and can be easily explored on foot. If you’re a history buff or you enjoy heritage sites, a rail ride to this town is no less fitting!
Bangkok to Chiang Mai
Bangkok to Chiang Mai is a much longer rail ride, clocking about 12 hours. The train ride to Chiang Mai is particularly popular because you get to see beautiful scenes of padi fields along the way. Since the journey is pretty long, it’s a good idea to opt for an overnight rail journey so you can cut down on accommodation expenses and catch the amazing sunrise along the way. Watching the bustling Bangkok city fade and transition into the quiet countryside is also an experience in itself.
Bangkok to Hua Hin
Hua Hin is one of Thailand’s most popular beach destinations! From luxury villas to themed resorts, many tourists flock to Hua Hin for a beach getaway. There are many ways you can travel to Hua Hin from Bangkok and travelling by rail is one of them. The train ride isn’t too long – roughly 4 hours long. Depending on how comfortable you want to be, you can choose from three different classes of train rides. First class is the most comfortable, while the third class gives you an authentic local experience!
Kanchanaburi (Death Railway)
Another short rail trip on this list, the railway at Kanchanaburi is famous for its historical significance. Built by forced labour during WWII, as many as 100 000 people have died while building this railway under the Japanese Occupation.
Along the way, you’ll pass by River Kwai, the River Kwai Bridge, and the tallest stupa in the world, Phra Pathom Chedi. The train ride ends at Nam Tok Station, where the Sai Yok Noi waterfall is located. If you’re thinking of having a short day trip out of the bustling Bangkok cityscape, you should definitely go on this short train ride!
Bangkok to Vientiane
This is for the folks who want to experience cross-border train journeys. Vientiane is the capital and largest city of Laos, situated right at the border of Thailand. Vientiane is full of unique French-colonial architecture and Buddhist temples. They also have unusual sites like the Buddha Park, a quirky park filled with unusual Buddha statues.
Travelling by train to Vientiane from Bangkok is about 12 to 13 hours long. Along the way, you’ll definitely catch a glimpse of Thailand’s countryside and padi fields. Like the journey to Chiang Mai, it’s recommended if you get on an overnight train so you can enjoy the view of the sunrise on your way there
Since most of us are used to efficient train networks, going on a rail journey is a unique experience. Not only does it give you a more local holiday experience, rail rides also seem to transport you into a different era. Rail journeys set a very different pace to the holiday and slow you down to really enjoy the changing scenery.
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