“Forget that ear-splitting karaoke on overnight buses and take in the countryside at a leisurely pace on a Thai train.”
Westerners certainly have more of a love for trains than most of the locals in Thailand, the latter of whom consider such mode of transport as almost prehistoric – then again, I guess some of the trains operating actually are!
While tripping around Thailand though, it’s almost a must, at least once, to experience the one-and-only Thai train. Take the Bangkok-Chiang Mai train, for example: even though the train does the journey much slower than the overnight bus, you won’t have to tolerate blaring karaoke or sub-zero air-conditioning.
Instead, you could be having a lot of fun in the train’s funky restaurant meeting locals and fellow travellers while enjoying a friendly game of cards and a chilled beer.
And instead of waking up in the morning to the sight of a six-lane motorway and countless petrol stations, you’ll be relishing a beautiful sunrise from the heart of the Thai countryside.
If the North isn’t your cup of tea, then head to Isaan, which definitely has one of the best routes in Thailand: Nakhon Ratchasima to Ubon Ratchathani.
The train is incredibly slow but you can break your journey up and spend a night in the groovy provincial towns of Surin, Buri Ram and Si Sa Ket. It’s a great ride, on which you can enjoy the company of super-friendly locals, who will, for sure, be inviting you to tuck into a delicious on-board picnic of grilled chicken, papaya salad and sticky rice.
You’ll get the chance to pick up some Isaan dialect or even Khmer.
Then, for those who fancy Thailand’s longest route, book yourselves onto the Bangkok-Penang International Express. It’s a 21-hour journey to remember.
So, wherever you plan to go this year, make sure that at least once you take the one-and-only Thai train!