When it comes to exploring many places in a short period of time, many travelers often choose to travel by plane. But have you considered train trips and rail journeys? Offering so much more than a means to get from one place to another, train travel is not only more economical and but also more sustainable. And, one of the best places to travel, see the world, and enjoy the ride is in Asia. From cross-country to international getaways, Asia offers some of the most unique and one-of-a-kind travel experiences. We have shared some of the best train trips in Asia here.
Bangkok to Chiang Mai, Thailand Train Trips:
One of the most well-known train routes in Thailand is from Bangkok to Chiang Mai. Taking the night train is its very own special experience, popular for both locals and tourists. These cities are located 422 miles (680 kilometers) away from each other, but you can get to each in no time by taking the train. The ride is about 13 hours long. This ride is one of the most beautiful and really allows you to see the country. So if you decide to take the overnight route, we recommend getting your sleep and waking up early to watch the sunrise over the hilly countryside of Northern Thailand. The trains from Bangkok’s Hua Lamphong Station run daily, which allows for flexibility in planning your ride. When purchasing your tickets you can choose from first, second, and third class.
To buy train tickets from Bangkok to Chiang Mai you can purchase them from any major train stations, through agents, and online. To be on the safe side, we recommend you book a trip at least a day in advance to secure the tickets you would like to purchase.
The first-class carriages come with two major differences. Air-conditioning and more space. If you are looking to travel on in a more luxurious way, then these carriages are for you. The sleeper rooms also can fit up to four passengers and come with locks. If you are a solo female traveler, there are carriages available solely for females and their young children. For those looking for accessibility, there are very few and selected trains that are wheelchair accessible.
The second-class is the next cheapest option, and your ticket will come with an assigned seat. Tickets typically cost around 500 THB (approximately $15 USD). This carriage even comes with fans. If you book a bunk in a sleeper train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, the second-class bunks cost around 800–1,000 THB (approximately $25–30 USD), but you have to pay a little more to get an air-conditioned carriage. The lower bunks are slightly more expensive, but at the same time have more space.
This is definitely the cheapest option when booking your train travel. However, the third-class carriage is often crowded, so if you are looking for a more comfortable ride, we recommend choosing the first or second class options. If you are a backpacker looking to bond with the locals, strike up a conversation, and live your authentic life, then the third class is an excellent option. This is what makes train travel so flexible and a great choice for transportation during your adventures.
Kandy to Ella, Sri Lanka Train Trips:
If you wish to experience the beautiful views of Sri Lankan Hill Country with all its tea plantations, you should definitely opt for train travel. Getting from Kandy to Ella will take around seven hours, but it is worth the journey. This particular train was initially created by the British Colonial government in 1864 to transport tea and coffee. For years, crates of tea were the primary passengers on this route, until people started to travel in the 1960s. Today, taking a train in Sri Lanka is one of the cheapest ways to travel around, and it is a vital means of transportation for locals.
The first-class tickets must be reserved in advance to guarantee a seat. You will get an air-conditioned room, but unfortunately, these rooms have no open doors or windows to hang out and see the magnificent views. The famous pictures you see of people hanging out on the side are in the other second and third-class cabins.
The second class cabin is the perfect option for experiencing it all. There are options for unreserved and reserved seats. If you do not want a reserved seat then you can book on the day. If you do get a train ticket with a reserved seat, however, then the number of seats is constrained, and you would pay double the price of the unreserved one. A good rule of thumb is always to book just in case, especially during the popular holiday season.
The third class is quite an experience. You will see everything you can imagine all around, from cats to dogs, to vegetables and chickens. It is a trip you will never forget and is beyond budget-friendly.
Train Tips and Buying Advice
Travel by day is the best way to take one of these train trips. For the ride from Kandy to Ella, sit on the right side of the train. This will allow you to capture that picture-perfect moment over Nine Arch Bridge. Make sure to charge your camera or phone beforehand. Be sure to also bring hand sanitizer, extra tissue, and a yummy snack.
Are you eager to take one of these incredible train trips through Asia? Stay tuned for more epic adventures on our blog!
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