There are three basic classes of Train Ticket in Thailand: 1st Class, 2nd Class and 3rd Class. There are also several different types of seats available on trains in Thailand, depending on which type of train you travel on. For more information about what types of seats are available on specific trains see the in depth guides to the trains which are currently used on the Bangkok to Chiang Mai route.
Seat Types on Thailand Trains
There are 8 basic types of seats available on trains in Thailand. Not all these types of seats will be available on every train. The list below is in descending order of price:
- 1st Class Single Sleeper
- 1st Class Sleeper
- 2nd Class Ladies Only Air-Conditioned Sleeper
- 2nd Class Air-Conditioned Sleeper
- 2nd Class Air-Conditioned Seat
- 2nd Class Fan Sleeper
- 2nd Class Fan Seat
- 3rd Class Seat (Air-Conditioned or Fan depending on the train)
1st Class Single Sleeper
All 1st class sleeper seats are in a separate air-conditioned room with its own door, which can be locked from the inside. These have single bed with a wash basin and an electric socket. These are the most expensive tickets. There are two toilets at the end of each 1st Class carriage. At the side of the bed there is just enough room to store a couple of large bags.
1st Class Sleeper
This is small separate air-conditioned room with two beds. The beds are arranged bunk bed style with a ladder provided to access the upper bunk. The room also has a wash basin and a single electric socket. These types of train seats are ideal for families doing overnight journeys between Bangkok and Chiang Mai or Bangkok and Surat Thani. There is just enough room for two young children and two adults, if each child shares a bunk with a parent. If you have difficulties fitting your luggage inside the space in front of the seats then the train guard will assist you with finding an area to stow your luggage during the journey.
2nd Class Air-Conditioned Sleeper
These are seats which fold down into beds at night. The carriage is arranged into either two rows of bunk beds with a corridor down the middle, or, as on Train #13 (departing at 19:35) to Chiang Mai, into groups of four bunk beds. At the point of purchasing a ticket passengers can specify whether they want an Upper or Lower bed. Upper beds are cheaper the Lower beds but to access an Upper bed you need to climb a ladder. Lower beds are slightly wider and have a window. The only disadvantage of a Lower bed is that they have no reading light. There is a privacy curtain for each bed and toilets and wash basin at each end of the carriage.
2nd Class Ladies Only Sleeper
Precisely the same as the 2nd Class Air-Conditioned Sleeper but intended for the sole use of women and children. The introduction of Ladies Only carriages was a reaction to an attack on 13 year old Thai girl in 2013 by a worker employed to clean the trains. There are police officers on all Thai trains and these kinds of incidents are very rare. This said, the carriages are a little more quiet than other carriages and some female passenger prefer to book the Ladies Only Carriage particularly if they are travelling with small children.
2nd Class Air-Conditioned Seat
There are a variety different types of 2nd class air-conditioned seats being used on trains in Thailand. Which one you get depending on which train you book and sometimes which carriage you are allocated when you book your seat. All 2nd class air-conditioned seats are soft, they recline and most have some kind of fold down tray similar to the one on an aeroplane. On day time Special Express services such as Train #7 from Bangkok to Chiang Mai (departing at 08.30) and Train #43 from Bangkok to Surat Thani (departing at 08.05) The ticket price includes some food and drink served to passengers in their seats. Our experience has been that this food has tended to be better than the food that is served in the restaurant car on other Thai trains.
2nd Class Fan Sleeper
There are two major differences between the 2nd Class Fan Sleeper Seat and 2nd Class Air Con Sleeper Seat:
- Fan cooled sleeper berths can be a lot hotter than the sleeper berths air-conditioned carriages.
- The carriages themselves tend to be older.
Other than that a fan cooled sleeper seat is identical to an air-conditioned sleeper seat. At around 7 pm the seats are transformed into bunk beds along a single central corridor with privacy curtains, and small metal ladders for accessing the upper bunks. Except for the summer time in the South of Thailand (March to July) you are unlikely to find fan cooled sleeper berths too uncomfortable to sleep in.
2nd Class Fan Seat
A second class fan seat is soft reclining chair. In addition to fan cooling, the windows can be opened. At the hottest times of year fan seats can become uncomfortable, although at night with the windows open the temperature becomes a lot more bearable. Fan seats are most popular with Thai travellers looking to save money. For overnight journeys we do not recommend fan seat if you are coming to Thailand for a holiday. You may end up with a fan seat being your only option is you do not book in advance.
3rd Class Seats
There is a variety of different types of 3rd Class Seat on Thai trains. Some are air-conditioned, but most are not and instead have fans and windows which you can open. The seats are like benches with two people sharing a seat. The padding on the chairs is generally not great and they often become uncomfortable after 3 to 4 hours of travel. For shorter journeys they are fine, however, many foreign visitors find that long journeys (such as the ones from Bangkok to Chiang Mai or Surat Thani) in 3rd Class seats become a battle of endurance. 3rd Class seats are primarily used by thrifty Thai passengers because they are cheaper than travelling by bus. On the positive side, food and drink vendors are more plentiful because the State Railways of Thailand sometimes restricts access by these vendors to other train carriages.