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The Kingdom of Thailand has one of the best meter-gauge rail systems in the world which provides comfortable and excellent value travel for Thais and visitors alike. The State Railways of Thailand system connects with the Singapore line which runs along peninsular Malaysia. Chiang Mai is the principle Northern city where the railway line finishes at the rail networks most northern point and North Eastern Nong Khai connects with the Laos capital of Vientiane.
Trains connect with bus and boats to cover travel to Phuket, Koh Tao, Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and other tropical islands of Thailand's coast.
The 700 km, 9 hour road journey from Chiang Mai to Bangkok takes around 12 hours on most overnight trains, similarly there are overnight trains running from Bangkok south towards the border with Malaysia terminating at Sungai Kolok (for Kota Bahru) and Butterworth (for Penang) .
The comparative slow speed of the train can be viewed as a bonus for those who truly appreciate the slow rolling lush country-side which takes them into the heartlands of Thailand. Thailand train travel is a good way to enjoy the natural scenery in a relaxed manner.
First-class cars provide private cabins for singles or couples. Each private cabin has individually controlled air-con, a wash basin and mirror, a small table and long bench seat that converts into a bed. Drinking water and towels are provided free of charge. First-class cars are available only on express and special express trains.
In a 2nd-class car, seating arrangements are similar to those on a bus with pairs of padded seats all facing towards to front of the train. Usually the seats can be adjusted to a reclining angle. In the a 2nd-class sleeper, you will find two rows of facing seat pairs; each pair is separated from the next by a dividing wall.
A table folds down between each pair and at night seats
convert into two fold-down berths, one over the other. Curtains provide some privacy and fresh linen are provided. A toilet is located at one end of the car and wash basins at the other. Second-class cars are found only on rapid and express trains; some routes offer air-con 2nd class as well as ordinary 2nd class.
Wooden bench seats suitable for only the more hardened traveler. Third class tickets are sold a few hours prior to departure. No pre-booking is possible in this class.
All classes of train have refreshment facilities and most have full catering cars with cooked meals at reasonable rates. At practically every station food vendors offer local delights from fried chicken to more exotic local delicacies.
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