Riding a sleeper train in Thailand is an experience that I would recommend for my readers who are looking for the best country to retire cheap. It’s a great adventure, a good value and a lot of fun. You’re going to see a lot that you wouldn’t by plane. I took a second class sleeper train from Bangkok to Changmai, and it was 100% worth it.
Being the uptight type I double checked with a Thai person who is seated across the aisle from me. She assures me that I’m on the right train.
Another thing that is kinda freaking me out is that I’m in seat 10 and there clearly is a seat 9 across from me. I’m wondering, maybe I booked my seat as a sleeper so seat 9 is mine also? I leave my travel bag on it. I find out later on this is not the case. I move my bag. After waiting 30 minutes after the train is supposed to leave, (again raising my anxiety) somebody finally comes around to check tickets.
During all this time on the train there are hawkers selling everything from bottled water, 35 cents (10 thb) to cold lemon scentedface towels 50 cents (15 thb). The prices are very reasonable, maybe 20% more than buying at 7-11 (my go to price comparison place). I’d recommend not pre buying any food and just buying it from vendors on the train. Another option that you get is sometimes an old woman trying to sell you a set dinner for $5 (140 thb). From what I’ve heard it’s not vey good. Either way you don’t have to pack around drinks and food in 40 degree weather. Speaking of 40 degrees, I discover my train doesn’t have air conditioning and my travel agent has clearly lied to me. This is something I’m going to learn over and over again. People are going to give you the wrong advice, not necessarily because they want to mess with you but because they might not understand you.(I looked at the actual train board when I got there and saw that the train that had booked me in is fan only. The price he quoted was correct he just didn’t understand what I wanted.)
The cabin is actually kind of a fun loud ruckus because we’ve got a bunch of teenage boys in our cabin. They’re being typical loud teenagers. Blaring their phones, sharing snacks, yelling across the cabin at each other, they’re just having a good time. Not a biggie just loud.
Between the teenagers(I would guess they were hufflepuffs), the train and people selling stuff on the train I’m totally thinking about Harry Potter. The next thing I see from the train kind of blows my mind.
BOOOOOOM! Mind totally blown. I cannot believe what I’m seeing on this train! It’s like being in the Harry Potter train station. After that moment, I have my eyes peeled wide open waiting for people with owls or brooms. I don’t see any or any boy with a lightning bolt scar. I did get set see a lot of Thailand’s country side though. I saw 3 giant Buddhas in the mountains and a station that had a whole bunch of monkeys.
It was interesting and you had to keep your eyes open or you could miss things easily. My seat mate pointed out things I missed. That’s correct seatmate. I found out that if you have bought the upper bunk you still get to sit with the window until night time. For my 13 hour trip , 6 hours was spent sitting up, but the scenery was worth it.
Finally at night the attendants come and start turning your beds into lie flat bunks. The beds are suprisingly comfortable and at 5 foot 10 inches I can stretch right out no problems.
The hawkers come by a final few times to make sure you don’t need anything , and then the doors to the individual cars are locked for security at night. Also if you’re security conscious like me you are worried about your passport and cash if you go to sleep. Not a problem, there’s a space where you can jam a travel bag and then put your pillow to cover and sleep on.
I fall asleep relatatively quickly. This is when my decision of paying a few bhat more for the bottom bunk has really paid off. At night you are sleeping near a nice open window with the motion of the train to rock you to sleep. If you are up on the top bunk you are just wedged in like a carryon bag. No window, just bare metal. The British couple that took this option couldn’t sleep at all.
In fact it got so nice and cool in my bottom bunk that I used the little blanket they provided me. I didn’t ever think I’d use a blanket in Thailand.
A great trip and worth experiencing. Here’s a final few tips for you my fellow travellers looking for the best countries to retire cheap.
- Bring a sleep mask. They never dim the lights.
- Ear plugs. If you are in a cabin with a snorer you’ll want them.
- A power bank. No outlets or wifi on train.
- Toilet paper. Forget at your own peril.
- A good camera. Lots of photo opps!