There are six types of seats available on train services in Thailand. Not all seat types are available on all trains, and there are numerous different types of train carriages currently being used in Thailand which means the same seat type can be different, in terms of both price and quality, depending upon which train you take. Special Express train services are the most comfortable.
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1st Class Sleeper
1st Class Sleeper Seats are the best seat type available on Thailand train services, and the most expensive. 1st Class is in separate compartments most of which has two seats, which the staff transform into bunk beds at night. A small number of 1st Class compartments have a single seat. 1st Class compartments have:
- Lockable door.
- Electric socket.
- Bedside shelf.
- Light switch.
- Overhead storage space.
1st Class Sleeper Seats are available only in some Express and Special Express train services, which operate on the long distance train routes. Booking in advance is normally required as there is only a limited number of 1st Class compartments available on each train.
2nd Class A/C Sleeper
2nd Class A/C Sleeper Seats are the most popular type of seat for foreign visitors on the Bangkok to Chiang Mai, Bangkok to Surat Thani and Bangkok to Nong Khai routes. These seats are transformed into upper and lower bunks during the night time. Lower bunks are more expensive than upper bunks for all sleeper seat tickets. The upper bunk is accessible by a ladder and may not be suitable for passengers with restricted mobility. All 2nd Class A/C Sleeper Seats feature:
- Privacy curtain.
- Window on the lower bunk which cannot be opened.
2nd Class A/C Sleeper Seats are available on most Rapid, Express and Special Express train services on the long distance routes. During busy times of the year you normally need to book these tickets in advance of the day of travel.
2nd Class A/C Seat
2nd Class A/C seats are aeroplane style seats in air-conditioned carriages. These seats have arm-rests and fold down tray tables. On some of the Special Express services known as ‘Sprinter’ services, which have three carriages and are generally the fastest trains on any given route, food and drink is included on the ticket price and served to you at your seat.
2nd Class A/C Seats are available on most Rapid, Express and Special Express train services on the long distance routes. These are the most popular seat only option, particularly on journeys which can be completed over a single day. Booking in advance is recommended during the high season.
2nd Class Fan Sleeper
2nd Class Fan Sleeper Seats and identical to 2nd Class A/C Sleeper Seats except in two aspects:
- They are not air-conditioned, but feature small rotating ceiling fans.
- They tend to be in older and less well maintained carriages.
2nd Class Fan Sleeper Seats are around 30% cheaper than 2nd Class A/C Sleeper Seats, but they are can get uncomfortably hot at night because the ceiling fans are not particularly effective.
- Thailand Trains Tip: If you book the lower bunk in a 2nd Class Fan Sleeper carriage you can open the window to keep you cool. There is no window on the upper bunk in a Thailand Train.
There are relatively few 2nd Class Fan Sleeper carriages which remain in use. The one which there are on long distance Rapid train services on the Northern, Southern and North Eastern train lines.
2nd Class Fan Seat
2nd Class Fan Seats are padded chairs in pairs facing in the direction of travel. The carriage is cooled by fans and the windows can be opened, with shutters to pull down if there is strong sunlight. These seats are generally comfortable when the train is moving and there is air circulating around the carriage. They are a value for money option for shorter trips completed during the course of a day but offer lower levels of comfort for long journeys and overnight services.
This seat type is available on most Rapid and Express services on the long distance Northern, Southern and North Eastern lines. Booking in advance is rarely required.
3rd Class Seat
This is the cheapest and least comfortable type of seat on train services in Thailand. On the long distance routes these carriages are normally full, often with conscripts in the Thai military who use trains to travel back home when they are on leave, as well as low income earners. Travel by 3rd Class train carriage is the cheapest form of transport available in Thailand with ticket prices kept low by law in Thailand to assist poorer member of society. Seating is on benches, and they are not normally air-conditioned but have small fans. On some shorter distance services 3rd Class seats are located within air-conditioned carriages.
3rd Class seats are the only seat type available on Ordinary train services, and they are also available on all Rapid and most Express train services in Thailand. Tickets for 3rd Class seats can only be purchased on the day of travel from the station where the journey starts, which means they are normally available for purchase on the day of travel, and you may have no option other than to travel 3rd Class if you don’t book your train tickets in advance.