The overnight sleeper Express to Ubon Ratchathani leaves Hualampong Station, Bangkok, at 20.30 and arrives at Ubon Ratchathani (Warin Chamrap, in fact) at 07.25. Intermediate stations include Ayutthaya, Saraburi, Nakhon Ratchasima (Korat), Buriram, Surin and Si Sa Ket and passengers can leave or board at any of these stations. The State Railway website (see below) lists all intermediate stops and rrival times.
From Ubon the overnight Express leaves at 18.30, arriving at Hualampong at 05.50.
Sleeping berths are available in 1st and 2nd classes.
1st class sleeping cars have lockable 2-berth compartments with washbasin. They are air-conditioned, and clean bedding, soap and towels are provided. If you are travelling alone you may have to share with someone of the same sex unless you pay for two tickets to ensure sole occupancy. The toilet at the end of the corridor has a cold water shower. The single fare for an upper bunk is 1,080 Bht, and 1,280 for the lower bunk.
In 2nd class, you have the choice of air-conditioned or fan-cooled carriages. Both are comfortable and safe. Berths are not in compartments but are arranged along the coach on either side of a central aisle. When you board, the 2nd class seats will be facing each other in pairs on both sides of the aisle.
The attendant makes up the lower bunk by pulling together each pair of seats. The upper bunk folds out from the wall. The bunk is made up with a mattress and fresh clean bedding, and curtains provide privacy. The fare for upper bunks is 671 Bht (a/c) and 471 (fan). Lower bunks are 741 and 521 but the bunks are slightly wider.
There are two toilets at the end of 2nd class carriages as well as washbasins. They include shower but water is not always available near to the end of the journey and it would not be very comfortable to use.
Reclining seats are available in 2nd class fan-cooled carriages on the overnight sleeper express costing 371 Bht.
Overnight Rapid trains leave Bangkok (Hualampong) at 18.55 arriving in Ubon at 06.15, 22.25 arriving in Ubon at 10.20, 23.40 arriving in Ubon at 11.50. Fan-cooled bunks are 431 Bht (upper) and 481 (lower); reclining seats in 2nd class are 331 and ordnary seats in 3rd class are 205.
Air-conditioned sleeping berths often get fully booked on the Express trains, especially near to National Holidays and at weekends, so make your arrangements in good time, a week or two in advance if possible. Note that travel agents do not book train tickets but you can book on-line or visit Hualampong in Bangkok or Ubon Station to make reservations. You can also book tickets at the intermediate stations. You will find the people in the reservations offices helpful and efficient, and the computerized tickets clear. At Hualampong Station there is a ticket window dedicated to selling tickets to foreigners, though if the queue is shorter at another window feel free to use that one, you will find the clerk equally helpful and just as able to use English.
Travelling to or from Ubon by train is an enjoyable and economical way to get a first-hand example of Thai life.
It is advisable to check timetables before travelling as they may change.
You can make reservations at www.thaifocus.com/travel/train but prices are quoted in US$. The site has some useful general information about travel on the Thai railway system.
Photos are by State Railway of Thailand www.railway.co.th/English/