Daytime Rail Travel between Bangkok and Ubon

Many people travelling between Bangkok and Ubon Ratchathani, in either direction,  choose to travel overnight. There are several reasons why they do this. If you are on holiday, travelling from place to place, and perhaps on a fairly limited budget, then overnight travel saves you the cost of a hotel room as well as the hassle of finding a hotel room. The journey itself is long, almost eleven and a half hours if the train runs to schedule. It is probably more comfortable lying down than sitting up for that length of time .

What you miss, though, is the scenery outside the carriage windows. And although I love to see early-morning Surin and Si Sa Ket outside the window when I travel up to Ubon, I know that the more impressive part of the journey was done during the night: the steep, uphill climb between Saraburi and Pak Chong on the Korat plateau.

So, if you want to view the scenery, what are your alternatives?

Well, from Bangkok the choice effectively comes down to two trains which leave quite early in the morning, but which arrive in Ubon before the real dark sets in.

Special Express carriage, Bangkok -Ubon Ratchathani

The first is the Special Express (sometimes referred to as a sprinter, though both the train and the journey are a little too long for this to be an accurrate description). This leaves Hualampong station at 05.45 and arrives at Ubon Ratchathani at 14.00. All carriages are air-conditioned and the fare is 551 Baht.

A Rapid train leaves Hualampong at 06.40 and reaches Ubon Rathathani at 18.00. The fare on this train is 331 Baht 2nd class, and 205 Baht 3rd class. Currently (December 2010) 3rd class fares are free for Thais but I am not sure whether this applies to foreigners. I wouldn’t think they are or should be.

Travelling between Ubon Ratchathani and Bangkok there are two Rapid trains with convenient departure/arrival times which allow you to get a good look at the scenery: 07.00 – 18.40 and 08.45 – 2100. The Special Express leaves Ubon at 14.50 and arrives at Hualampong at 22.55, so perhaps the most scenic part of the route would be in darkness. However, this train is very convenient as a way of getting to Si Sa Ket (15.31), Surin (16.41), Buriram (17.15) or Nakhon Rathchasima (18.47) if you prefer train to bus travel.

You will find some nice picures taken on the journey HERE.

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4 responses to “Daytime Rail Travel between Bangkok and Ubon

  1. Lawrence, as you probably know I love the trains and Thailand. The fare on the free 3rd class services is not free for foreigners however. But its not all bad news since it usually costs 10 Baht 😉

    • Yes, I think the fares are as low as you suggest on the ‘local’ trains. There are some of those running between Ubon and Korat that I haven’t listed. I’ve made a few journeys for that sort of fare around Ayutthaya, Lop Buri, Tha Reua and Nakon Sawan. And when I went from Bangkok to Chachoengsao at the end of 2009 it cost me 13 Baht.

  2. Sir I Have made this many times in the last 39 years. I did not think about the savings of the hotel room. I personally like the day time trip for the scenery. Heavy checked cargo is quite reasonable also. Larry

    • Thanks for the useful information about the cargo, Larry. I’ve never needed that service but other readers might like to.

      I have been travelling to Ubon area for 40 years myself but ddn’t start using the train until 1982, I think. It’s been my favourite way to travel ever since.

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