Hua Lamphong, or Bangkok Train Station, is the main terminal to northern, eastern, northeastern and southern Thailand. It connects with the MRT underground system and features a distinct half-dome structure, designed by an Italian architect Mario Tamagno in an Italian neo-renaissance style.
Open in 1916, Hua Lamphong boasts an elegant design, similar to several government buildings and public monuments built during the same period, such as the Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall, The Bank of Thailand Museum and Parliament building – all designed by the same architect. Its appearance and interior layout have been compared with the Frankfurt Train Station, which also features the half dome façade, a giant clock on the front gable and open-air passenger galleries.
Hua Lamphong Layout
Bangkok Train Station has a simple layout. The entrance leads directly to the ticketing and waiting area. On the left-hand side are the 26 ticketing booths and two giant English/Thai electronic information display boards featuring real-time departures and arrivals. To the right of the ticketing booths is the waiting area, filled with rows of chairs. There are also a handful of fast food outlets and shops on the ground floor as well as on the mezzanine level.
Walk through the ticketing area and you arrive at the passenger galleries. Non-passengers are allowed to go inside and all the way to the platforms to see the passengers off or alighting from the carriages. Outdoor parking is located to the west of the station, while taxis are parked right in front, to your right as you exit the station.
Ticketing and Fares at Bangkok Train Station
Train tickets can be purchased on the same day or in advance, and fares vary according to the type of seat and train. Select your seat and train from the plan displayed on the screen. Make sure you don’t make any mistake, as there are no refunds for purchased tickets (although you might be able to change seat, train, or departure time – but only once).
E-tickets are also available, although seats are limited, and you can only purchase first and second class air-conditioned sleeper tickets.
Types of Seats and Trains
Before you purchase a train ticket, it’s good to know the difference among the various types of trains and seats available. First class seats are air-conditioned and can be converted to sleeping berths. Seating arrangement is more private, with up to 24 seats or single-passenger compartments. Second class seats are also air conditioned (or non air conditioned) and some can be converted to sleeping berths; each compartment has from 26 to 40 seats. Third-class seats are either air conditioned or non air conditioned.
The types of seats are determined by the types of trains as well. Below are the six types of trains available, from the fastest to slowest.
Special Express: long-distance trains connecting major destinations, such as Bangkok-Chiang Mai, Bangkok-Yala, Bangkok-Surat Thani, Bangkok-Sawankhalok (Sukhothai) and Bangkok-Butterworth (Malaysia)
Express: long-distance trains connecting major regional hubs, such as Bangkok-Chiang Mai, Bangkok-Ubonratchathani, Bangkok-Nongkhai, Bangkok-Trang, Bangkok Udonthani
Rapid: long-distance trains connecting major regional destinations, making more stops than Express trains, such as Bangkok-Chiang Mai, Bangkok-Pitsanulok, Bangkok-Nongkhai, Bangkok-Ubonratchathani, Bangkok-Yala, Bangkok-Nakhon Si Thammarat, Bangkok-Sugnai Kolok
Ordinary: long-distance trains connecting regional destinations, making every stop, such as Bangkok-Nakhonsawan, Bangkok-Suphanburi, Bangkok-Hua Hin, Thonburi-Ratchaburi, Thonburi-Nakhonpathom, Bang Sue (North Bangkok)-Nakhon Ratchasima
Bangkok Commuter: short-distance commuter trains running between Bangkok and the outskirts (within the 150km radius), making every stop. This is the train you would take to Don Muang Airport. Other destinations include Bangkok-Lopburi, Bangkok-Ratchaburi, Bangkok-Kaeng Khoi (Saraburi), Bangkok-Ratchaburi, Bangkok-Suphanburi, Bangkok-Prachinburi
Rural Commuter: short-distance commuter trains running between rural provinces, such as Lopburi-Pitsanulok, Nakhonsawan-Chiang Mai, Ayutthaya-Lopburi, Surat Thani-Sungai Kolok, Chomphon-Hat Yai, Nakhon Ratchasima-Ubonratchathani, Nakhon Ratchasima-Udonthani, Kaeng Khoi (Saraburi)-Khon Kaen
Apart from the destination trains, the State Railway of Thailand (SRT) operates a handful of one-day train excursions to major regional attractions, such as Kanchanaburi, Hua Hin, Petchaburi, Damnoen Saduak Floating Market, Cha-Am, Amphawa Floating Market, and more.
Overnight excursions are also available, to these destinations: Kanchanaburi, Thai-Burmese border at the three pagodas pass (Sangkhlaburi, Kanchanaburi), four northeastern regions along the Mekong, Bangkok-Nongkhai-Vientiane-Luang Prabang, Bangkok-Nonkhai-Vientiane-Hanoi-Halong Bay-Hue-Danang-Hoi An, Bangkok-Angkor Wat-Angkor Thom, and more.
These excursions trains are ideal for those who have lots of time on their hands or prefer to go slow and enjoy train travelling. Each trip includes accommodation (on sleeper trains or at designated resorts), meals and guides but excludes admission fees e.g. to museums or monuments.