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Chapter 1 First Steps
“A Journey of a thousand miles begin with a single step”
No matter how far the destination is, maybe a thousand miles? Maybe it’ll take years to get there? All the fun begins with the first step, planning your trip!
Who said that Thai trains are too slow?! It’s a lengthy journey and you’ll most likely be exhausted, so why bother? Well, there are some good reasons to travel through Thailand by train! The recent upgrades give the newly improved trains a fresh appeal. Increased all round comfort for one is a major plus point. Air-conditioned carriages might leave you with goose bumps, even the toilets are clean and user friendly! If you are like me, one still for tradition, don’t sweat; the old school trains are still around!
In this journey, I will jump aboard the 3rd class train. It is not just cheap, but for me it is the real way to experience travelling in Thailand. Even without the air-conditioned chill factor, once you escape the bustling capital of Bangkok, you’ll be left with none other than countryside breeze. You may even be lucky enough to catch the scent of chicken poop from passing farms (it’s all as nature intended!).
This is where my journey and real sense of travelling begins. Whether you’re a local travelling home, a seasoned traveller or a first time backpacker, there’s certainly a mutual feeling of togetherness, which I feel is absent from other modes of public transport. After all, you can only get hot grilled meat for 10 THB / stick delivered to your seat in the 3rd class! You’ll often hear the laughter of kids playing, group of friends performing their latest acoustic concert and even find yourself sharing the newspaper with an old friendly neighbour sitting beside you. This ‘community atmosphere’ is what makes it special for me. Heading in the same direction, with unexpected people, sharing smiles and stories of your own journeys with my ‘fellow travellers’.
This very experience is what has led to my latest project, one that has been in planning for a while and one which I intend to do soon!
It is, you guessed it – travelling by railway to Andaman! It’s a 10-day trip and the best part? I can stop wherever I want! For those who said that Thai trains are too slow, well for this trip I aim to make it even slower without wasting time!
“TRAIN TO ANDAMAN”
The route I have chosen starts from Bangkok and ends at Kan Tang station; the last station on the Andaman coastline, in Trang province. One reason for this project is the love I have for the sea and the southern railway line is therefore the perfect match, as for this route I will get to see the sea every day! Finding a peaceful place to stay by the beach, with some new friends from the train and all the while doing so on a reasonable budget.
Every journey has a first step and the most important step is planning.
Let’s see my route guide below and how I will be planning this trip.
I used the website www.Hotels.com for planning the trip. It provides me great ideas on where to stay and what to do, while managing my budget at the same time.
Source: Hotels.com website
I used this website to see train timetables and fares which helps me choose the departure and arrival station and gives me options on the schedule and price.
Source: State Railway of Thailand
Start with www.Hotels.com and get on the map function, following your initial ‘destination search’. On the map you will see a small window on the right side showing landmarks, train stations and airports. Then by checking the ‘Train stations’ box (I accidentally found the function for matching my trip that other booking websites can’t provide me).
Now you will see a red line down the map with a big sign for the train station and accommodations available pinned. It’s down to your preference for choosing the accommodation that best suits your needs, be it near the station for your onward journey, the convenience of the city centre or the beach! Or maybe you just need that quiet place away from the touristy spots.
When you find your perfect place and the nearby rail station, go and check the train schedule so that you can plan your timings!
Source: Hotels.com website
Additional features that I found useful when using Hotels.com as my trip planner is that you can filter the price range you want. For this particular trip, my accommodation budget is 1,500THB/night or less.
Conveniently, the accommodation pins on the map will change color (green matching your price, yellow being over your budget and red being unavailable) depending on whether they falls within your price range or not. Compared to other sites I have used previously, this is a huge help as you are still able to view all hotels within a small radius without them disappearing!
Hotels.com also offers a price guarantee, which makes me feel like I will always be getting the best possible price and not over spending on my budget when planning the accommodation part of my trip. If you are able to find it cheaper elsewhere, you can inform the team and be eligible for a refund of the price difference.
Source: Hotels.com website
For example, I can find a hotel that’s near Hua Hin train station so easily, just by checking “Hua Hin Railway Station” through Hotels.com Filter function, under Landmarks tab! And if you press “Map” you will see all the hotels that are near Hua Hin Railway Station. The hotel I found, apart from the convenient location, also looks very comfy with such reasonable prices that I really want to start booking now!
But hold on…
In the next chapter, I look forward to sharing with you more about my 10‐day nonstop travel plans, details and anecdotes of what to see, where to stay, what to do, trip costs and the all the important secrets between each stop!
Planning really is half the fun of travel! Give it a go today with this special code 8OFFHTFOTMY to enjoy 8% off your next trip with Hotels.com. Happy travels!
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