Do trains in Thailand get fully booked?
Do I need to book the train in advance in Thailand? In my opinion it is best to book ahead when travelling by train in Thailand just to be sure to avoid disappointment. I especially recommend it around new year and before the dates of the full moon party if travelling South. It’s not easy to book trains in thailand though… it’s a real ball ache actually. You can’t book Thailand trains online through the official Thai railways website – either you have to do it through a travel agency or make an extra trip to the train station itself before hand. If you are very lazy like myself though, you may find www.thailandtrainticket.com a useful website to book Thailand trains online.
Hualumpong Train Station Scam
I did not book the train ahead when I took a trip to Koh Samui this weekend in Thailand. The trains and buses to the islands and beaches of Thailand get pretty full up what with them being one of the biggest attractions for foreigners. However, having the prematurely anti-social spirit of a grumpy, elderly woman, I also did not realise that I was travelling around the busiest time of the full moon party. I had my hotels sorted, transport planned by the exact memorized Thailand train timetable… We arrived at Hualumpong train station one hour early before the 19.30 train was supposed to leave Bangkok for Surat Thani and nonchalantly approached the man on the tourist information counter for a timetable.
After asking a colleague about our train, the Thailand tourist information guy then informed us that the trains to Surat Thani were actually all fully booked that day. At this point I was starting to panic that I had screwed up our plans. But it wasn’t a problem – he explained to us that there was also a bus that went there… only it was due to leave in 10 minutes time. He bought us to another Thailand tourist information office and handed us over to the travel agent. Again, the new man reasserted that there was a bus about to leave in 10 minutes but it may be fully booked. My panic bar crept up slightly more… He phoned someone up to check for us and eventually turned back to us. “They have last two seats left. But they cost this much:” He got his calculator out and punched the numbers into it – 1300 baht each.
Now, from my experience living in Thailand so far, it’s never a good sign when people get out the calculator. People normally expect you to haggle when they get out the calculator, so obviously they type in some ridiculously over priced figure to start off. I did not expect to haggle over a bus ticket in an official-looking booth in a train station though. I enthusiastically nodded my head with relief. Yayy we got the last two tickets! So lucky!
…. 50 minutes went by after we bought out train tickets. Not only did the bus not leave 10 minutes after we had been told it would, but about 15 people entered the office after us and bought tickets for the very same journey. He’d just lied to us to panic us into paying more for our tickets -_-
I don’t think joint bus and ferry tickets from Bangkok to Samui should cost any more than 1000 baht. Maybe they can cost even less than this I am not 100% sure as maybe I was ripped off the 2nd time I bought tickets also! Who knows? Either way, I’m not sure what happened. It is a possibility that the trains were not fully booked and the overly helpful Thailand tourist information guy just got paid commission from bringing tourists to book bus tickets. On the other hand though, it was four days before the full moon party and it’s a very popular route for tourists in Thailand afterall.. Being ripped off though, particularly on the very first day of a trip in Thailand, can be really demoralizing and frustrating.
Be warned and do not make the same mistake. Try booking the train in Thailand in advance and don’t let people panic you into paying more than you should. Hopefully someone else can gain something from this experience and some good may come from my gullibility. 😉