I just want train tickets
Posted by Heliocentrism on April 6, 2010
April 3, 2010
Better Off Without Help
If you ever need to buy tickets for a train leaving the Hua Lamphon train station, it’s best to go online first and write down the train, class, and type of seat/sleeper you need. If you forget to do this, it’s no big deal. There are some helpful people, seated right at the entrance nearest the Hau Lamphan MRT (subway) station exit.
You can just walk up to them, tell them where you want to go, and ask for a train schedule. They’ll even point you in the right direction to buy your ticket. My mistake came when one of them asked me if I wanted to buy bus and boat tickets from Chumphon to Koh Tao too. At first I said, “Sure, why not?” The lady that asked me the question then beckoned me to follow her.
As I made my way into the station I remembered that in my experience with Thai trains, I have not known any of them to get to their destination at the time stated on my ticket. In fact once, the train never made it all the way there and passengers were told to “take taxi”. No refunds or apologies were ever given.
I stopped the lady and told her that I had a change of heart and why. “I just want to buy the train ticket.” She told me that it was okay, and that I should follow her. She then proceeded in a direction opposite to the ticket counter for the trains.
Me – “But Ma’am, isn’t it over there where I buy the ticket?” I pointed where I thought I should go.
Lady – “No. Please follow me.”
Me – “But I’ve been here before, and I bought my ticket over there.”
Lady – “No. Please follow me.”
Me – “I don’t want a boat ticket. I just want a train ticket.”
Lady – “It’s okay. Follow me.”
Then I thought, maybe the ticket counter I had pointed to was where you buy tickets for trains going north, and I had to go upstairs for tickets on southbound trains. When we entered a travel agency I realized that it didn’t matter what I said to the lady. She would always reply that it was okay and I should follow her.
Hypothetical Me – “Ma’am, I think I’ve just been shot,”
Hypothetical Lady – “It’s okay, follow me.”
Before things got even more out of hand, I told the travel agent that I had changed my mind and I only wanted to buy train tickets.
Ticket Man – “Oh you can buy those here. Same price as downstairs. But you cannot buy boat ticket there.”
This guy had clearly missed the point.
Me – “I don’t want boat tickets.” This comment made no sense to him.
Ticket Man – “How you get to Koh Tao. It Island you know?”
Me – “Can’t I buy the ticket there?”
Ticket Man – “Yes. But I give you special deal. How many ticket you want?”
Me – “What if the train is late?”
Ticket Man – “You take 19:30 train. Get to Chumporn 3:37. Train can’t be late. But, if train late, no problem. Boat leave 7:00. No way to be late for boat.” He started the call to get me train tickets. “Oh it full. Why you don’t take bus?” He then pulled out a laminated flier for a bus company.
Me – “I don’t want a bus. I don’t like them.”
My last bus-company bus was not too pleasant. The driver drove like the devil was chasing him. Every time I fell asleep, the bus attendant woke me up asking if I wanted something to drink. At midnight the bus pulled into a side-of-the-road diner, turned on the lights, and played loud horrible music to get everyone up and out of the bus to eat some nasty soup that tasted like sin.
I explained all this to the agent, only leaving out the sin-soup.
Ticket Man – “No. This bus quiet. No one bother you. You have fun! Also at 1:00am, bus stop for dinner. You have soup!” (Okay, he didn’t mention soup especially, but I’m sure that it was on the menu.)
Me – “I just want train tickets.”
Ticket Man – “Then go down stairs.” He then motions to the lady to take me away.
That’s when I noticed that there were other tourists waiting to buy tickets on a bus that came with soup. I would have felt bad, but I told the lady and the agent that I just wanted train tickets. It was them that lied to me and felt that they could change my mind.
When we got to the ticket counter, the same one I had pointed to earlier, I bought my tickets. All the decent classed seats and all the sleepers were sold out. I took what was left. The lady stood next to me the whole time.
When I was done she said, “Okay, boat ticket now?”
Me – “No. I just want train tickets.”
Then she looked at me as if I had been wasting her time all along. Her face dead and void of expression except for a small eye roll. With no emotion she said, “It’s okay.” and walked away from me in disgust.
I wanted to yell at her as she walked away, “I TOLD YOU I DIDN’T WANT BOAT TICKETS, LADY! I TOLD YOU!”
…And turns out that we were both right. The train I took was supposed to get to Champorn at 3:37 in the morning. Mark and I almost got off at the wrong stop, because at 3:45 when the train stopped, we thought it was our stop. But seeing no one else getting off made us a bit suspicious. At 5:15 we pulled into Champorn in time to catch the 6:00 bus to the dock, and in time to catch the 7:00 ferry. I could have bought the tickets in Bangkok, but Thailand has an unofficial “no refunds” policy and I didn’t want to take any chances.
(Ratcha Anachak Thai)
- You can enter by plane, boat, bus, or train.
- Most citizens from many countries do not need to get a visa before going to Thailand. But, you will need a visa to stay longer than 1 month or if you been to Thailand for at least 3 months already in the past 12 months.
- People of most nationalities will get a 30-day visa at the port of entry.
- To be completely sure, check with the Thai embassy in your country.
- Useful Phone Numbers when in Thailand
- Tourism Authority 662-250-5500
- Emergency Number – 999
- Do not say anything negative about the king or anyone in the Royal family. And definitely do not write anything bad about the king or royal family. This offence could land you in jail. You don’t want to go to Thai jail.
- Don’t use the city ferries in Bangkok during the peak hours. They fill those things past capacity and sometimes they sink. Use them during non-peak hours when they are not crowded.
- Never eat female horseshoe crabs in Thailand. The roe of the horseshoe crab has tetrodotoxin (TTX) which is toxic to humans. It makes people very sick and some people have even died as a result.
- 10°30’10.8″N 99°10’33.4″E
From Hua Lamphong Train Station (หัวลำโพง) –
- Take any of the southern line trains.
- Remember Chumphon is not the last stop.
- The train might not get there on time so don’t get off unless you see signs saying Chumphon.
- Many stations do not have a sign clearly saying the name of the station, but Champhon has many signs clearly written in Roman script.
- About 6 hours, more or less, depending on the speed of the train.
- If you are riding in from Bangkok you DO NOT want to take a 3rd class seat for this journey.
- It can be spelled Chumphon or Chumporn. Just a little way to help you get lost.
How to get there:
- 10°04’58.1″N 99°49’25.9″E
From the Chumphon train station:
- You can buy tickets on the ferry to Koh Tao, Koh Samui, and some other nearby islands.
- The prices are 450THB for a 3.5 hour ride on the slow boat and 550THB for a “2.5 hour” ride on the fast boat.
My ride on the fast boat was actually more like 3.5 hours, but it was a very fast boat. It did leave later that advertised. I don’t know if this means that both boats are slower than advertised or the same speed.
Well theoretically it should take about 3 hours to get to Koh Tao from the Chumphon station, but… We arrived late at the station at 5:15 in the morning and we didn’t reach Koh Tao until 11:00 in the morning.
- The cost of the ferry includes a ride to the dock from Chumphon station.
- There is no need to buy tickets before you get to Chumphon.
- The ferry dock is not on my map because I have no idea where it is. But once you get to the Chumphon railway station people selling ferry tickets will find you, take your money, stamp your hand or put a sticker on your t-shirt, and make sure you get to Koh Tao or whatever island you want.