This weekend I made the first of what is expected to be a series of regular train trips to major destinations around Thailand. My goal is to promote rail tourism which is sustainable and eco-friendly travel. I am very pleased that the Tourism Authority of Thailand has recognized the importance of my rail project and they have kindly provided me with logistical support. The first train journey is to Udon Thani on the Northeast Line. I took Special Express No.25 which departed from Bangkok's new terminal Krung Thep Aphiwat to Nong Khai overnight. This and other destination train guides will be with me ThaiTrainGuide.com website soon. You can also download the guide as a free PDF. The following are photos and notes that I posted directly during my trip.
Travel Date: February 2-5, 2023
(1) Good morning from Udon Thani Railway Station in Northeast Thailand. I came here Special Express No.25 from Bangkok last night. I had booked a bed in a Class 2 sleeper car which cost 977 Baht for the lower bunk. The train leaves Bangkok at 8:25 p.m. and arrives in Udon Thani at 5:44 a.m. So about nine hours. I sleep well.
(2) A highlight of any visit to Udon Thani during winter is Red Lotus Lake. Lily flowers bloom around November to March. To rent a boat for up to six people is 500 Baht. The ride is about 90 minutes and he will stop at several places.
(3) It is not easy to get to Red Lotus Lake by public transportation. Grab taxi is 400 Baht. You can ask your hotel to arrange a car for around 1200 Baht. I decided to hire a driver for the day for 1800 Baht which I thought was better value. He picked me up at the train station and would be with me all day.
(4) One of the main attractions in Udon Thani province is National Museum in Ban Chiang. This is a World Heritage Site. Well worth a visit. Open Wednesday through Sunday. Admission is 150 Baht.
📍MAP. map.app.goo.gl/yPtWbu4bf1jKxh… |
(5) The Ban Chiang Archaeological Site is considered to be the most important prehistoric settlement so far discovered in Southeast Asia. The World Heritage Committee inscribed the Ban Chiang Archaeological Site on the World Heritage List in 1992.
(6) These are some of street art that you can find around Ban Chiang. You can rent a bicycle from near the national museum for 20 Baht.
(7) About 3km north of Ban Chiang Wat Santwanaram. Of note is the chapel on the lake which is shaped like a giant lotus flower. Inside are some beautiful murals on the walls showing the story of the Buddha.
(8) Udon Thani City Museum it's in an old renovated building. It tells about cities and provinces. Of particular interest is the relationship between the city and the American army during the Vietnam War. Closed on Mondays. Free entry.
(9) Those Thai-Chinese Cultural Center has an interesting museum that tells the story of the Thai-Chinese who first settled in Udon Thani. It also explains their culture and festivals. Well worth a visit. All exhibit signs are bilingual.
(10) Late lunch today at Arunee Vietnamese Cuisine Restaurant at Udon Thani. They were recently awarded the Bib Gourmand in the Michelin Guide Thailand. It's delicious and I recommend it.
(11) Udon Thani Pedestrian Street takes place every Friday and Saturday night near the town pillar and town hall. Lots of great food, so be hungry.
(12) Good morning from MOCO Hotels at Udon Thani. I chose this hotel because it was very close to the train station. Looks like a new one.
I had the driver and car again all day today. The sleeper train returns to Bangkok at 20:20.
(13) My breakfast is duck noodle soup Peng Duck Noodles at Udon Thani. They were awarded the Bib Gourmand in the latest edition of the Michelin Guide Thailand. It was fine but not something you would skip in town which is what I did!
(14) Phu Phra Bat Historical Park in Udon Thani is significant for its unusually shaped rock formations, religious shrines and prehistoric cave paintings. Entrance fee is 100 Baht. There are good bilingual exhibits in the information center.
(15) It takes about 90 minutes to walk around Phu Phra Bat. Lots of interesting rock formations. Some like that of natural erosion. Others have been modified. There are golf carts for parents to take them to the top.
(16) Lunch today at Khanom Jeen Mae Pen in the Na Yung district of Udon Thani. The Khanom Jeen set is 100 Baht and comes with three curries and noodles in seven colors.
(17) My next stop will be Wat Pa Phu Kon which is on top of a hill in the Na Yung district of Udon Thani. On weekends you are not allowed to drive up. You have to pay 30 Baht to take the songtaew up.
(18) Wat Pa Phu Kon is on top of a hill in the Na Yung-Nam Som National Forest in Udon Thani but also close to Loei and Nong Khai provinces. The temple was built in the modern Rattanakoson style and has a 20 meter long reclining Buddha.
(19) Some of the best views from Wat Pa Phu Kon and the surrounding forest comes from drones. To fly you need to ask for written permission and also show them your flying license. You are then limited to how close you can fly. This is my drone photo from today.
(20) Both sides of the Udon Thani Railway Station have good food options. On the north side is Night Market Train.
(21) On the south side of Udon Thani Railway Station Food Center UD TOWN which is another good place to eat in Udon Thani. There are also franchise restaurants here including Hotel MOCO where I stayed last night.
(22) Dinner tonight Krua Khun Nid, another Bib Gourmand winner in the latest Michelin Guide Thailand. Seven restaurants in Udon Thani are recognized in this category.
(23) When I was first planning my Udon Thani trip, I thought about renting a car to drive myself. Then I decided the driver is more convenient. For example, he picked me up at the station at 5:50 am. Then dropped me off at 8:00 last night. The cost is 1800 per day.
(24) I am now taking sleeper train back to Bangkok after spending two full days at Udon Thani. Travel time is 9 hours and 30 minutes which is fine as I will be spending most of that time sleeping. Returning, I was in a Class 1 cabin which cost 2,313 Baht for one person.
(25) The advantage of returning to Class 1 with CNR sleepers is that there is a walk-in shower with hot water. They also give you towels. This is important to me because I checked out of the hotel this morning and I was sweating from all the walking I did today.
(26) My train arrived safely at Krung Thep Aphiwat Central Terminal. I slept well in my Class 1 cabin. It makes a big difference that you can turn off the lights. Also the hot shower is great. But that's 2,313 Baht compared to 877/977 Baht in Class 2.
(27) I decided to take the bus home instead of a taxi just to see what it was like. I have to take any bus first to the Mochit 2 terminal which is one stop. Then I took Bus 536 to Paknam. Only 27 Baht compared to 270 Baht by taxi. It's cheaper but taxis are definitely more efficient.
I hope you enjoy my photos and that I've inspired you to take your own train journey. I will be posting a complete train guide for this trip www.ThaiTrainGuide.Com quick.