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Singapore to Chiang Mai by Train

An Adventure on Rails

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Singapore skyscrapers.
At one end is ultra-modern Singapore

On the map, there is an unbroken line from Singapore through the entire length of Peninsular Malaysia and most of Thailand as far as Chiang Mai in the north, around 2,200 kilometers (1,375 miles) of rail track. It’s not a difficult journey to do alone, with ample opportunities to break your journey into comfortable sections.


Booking trains is straight forward and with a rail pass you can have up to two weeks unlimited rail travel in Malaysia for US$35 and the same again will get you all the way to Chiang Mai. That’s got to be a bargain! Booking trains is straight forward and there are always new rail pass schemes in Malaysia. Station signs throughout are in Roman script and English is widely spoken so getting help and information is rarely a problem. There is detailed traveller’s information in the last section. (Prices given were correct when written but have almost certainly changed.)

The Golden Triangle, Thailand
while at the other end just beyond Chiang Mai is
Thailand’s Golden Triangle

For now it’s no high speed rail network though. In fact most of the line through Thailand is single track and the trains rattle and shake along at a sedate pace, but it gives you plenty of time to look out of the window and relax and chat to your neighbours. Going by train beats the bus hands down when it comes to comfort and meeting people. Even the views are better; arriving in Bangkok for example, gives you a voyeuristic view into people’s homes. Malaysian Railways is getting a shake-up but Thailand’s system is unlikely to change any time soon.

To be best appreciated, don’t rush over this trip. Take your time, talk to your fellow travellers and have plenty of stopovers. It’s a great way to get to know the countries you are travelling through.



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