TRAIN

Time Out Malaysia Kids - - Family-Friendly Trips -

On the right track

Now that ev­ery­one can fly, why not get a lit­tle ad­ven­tur­ous and hit the rails in­stead? A good in­tro­duc­tion to the joys of train travel would be to start in Kuala Lumpur and end up in Bangkok. The train ride takes about one and a half days, and is a straight­for­ward trip to take with the kids.

One of the most in­ter­est­ing things (and a great his­tory les­son) about this trip is that it passes over the Bridge on the River Kwai, which is in the Kan­chanaburi prov­ince. Con­structed by Ja­pan dur­ing WWII, this in­fa­mous part of the rail­ways was built to con­nect Thai­land and Myan­mar, and was part of a plan to trans­port cargo to In­dia, which was on Ja­pan’s agenda to at­tack. POWs and Asian slave labour­ers worked end­lessly for one year in ter­ri­ble con­di­tions and it’s said that for ev­ery sleeper laid, one life was lost.

HOW TO GET THERE The first leg of the jour­ney is from KL Sen­tral to Padang Be­sar in Perlis. At Padang Be­sar, you need to alight for im­mi­gra­tion and cus­toms clear­ance – both the Malaysian and Thai im­mi­gra­tion coun­ters are con­ve­niently lo­cated in the same build­ing. From here, catch SRT’s (State Rail­way of Thai­land) In­ter­na­tional Ex­press to Hat Yai, and change trains for the final stretch to Bangkok’s Hualam­phong Sta­tion. There are five trains to Bangkok with the (de­ceiv­ingly named) Rapid ser­vice tak­ing 18 hours and the Spe­cial Ex­press tak­ing 13.5 hours. We sug­gest get­ting a first class air­cond sleeper and re­serve the whole cabin for the fam­ily. The kids will get a kick watch­ing the stew­ard con­vert the seats into beds come sun­set.

WHAT TO DO Bustling Bangkok is one of the great me­trop­o­lises of the world and is chaotic, but worth bring­ing the kids to. Go tem­ple hop­ping, cruise the Chao Phraya River, pe­ruse the night mar­kets, eat as much Thai food as you can, and take a day trip to see the famed float­ing mar­kets.

You can also get off the train at Hua Hin, a sea­side town renowned for be­ing the sum­mer res­i­dence of the Thai royal fam­ily. There’s a good se­lec­tion of fam­ily-friendly re­sorts here, along­side im­pres­sive golf cour­ses. The Hua Hin rail­way sta­tion is one of the old­est in Thai­land with an ad­ja­cent wooden struc­ture, which was once the Royal Wait­ing Room. Spend a few days here and catch the train ei­ther to Bangkok or back to Hat Yai on your way home.

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