Play ping pong on the Nakorn Ping Express

Who doesn't like rail travel? Well if it's that ghastly midnight run from Milan to Zagreb where surly guards with growling dogs wake you up every hour to check your papers, then the answer is: No one in their right mind!

But, if it's the obscenely cheap Nakorn Ping Expressthat runs the 700km from Bangkok to Chiang Mai for a tenner, then you're on the right track! After two days pacing the Koh San Road you'll have seen enough dreaded dreadlocks and flip flips to do you a lifetime. So, do yourself a favour and get the hell out of Dodge!

First thing is to ignore the tour operators along the Koh San who will try to push train-interested travellers in the direction of the lavish Eastern & Oriental Express, because Thai Railways does the same trip six times a day for a fraction of the cost.

It is a real slice of local life, and runs through some of the region's finest landscapes. The food on board is gastronomically exotic but served in polythene bags! Hey, if it's good enough for the Thais, it's good enough for you.

The dawn scenery around Lampang is all rainforest, mountains and hill tribes, who aren't there for the tourists, but because that's how they live - a rarity in Thailand.

Before you go, or while there check out railway.co.th for more information on Thai trains.

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