Monday, 18 December 2017

Experience: Direct 8 Hours Bus from Sangkhlaburi -> Bangkok

I took a 8 hour direct bus from Sangkhlaburi, a Thai bordering town bordering with Myanmar, renowned for its wooden bridge, to Bangkok, during my recent Thailand trip in October. To travel to Sangkhlaburi, most travel forums and blogs would recommend travelers to take a train/bus to Kanchanaburi from Bangkok, then proceed to travel by mini van to Sangkhlaburi from Kanchanaburi. 
The famous wooden Mon Bridge of Sangkhlaburi (On the right) , the longest wooden bridge in Thailand

Same goes for the Sangkhlaburi-Bangkok leg, most travelers would opt to break their journey into two parts, Sangkhlaburi-Kanchanaburi, then Kanchanaburi-Bangkok, rather than taking the direct bus, due to the daunting travelling time.
My experience taking the 8 hours direct bus was a rather positive one - contrary to what most travel forums would recommend, I'd opt to take the direct bus instead. I've tried taking the train then mini van from Bangkok-Kanchanaburi-Sangkhlaburi, and the direct Sangkhlaburi-Bangkok direct bus. 

I'd choose the direct bus as the tickets are cheaper, and you get a more comfortable ride compared to taking a mini van, where the leg space (despite me being only about 162cm, the leg space was horrible) and luggage storage is really limited! If the mini van is full, the driver might charge you extra for luggage too. 

The ticket price for the direct bus was 271 Baht, meals and snacks were included in that price, and there were plenty of leg room :D 

The Journey

There was only one direct bus service on the day I traveled. The bus departs at 8.30am

According to google, the journey from Bangkok Northern Bus Terminal to Sangkhlaburi takes approximately 5 hours without any stops, using the toll road. 

The bus journey takes about 7-8 hours (including rest stops), depending on traffic condition. The bus will be going down a hilly, steep road during the first four hours from Sangkhlaburi - hence the bus will be moving very slooooooooooowly (think the sloth from Zootopia) at the first leg of the journey.

The bus stops at a few other stations around Bangkok as well, but it terminates at Bangkok Northern Bus Terminal. Unfortunately, I did not take note of the name of the stations the bus stopped at in Bangkok. 

The Cost

The tickets cost 271 Baht, meals and snacks included in that price! 

Where to Buy Tickets

We got our tickets at the small counter, located just right next to Aroma Coffee, diagonally opposite of 7-Eleven. 

You can buy the ticket on the day of travel itself. During peak season (I traveled during peak season!) , you can pre-book your tickets up to one day in advance. However, you have to pay for the tickets upon booking, but ticket collection is only on the day of travel.

The Luggage
Plenty of luggage storage space available at the luggage compartment. Did not heard of any restriction of luggage size during my travel. However, if the bus is packed the storage space might be limited.

The Seatings
The seats were nice and comfy, and fully reclinable, which was a HUGE bonus on my opinion.
The leg space is probably around 30-31 inches, which is sufficient to do some simple stretches!

Food & Rest Stops

We stopped once for a brief toilet break, and another time (15 minutes) for lunch. Do take note that there are toilets in the bus as well. But it was nice to stretch our legs!

You are not allowed to bring hot food on board the bus. I had two packets of noodles, given by my home stay host but the driver did not allow me to bring it up the bus :( The kind ticket lady negotiated with the driver and the driver allowed us to bring our packets of noodles along - but it had to be placed in the luggage compartment. Dry snacks like cereal, crisps and nuts are fine though.

Two hours into the journey, the co-driver started the distribution of snack packs, which came as a pleasant surprise to me.
The snack pack consisted of a cupcake, instant coffee & creamer, and a nice paper cup with handler. The distribution of the coffee & cup baffled me as there wasn't any hot water supply on board nor during lunch time.

After the snacks distribution, the co-driver took our orders for lunch in the bus. A kind lady next to me translated what was on the menu for lunch, as the co-driver couldn't really speak English. Vegetarian options are available from what I know. These are the food item available according to the kind lady:

- Basil Pork and white rice
- Basil Pork and white rice with egg
- Fried Rice

The bus stopped at Renu Restaurant for lunch at about 12.30pm (approx 4.5 hours into the journey)
View from Renu Restaurant
The food was pre-prepared, on the table ready for us to gobble down, to ensure no further delay of the journey.

The remaining few hours of the journey was rather monotonous because there wasn't anymore food distribution. The bus stopped at a few different stations in Bangkok, before terminating at the Northern Bus Terminal.

Overall, I'd really highly recommend taking the direct bus from Sangkhlaburi to Bangkok. For more info on other mini bus/vans services to get to Bangkok from Sangkhlaburi, you can refer to this website for more info :)

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