Special Express 25 Isan Mankha: Bangkok Hua Lamphong to Nong Khai by Train

The Special Express 25 Isan Mankha is a popular train running from Bangkok Hua Lamphong to Nong Khai, close to the Thai-Lao border. While there are 4 pairs of trains running on this route daily, the Special Express 25 Isan Mankha is the only sleeper train available on this route, so tickets do sell out at times.

I got my ticket through the SRT E-Ticket System with an additional 30 Baht surcharge, but allowed me to print my ticket at home.

If you buy your ticket through this method, ensure that you have a printed copy of the E-Ticket when you board the train. Flashing the .pdf on your phone is not allowed for travel.

The Special Express 25 Isan Mankha departs at 8.00pm daily.

The Special Express 25 Isan Mankha, ready at Platform 3.

The Special Express 25 Isan Mankha is operated with new CRRC-manufactured coaches.

My train was headed by Hitachi 4514 in the old livery.

Car 10 will be my Second Class (ANSCN) “hostel” for the night.

The door steps are ready for both low and high platforms in preparation for the move to Bang Sue Central.

The interior of the Air-conditioned Second Class Day & Night Coach (ANSCN).

For some entertainment during boarding, a documentary about the people who care for the Steam Locomotives in Thailand was played.

My place for the night at Seat/Berth 16.

The seat on the new CRRC-manufactured coaches are slimmer than the Daewoo coaches as they seat only 1 person per seat (40 passengers per coach), as compared with the Daewoo coach which allows for a daytime configuration of 80 seated passengers per coach.

A power socket and reading light is available for each berth.

Beside it, a smartly-placed netting is available to put your phone in while it charges and you sleep.

As this is a night departure, the bedding is ready to be changed the moment the train departs from Bangkok.

The buffet coach was ready for food sales about 30 minutes before departure.

However, it seems that the caterer on this train is back to NP Rity Company Limited, so the menu items were quite limited. There was a menu book, but I wasn’t in the mood for a full dinner, and the only boxed item available was rice soup.

Some snacks available on board.

The coffee machine seems to be switched off, replaced by a hot water flask to make instant drinks.

My Rice Soup with Chicken as an early light supper. This costs 50 Baht (~$2.07).

Sufficiently tasty, but was quite disappointed with this limited, or rather, singular choice as compared with the Thaksinarath.

Here’s a peek of the washroom section of the ANSCN coach.

An open sink area is provided, similar to the Daewoo coaches, and the design of this area is reminiscent of coaches back in China.

One urinal cubicle is available for male passengers.

Two more normal toilet cubicles are available for all passengers.

Departing from Bangkok right on time.

My clipped ticket printout after getting it checked by the conductor.

A short while after departure, the attendant came around to make the beds.

The entire process by the skilful attendant took just about a minute.

Yup, that’s where I’m headed.

My bed for the night.

The bottom berth of this ANSCN coach was very comfortable. While slimmer than the very generous lower berth on Daewoo coaches, it still felt rather spacious when lying down. This might be due to not getting berths that work in a railway network closer to home where the seat backs almost never work or are totally removed and cannot flip up to form a shelf to store my things and an indirect eye shade from the little light that manages to peer through the curtain for the night’s rest.

And then I remembered – this is Thailand.

I was woken up approximately 90 minutes before arrival at Nong Khai by the buffet coach attendant with my breakfast order.

I had the familiar “Eggs” breakfast of NP Rity for 180 Baht (~$7.44).

Not sure if the buffet coach attendant forgot this, but I had to ask him again while he was passing by again if there was still the small orange juice that came along with the set, and he passed this to me later on.

Hello Northeastern Thailand.

Before arrival into Nong Khai, the attendant came around to reset the berths into seats once again.

Back to the daytime configuration of this ANSCN coach.

Some errors on the screen here, but the train arrived at Nong Khai right on time at 6.45am.

Disembarking from the Special Express 25 Isan Mankha.

Disembarking at Platform 1 of Nong Khai Railway Station.

From here, I headed off to purchase my ticket for the Nong Khai – Thanaleng Shuttle Train.

Overall, the Special Express 25 Isan Mankha was comfortable to travel on this overnight journey. However, it did fall a little short of my expectations of this new train mainly due to the caterer reverting back to NP Rity, offering a somewhat limited variety of food served compared with the Thaksinarath and at higher prices too. That being said, the journey does not really clash with main meal times, so I guess I can eliminate that from future trips. With the Special Express 25 Isan Mankha being the only sleeper train running between Bangkok and Nong Khai, it definitely would be my choice if I’m travelling on this route again.


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