Chiang Mai to Hanoi by train?

Beijing-Vientiane train, Ipoh-KL high-speed rail proposal, Chiang Rai railway to open in 2028, construction of Vietnam HSR to begin by 2030, Hanoi Train Street, Bangkok-Chiang Mai day train review

Hello from Chiang Mai. I have been in the work bunker this month so I haven’t done any Thailand rail travel. I did a visa run to Hanoi this month as I still had some time left on my previous Vietnam visa.

Travelling from Chiang Mai to Hanoi reminded me of the time I unearthed a proposal for a Hanoi - Luang Prabang - Chiang Mai railway. The proposal originates from China and includes some specifications of the route. It’s a ridiculous proposal, but 10 years ago people said that the Laos-China Railway was a ridiculous proposal. Not that the Hanoi-Chiang Mai railway will ever get built, but I made a page for it to put it on the record (and perhaps inspire a benevolent billionaire who might wish to build it).

I was hoping to do some rail travel out of Hanoi, but the route I was planning on taking hasn’t been restored post-pandemic (the day train to Yen Bai). In a case of dumb luck, I just so happened to be in Hanoi during an art festival, and one of the venues was the old Gia Lam train factory. There was a special festival train that was shuttling between Hanoi Station and Gia Lam, and I got to wander around the factory. I will have a blog post about that next month.

Here is a summary of news and stories of rail travel in Southeast Asia over the last month.


🇰🇭 Cambodia

"Prime Minister Hun Manet has instructed the relevant authorities to expedite studies into upgrades to the Phnom Penh to Preah Sihanouk railway line. He suggested that the maximum speed on the line should be increased to 80km/h, in order to expedite the transportation of goods and promote economic growth."

🇮🇩 Indonesia

“Head of the IKN Authority has also signed a memorandum of understanding for the development of three potential areas in Balikpapan, Samarinda, and IKN Nusantara.”• BTP Padang proposes reactivation of Sawahlunto-Solok and Solok-Batu Tabal railway lines

"Apart from tourism, the reactivation of the railway line from Solok to Batu Tabal is also to support the preservation of the Ombilin Sawahlunto Coal Mine Heritage which has UNESCO world heritage status."

🇱🇦 Laos

This is a tour train that takes 15 days, so it is not a scheduled train that you could take to Beijing. My prediction is that China will eventually run a Beijing - Bangkok service as a form of soft power/political showboating.

There is still no date set for when trains from Thailand will run to this station in Vientiane.

🇲🇾 Malaysia

“Transport minister Loke Siew Fook says extending the route to Bangkok will incur a much higher capital expenditure.”

This luxury tour train was running from Bangkok to Singapore before the pandemic. It will return in 2024 but without Thailand.

🇵🇭 Philippines

"The government can use the Maharlika Investment Fund (MIF) — the country’s first sovereign wealth fund expected to be fully implemented before 2023 ends — to finance the derailed South Long Haul project, Bicol Saro party-list Rep. Brian Raymund Yamsuan suggested in a statement on Monday."

"The Philippine National Railways (PNR) North-Long Haul Inter-Regional Railway project’s feasibility study is set for completion by March next year, aligning with National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) approval timelines that could fast-track its realization."

"The government did not mothball the Mindanao Railway Project, one of the three big-ticket railway projects in limbo after the country dropped China as a funding source."

🇹🇭 Thailand

This is my review of a trip I did a few months ago.

"The State Railway of Thailand (SRT) will sign a contract with a contractor to lay 13.3km of rail track for the Ban Pho-Phra Kaeo section in Ayutthaya province this month. The new track will be part of the Sino-Thai rail project from Bangkok to Nong Khai."

"The State Railway of Thailand (SRT)’s governor Nirut Maneephan said this will probably be the most romantic route in Thailand.

The 323-kilometre-long railway is set to run through four provinces in the North of Thailand – Phrae, Lampang, Phayao and Chiang Rai – and will have 26 stations."

“The government is speeding up construction of its double-track train system project, which is hoped will turn Thailand into a regional cargo and passenger rail transport hub when completed by 2027 to serve the region's new Singapore-Kunming route.”

🇻🇳 Vietnam

“The Vietage — a 5-star service — takes in the country’s beautiful coast and countryside.”

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