Chase and I have travelled quite extensively in Thailand, so I thought I’d share some advice on how the pet travel in Thailand works. This will hopefully also save you from making the same mistakes I’ve made. We have travelled the route Bangkok – Koh Phangan most often so I will explain this journey in detail. To Rayong and Pattaya we have used a taxi.
Chase is not a pocket-sized dog so he can’t travel with me on the train. He needs to travel in the cargo car of it. Then again, once I happened to sit next to a Thai lady who had a small dog, about 8 kilos maybe, and he was allowed to stay with the owner. So perhaps it depends on the size of the dog. If you want to know more about Chase, the Thai mix dog, and our story, have a look at this post.
Travelling by train and at Hualamphong station
When you arrive at the train station, you can hire a guy with a trolley to help with your luggage. I have managed to walk around with my 20kg rucksack, 8kg backpack on my chest, a handbag, dog in one hand and dog’s crate in another. Furthermore, add plus 30 degrees (Celsius that is), humidity and sweat to the equation = nightmare. Believe me. Just hire the guy.
You pay 40 baht for the trolley and tip the guy 50-100 baht or so, depending on how long you need him for. These workers have brown uniforms on so you will recognise them. They can watch over your luggage, while you go buy a ticket. At least this is what I have done. I think they should be trustworthy *fingers crossed*.
Ok, now you go inside to get your ticket. These days, they have ticket counters for tourists as well. I have used the “local” ones until recently and they seem to understand a little bit of English. Gets the job done. So just choose whichever has the shortest queue.
And do remember to mention that you will be travelling with a dog. I was under the -false – impression that all trains have a cargo section for moving cargo and dogs. Not true. I was up for an unfortunate surprise a few days ago, quite late at night.
Therefore, I would suggest you take the 7.30pm train which arrives in Chumphon around 4.15am. This leaves you plenty of time to catch the first Lomprayah boat, at 7am. My second advice is, that grab your ticket a day or two before you intend to travel. Especially if it’s high season.
2nd class sleeper is good value for money (about 1000b) but they are fully booked quite often so don’t leave it to the last minute. 2nd class aircon seats are half the price and reasonably comfy; they give you a blanket and you can recline the seat, so it’s not too bad, in my opinion.
Now go back to your trolley guy and make your way to the cargo booth which is just a few metres from the taxi drop off and entrance. You weigh your dog and the dog kennel, and pay at the booth. It’s cheap. I had 26 kilos and it was 120 baht. You get a receipt/ luggage ticket and the destination info will be glued to your dog’s crate.
Then make your way to the platform if you are traveling on the same day, or if you have time, go for the last wee with your dog. After that, you need to leave your furry friend in the cargo car. I’m lucky that Chase can hold it pretty good so no pee accidents have happened so far.
On the way to Koh Phangan and travelling by boat
If you are heading to Koh Tao, Koh Phangan or Koh Samui you need to take a private taxi from Chumphon’s train station. To Lomprayah’s pier, it’s 500b and takes about 20-30 minutes.
At the pier, you should have a couple of hours, so plenty of time for you and the pooch to go sniffing around, have breakfast or just rest. Lomprayah has allowed me to keep Chase on the leash on board, even though in official rules they ask to put the dog in the crate. You need to pay 200b for the dog if you are headed to KP.
Once I took a bigger ferry to Donsak, from Koh Phangan, and then the train from Surat Thani. On the ferry, it was a pain in the ass climbing the very steep stairs with all your stuff and the dog. Before, dogs weren’t allowed on Seatran ferry but I have heard that the rules have changed so that’s an option also.
Once we made it to Donsak, however, I was allowed to take Chase in the minivan (in his crate, though) from the pier to the train station. I bought a joint ticket from Koh Phangan and the seller said this would be ok.
I would not do this again though, because the driver was reluctant, and we needed to call the booking agency to back me up. I’m happy that there were animal lovers on board and they said they wouldn’t mind a four-legged friend accompanying them.
In Surat Thani, the train was running late, and the whole trip to Bangkok took way longer than what the official timetable said. That’s why I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. It is too long a time for the dog if the train is not on a schedule.
The fastest way to do pet travel (Thailand and elsewhere) – By air
This year, I was forced to take the flight from Samui to Bangkok because all the trains were full due to Songkran. Of course, it was handy but also expensive. In addition to your ticket, you need to pay for the ferry ticket for both of you and the notoriously expensive taxi fare to the airport. At the Samui airport, it’s literally a breeze with your dog though, because the whole airport is in a garden setting.
Make your way to the Special assistance counter at desk 12 (domestic flights), do your check in and then you have some time together with your dog or cat before it needs to be put into a crate to get ready for the flight. Animals are put into cargo, by the way, so you are not able to take them with you on the plane, even though they would be under 8kg.
More info here: http://www.bangkokair.com/traveling-with-pet
General advice on how to travel with your pet in Thailand
Bear in mind, that trains are often late. From Bangkok, it’s more convenient, because the train is waiting there already (well… most likely at least). If you are heading back, say from Surat Thani or Chumphon, you might need to wait a couple of hours along the way, at the station, if you are unlucky. Not so pleasant but what can you do.
Travel at night to make it comfy for your dog. I haven’t traveled during the day at all. I would be worried about the temperature inside the cargo car, even though I think they have fans there (once checked, and they had them). At night, it’s not hot at all, and can even be a bit chilly, in my opinion.
If you will be using a taxi, ask for a pet-friendly ride. Once you get a number of a good and trustworthy driver who doesn’t mind having a dog in the car, keep that number. I have convinced my drivers that my furry friend is small, clean (sa aat in Thai) and friendly. And doesn’t make noise. In this case, it is true anyway.
Further, perhaps it is good to mention that the dog can be in a crate/ dog kennel if the driver seems reluctant. An average Thai wouldn’t know what these mean, so just use the word “box” instead. I would advise you to have an old towel with you to keep the seats clean if the pet is allowed to be inside (or perhaps your dog might be a bit dirty or wet after rain). Or similarly, if the crate is not super clean and needs to be in the backseat, might be wise to have a rug underneath.
Pet travel Thailand – The wrap-up
Ok, I think that’s about it. This was my input on travelling with a dog in Thailand. I hope it helps. If you have some tips on pet travel in Thailand, I would love to hear them!
If you want to know how to take your pet out of Thailand, this article on How to export a dog from Thailand will become handy, guaranteed!
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