Me and Chase have gone round a bit in Thailand, so I thought I’d be ready to share some advice on how to travel with your dog – and save you from making the mistakes I’ve made. We travel the route Bangkok – Koh Phangan so I will also explain this in detail. To Rayong and Pattaya we have used a taxi.
Chase is not a pocket-size 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.
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 traveling with a dog. I was under the -false – impression that all trains have 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 to 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 if you have left 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. 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
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 ladders with all your stuff and the dog. 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 schedule.
General advice on how to travel with your pet in Thailand
Bear in mind, that trains are often late. From Bangkok, it’s nicer because the train is there already and it’s more likely to leave close to the scheduled time. 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 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 etc with you to keep the seats clean if the pet is allowed to be inside (or perhaps is 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 pet travel in Thailand. I hope it helps. I haven’t done a domestic flight in Thailand because Bangkok Airways has a monopoly position and they are keeping the prices to Koh Samui as sweet as.
I will probably do a post later about taking your pooch out of Thailand, though. And that’s another adventure indeed. Have done it once before. Meanwhile, you might want to have a look at this post from a couple who brought their dog from the UK to Thailand, if you want to get an idea of how it works (yes, it will be a long and complex process). Bear in mind, that the post mentioned is not super new, so some things have probably changed.
By the way, if you have some tips on pet travel in Thailand, I would love to hear them!
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