Bangkok Stories and Tips

The BTS Skytrain

Skytrain Photo, Bangkok, Thailand

Certain aspects of modern cities create effects and links that in the past were not possible. The Skytrain in Bangkok was built on an elevated rail crossing Bangkok high above the street level and created a virtual street connecting the main attractions in the city. Thus, a virtual street serving the denizens of a pseudo-virtual era had been mindlessly created.

In any other city, the Skytrain would have been regarded as a monstrosity. However, Bangkok has its own rules. Its climate has two basic modes: sunny or cloudy and rainy. If it is sunny, the Skytrain structure successfully blocks the harsh tropical sun and creates a welcomed shade for those walking on the street level. If it is cloudy, Bangkok gets a glorious gray light, soft and warm which invites for long walks through the city. Then, the grayish Skytrain structure seems to be the most natural thing, a mirror-like reflection of the sun light.

Stations

Unlike similar mass travel systems, the Skytrain stations are rather minimalist and have few shops catering for the hordes crowding them; with the exception of a casual coffee shop or snacks stall at the main stations. The reason for that oddity becomes clear just by taking a look at the streets below the stations: they are surrounded by commercial centers providing any possible human need or wish.

Routes

The Skytrain routes look awkward at first, but they make a lot of sense. There are two lines that meet at Siam Square, the system’s nexus. There, the trains travel on two levels above the street and create an eternal and blessed shadow over the people hurrying to their favorite shopping mall. Roughly, the lines create a misshaped "X" over the city.

The shorter line draws a half circle from south to west; it connects Silom with Ploen Chit and reaches the Chao Praya River.

The longer line runs from north to east and connects Mo Chit and the Chatuchak Market with Sukhumvit Road.

Most of Bangkok’s attractions can be explored by traveling exclusively on the Skytrain, with the obvious exception of the Grand Palace.

Tickets

All the stations are served by automated selling machines which are easy to use; they feature English menu. To get a ticket the destination zone (marked in an adjacent map) must be typed and the exact change given. Nearby are manned windows where tickets can be purchased from a human and change can be got. Single Journey Ticket, Skycards valid for two years, 30-days passes and One Day Passes are available.

Speed

The modern, comfortable and air conditioned trains are the fastest way to travel across downtown Bangkok, especially so during the rush hours which in Bangkok apparently last twenty-four hours every day.

Main Stations

There are too many stations for a complete review here, but some of them are worth specific mention.

On northern Bangkok, Mo Chit Station gives access to the northern bus terminal and the Chatuchak Market, while Ekamai Station - at the other side of the same line - is next to the eastern bus terminal.

Siam Square, Ploen Chit and Chitlom stops offer access to the city’s main shopping area.

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