Bangkok by skytrain: Saphan Taksin

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First published 4th November, 2005

Saphan Taksin station is number S6 on the Silom route as well as the terminal station for this line. This station sits on the edge of the Chao Phraya river and is a handy place to disembark if you want to explore the river area on foot or grab a river taxi to numerous destinations. There is a rail bridge already built across the river (without rails so far) that's ready to extend the BTS into Thonburi - but political hiccups and infighting are keeping it from getting completed on time. Note - this station is not named after PM Thaksin Shinawatra, but rather Phraya Taksin who crowned himself king in 1769 and ruled from just across the river, in Thonburi.

Directly underneath the station, Charoenkrung Rd runs perpendicular to Sathorn Rd, and here you can find a few stalls selling rice and noodle dishes at the usual 20 B - 35 B to get your energy up before you head out. Right around this area you'll find various vendors selling everything from Buddhist amulets to false teeth -- some interesting souvenirs for the kids back home.

If you're not interested in exploring the area by foot, exit the station via exit 2 and head to the Sathorn Pier. From here you can board a boat to any number of different locations up and down the Chao Phraya river. There are maps and information desks located at Sathorn Pier where the staff can help you find whichever pier is best for your destination. There are three routes to choose from, and the boats on a particular route fly a different colored flag (except for the No Flag route which, surprise, doesn't fly one at all). It can be a bit daunting at first to try and figure the boat system out, but the basics are:
- Yellow Flag Line - 11 stops along the route
- Orange Flag Line - 18 stops along the route
- No Flag Line - 34 stops along the route

Keep in mind that these boats stop operating around sundown. If you happen to sail past your pier or pick the wrong one to jump off at, don't worry. Most piers have motorcycle taxis waiting in case you need some quick transport. There are also boats here that will transport you directly to the Mariott Riverside, Oriental, Peninsula and various other hotels - again, ask the staff at the pier to help you out.

If you're interested in seeing the area by foot, there isn't a lot to see if you head south on Charoenkrung Rd - some pharmacies, snack shops, hardware stores, etc but nothing exciting. If you head north, you'll soon come to Robinson's Department store which is a pretty sterile affair with bored staff wandering around waiting for someone to buy clothes or discount electronics. There's a McDonalds here if you're hankering for a taste of Western 'food'.

A bit further up and around the area of soi 46 is Bangrak Market (Talaad Bangrak), which is about as Thai as a market can get. It's not too huge, but there are interesting finds in fabrics, food and assorted knick-knacks. Not a lot of foreigners here so be prepared to get a curious stare or two if you wander around this area. After soi 46, the area is pretty much the same as what you'll find south of the station; small food stores, salons, hardware stores, electronics stores - nothing too interesting.

Back at the BTS station underneath exit 1 you'll find an army of red songthaew transport trucks that are waiting for fares. If there's more than three of you and you know where you're going, this can be a good way to get there, but be ready to barter over the price. Right beside all these trucks you'll see a small, unmarked soi that runs north parallel to the river, which is a good place to start a walk that will take you past some of the nicest hotels in Bangkok. Heading into this soi you'll pass the Shangri La and, if you keep walking, find signs guiding you to the Oriental. This little walk will lead you by some interesting stores and restaurants, but given that they're at the foot of some very exclusive hotels, expect to pay a higher price than other areas.

Along this route you'll see signs for O.P Place, the Asian Heritage Shopping Centre, which is worth a look. Inside are several floors of galleries and shops selling exquisite antiques of all shapes and sizes. Worth a look even if you can't afford to shell out for anything; it's not too busy so the staff are usually more than happy to answer any questions. If you keep walking around this area you'll find that there are hordes of jewelry stores and shops specializing in exporting their wares. Some good deals to be had if you look around a little bit.

If you find yourself in this area with energy to spare, you can start the 30 minute walk up Thanon Silom towards the Sala Daeng BTS and one of the major shopping areas in town, passing all manner of stores and shops along the way. The further you walk, the more dense the shops become. If you simply want to get back to where you started, a motorbike, taxi or sawng-thaew can easily be flagged down.

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  • thanks for info of area. due for update as no longer terminal station

    Posted by Duncan on 13th July, 2009

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