Exploring Bangkok by commuter train

Feeling bored in Bangkok, or maybe just tired of the crowds and traffic? It’s time for a day of random travel, Bangkok style. Random travel is simply that: motion for the sake of moving. The details of a culture are written in the way that daily life is lived — Thailand is at its most interesting when it doesn’t know it’s being watched. The Grand Palace and famous wats are great, but wandering away from it all can be a rewarding view into the way that Thais really live — monks on alms rounds, groups of school children on their way home, motorcycle cab drivers napping the hot afternoon away.

Open windows, cold beer, palm trees. WIN.

Open windows, cold beer, palm trees. WIN.

A good way to spend an afternoon is to ride one of the commuter trains out into the suburbs and take a look around. Train timetables can be found online at the State Railway of Thailand’s website and once you arrive it’s time to explore the Thai way: by eating and walking around.

Our normal itinerary is a snack, then search for a temple or wat (or whatever — this is how we once found a random museum of looms used to weave in Hua Thake), then some green space for a bit of a rest (and an iced coffee), then more food, and then back on the train home.

Most commuter trains run quite often so it’s easy to manage an afternoon without risking being stuck (although there’s nearly always a way back) — just ask the ticket agent to book you a return when you leave to ensure there is an inbound train.

On the train to Mahachai.

On the train to Mahachai.

Greater Bangkok is big and spread out, but grab a window seat and watch the suburbs give way to rice paddy, coconut palms, and water buffalo in the course of an hour — travel in the most freeing sense of the word!

And where to go? Try heading west from Thonburi station towards Nakhon Pathom; southwest from Thaksin station towards Mahachai and Samut Songkhram; north from Bang Sue station towards Ayutthaya; or east from Hualamphong station towards Chachoengsao. We've found that the most intriguing spots are often found by getting off at any random stop and having a poke around.

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