In rural Nakhon Pathom province just west of Bangkok, rice, fruit and orchid fields stretch for miles across the sun-soaked landscape. It’s the last place you would expect to see a bright red double-decker bus from London, but that’s exactly what marks the entrance to Jesada Technik Museum. The bus is just one of the 500+ vintage vehicles in this jaw-dropping collection.
Founded by the apparently very wealthy Thai businessman Jesada Dejsakulrit in 2007, this is by far the biggest and best classic car museum in Thailand. Jesada had long been entranced by all things with wheels, propellers, wings and rudders. The inspiration to collect came when he visited classic vehicle museums abroad, including the Technik Museum Speyer in Berlin.
If you’re not well-schooled on vintage vehicles, the museum is enlightening. A large section is devoted to adorable mini-cars and a diverse range of three-wheeled thingamajigs. There are tuk tuks, but also many other tri-wheel contraptions that often resemble ladybugs from the front.
Usually painted in bright colours with a fresh coat of wax applied by the museum’s dedicated staff, it’s hard to believe that some of these vehicles were ever taken seriously.
Along with a brigade of Vespas and other quirky motorcycles, an entire room is dedicated to pedal power. Some of the elaborately painted rickshaws and old-timer bicycles with oversized front wheels are great, but our favourite was the hot pink car-size tricycle. Its seven sets of pedals allow for optimal speed and hilariousness.
Among many regular-size cars that we failed to recognize, countless Peugeots, Toyotas, VWs, BMWs, Audis, Fords and Cadillacs are parked one after the next in the warehouse-esque halls. And this is no junk yard — Jesada’s cars are often driven in parades and classic car events in Bangkok and elsewhere.
Many of the sleek and sexy little roadsters would have befit James Bond back in the ’60s.
Others look more like early open-topped airplanes with the wings chopped off.
Also on hand are several impossibly long and heavy old cars, and the collection of lovingly restored trucks and buses includes a brightly-painted Jeepney from the Philippines. You might be inclined to label these larger vehicles as “boats”, but in fact, Jesada also owns amphibious 1960s convertibles that are occasionally spotted cruising in the Chao Phraya River.
If you have cars that drive in water, the obvious next step would be one that can go back in time. Having been six years old and utterly captivated by Michael J Fox’s pavement-peeling time machine in the 1985 film, Back to the Future, we became uncontrollably giddy at the sight of Jesada’s impeccably maintained Delorean.
Jesada even goes beyond the road with a few classic planes and helicopters. An early 20th century locomotive also sits nearby, next to the working train tracks that transport travellers to Kanchanaburi. As part of the “Death Railway” built by Allied POWs and forced labourers during World War II, the tracks themselves are a notable part of history. And all of this, in sleepy Nakhon Chaisi.
How to get there
The museum is located just east of Nakhon Chaisi, some 50 km west of Bangkok and 20 km east of Nakhon Pathom town. If coming from Bangkok, you can catch the Kanchanaburi-bound train that departs from Thonburi station at 7:45 and disembark at Nakhon Chaisi (trains run back to Bangkok or onwards to Kanchanaburi later in the afternoon). From the station, it's a 15-minute walk or two-minute motorbike ride to the century-old Tha Na Market, which is a great place for lunch. In Nakhon Chaisi, a tuk tuk or moto taxi can be arranged for a return trip to Jesada, which should cost no more than 200 baht including waiting time. Alternately, blue songthaews run from near Tha Na Market and can drop you at the museum, but it might be a long wait for the returning songthaew.
Nakhon Chaisi can also be reached directly by bus or minibus from Nakhon Pathom bus station, as well as Bangkok's Sai Tai Mai (southern) bus terminal or Victory Monument. From Bangkok, the easiest would be to charter a taxi for the day, while a tuk tuk could take you all the way here and back from Nakhon Pathom town. Along the road from Nakhon Chaisi, you might also check out the charming Owl Museum, or head further afield to Wat Bang Phra, Sampran Riverside, Air Orchid Farm or Don Wai Market.
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