Khun Tan railway station and tunnel

Khun Tan railway station and tunnel

The longest in Thailand

More on Doi Khun Tan National Park

Though tiny and remote, Khun Tan railway station is one of the country’s better known stations. Squeezed between wooded hills on the edge of the park itself, the station is picturesque and reached by both the Thai railway network’s longest tunnel and its steepest climb.

Travelfish says:

It’s as steep as standard rail travel allows and older locomotives still require the assistance of a second engine to get up it. Just about all trains, whether scheduled or not, stop here to cool off.

The 1,352-metre tunnel is cut through solid granite bedrock. Work began in 1907 and was completed in 1918 during the reign of King Rama V. It was known as the cemetery of labourers as more than 1,000 are rumoured to have died during its construction, either due to accidents or malaria, with tigers reportedly picking the odd one off too.

One of Thailand's cuter stations.

One of Thailand’s cuter stations.

Interestingly, the labourers, mostly from Laos and the northeast, were said to be frequently opium addicts and agreed to work on the project as long as their pay-packets were supplanted by opium. Emil Eisenhofer, a German railway engineer, was in charge of the project and his ashes are interred above the tunnel entrance.

The station has some black and white photos of the construction on display. The small hamlet surrounding the station has a noodle shop, grocery store, motorbike taxis and, when trains stop, plenty of food and drink vendors and orchid sellers.

Reviewed by

Based in Chiang Mai, Mark Ord has been travelling Southeast Asia for over two decades and first crossed paths with Travelfish on Ko Lipe in the early 1990s.

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