Starting from the end of July, you will be able to ride the MRT underground train to Chinatown, the Grand Palace and under the Chaophraya River to Thonburi. This will make life so much easier for tourists visiting both Chinatown and the old city. No longer do we have to face scamming tuk tuk drivers or taxi drivers who refuse to turn on their meter. Up to this point, I used to take the MRT to Hua Lamphong and then walk into Chinatown and then back again. Now there are two new stations in Chinatown which means we can have three choices of where to enter or exit. These are MRT Wat Mangkon and MRT Sam Yot. For Rattanakosin island, there is one station called MRT Sanam Chai. This is alongside Museum Siam and around the corner from Wat Pho, otherwise known as the Temple of the Reclining Buddha. It is also a short walk to Pak Khlong flower market and the Grand Palace. The fourth station of interest is MRT Itsaraphap which is on the Thonburi side of the Chaophraya River. The new terminal station is MRT Tha Phra. In March 2020, this will connect to Tao Poon and Mo Chit forming a loop on the Blue Line (see map below).
You will be able to use the first five stations on the new extension of the Blue Line for free from Monday 29th July to Saturday 28th September 2019. The five stations that are free are between MRT Wat Mangkon and MRT Tha Phra. During this introductory period, they will only be open from 7:00am to 9:00pm (previously 10:00am-4:00pm). If you are travelling to this new extension from any station between Tao Poon and Hua Lamphong, you will have to change trains at Hua Lamphon station. If you start your journey at Hua Lamphong, you will have to pay 16 Baht. However, if you board the train at any of the five stations on the extension it will be free if you only travel between MRT Wat Mangkon and MRT Tha Phra. From 29th September 2019, all eleven stations of the Blue Line extension will be open for service. The remaining six stations are: Bang Phai, Bang Wa (interchange with BTS), Phetkasem 48, Phasi Charoen, Bang Khae, and Lak Song.
FOUR STATIONS OF INTEREST TO TOURISTS
There are four stations of interest on this new extension due to their unique artwork that reflects on the history and culture of the local communities. In addition, architecture of all of the buildings above ground help them blend in so that they look part of the community. The following are photo albums of these four train stations that are now open to the public.
(1) MRT WAT MANGKON
MRT Wat Mangkon Station will be the first stop after MRT Hua Lamphong (see map). This will make it more convenient for tourists to visit Chinatown as it is on Charoen Kreung Road. As you can see in the photo album below, the exterior of the station was designed to blend in with nearby architecture. Inside there is a Chinese theme. This includes the back of a dragon as you walk down the steps and a large golden dragon on the ceiling in the ticket hall.
(2) MRT SAM YOT
MRT Sam Yot Station is just south of Rommaninat Park on the Western outskirts of Chinatown (see map). Rommaninat Park used to be the site of Bangkok Remand Prison. There are still some remains of the prison to be seen. This station is certainly more beautiful on the outside than in. Like the other stations on the Blue Line extension, the station building has been designed to reflect local architecture. Sam Yot is a historical area of Bangkok and inside, it is like a museum with old photographs on display.
(3) MRT Sanam Chai
The most beautiful of the new underground stations on the Blue Line extension is at MRT Sanam Chai (see map). One of the entrances is at Museum Siam. Unlike other entrances on the Blue Line, this one is open so it doesn’t block the view towards Museum Siam. The escalator is apparently waterproof. This station is only a short walk from the Temple of the Reclining Buddha, the Grand Palace and Pak Khlong flower market. The decoration inside MRT Sanam Chai reflects its nearby royal heritage.
(4) MRT Itsaraphap
The fourth and final station of architectural interest on the Blue Line extension is MRT Itsaraphap on the Thonburi side of the river in Bangkok (see map). Unlike the other three stations, the outside of this one is ordinary. However, inside they have a special feature, a golden swan. The swans at MRT Itsaraphap are beautifully lit up. At first glance, they look a bit like the emblem for Liverpool Football Club. However, these swans are paying tribute to the nearby Wat Hongrattanaram temple which has ‘swan’ in its name.
That’s the end of this quick guide to the new stations on the Blue Line extension. Hopefully you will get a chance to visit these beautiful stations as well as use this extension to visit some of the nearby tourist attractions.