OK, we here at WoWasis actually paid thirty-two cents. And it’s greater Bangkok we’re talking about. Nevertheless, the thirty cent tour of the countryside of Thailand aboard the train to the town of Mahachai takes you through scenery that’s hard to find in the city of Bangkok these days. The round-trip train ride takes about two hours, and it’s well worth it. Here’s how you do it.
The train leaves from the Wongwian Yai train station, just over the river, to the west of Bangkok. To get to the station, take the BTS skytrain to the Wongwian Yai stop. Go down to the street, then take a 20 baht motorcycle taxi to the Wongwian Yai train station. There, you’ll buy a one-way ticket from Bangkok to Mahachai. It’s an hour ride.
On the way to Mahachai, you’ll see beautiful old teak houses along waterways, colorful laundry hung out to dry, banana trees galore, and country towns and small neighborhoods. The train is diesel-powered, and the shifting gears cause the train to lurch unexpectedly over old tracks, stopping at quaint, tiny stations on outlying areas to accommodate students, grannies, and businesspeople. We here at WoWasis recommend sitting on opposite sides of the train on your round trip. The train has only one class, and it takes an hour to get to Mahachai. There, you’ll get off, buy a return ticket (if there is a round-trip ticket, we couldn’t figure out how to buy it), and get back on the train, which departs in ten minutes.
Trains leave Wongwian Yai station every hour at varying times. The first train leaves Wongwian Yai at 5:30 in the morning, the final train departs from Mahachai at 7:00 pm. Remember, in Mahachai, the train stops for ten minutes and then returns to Wongwian Yai. Miss the return train? It will return an hour later. You can buy a beer at either station and enjoy your trip. Unbelievably, beers cost 35baht each, while the hour-long train ride costs 10 baht each way. One beer is more expensive than the entire round trip by train!
Writer Harold Stephens, in his book Return to Adventure: Southeast Asia, mentions this train:
From the slum area of Thonburi the train passes through a wall of clapboard shacks, so close that you can reach out and touch them… then enters open rice fields… stopping at villages no larger than a city block. As you pass through a village, you can look into the houses, into the very bedrooms. You are looking at rural Thailand close up.
It’s hard to beat this round-trip train ride for a fun, inexpensive, and easy excursion in the Bangkok area. There are rarely any farang on this train, so you’ll be sitting with the locals, who are very curious as to why a visitor is on the train. You’re there, of course, to see a world that is increasingly difficult to find in the backstreets of Bangkok. On this train ride, you get to see plenty of old Thailand in spades.