Many of you know I love to explore adventurous and unique locations. Thus, Bangkok’s airplane graveyard was a no-brainer.
With Chiang Mai as my new home base, I’ve made several trips to or through Bangkok since the beginning of the year. On one of those trips, while I was only in town for a couple days, I was invited to the airplane graveyard by fellow blogger Sheila Dee of Opportunistic Travellers. I had a chance to stay in the spare bedroom of her flat, which happened to be on the 18th floor of a riverside high-rise. The view was impressive, and the sunsets brought my appreciation of Bangkok to a whole new level.
We got up early-ish on Saturday morning, and took the BTS to the Saen Saep Canal, where we grabbed the water taxi for a whopping 19 baht (about $0.55). The airplane graveyard is at the last stop, Wat Sri Bunruang, which took about 45 minutes to get to. The water taxi is by far the best and cheapest way to go, but be careful of the dirty water spray. My buff and sunglasses came in really handy in keeping the water out of my eyes and mouth.
At the Wat Sri Bunruang landing, we met up with Juliano Cottitto and a friend of his from the hostel. Juliano and I originally met in a hostel in Krakow, Poland back in 2015, and we then managed to land at the same volunteer job in Malaysia! We recently ran into each other again in Thailand and have shared a couple adventures together.
From the water taxi, we had to walk to the main road a couple minutes away. The airplane graveyard is only a couple minutes to the west from there. A few years ago, three Thai families moved in to squat in the planes. They shortly took the entrepreneurial step of erecting a gate and charging an entrance fee to see the planes. We happily paid 200 baht for each of us to the nine-year-old boy who came to collect our payment, and then remained our rambunctious tour guide through the rest of our visit.
The first thing that caught my attention was the massive Boeing 747 rising in the air. Or rather the first third of the plane. The rear fuselage, wings and tail were missing. Artistic graffiti covers the base of the hulls. The cabin doors were open, but several feet above the ground and too high to access.
Someone had wedged the cargo bay door open enough to climb through easily. Most of the bay was full of old overhead compartments and scrap metal. To the right, there was a small hole in the ceiling through which I pulled myself up, taking care to avoid scratching myself on all the sharp metal edges. From the passenger floor, I was able to see the ladder leading down to the cargo bay, which had been hidden behind a faux wall below. That’s the real way to enter.
The second floor, presumably the business-class section, was almost entirely empty except for a few more bits of scrap metal on the floor. Even the panels on the wall had been removed, exposing the steel rib frame of the fuselage. A single overhead compartment remained attached to the ceiling.
In the rear, before the fuselage ended in empty space, were the stairs to the third level. I walked up to see what first class looked like. In this relic, it was hardly better than the previous floor, except that there were more overhead compartments remaining and a couple of the window portals were still installed. Otherwise, it was the same bare floor and steel ribs.
At the front of first class was the cockpit. If possible, it was in even worse condition than the cabins. Nothing was left beyond the steel fittings and the throttle. Seats, instruments, electronics and panels were gone. It certainly gave a surreal feeling. In the ceiling of the cockpit was an opening, where you could climb out onto the roof of the plane. After all, this is Thailand, and there aren’t any safety measures at a place like this.
After the 747, the other planes were anti-climatic. I believe there were only two other planes, both MD-82 models, but the number of parts strewn about the field made it appear that there were more. Fuselages were dissembled into several parts and wings were off to the side. Both MD-82 cockpits were available to explore, and one of them still had many of the original buttons installed, although the electronics were long since removed.
Our little tour guide hardly spoke a word of English, but he was happy to show us his favorite parts of the planes, interesting features we might have missed, and different ways to climb around. He also exercised his businessman skills by asking for more money when we went to different areas of the planes.
Due to his lack of English, I had to get all my information about the airplane graveyard subsequent to our visit. Based on other blogs, it seems the planes were put there by a Thai businessman who has been selling off parts for scrap. Also, one of the MD-82 planes is reportedly the same plane that was involved in a fatal accident at Phuket International Airport in 2007.
If you have Bangkok on your itinerary, make sure to pay a visit to this unique location. Altogether you’ll only be 300 baht out of pocket (less than $10). You can run through the graveyard in a few minutes, but I’d recommend staying there an hour to take your time and see what it’s all about. Have fun!
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If you’re traveling with more than one person, I’d recommend using Airbnb. Some locations can be fantastic.
Couchsurfing is my favorite way to stay in a city. Bangkok can be a little more tricky to find hosts, but not impossible.
You can also find opportunities to volunteer in Bangkok via Workaway.
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