Bangkok's MRT Trains - A Quick Guide
Bangkok's MRT (Mass Rail Transit) is another answer to the city's notoriously congested vehicle traffic in central Bangkok.
The MRT is an advanced underground subway system currently running on one line. Just like its sister transportation system, the BTS Sky Train, the MRT is not extensive yet it serves an important role in transporting local Thais to work, social gatherings, shopping and back home quickly and conveniently.
And not only do the locals find the MRT useful, travelers too are taking advantage of the affordable fares, well air conditioned stations and passenger cars.
Like the BTS Sky Train the MRT is very easy to use. But to be quite honest most of the stops that the MRT makes are not anywhere near tourist attractions. However I will list places to see and points of interest near MRT stations below.
Bangkok's subway trains are increasingly becoming more popular through the years. It's safe and reliable but most importantly really affordable.
Same Same But Different
"Same Same But Different" is a common terminology you might see often on t-shirts or hear from a shopkeeper trying to convince you to buy something of similar quality. It's also the best way to describe the MRT and BTS train systems.
Both trains look similar because it was constructed by the same German company Siemans. Both are easy to use, with station maps and station announcements in English.
The only difference between the two is the slight dissimilarity in the way the train fares look.
A Quick History of Bangkok's MRT
The MRT first started serving the public on July 3rd, 2004 with the King and Queen of Thailand presiding over the ceremony and everything went smoothly. Though it first took quite awhile for the MRT to even begin construction due to delays from a managing and engineering perspective, especially when you consider that construction first broke ground in 1996.
Ridership was expected to be low, just like the BTS Sky Train, but soon as more and more locals spread the word on how quick and easy it was to use the system the MRT soon reached the same popularity as the Sky Train.
Though there was one major accident one year later in 2005 when 140 people were injured due to an empty train rear ending a full train during peak hours. Fortunately no passengers were killed but the MRT completely stopped service for 2 weeks. Suffice to say Thais were weary of riding the MRT for awhile. Their fears were easily remedied though by fare discounts which worked and ridership went right back up to pre-accident levels.
The MRT is a major success regardless and lessons were learned and safeguards put in place. Today the MRT is expanding it's system to reach to provide service to more of it's citizens.
Video Reviews of Hotels Near MRT Stations in Bangkok
- Bangkok Ramada Encore Hotel Review
Ramada Encore Hotel in Bangkok is the newest hotel in Sukhumvit's nightlife and shopping district. A guest friendly hotel with many guests' amenities for a well rounded stay in a lively neighborhood in Bangkok. Read my full review and find out where
- City Lodge Sukhumvit 19 Bangkok Hotel Review, Thaila...
City Lodge Sukhumvit 19 may not be the newest hotel on Sukhumvit but its location can't be beat. As one of Bangkok's reliable and affordable guest friendly hotels near prime shopping and nightlife district, its definitely worth staying in.
- Bangkok's Cha Da Hotel Review
Bangkok Cha Da Hotel is another popular guest friendly hotel in the city's Huay Kwang District. Though there are many naughty massage parlors in the area it is still an area quiet enough for an enjoyable stay in Bangkok, Thailand.
- Fusion Suites Hotel Review in Bangkok, Thailand
Fusion Suites is another popular budget hotel in Bangkok's lively Sukhumvit district. A quaint little boutique guest friendly hotel in the Bangkok's nightlife center. The hotel is also close to the BTS Sky Train and MRT subway so guests can travel an
What times does the MRT operate?
The official time is 6am to 12am daily. However even though the MRT states that it closes at 12am it does not mean that you can enter a station at 11:59pm. The stations will usually stop accepting passengers around 11:30pm. So plan accordingly.
- Reviews of Websites for Finding Bangkok Discount Hotels
I always recommend people to visit Bangkok, Thailand whenever they ask me where they should go for an affordable, yet exotic vacation on a budget. And it is not because Bangkok has a lot of budget hotels near shopping, Sky Train stations, grand attra
Missed the train?
Plenty of trains arrive in 5 minute intervals. Waiting times are less during peak hours. Take a look at the monitors on the platforms. It shows the approximate minutes the next train arrives.
MRT Train System
As I mentioned before, the MRT train system is not extensive at all. In all there is only a total of 18 stops between Bang Sue to Hua Lumhphong (which leads to Bangkok's above ground railway system).
The MRT is not really meant to make sightseeing for tourists any easier. Though there are a few stations that will put you closer to points of interest, but you would probably have to hail a taxi. You can find a list of points of interest near MRT stations below.
MRT stations all have escalators leading up and down the station. Every station has elevators but I've noticed the elevators leading to the Silom MRT station seems to be down all the time. So if you need the use of elevators then it's probably best to have someone check to see if the elevators are functional.
Currently there are 3 MRT interchange stations which you can change to the BTS Sky Train system:
- MRT Mo Chit station to BTS Mo Chit station
- MRT Asoke station to BTS Sukhumvit station
- MRT Silom station to BTS Sala Daeng station
The ride-time from one station to another is usually around 2-3 minutes.
Finally keep in mind that purses and knapsacks will be checked by security, after you walk through a metal detector. There will be a check point right next to the escalator you took to go down to the station.
And food is also not allowed to be eaten in the station as well as on the train.
Cost of Riding the MRT Trains
Currently the rate fares for riding the MRT ranges from 15 baht to 40 baht and the amount you pay depends on the distance traveled.
Remember the MRT and BTS runs on separate train fare systems. So your MRT fare will not work on the BTS and vice versa. Supposedly both train systems are in the works of combining the 2 to make things easier for commuters who frequently ride both on a daily basis.
Anyway, there are 2 types of fares for the MRT:
- Single Journey Token - These are one time use black round plastic tokens, electronically embedded with your destination. Fares range from 15 baht to 40 baht depending on the distance traveled.
- Stored Valued Cards - Also called smart cards. There are several varieties of stored valued cards. For instance the Adult Card works like a debit card. You can top it up from a minimum of 100 baht to a maximum of 1000 baht, kind of like a prepaid debit card. Then there are the One Day unlimited ride pass that cost 120 baht.
Children under 14 years of age and not over 90cm. tall can ride free.
Check out MRT's website on ticketing and pricing for up to date information.
Shopping by MRT
Shopping Mall or Market
Chatuchak Weekend Market
Thailand Cultural Center
Huay Kwang Markets (great place to see how local Thais shop a night)
Patpong Night Market (6pm - 1am)
Lumphini Night Market (6pm - 1am)
As you can see on BTS Sky Train - A Quick Guide, the MRT isn't really ideal for die-hard shopaholics. But it will still take you to some pretty interesting places that are not mentioned in the guide books. The MRT can take you to places that are slightly off the beaten path. Take for example the Wet Market near Kampheng Phet MRT station. Loads of fresh exotic fruits are found here.
If shopping is a must it's a better bet to use BTS station. Better yet I recommend staying in a hotel near a BTS station.
Sightseeing by MRT
Chinatown, Grand Palace, Wat Po - You will need to hail a taxi
Siam Heritage Society and Soi Cowboy Red Light District
Lumphini Park and Patpong Red Light District
Again sightseeing isn't really the MRT's strong suit either. But it can get you closer to places like Chinatown and quicker too, because vehicle traffic around that area is bad at all hours of the day. So I suggest taking the MRT to Hua Lumphong station and hop onto a taxi from there. You will save a lot of time.
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