Welcome to Thailands most unusual tourist attraction- The Bangkok Airplane Graveyard.
The Bangkok Airplane Graveyard is bang in the centre of Bangkok’s Ramkhamhaeng district. The urban area is the last place you’d expect to find the fuselage of a Boeing 747. Even though it might sound far fetched at first, it is completed true, and most of the most unique activities to do in the city. Airplane carcasses can be seen towering above and dominating the skyline. Technically speaking- it not a tourist attraction, but the best part is you can visit the Airplane Graveyard and explore the assortment and remains of abandoned passenger planes.
There have been reports of aircraft being stored at the site in Bangkok since 2010. But the origins of the aircraft are mostly unknown. The location of the field makes it even more puzzling for both locals and travellers, the obscure location is nowhere near either of Bangkok’s airports.
While information is scarce, local rumours suggest that the land and the aircraft are owned by a local businessman. With the goal of stripping valuables, electronics and mechanics from the planes for resale. And converting the carcases into restaurants. It is evident that there are no valuable parts remaining, but it seems that action was never taken on the restaurant renovations.
It appears the airplanes, now holding little value other than in scrap metal have been abandoned for good. Once word got out in the backpacking and travelling community the Bangkok Airplane Graveyard began to grow as place tourists wanted to see. One of the smaller aircraft on the site has been converted into a home, for a once homeless Thai family. It is believed they are squatting on the land, and have turned into into a profitable business by charging tourists an admission fee. I talk about that in more detail a little further on in this post.
There is really just two airplanes on site that are worth exploring, easily the most impressive is a double-decker Boeing 747, this aeroplane alone dominates the site and towers over nearby shops and other buildings. Most of the 747 has been stripped and sold, anything of value at least. The engines are long gone along with other mechanical parts and the in flight entertainment systems.
But surprisingly the cock pit remains mostly in tact. Seats, dials, flight controls, levers and switches are all present. The aircraft has been cut down the centre of the fuselage and all three decks are exposed. It put into prospective the sheer size of these machines, when you enter through the tunnel in an airport you don’t have the same scale or perspective.
All three floor can be explored, two passenger deck and even the undercarriage which would have been used for luggage and cargo storage. You can climb into the airplane through the luggage compartment at ground level and then a small hatch in the floor lets you climb upwards int the passenger cabin- at least what’s left of it.
From there the staircase is still present, back when the aircraft was flying and not parked up in Bangkok, business class passengers would have used the stairs to climb onto the top deck. It’s also on the top level that you’ll find the flight deck, if you’re brave enough there is even a pilots escape hatch which you can clamber out of onto the roof of the mighty 747. A cool spot for a selfie.
So if you consider yourself to be an adventurous traveller or a lover of urban adventure, then the Bangkok Airplane Graveyard deserves a spot on your Thailand Bucket List. It’s the next best exploration site in Bangkok after the ghost tower was closed off to tourists.
Read on to learn all about the graveyard, how to get to the Bangkok airplane graveyard, how long to stay at the Bangkok airplane graveyard, how to gain entry to the graveyard and more insider tips and travel secrets.
About The Bangkok Airplane Graveyard
Strictly speaking, the Airplane graveyard is not an official tourist site. It’s a glorified scrap yard that tourists that have taken a liking to. But that is the reason it’s so unique, and for me, the unknown made me even more desperate to get a look in for myself.
You won’t find any tour agents offering trips to the Airplane Graveyard. It’s a journey you’ll need to make on your own. And keep in mind that you’re responsible for your own safety. The aircraft are rusting they have sharp edges and no safety precautions are taken, because it was never supposed to be a tourist attraction. You enter at your own risk, so use some common sense and don’t get out of your comfort zone.
A few Thai families call the air plane graveyard their home. Taking advantage of the disused aircraft fuselage which provided a safe shelter for them and their children. The family also use the opportunity to earn a quick buck, after being approached by tourists as early as 2010 requesting permission to explore the site- the unofficial rate is 300 Thai Baht per person. Not bad considering the minimal work involved to unbolt the gate. It is estimated that up around 50 people visit the airplane graveyard each day netting the families who live here an entire average months salary in a single day!
The families who call the land their home have taken over one of the larger airplanes and kitted in out with running water and a kitchenette. This plane is to the left as you enter so respect their privacy- this plane isn’t open to be explored. To gain access to the site you’ll need to poke your head over the chained gate and get their attention to let you in, (after handing over 300 Baht- depending on your negotiation skills).
Construction for Bangkok’s new MRT Orange Line is in full swing and construction works can be seen ongoing right in front of the scrap yard. Once the subway line passed by here it’s assumed that land prices in the area will inevitably increase as condo constructors seek new areas to build. Potentially after ten years of living here, the planes may soon be scrapped for good and removed from the site. You should make sure to visit before the inevitable happens.
How To Get To The Bangkok Airplane Graveyard
The Bangkok Airplane Graveyard is located on Ramkhamhaeng Road, (ถนนรามคำแหง). On soi 103. The airplane graveyard is not far from the Grand Palace or the popular Khao San Road. You can get there by taking a taxi or Grab Taxi which is affordable, but it’s much more fun and more convenient to take the local canal boat through Bangkok’s waterways instead.
Take The Canal Boat
The canal boat is the quickest way to get to the airplane graveyard. There is a pier on the Klong Saen Saep Canal Boat just ten minutes from Khao San Road, which is easily walk able. You’ll want to board the boat here, travelling east. The closest stop to the airplane graveyard is at the Sriboonruang Temple it’s also the final stop on the route.
Riding the canal boats in Bangkok is one of the more affordable ways to travel the city. While taking a tuk tuk from Khao San Road to the Airplane Graveyard would cost at least 300 – 500 Thai Baht, a ticket on the canal boat will set you back only 19 Baht!
Once you disembark the boat it’s a short 2 – 3 minute walk past the temple, out onto soi 107 and from there you’ll soon spot the out of place aircraft.
Take A Taxi or A Grab
Probably the easiest way to get to the airplane graveyard but defiantly not the cheapest or the quickest. There are metered taxi’s running all over the city and it won’t take two minutes to flag down a driver. It’s a gamble if the driver will actually use the meter or quote you an overpriced amount. Using the Grab Taxi application can often be a safer option and eliminated the chance of being ripped off by a cab driver.
History Of The Bangkok Airplane Graveyard
There are two prominent aircraft on the site, the first a Boeing 747 and secondly a smaller McDonnell Douglas MD-82. These two aircraft are mostly intact. The MD-82 was scrapped after a fatal crash at Phuket Airport in 2007. One-Two-Go flight 269 from Bangkok’s Don Muang Airport to Phuket slid off the runway after touching down in poor weather conditions; the collision killed over 80 passengers. The origins of the 747 aircraft are unknown.
Airplane Graveyard Opening Times
There are no official opening times for the Bangkok Airplane Graveyard. There is no guarantee that you’ll even be allowed to enter the site. If you’re visiting during daylight hours then you should find someone around to open the gates for you.
The best time to go is later on in the afternoon once the heat begins to cool off. You’ll have the best chance to capture photographs late afternoon as the sunlight provides the best angles and lets the sunshine through the plane windows into the cabins. Early morning also works. Midday is the worst time to visit, not to mention the heat will be roasting but the light will directly overhead- not great for photos.
What To Bring To The Airplane Graveyard Bangkok
You want to wear decent shoes when visiting, this isn’t the type of place where you’ll manage in flip-flops. The site is overgrown and there are sharps where sections of the aircraft have been cut away. For that reason, you’ll also be best off wearing long sleeves and pants. But wear something light, there is no air-conditioning in these planes anymore and with the sun beating down on the metal fuselage it get extremely hot and sweaty, very quickly. It’s quite dirty in the planes, you’ll be fine if you are careful, but if you plan on scrambling out of the escape hatch or pilling yourself through the luggage compartment on the 747 you might want to consider bringing a change of clothes.
You’ll also want to bring your camera gear and accessories. You should be fine without bringing food or drinks with you, there is a 7-11 right next door to the Airplane Graveyard but make sure to drink plenty of water in the heat.
Keep Yourself Safe
Urban exploration is safe. The Bangkok Airplane Graveyard is safe. Providing you’re not an idiot. The scrapyard is pilled with potential danger wherever you look, which for many is part of the appeal. Floors and other parts of the aircraft are missing, and some floor collapsing altogether. Panels and aircraft sections could fall at any time and there are jagged and sharp ended all around. Keep your wits about you and respect the place for what it is. No safety checks have been carried out and you’re responsible for yourself.
All it would take is one bad accident for the authorities to close the place down. Please don’t be the one to screw it up for everyone else.
Is The Bangkok Airplane Graveyard Worth Visiting?
For any aviation enthusiast, abandoned place fanatics or travellers looking to get off the beaten track then yes the Bangkok Airplane Graveyard is worth visiting. So long as you accept before leaving that there is every chance you won’t always have a chance to enter the site and that you’ll have to pay a relatively high entrance fee then it’s a unique expereince and defiantly worth it.
You’ll still have the chance to ride around Bangkok on a canal boat and travelling on one of these ‘ferries’ is an experience in itself and a must do for anyone who visits the city.
Of course the information in this post could become obsolete at any time. the land owners might decide to sell, which is looking more and more likely with the construction of a new BTS station underway right outside. But on the other hand, more aircraft might be brought onto the site to be salvaged fro scrap. Who knows what could happen and when. So if you’re in Bangkok and are looking for something a little different then give it a shot!
Tips When Visiting The Airplane Graveyard in Bangkok
- Make sure to wear suitable clothing, the land is overgrown and sharps are found on the aircraft so you’ll want to wear long-sleeve bottoms.
- Respect that this is someone’s home. There are three Thai families living on the site with children and animals, this means one of the aircraft is off-limits.
- Take the canal boat over a taxi, it’s much cheaper and riding the canal in Bangkok is an experience in itself.
- Stay safe and responsible. Remember the aeroplane graveyard is no more than a scrapyard, not a tourist site. It may be unsafe and you should keep your wits about you.