Just outside the center of Bangkok lies the Airplane Graveyard. Wedged between apartment buildings and a road, you’ll find a big field that is littered with stripped airplane wrecks. There are even a couple families who have claimed the piece of land and are living inside the wrecks. When we heard about this, we got the brilliant idea to take a closer look…
Warning: Enter at your own risk!
Within 24 hours after landing in Bangkok we gazed at a field where the dry grass was littered with wrecked airplanes and debris. A wooden gate with a large padlock prevented us from entering the area.
It was boiling hot, and despite our jetlag we would feel that the atmosphere was tense.
“Should we go back?”, we wondered.
Although it sounded very appealing, we decided to crawl under the gate and enter the area.
Nervous and somewhat reluctant, we walked towards the big Boeing 747.
The Airplane Graveyard in Bangkok
Before we could even slip inside one of the wrecks, we were approached by a woman – who had already seen us standing in front of the gate.
In our very best Thai we greeted her and asked her how she was doing; like it was the most normal thing in the world.
She got to the point immediately. If we wanted to walk around and take photos, we had to pay 200 baht each. Or else: get lost.
We paid the ‘entrance fee’ and she wandered off, leaving us alone to explore.
We soon realized that we were not alone.
We were being followed by a Thai boy of about eight years old – probably the woman’s son.
He walked around barefoot showing us secret passages, and casually hung out of doors and windows several meters from the ground.
He raced through the aircrafts like it was nothing. Sometimes we lost sight of him for a moment, until he appeared again to pose for a picture.
Where do the planes come from?
After some research on the internet (source) we had a better understanding of where the planes came from.
Since 2010 a businessman purchased broken, crashed and scrapped airplanes. He then completely stripped the airplanes and sold the parts. From airplane seats to oxygen masks – everything was stripped, sold and recycled.
Since then, three Thai families call this place their ‘home’. They live in improvised airplane compartments, with curtains over the airplane windows and even pictures of the late king Bhumibol Adulyadej.
Their presence is condoned, probably because they help with the collection of the airplane parts. This way – plus the ‘entrance fees’ charged to visitors – they manage to get by, and are better off than living on the streets.
One last look
With the encouragement of our Thai friend, we climbed the gigantic Boeing 747 – the most impressive wreck in the graveyard. We checked out the cockpit, the toilet, and the third floor.
A group of tourists arrived as we were leaving. Three Chinese girls posed on an airplane wing, and two backpackers were shooting a vlog.
No matter the reason why you want to visit the Airplane Graveyard in Bangkok; it’ll be a trip that you’ll never forget!
The best way to get to the Airplane Graveyard is by water taxi. This local boat is dirt cheap and sails through the canals of Bangkok – which is an experience on its own.
Disembark at the ‘Panfa Leelard Pier’ which is within walking distance of Khao San Road and next to Wat Saket. Exit at the last stop: ‘Wat Sri Bunruang Pier’. From the last stop it’s a short ten minute walk, through a temple complex, along a shopping mall and past a school. The Airplane Graveyard is just along the road, you can’t miss it.