Hua Lamphong Station: Bangkok’s Communication Hub

Hua Lamphong Station is Bangkok’s main railway station with 14 platforms that manage about 60,000 travellers and 130 trains daily. Hua Lamphong is also the terminus for the fabled Eastern and Orient Express. The central location and colourful throng of international and local travellers makes the station an ideal spot for meetings with friends or solitary people watching.

Apart from its being Thailand’s busiest railway hub, Hua Lamphong is notable for its architecture. The structure was designed in an Italian neoclassical tradition by architects Mario Tamagno and Annibale Rigotti. The neoclassical style is immediately evident as visitors pass through the columned portico before entering the building. Construction was completed in 1916 by Dutch architects. The Dutch influence can be seen in the two-tone patterned skylights characteristic of De Stijl modernism. A glance upward reveals the vaulted iron ceiling that at the time was an engineering marvel.

How the station acquired the name Hua Lamphong remains a mystery. The official name of the station is Sathani Rotfai Krung Thep, which is translated as State Railway of Thailand. Outside Bangkok, the railway station is usually referred to as Krungthep Station. However, to the locals and tourists, the landmark has always been known as Hua Lamphong Station. There are a number of stories circulating about the origin of the local name. Some say that the name Hua Lamphong means Field of Wild Oxen or refers to a toxic plant. Others suggest that it could be derived from the Malay expression meaning temporary bridge.

In 2004, Bangkok’s Metropolitan Rapid Transit built the Hua Lamphong subway stop and linked the citywide system to the station by an underground passage. The new connection makes travel to business and social meetings faster and easier. There are many reasons for visiting Hua Lamphong, the least of which is that the iconic building will retire as a transportation hub in 2021 and be transformed into a museum.

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