Neil McDonough

Up the junction

Two of Bangkok's nightmare traffic junctions

Any Brits who are a regular reader of the Ajarn blogs, and are in their late 30's or more, I'm sure must remember the Squeeze classic, 'Up the Junction'. For those of you who aren't familiar with this catchy and lyrically entertaining tune, here are the lads performing it on Top of the Pops in 1979

The title of the song is of course a pun on the word 'junction', and references in the song are made to Clapham in London, a very famous rail junction. This got me thinking about some of the worst junctions in Bangkok, not rail, but road!

There are of course dozens of terrible junctions in Bangkok and far too many to cover in this blog, but I'll just review two of the worst. There is a silver lining here though, and that is that these days, where there is a terribly congestion junction, there is often a BTS/MRT line or even a station in existence, or being built, or in the planning stages. And where there is a BTS or MRT station there are often very convenient and attractive condos or apartments.

I'll start with probably the most famous junction in Bangkok for expats and that is Asoke junction, where Sukhumvit road crosses over Asoke road (which confusingly turns back in Ratchada road once Sukhumvit has been crossed). I'm guessing every expat that reads has been caught at this junction at one time or another, in the back of a taxi or driving themselves. What a mess!

It is very conceivable to be caught in traffic leading up from Phetchburi road to Sukhumvit road for 20-30 minutes (some people will have worse stories than that) while the vehicle only travels 1-2Km. However the good news of course is that there is no need to travel to Asoke junction by vehicle from any direction between the hours of 6am-midnight, as the BTS and MRT are both running and both of these systems have a station that even link to each other at Asoke junction.

Of course situated around and close to the junction are popular venues such as Terminal 21 the newish shopping mall & cinema complex. There is Exchange Tower, mainly an office block, but also containing True Fitness gymnasium, and the Interchange building, which has both offices and serviced apartments.

Given its popularity Asoke junction has a lot of excellent condos and apartments within a 500m radius, such as The Wind 23 condominium, one of the condominiums we have often highlighted as one of the best all round condos in Bangkok. Containing mainly one bedroom and two bedroom condominium units The Wind 23, has been very popular with clients whom are teaching at international schools in both the Sukhumvit and Ratchada areas of town.

Of course Asoke junction is not the worst junction in Bangkok and according to statistics compiled by the BMA that dubious honor goes to the junction that meets the river at Saphan Taksin. According to BMA traffic data compiled in 2008, there are over 50,000 vehicles that cross this junction mainly from one side of the river to the other each day. With the number of people in these vehicles being just 80,000 people, so less than 2 people per vehicle.

To combat this increasing problem, the BTS at last in 2008 opened up the stations of Krungthonburi and Wong Wien Yai. This has of course taken some of the traffic away from this junction and given commuters a much easier and simpler option to get to work or home. Conveniently built next to the new stations are some excellent brand new condos, which offer great value for money compared t many other BTS and MRT linked areas. Villa Sathorn is such a condo, with large sized brand new condos and units from studios to three bedrooms, there is something for most requirements.

So it seems as long as one chooses their property carefully and make sure it's in a convenient location then there is no need to find yourself 'Up the junction' despite how bad Bangkok traffic gets.

Neil McDonough is a Director of EasyHomes Property Services Co., Ltd. which specializes in renting and selling Bangkok residential and commercial property to expats. You can contact him directly with any questions or queries relating to Thai real estate


Up the Junction, funny you didn't mention Soi Cowboy? where behind 4pm till 7pm Monday to Friday you will find a strange situration of white shirts with ties and briefcases sitting around for happy hours. If fact if Ajarn wanted an open air promo meeting of would be the place to go! Happy hour drinks only the gals are too busy stuffing their faces with spice for the night ahead, and know the teachers won't be buying until the 1st of the month!

By Phetpeter, Saraburi (12th February 2013)

"Up The Junction' by Squeeze. One of my favourite songs of all time Neil so thanks for the link LOL.

For me, that junction at Asoke / Sukhumwit will always be the mother of all intersections. I remember September 1989, my first day in Bangkok, walking to....cough.....Sukhumwit 23 with a group of friends.

In those days there was no wide central reservation either. It was just 6 lanes of traffic bearing down on you from all directions. And it was dark and raining. We just put our heads down and ran for it and hoped we got to the other side in one piece.

Nothing prepares you for that first glimpse of the Asoke / Sukhumwit intersection.

By philip, (9th February 2013)

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