Phra Ram 9 and Thailand Cultural Centre MRT stations
Heading north on the MRT from the Petchaburi MRT the next stop is the Phra Ram 9 MRT. It will probably come as no surprise that given its location close to major thoroughfares such as Rama IX and Ratchadapisek Roads, shopping would be the key reason for alighting at this station.
The so-called ‘one-stop lifestyle entertainment shopping’ concept in the area is the Central Plaza Rama 9 shopping mall. The seven-storey complex houses more than 300 shops as well as restaurants, cafes, Robinson Department store, an 11-screen SFX Cineplex and the fairly unique Rink Ice Arena with its Olympic-sized ice-skating rink.
The shopping complex is accessible directly from the MRT, naturally coming via the basement. It is open from 10:00am to 10:00pm and there really isn’t anything the majority of shopaholics could not find in the plaza.
Right outside the station is Fortune Town, arguably one of the best places in Bangkok from which to buy computer equipment. There are also camera shops and, of course, mobile phone vendors. The shopping mall also does a good trade in second-hand hi-fi equipment from CD players to amplifiers and speakers and the like.
The next station along the line is called the Thailand Cultural Centre. This is a little misleading as the Cultural Centre itself is about eight to 10 minutes walk away, although there are plenty of signs to guide anyone keen to go and take a look. The venue is located on Ratchadaphisek close to the junction with Tiam Ruammitr Road, in Huai Khwang.
The Cultural Centre was built with money from Japan and opened in October 1987 as part of the celebrations for King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s 60th birthday. It consists of two auditoriums and one outdoor stage and is used for various live performances all year round. The Main Hall is a 2,000-seat auditorium used for stage presentations, concerts and conferences. There is also the Small Hall, which is a 500-seat multi-purpose auditorium. The Social Education and Exhibition Building accommodates a cultural library and the Thai Life Permanent Exhibition.
Although yet to happen, the Cultural Centre station is designed to be an
interchange providing future connection with the Orange Line, which will run from
Bang Kapi to Bang Bamru.
Sadly, on 17 January 2005, just months after the MRT network first opened to the public, nearly 140 passengers were injured when an empty three-car subway train crashed into another train filled with passengers at the Thailand Cultural Centre station. Thankfully no one was killed but it did lead to the shutdown of the MRT for two weeks.