The Royal Thai Air Force Museum is an unseen gem hidden away from all of the major tourist sites. The museum is located in the Don Mueang district of Bangkok. A district that many foreign visitors never even explore. I was lucky enough to know about the museum because it is near Bang Khen district where my wife lives. We were looking for some places close by to visit during my stay in Bang Khen. Admission to the museum is completely free also. This will be a popular site for the guys, but that shouldn’t stop the ladies from checking it out also. Myself, I like history, so the museum was a great opportunity to learn more about my wife’s country.
The RTAF museum is near Don Mueang International Airport. This is an area where you will also see many Thai service members. The Department of the Air Force and Air Force Academy school are nearby. In the United States, I live by a military base so it felt just like something from back home. The site has planes both outside of the building and inside. A gift shop and food stands are in a separate, smaller building. Many service members started showing up to dine after we finished eating at lunch time. Two stands are present, although only one was open when we were eating. The gift shop has what you might expect from an air force museum. Almost everything was about either the RTAF or planes. Key chains, hats, stickers, t-shirts and the sort.
My wife and I ate upon arriving. Afterwards, we checked out the planes and jets outside. I would guess there are about 15 different planes outside. There are also hangars which add to the experience. I’m not an expert on plane types so I cannot really say what they all are. There is one large plane you can actually walk inside. My best guess is that it was used to transport paratroopers. I say this because my father was an airborne ranger here in the States and the plane looked exactly like what he used to jump out of during his time in the military.
One interesting thing that happened while we were here was an arrival by jeep. The jeep carried what must have been an important superior because the outside guard quickly stood up and ran over to salute her as she passed by. After seeing everything outside and due to it being hot, we moved to the inside of the museum. Thailand’s weather in April is extremely hot so the air conditioning that awaited us was amazing. This is a very comfortable museum temperature wise.
The museum has two main parts connected by a hallway. The half we did not go into looked like a hangar. We could see through the glass but only saw a few planes, therefore we opted for the other half of the building. Maybe important to note that we came in from the back of the museum instead of the front. Lots of jets are inside. Each one has a sign with a name and a description. Also found are several wall displays that have written the history of the Royal Thai Air Force. The displays use both Thai and English language. So if you are a foreigner checking out unseen places also, you will have no trouble understanding the stories at the museum.
There are also some period pieces on display. A fighter pilot suit stands in a glass case to look at. A ‘graveyard’ of engines also exists here. For some this may look like just a heap of junk, but we thought it was neat. These metal parts were actually used which is fun to imagine about. I really liked the small models. There are several throughout the museum. You will see miniature planes depicted in different scenes. Clouds were made with cotton and some planes were attached by stick to make the plane appear to be in the air flying.
There were some air force cadets visiting at the same time we were. They climbed into one of the cock pits and took photos. I cannot tell you if everyone is able to do so or if they were able to climb around because they were air force members. Regardless, it was an interesting place. One could spend quite a bit of time here if they want to read everything. For Americans, the part of history one will enjoy is reading about how we helped Thailand with the sale of planes. This was during the war with France. I thought it was interesting because it demonstrated the relationship between Thailand and the United States. As an American married to a Thai, this part really speaks to me.
Overall, I give it a huge thumbs up for unseen places. I enjoyed our time at the Royal Thai Air Force Museum. The museum displays lots of interesting history. There are many planes so the photo opportunities are excellent. You find relaxation here in the air conditioning. Best of all, tourists do not crowd this museum. Again, admission is absolutely free. One will only need money for food and gifts. The museum is a great spot to check out some of unseen Bangkok. I will also throw in a bonus here. A short distance up the street will land you at the Open Air Museum. It is completely outside in the open air. It includes more history and an amazing photo-op.