Maeklong Train Market – The World’s Most Dangerous Market

It looked like a rather ordinary Thai market at Maeklong (ตลาดแม่กลอง).

Tropical fruits and vegetables were in big brightly colored piles, varieties of chili pastes and herbs were abounding, Thai dishes were freshly prepared, the smell of fish and raw pork permeated, the usual crowds were moseying around, and someone’s country music wrapped up the atmosphere.

And then it happened, there was the sound of a horn, people began to scramble……..

Watch the video!

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Maeklong Train Market

A few alarm clocks went off, followed by a distant fog horn and soon market dwellers turned on their alerted faces.  Five minutes later, vendors were efficiently scrambling to roll-back or lower their produce and undo their awnings.  The train peeked its nose around the curve and proceeded to chug straight into the market, brushing stalls and vegetables with inches to spare.

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Unloading Vegetables

As the last train car rolled through, the market unfolded in a magical display, like a wave around a packed sports stadium.  Within seconds the market was thriving once again and you wouldn’t have even known that anything extraordinary had happened.

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Produce on the Side of the Track

From what I saw, there are two types of vendors: those that sell their produce on the ground directly on the track itself, and those who sell their products on wheeled tables.  When the train comes through, the produce on the ground can just be left in place safely.  The wheeled tables must be pushed back to avoid train collision.

Watch the video to see the train go through the market!

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Walking Along the Railroad Track

Do accidents happen? Yes they do.  It’s not uncommon for a food stand or table to be dragged away by the dangerous train market and unfortunately the day before we visited someone had lost their life to an unforgiving train.

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Vegetables Resting Low

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Piles of Beautiful Eggplant

The way the market hovers over the railroad tracks seems almost absurd; the active rail track is the vein of the Maeklong Market ตลาดแม่กลอง.

Please check out the video if you haven’t already watched it!

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Train to Maeklong Market

How to Get to Maeklong Train Market, Thailand:

(การเดินทางจากกรุงเทพไปตลาดแม่กลอง)

Visiting the Maeklong Train Market from Bangkok takes an entire day, but is well worth it.  It’s a bit important to be on a schedule to optimize seeing the train go through the market and getting back and forth to the market from Bangkok. Here is the itinerary that I took:

Note: Takes about 2.5 hours by train in each direction

8:35 am: Take the train from Wang Wian Yai train station in Bangkok to Maha Chai station

9:28 am: Arrive at Maha Chai and walk to the ferry – Exit the train station to your left, make a right down the road, walk about 100 meters, make another left to the ferry (5 Baht)

Take the Ferry across the river to Ban Laem train station

10:10 am: Take the train from Ban Laem to Maeklong train station

11:10 am: Arrive at the the Maeklong Station and market

As soon as you get off the train walk directly back down the railroad tracks and into the market.  You have about 20 minutes to walk into the market and wait for the train to depart through the market.  When the train honks and vendors commotion, get out of the way and watch the train roll through the market.  There is now about 3 hours to walk around and eat.

2:30 pm: The train returns to Maeklong Market station, get to the railroad a little early to find a good place to stand where you won’t get hit or be in the way of anyone

3:30 pm: Take the train from Maeklong back to Ban Laem

4:30 pm: Arrive back at Ban Laem and immediately take the ferry accross river and back to Maha Chai station

5:30 pm: Take the train back from Maha Chai to Wang Wian Yai station in Bangkok

6:30 pm: Arrive to Wang Wian Yai, Bangkok

The train times are pretty accurate but keep some spare time on either side for safe measure.

Have an awesome time visiting Thailand’s Maeklong Market – The most dangerous market in the world?

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Comments

  1. Jan Ross says

    Well, that’s just….CRAZY! Can’t they find another place for the market? Can you imagine something like that in the United States? Never happen!

    • Linda Foster says

      my neighbor just told me about this market. the story is that the market has been in this location for many generations. When told they had to vacate as a train track was going to be put through the middle of it they refused to move and leave the spot their families had sold at for so long. so the train was put there anyway and this is how they cope with it. Very strong, not stupid people! Sad tho that their government doesn’t care about them! And here in the U.S. we complain about not having rights!! We’ve nothing like this to cope with!

      • says

        Thanks for sharing this bit of information Linda. Definitely and example that proves people fighting for their rights – and remaining strong in the process.

  2. says

    Unbelievable. If I were in that part of the world, I wouldn’t want to miss the train market.Weird and wonderful things lurk everywhere.

  3. Marina K. Villatoro says

    I’ve heard of this market. one of my readers from my blog sent me info on it. I live in Central America, and we have markets, I guess they were showing me that this one takes the cake for craziness, scariness and everything else.

    Now, I really want to get to see it!

    • says

      It’s just a normal market – like many places – but with a unique and hazardous twist! It was definitely pretty cool and there are some wonderful restaurants around it!

  4. says

    I’ve heard about this market, but never knew the name, or exactly which South-east Asian country is was in. I’m torn: On the one hand, I want to experience it. On the other, I want it shut down. Can’t believe it’s legal.

    • says

      It is a very unique market and fascinating to visit, but locals did tell me that accidents are common – making it not the safest market. So there are definitely 2 sides to the market.

  5. paulo says

    That is so amazing! I can’t believe how close to the tracks they place things. I’m trying to imagine the same thing along a New York subway line.

    • says

      That would be really crazy if something like this could happen at the NY subway! A few of the market vendors mentioned that it’s not uncommon for stuff to get dragged along by the train…

    • says

      Thanks so much Jamie!
      Yah, I’m not sure of all the history about why the market is right on the train tracks, but indeed it doesn’t seem like the most logical of places for a market. Trying to experiment a little more with video!

  6. ayngelina says

    There are a couple of places like that in South America and I always wonder why hey have the market on the tracks.

  7. Cathy Sweeney says

    This is super interesting, but why is the market on the tracks in the first place? Well-done video, Mark!

  8. Rakkhuntaofah says

    Haha~~It’s more funny&excite than dangerous 4 me.Local ppl knows train timeline and spend the day like everyday life.But unbelievable for other locals and tourists.ขอบคุณค่ะ

    • says

      Thank you so much for the comment Rakkhuntaofah! You are right, all the locals had alarm clocks and knew exactly when the train was going to come – but their stuff was still so close to the train!

  9. says

    This is fascinating!!..I LOVE the video you took of the Maeklong Market. This shows how people can use every inch of land even if it is so close to the Maeklong train to sell their goods. This would never pass in the states. Too many rules and regulations. It is a hazardous area for a market to be but it shows how people adapt to it as they make things work out. Nice to see you being able to travel and experience these wonderful places. It gives us a sense of appreciation of our own lives.

    • says

      Thanks so much for the comment Senafp,
      You are definitely right, all of the land around this area is used – even right along (on) the railroad. Though it is dangerous, the locals that call it home, are well aware of the dangers – just like there are daily living dangers everywhere we are. So though it seem ridiculous, it’s their home and market and like you said, they have adapted to it. Thanks again!

  10. says

    How bizarre! I lived in Thailand for a couple of years, but never made it to this market. You would think the market could be even a few meters away from the track. Sad to see how dangerous it is.

    • says

      Yah, yet nevertheless, to sell more things, people sell in the middle of the track! Despite it being a really cool place to visit, it’s still not that popular of an attraction – I think there might have been only a few other tourists there the time I went – and 1/2 of them were Thai tourists.

  11. says

    So ridiculous, it almost seems unreal! I don’t think any logical person would put a business on a working railroad. And its that idea that certainly adds mystique to their otherwise normal market. Kinda made me laugh a little. Great job on your video documentary, by the way – really digging it.

  12. Turkey's For Life says

    Wow. This is really interesting. Why on earth would they have a market along the rail tracks? There must be a story behind that. Sad that someone lost their life before you went. I wonder how many more people have?
    Julia

    • says

      Yah, it’s unfortunately that although everyone knows about the trains and when they come, there are still accidents. Let’s hope there aren’t too many accidents…

  13. John in France says

    That’s absolutely crazy – and the photos are just great! I experienced something similar in Darjeeling in the Himalayas.

  14. says

    It’s all part of what makes Asia such a quirky, fantastic place to be. Incidentally, the market was here before the Maeklong Railway. The market traders decided to stay anyway and they adapted well.

    • says

      Right about that, the market conversions from train to non-train were extremely efficient and fast, within seconds you wouldn’t have even known there was a train!

  15. says

    This is wild! Simply out of this world. I love Asia. It’s a place of no questions. Things are what they are, so might as well enjoy the scenery. I HAVE to see this for myself!

  16. says

    That’s really shocking and crazy. I belong to India and i have seen trains crossing though the slum huts but this one is really a new thing for me.
    The opening and closing of tents is really cool. The vendors have utilized maximum space that they can.

    • says

      Thanks for the comment Soan! I had seen a few markets and slums that were as close as possible to the train track, but I had never seen a market that went over the train track until visiting the Maeklong Train market. It was very interesting to see!

  17. Dulcie Tee says

    Thanks for sharing, looks like another fascinating place to visit, love the unique ways people adapt to live.

  18. pear says

    As a local people, I would like to clear the story up. The railway actually came first and the market came later. And, it was so crowded with people shopping so the merchants started to expand their area to the railway! And, they know precisely when the train will come and with the train station bell ringing, accident has been reported Never happened! =)

  19. ken soong says

    Hi Mark,
    I just done this train trip on 2nd Feb 2014 it quite an eye opening experience but they have new train schedule , Ban Laem start at 8.05 am , 12.05 noon and 16.40 pm and i take the noon train only have 45 minute to walk around before take the 14.30 pm train back but still quite an experience.

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