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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
How to Get to Maeklong Train Market, Thailand:
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.
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