Have you heard about the marketplace that has a railway track running across it? There is one market like this in the proximity of Bangkok. The first time we’ve read about this place, we immediately added it to our bucket list and the number one must-see place during our Thailand trip.
How to get to Maeklong?
The marketplace gained popularity throughout the years, even tour groups visit it. Obviously, that is the most pricey, but the fastest way. As an individual traveler, you can take a minibus from Victory Monument station (Bangkok). It is cheap and straightforward (1 hour driving time), but you miss out the train journey. For us, it was not a question to approach it by train(s). This option is highly recommended to all train fans, visitors who have a whole day for the adventure, or would like to see more of the countryside and less touristy places of Thailand.
Traveling by trains and ferry
First of all, you have to get to the Wong Wian Yai station in Bangkok. The train ride is long as the trains are slow, and we weren’t able to find out exact timetables online, so we decided to get to the station as early as possible.
The train station was lively already around 8 am when we arrived there. People were on their way to work or just selling their products and food near the tracks. At the station, we bought our huge paper tickets and boarded the correct train to Mahachai railway station. The first challenge is done.
The ticket said Ban Leam as end stop, the time for arrival showed 9:28 (and 8:35 as departure). The train was surprisingly clean and nice. We expected something way worse. After departure, the conductor came and checked our tickets. On the way, we have seen temples, towns, markets and farmlands as well.
At Mahachai the railway line ends and you need to take the ferry for few bahts across the river to Ban Leam where you can continue your way. Ban Leam was very empty. Probably most of the people were at work at the nearby harbor or in Bangkok.
First, we headed to the railway station to figure out the next connection. We had a lot of time to spend there, as there are only 3 trains a day and the next one was only at 12:05. We walked around the town, visited the market, bought some food that was extremely cheap and they didn’t even try to overcharge us, unlike in Bangkok…
Finally, the departure time came and we were on the way to Maeklong! The view from the train was similar as earlier. One more hour and we arrived at THE MARKET!
The Train Market
From the train, we have only seen that the sellers’ stalls are very close to the train as we pass through. We quickly got off the train and checked when will it go back to make sure we don’t miss any photo opportunity. Later, we also waited for the next (the day’s third and last) train’s arrival, to have the full experience. In case you visit the market yourself, in between the trains you should walk along the alleys and explore the market. You’ll find a lot of yummy and a lot of unknown food.
So how does it work in reality? Imagine a marketplace. A lively one. When the train is approaching, the sellers slowly, without any rush (because the train is slow as we already mentioned) close their sun blocks and move their stalls backwards on the little rails. I had an imagination that it will be chaotic, but it is a routine task. They have to move their stalls about a meter backwards only, on both sides of the alley that has the railway tracks in the middle. After the train has passed, the sellers move everything back to original place and continue their day as nothing has happened. It is not a big deal as there are only few train pairs a day and I’m sure they got well used to doing it every day. I think their biggest concern is to warn tourists if they are too close to the tracks or the train.
Do you also wonder why the market is placed on the railway tracks? I did for a long time, but after the visit it was obvious. It saves a lot of space by utilizing the railway tracks when the trains are not running… which is basically the whole day except few minutes.
After we have seen the last train, decided to look for the minibuses back to Bangkok. It was a straight, one hour journey. I felt like a kid after the market. Finally, a big bucket list item was crossed out from my list!