Maeklong market railway, Thailand – The train that goes through a market

One of the more interesting train journeys I’ve had is riding through the Maeklong market railway in Thailand.

Train passing through market - Maeklong Thailand

Even if you’ve never heard of the town, you’ve probably seen a youtube video of a train going through a tightly packed market, where market stalls are set up on the rails. The train barely fits through the market, and once the train passes through the market stalls occupy the railway line almost immediately.

I took a day trip from Bangkok out to Maeklong, and sure enough this crazy market wasn’t just a figment of my youtube imagination, it really exists.

I always like walking around markets in Thailand, so to have one with its own railway was an added bonus.

Thai markets are like English TV cooking shows. I never cook, but I love watching those shows. It’s the same with the markets. I’m never going to buy and cook any of this stuff, but I love looking at the piles of sea creatures I hitherto didn’t know exist, and piles of neatly stacked vegetables that I rarely eat.

Train passing over food - Maeklong Thailand

This train has become famous around the world so there were many people in the market taking photos. The market operators seemed to be used to visitors and pointed out a few spots that were best for taking pictures.

Market - Maeklong Thailand

More videos at youtube.com/nomadicnotestv

How To Get To Maeklong

Maeklong is under 70km from Bangkok, but getting the train there will make it feel longer. The journey involves two train trips, punctuated by a ferry ride.

From Bangkok the train departs from Wong Wian Yai. This station is near the King Taksin Statue on the non-touristic side of the river in Thonburi. The nearest BTS Station is Wangwan Yai, which is about 20 minutes walk.

The station itself only has one track that runs along the side of a small street, so it is not an obvious station to find. From here you get the train to the end of the line at Mahachai.

This train takes about an hour. At Mahachai, exit left of the train, then turn right into the market street. It’s a fishing port so you will see seafood everywhere. Walk to the end of the street and on your left you will see the river and the ferry terminal.

You now catch the ferry across the river to Ban Laem. At Ban Laem walk through the market and at the street entrance, turn right. Keeping walking down this street for about 10 minutes and you will get to the station. Once again it is a one track station, so the station is not that obvious. This is the train that will take you to Maeklong.

This train also takes 1 hour, and the trip through the market is right at the end, just before the station. It takes about 2 minutes to get through the market. You should start seeing the outer urban area of Maeklong at about 55 minutes, so that would be the time to get ready if you are going to take photos.

I also noticed that a tour group got on the train at the station before Maeklong. They would have been part of a bus tour going somewhere else, and it would certainly be a less time consuming way to do the trip. I haven’t seen this advertised anywhere though.

Planning Your Trip

There are only 4 trains a day to Maeklong, so you really need to plan your day here. This is the timetable from Ban Laem to Maeklong.

Ban Laem to Maeklong Timetable
From Ban Laem and from Maeklong

If you get the 13.30 train to Maeklong, then you won’t see the train going through the market as you will be back on it as the last train to Bangkok.

The best timing is the following schedule:

8.40 Dep Bangkok Wong Wian Yai
9.30 Arr Mahachai

—Ferry River Crossing—-

10.10 Dep Ban Laem
11.10 Arr Maeklong

At Maeklong the station is at the end of the market. You now have 20 minutes to walk through the market and find a good spot to watch the train come through.

11.30 Train departs Maeklong and goes through the market.

You now have 3 hours in Maeklong until the next train arrives. Seafood is a specialty here, so you could look for a nice seafood lunch. That will take up about 41 minutes. After that there’s not alot else to do in Maeklong, but hey, you are an intrepid traveller, I’m sure you will make your own adventures.

2.30 Train goes through market again, arrives at Maeklong Station.

3.30 Train leaves Maeklong. Last train to Bangkok. Make sure you’re on it.

This schedule will allow you to see the train going in and out of the station, while you are in the market. If you are a professional photographer – or a train spotter – you could get the 7.30 train from Ban Laem, which would give you another two times to see the market run. That would mean a really early start from Bangkok, which is above and beyond the call of duty really.

As you will see from the videos, I was able to film from beside the drivers window when going through the market. The driver and conductor were quite accommodating to passengers who were riding just to see the market. By the way, there were just as many Thai tourists taking photos on the train as there were western tourists, so you wont feel like a total dork.

The train back will get you back to bangkok at around 6pm, making it a full day out day trip.





Comments

  1. interesting – i took tihs train from bkk to the 2nd station after crossing the ferry (was too late in the day to continue) … Actually thought the scenes i’ve always seen of the market on the tracks were at the bkk end. Guess i’ve gotta do the whole trip some time. Didn’t see a single tourist the day I went.

  2. And none of that fruit and veg got sqaushed by the train. Amazing.

  3. chinfei says:

    do you know how to take bus from bangkok to maeklong? thanks

  4. Hi James, great article and awesome photos of this unique train-side market. I am going to spend a bit more time reading through your adventures. I have never been to Asia so I may try to get your input at some point.

    All the best,

    Susanne
    http://www.travelandtransitions.com

  5. Hi James,

    As I look at the picture and as I read the post,.I just cant really image that there’s a market like this, very unbelievable but really cool, a quite scary for the vendors and buyers because of the huge train passing :)

    thanks

    Nathasha

  6. Hi
    Thanks for this information…. I was looking for that info for long time…
    Very helpful … I will be going during Feb.2011

  7. Do you know about how much it costs to get there by train?

  8. I’ve shopped there. eaten there, had a few drinks with the locals and even slept there. It’s a very surreal “other worldly” kind of place where most everybody knows everybody; they all get along and it’s actually fun for a short period of time. I don’t know if I could do it for a living…but people do what they have to do and Thai’s are famous for making the best of things.

  9. @I.Stops – It was about 20-30 Baht for each segment (less than $1)

    @Doug – sounds like a great experience.

  10. Just went to the market yesterday, using your directions. A few changes/clarifications:

    Train from Wongwian Yai leaves at 8.35am now. The trip from the top of Sukhumvit on the Skytrain and walking to the station took a full hour.

    Getting off in Mahachai, if you (erm) misinterpret the walking directions above, you wind up on a secondary ferry that drops you in a totally wrong place. Or perhaps they’ve changed the ferry situation? At any rate, when you get to Mahachai, walk to the front of the train, then head left to get out of the little station. Then turn right in the main street there and walk up the road to a T-intersection. Turn left, and the ferry terminal is there, in a mod little half-circle building with a tower sticking out of the top, with a sailboat model on top of that.

    Get on that ferry, and it crosses the river and drops you exactly at the Ban Laen station–you’ll see a train in the station. This one’s defunct, and not the one you’ll actually be getting on, so probably no need to panic and go running across the gangplanks.

    The ferry was… 4 baht? But charged only on the return trip. A ridiculous bargain day out, especially considering we got plied with free beer when we stumbled across a karaoke party in the market.

    Thanks for all the instrux and helpful timetable!

    • Hi Zora,

      I’m heading across from Australia just to do this train trip! It looks and sounds fantastic!! Any other tips you can give me about the stations/times required/people ect? We’ll be staying at the river end of Silom Road (a good area??).

      Thanks, John.

  11. @Zora – thanks for the update! I had wondered if the train times ever change. Painting a timetime on a board seems so permanent.

  12. That’s wild! Imagine being a vendor and setting up shop there, kind of a departure from the shops you’d see in other destinations.

  13. Hi,
    Do you mean that the train will arrive at Maeklong station at 230pm and waited for an hr before depart for Bangkok?
    Or the train will arrive at 230pm and 330pm?
    Thanks !

  14. OH WOW – you guys have inspired me to do this. I was thinking it was too hard…but not after reading your comments. We’re heading to Thailand for our honeymoon in October – this will be my second visit and am so glad hubby to be is good with directions…. :)

  15. Miyaki010101 says:

    if i take the earliest train from Bangkok which is 7.30am, is it possible for us to take 11.30am train back to Bangkok? Is it enough time?

  16. tan wenlin says:

    im contemplating making a trip there with my friend at the end of the year but from your post it seems like it’s a half day (or longer) trip and we have limited time. do you have any recommendations on the best time to go and the most efficient way of reaching there? 

    thanks in advance!

    • Hi Tan,

      the most efficient way to do it would be to drive to Maeklong and get there before the 11.10 arrives. stay for 20 minutes and watch the 11.30 train depart then you are good to go. So either hire a car or hire a driver for the trip in Bangkok. 

  17. tan wenlin says:

    im contemplating making a trip there with my friend at the end of the year but from your post it seems like it’s a half day (or longer) trip and we have limited time. do you have any recommendations on the best time to go and the most efficient way of reaching there? 

    thanks in advance!

    • Hi Tan,

      the most efficient way to do it would be to drive to Maeklong and get there before the 11.10 arrives. stay for 20 minutes and watch the 11.30 train depart then you are good to go. So either hire a car or hire a driver for the trip in Bangkok. 

  18. I was thinking about Thailand but that will probably have to wait since I heard there was bombings recently. I was wondering how the food that is closest to the edge doesn’t get ruined?!?!

  19. Hello!
    Is it possible to reach the market with a taxior a bus from Bangkok?Thank you 
    yelzam

  20. yes, it is possible! I was at the Maeklong Market 2 weeks ago waiting for the 2:30pm train to pass through Train was 15 minute late. Once the train is about to run through the market, a short siren sounded and the railroad crossing bars dropped to prevent cars and pedestrians from going through. By this time, vendors’ umbrellas and canopies were folded and a clear view of the railroad track became visible. A couple of police officers were on hand to make sure that excited tourists with their cameras were not run over by the train while taking pictures. I was one among the crowd videoing and did feel the police officer’s hand nudging me a few times just to warn me not to get too close while the train was passing through. From my video, I could see that there were more local tourists than foreigners visiting the market probably it is quite far away.

    I met a couple of local Thais visiting the Amphawa floating market that morning. After befriended them and told them about the Maeklong market, they were curious and wanted to see the place for themselves. So they drove to the Maeklong Market Station which is a short distance away by car. We were told that there is a bus that goes from Amphawa to Maeklong Market for less than 10 bahts. Because I went to Amphawa floating market on a metered taxi that cost me 600 BHts, these 2 good Samaritans taught me how to get back to Bangkok by public van that cost me only 70 Bht. They drove me to a very small garage close by to pick up the ride to Bangkok. The van does run on a schedule and once they fill up the seats, off it goes. The ride was less than an hour and it terminated at Victory Monument terminal where i saw many vans in the parking lot. This must be their bus/van interchange. From there I took the sky train back to my hotel. If there is a van going back to Bangkok, there must be one going to Maeklong Market from Victory Monument. Hope this helps!

  21. Do you know when they open the market? I want to be there when with first train and I don’t know if it’s not too early to see a market…

  22. This was my favorite day in Thailand! Now I’m reading about other people’s experiences. Looks like the train times may have changed from when you were there!

  23. Hi JG / James,

    Thanks for the tip.
    I’m planning to hit Maeklong market first by hoping to see the train passing through at 11:30am, and will proceed from there to Amphawa Floating Market by TukTuk (maybe?)
    I’m planning to miss the last train back to Bangkok at 3:30 and take the public mini van instead, so that I don’t have to rush when visiting Amphawa.
    Now my question is as for the mini van back to Bangkok from Amphawa, any idea how frequent it is and when is the last one to head back to Bangkok?

    Also I was told that the Amphawa floating market opens everyday, but some internet site said only available on Fri, Sat, and Sun afternoon?

  24. Best to take a Mini Van from Victory Monument to Maeklong Market, get off in front of the Police check post and ask for directions to the Market. Cost 70 Bahts one way, travel time 1 hour, you can watch the Train come and go as you please the last train leaves Maeklong at 15:30 you can get on that train and return to Bangkok or go back and take the Mini van, or you can continue on to Amphawa Floating Market, 20 Bahts and 10 minutes away!

    Njoy

  25. Great article, great pictures, great video! Thanks a lot for the detail plan how to get there. I will follow your describtion in the middle of March and hope I don’t get under the train while shopping vegetables.

    Greetings from Sumatra, Indonesia
    Catha

  26. Hi Guys/gals,

    I recently (Last week) did the trek out to Maeklong Market on the train. Just thought I’d update you on some minor things to consider here. If everyone decided to take the mini van there, and back, it would kinda defeat the purpose of having this/these train/s at all.

    We took the 0835 service to mahachai, crossed the river (which is an eye opening experience in its self!) then just to make things easier for people here, once you get off the ferry, walk down the path/entrance until you arrive at the street and turn right. follow that all the way until you get to Ban Lhaem station (it looks like something out of the 1950s!) Buy a ticket for 100 bhat and get on the train to Maeklong. The Thai conductor let us get right up the very front (next to the driver) of the train as it arrived at Maekhlong, which was well worth it. I have a cool go pro video of arriving. Watched it depart from the Market, before wandering around and grabbing some soup for lunch. We wandered around and found the minibus departure area that is on the right hand side, a block behind (as arriving into the station). The end of Si Champa. Took us back to Victory monument by 1430.

    Great Day out!
    Adski

  27. Hi
    I decided to take a hired personal private van to Maeklong train Market on a Friday and what time I should start my journey from Sukhumvit Soi 11 to catch the 1130 train passing the mkt.
    Can u recommend any good seafood restaurant for lunch at Maeklong.After lunch proceed to Amphawa Floating mkt.

    Khop Khun Khrup
    James Clark

  28. This is a truly phenomenal train!

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