Have you see pictures or videos of that train which goes through a Thailand’s Maeklong market? As the trains pass through, the market stands are packed up and then re -opened. I have been determined to visit the market for some time. Now I have done it!
Location and Orientation
The market is a genuine working market located in Mae Klong which is just 70km (40 miles) from Bangkok. The town has a very relaxed feel.
There are just four trains a day through the market in each direction (eight trips in total) so you need to time it right to see a train.
- From Mae Klong departure: 620am, 9am, 1130am, 330pm
- To Maeklong arrival: 830am, 1110am, 230pm, 540pm
Get there by 620am and you could see the train go through the market eight times! You would really have to be fanatical about this!
Getting There and Getting Around
There are five options:
- Take a tour that includes the market. They start at around 1000 baht and last about six hours.
- Hire a car and driver. In theory, you could go down and watch the 1110am arrival and the 1130 departure, have an early lunch and head back to Bangkok. Do not cut to too fine or the infamous Bangkok, travel can cause some havoc. If you had a driver it would be possible to combine it with the Amphawa floating market on a Saturday or Sunday. Plan on 90 minutes travel time each way and a cost of around 5000 bhat
- Hire a taxi or Grab for around 1000 baht
- Take the mini van service between Victory Monument in Bangkok and Maeklong which costs 70 baht ($USD2) each way. Expect a two and a half hour journey each way
- Take the train the whole way from Bangkok which will cost you 24 baht and take about
My recommendation would be to take the train in at least one direction so you can experience riding through the market. It is also a fascinating opportunity to experience Thai life first hand and see some countryside up close.
I took the train both ways.
To get there on the train from Bangkok is not simple but it is pretty straightforward. You need to get the timing right if you want to get there, see the markets, watch the trains pass through and get back to Bangkok that same day. The railway line from Bangkok’s Wongwian Yai to Maeklong is split into two sections as there is no bridge in the middle so you have to take a small (and very cheap) ferry! It was originally built in 1904 by a private company to transport fish to the markets in Bangkok. It was nationalised and became part of the State Railways of Thailand but it is not connected to any other train line on the network!
I will deal with each of the three parts of the journey in turn.
- Bangkok Wong Wian Yai station to Maha Chai (you will also see this written as Maha Chai) by train
- Maha Chai to Ban Laem on a small ferry
- Ban Laem to Maeklong by train
You cannot buy a through ticket. Each section must be bought separately on the day of travel. I found the conductor will sell you the ticket on board. Nor can you use your tickets issued by either of the Bangkok Transit companies (BTS or MRT).
1. Bangkok Wong Wian Yai วงเวียนใหญ่) station to Maha Chai
Wong Wian Yai is a busy residential area on the west bank Thonburi side of Bnagkok where few tourists venture. As a result, it has few tourist attractions but does give one a glimpse of the authentic urban Thai lifestyle.
I took the BTS Skytrain across the river to Wongwan Yai from Bangkoks downtown known as Siam. The Wongwian Yai BTS Skytrain station and the railway station despite sharing the same name, are NOT next to each other but a walk or taxi ride away. You could take a taxi the whole way but I do not trust Bangkok traffic.
Following signposted local short cuts down some alleys, the railway station is less than ten minutes walk. Taking the main roads will make the walk closer to 20 minutes.
The station itself is a little hidden. It has only one track and the station buildings are built into what looks like a shopping strip.
I was so paranoid about being late, that I ended up having a little extra time to explore the area including the King Taksin Statue located in a roundabout near the railway station. The traffic roundabout it is located in, was built when the Memorial Bridge (Phra Phutta Yodfa Bridge) opened in 1932.
The fare for this section is 10 Baht (29 US cents) in a third class carriage or 25 baht if it is an air conditioned Second Class carriage. They have not run the airconditioned cars for some time so expect open air.
2. Ferry ride from Maha Chai to Ban Laem
This is the trickiest part of the journey as you may not have a lot of time to make the connection especially if the first train is late. When you arrive at Maha Chai, walk to the front of the train. Turn left to leave the station and you will reach a main street with lots of market stalls.
Turn right at the main street and walk along the road which ends at a T-intersection. Left at that street and you will see the ferry terminal. It is a small little half-circle building with a tower topped with a model of a sailing boat. There is only one service from here. Ask if you are unsure. The ferry costs just four Baht (12 US cents). As you can see, people ride their bikes onto the ferry.
3.Train ride from Ban Laem to Mae Klong
Once across the river at Ban Laem walk through the shops until you get to the street. Turn right and walk along the road past a school to the station. At this point, I was not alone as a small group of tourists were all headed to the same destination. The station is across a field on a path that can get wet in the rainy season. It is a small rural one track station. This is the train that will take you to Mae Klong. The fare to Mae Klong is ten baht (US 29 cents).
The atmosphere in the carriage began to build in intensity, the closer we got to Mae Klong. The train slowed right down to a crawl just outside the city, and emitted several loud blasts of its horn. As a passenger, it felt like we were royalty as people lined up to wave at us! It is an amazing experience riding the train into the market and I would encourage people to try it. If you have kids, they will undoubtedly love this as much as the kids and adults) in my carriage did.
Exploring Mae Klong There is not a lot to see and do in Mae Klong outside the market. What I would recommend is.:
- Watch at least one train in and one train out
- Explore the market
- Enjoy a seafood lunch – you are pretty guaranteed to get a cheap fresh seafood meal. There are some tourist-oriented food stalls in the station with menus in English. The ones further away are a little cheaper and menus are less likely to be in English. My rule of thumb is follow the locals.
- Partake in a massage at one of the (legitimate) massage centres. Cost seemed to be a little cheaper than Bangkok
If you are looking for lavatories, there are some in the train station whcih will cost you a few cents to use.