Maeklong Railway Market; Everything You Need to Know!
UPDATE NOVEMBER 2020. The Maeklong Railway Market. I know the one you mean, don’t worry. The one you’ve seen on Instagram, where the market vendors have to quickly draw up their stalls so the train can come through, right?! Yup. Pretty cool! I’ve lived in Bangkok for 7 years, on and off, and from my Bangkok Staycation to trips to Kanchanaburi, I had never made it there, until now.
Multiple times per day, the vendors have to quickly pull back their shutters and their goods, let the train pass, then instantly return their stall to full working order. It’s a big tourist attraction now, but it’s understandable why it’s pretty cool. Also, the market itself is great, so if the early start was a bit too much, grab a coffee and some fresh Thai food for a dollar or two before moving on.
Where is the Maeklong Railway Market?
The Maeklong train market is about a 2-hour drive west of Bangkok City Centre. Check out the google map i did below, it’s 78km (about 50 miles) from Terminal 21 Shopping Mall right in the heart of Bangkok.
How do you get to the Maeklong Railway Market?
There are a few ways to get from Bangkok to the Maeklong train market. First of all, it’s possible to do as a day trip from Bangkok. The best ways are:
- Rent a car and drive yourself (about $50 or so)
- Hire a taxi to take you there and back from Bangkok (about $100 or so)
- Book a tour to take you there, plus a few other things (like the monkey street etc, more on that below), and back again to your hotel in Bangkok. This is what I did, and what I’d recommend.
- If you’re staying overnight in Amphawa floating market, or Damnoen Saduak floating market, you can just take a taxi for 5-20 minutes, it’s not far at all.
What is the Maeklong Train Market?
The Maeklong Railway is a 1000km railway that runs from Bangkok through to Central Thailand, it’s over 100 years old. Instagram and Youtube made it famous under the ‘Umbrella pulldown market’, and since then the Maeklong section has been a hugely popular tourist destination. It’s also one of Thailand’s slowest tracks due to the fact that the drivers have to be super careful thanks to the proximity of the people and stalls to the train itself!
Maeklong Railway Market Train Times Schedule
Don’t worry, the trains come to Maeklong Station multiple times per day, not just once, so if (worst case scenario) you miss it, you can hang around and catch it again! The train I saw was the one arriving at 11.10am, and then again departing at 11.30, so you get double your money!
Can You Ride the Maeklong Train?!
Yes, you can. You need to get on the train at Ban Laem Station, and about 90 minutes later you’ll reach Mae Klong Station, which is where all the umbrellas will be pulled up and you’ll be in the midst of the train market! To get to Ban Laem Station though, either take a taxi for 45 minutes from Bangkok to there, or from Bangkok first hop on the 6.45 am (that’s the first one) from Wongwian Yai Station, on the Maeklong Line, but get off at Mahachai Station. Quick ferry over the river to Tha Chalom Pier and then you’re at Ban Laem Station. Get on the next train to Mae Klong. You can then get off at that station, and wait for the next train to depart so you see both perspectives.
Tips for the Maeklong Railway Market
- Booking a tour means you won’t miss the train coming or going from MaeKlong Train Station. You can book it super cheap ($30ish) or so HERE.
- It’s better to arrive a little early to get a good spot, sometimes there are quite a few tourists!
- Walk a little up the tracks where there are less people
- When the train comes, BE CAREFUL! Remember this is a functioning train and a functioning market, it’s not there for us tourists
- Have someone’s camera ready for pics, and someone else’s ready for video – you’ll want both!
Day Trip to the Maeklong Railway Market Tour; My Experience
I booked a tour with the guys from Get Your Guide. Actually, I only really wanted to see the Mae Klong Railway Market but I saw it was the same price to include other activities, so I thought I might as well do that too. TOP-TOP & EDIT NOVEMBER 2020: They now have a better, AND CHEAPER tour to Maeklong Railway (1000THB NOW).
So we organised our pick-up time (8am), and the location directly through the site. He spoke fluent English, I gave him my phone number and then he asked me if I’d like to leave one hour early and go and see the train market before we started the ‘official’ tour, at no extra cost. Done. We left Bangkok around 7am, and got here around 8.20am. Tommy, our guide, knew the train times, so we were there just in time to see the train leave the station, quite the sight indeed. Also, when the train passes, be sure to breathe in – it’s a tight squeeze!
First stop, KHAO NGU:
After nearly getting killed by the train (!), we were off to a little-known escape from Bangkok called Khao Ngu. If you speak any time, you’ll know that means ‘Snake Park’, eeeek. But don’t worry, chances of seeing any snakes are very slim. Bangkok is my favourite big city in the world, but to have this gorgeous, Thai-style park just over an hour away was an awesome surprise. It’s quite small, but as you can see from the pics below, it’s really beautiful. Worth an hour or 2 of anyone’s time. They have some small street vendors selling food etc, and you can take boats on the water too if you have the time. This was a great surprise to be honest, I had never even heard of it. Shame on me!
Next stop, COCONUT FARM:
It was now around 10.30am or so, and we were off to a Coconut Farm. Here we’d learn all the ways coconuts are used in local economies, from coconut milk, to skin products, to coconut sugar. It’s really interesting, and for people quite new to Thailand, you get to visit a traditional house on stilts.
One thing I would say though, speak with Tommy (or your guide) and ask to go to a farm with no animals kept in a cage, there were 2 monkeys in cages here which I think is awful :'(
3rd stop, MONKEY STREET:
Woooooowzer! On the way back from either Khao Ngu or the Coconut Farm, your guide will stop to see ‘a few monkeys’. Now I live in Thailand, so I was expecting some tourist rubbish with a couple of monkeys chasing us. NOPE.
We drove down a random street into a jungle-esque setting, and we were surrounded by Monkeys, hundreds and hundreds of the things, everywhere. You have a chance to buy some bananas for the little guys, just be ready to be engulfed by the monkeys within 1 minute of arriving. They’re actually pretty tame, but that doesn’t mean they don’t hop all over you searching for more bananas once you run out!
4th stop, NOODLE LUNCH:
Finally, it’s lunchtime. Ratchaburi has some famous local noodle stops, and your guide may insist on taking you to ‘real’ foodie spots rather than tourist places. This local noodle eatery had great veggie options (and meat) and the food was included in the price.
Finally, POTTERY TOUR:
Finally comes the main draw for the tour. Ratchaburi province is super famous for its pottery traditions, and this was our chance to delve a little deeper into their traditions. The whole tour in the pottery factory can take anything from 1 to 2 hours, including a short video, a walking tour, and then 2 opportunities for arts and crafts (this would be great if you had kids with you, painting, making the pots etc).
Considering I’m possibly the least artistic person Thailand has ever seen, I’ll show you photos of Josh and Jaa hard at work instead! After you finish up, you give the factory your address etc and they send your creation to your home address, or to the rubbish bin in my case.
Final Thoughts on The MaeKlong Railway Market Tour
We left my condo at 7am, and we were back around 4pm (should have been around 2.30/3pm but that Bangkok traffic on a Friday afternoon is a killer). If you’ve experienced Bangkok, and most of the things on offer there, then a tour to Ratchaburi is a great option. Not only do you get to escape the Bangkok chaos, but you get to explore regional cultures, walk around some beautiful parks, eat legit local food and even end up with a home-made ornament for your home. Highlight recommended. For seeing the Maeklong train market, I’d say the easiest way is to book a day trip from Bangkok, it’s only an hour and a half away, and driving in Bangkok just isn’t fun. Enjoy!
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