Name: Commonly known as Maeklong Market. Locally known as “Talat Rom Hup” which is loosely translated as “folding umbrella market.”
Location: 70 Km South West of Bangkok in Samut Songkram. It is a one hour drive and can be easily combined with a trip to Amphawa floating market and/or Damnoen Saduak floating market. But a cheaper and more interesting way to get there is by train, see the ‘how to get there’ section at the bottom of this post.
Price: Free entry. Just your transportation and what you buy!
Telephone: Wong Wian railway Station (02 465 2017)
A thrilling and terrifying experience all at the same time. If you take the train to the market, although extremely time consuming, you will experience a feel for real Thailand and see scenery you won’t have experienced before. We spent the whole journey starring through the window with mouths open and smiles on our faces. Be prepared for a lot of waiting around as train times are subject to delays and change. However, with all the colourful sights and sounds around you, you won’t be bored.
The market itself doesn’t sell many things you would probably want to buy, but this adds to its charm. The market is set up for locals with meat, vegetables, fruits and seafood rather than tourist tat and hassling vendors. One local speciality appears to be deep fried frog. When the vendors umbrella roofs are up, you wouldn’t ever suspect that a train could pass through the market. The only give away is the tracks on the ground.
Please be aware when taking photos of the train passing through, that it doesn’t stop and approaches at speed. Ensure you stand in an area where you have somewhere to move. We experienced fear as there were people stood at the side of the track and it was difficult to move to safety! As you can see from the video, vendors are quick to get back to work selling their goods and waste no time pulling the umbrellas up quickly over the train tracks again.
How to get there by train: From anywhere in Bangkok, Catch a BTS to Wong Wian Yai, then proceed by taxi or motorbike to Wong Wian Yai railway station, it is a very short ride. The railway station is tricky to find as it cleverly disguised as a market and most people wouldn’t even realise it was there. We have now been twice and both times taxi drivers have found it easily, whereas we have struggled! Once there, you need to purchase a ticket to Samut Sakhon otherwise known as Mahachai (this is not the final destination of the market on the train tracks). The journey will cost you 10 baht and will take aprox. 1 hour. It is an extremely picturesque journey. Train times that allow the best connection onwards to the train market are: Leaving Wong Wian Yai 6.25 arr Mahachai 7.27, leaving Wong Wian Yai 10.40 arr Mahachai 11.39.
When you arrive at Mahachai you need to then get to Ban Laem Train Station. This is a short walk through the seafood and fresh market followed by a 5 baht boat trip across the river, with motorbikes and dogs, and then a short walk left from the pier. Locals seem to know where you are going straight away and are happy to point you in the right direction, with a smile.
From Ban Laem Train station you need to purchase tickets to Mae Khlong which will also cost 10 baht (this is the final destination). Train times are 8 am arr 9.45, depart 12.00 arr 13.45, depart 16.40 arr 18.20. This train takes 1 hour 45 minutes. Towards the end of the journey the train passes directly through the train market. You can see the umbrellas and stall vendors moving as you pass through. A fantastic photo opportunity…although my camera struggled in the darkness!
When you get off the train you then only have about 30 minutes before the train returns. Make your way into the market for a view of the train moving back through the market.
Times for trains passing through the market: 6.20, 9.45, 10.20, 13.45, 14, 30, 18.20 (train times can change, but vendors are extremely helpful and will let you know when the next train is due to arrive).
Should you miss the connection from Ban Laem Train station you can get a taxi directly to the market for 250 Baht. Although this is quicker and you avoid the wait, you won’t experience passing through the market on the train with the vendors and umbrellas packing away in front of you.