The Maeklong Railway market has recently come to the public eye due to exposure on YouTube, which shows vendors and customers seemingly running for their lives as a train literally chugs through the market, apparently threatening mayhem to everything and everyone that is in the way.
It is a Thai market and has the unusual distinction of lying along and literally on a fairly busy railway line.
Eight times a day, seven days a week, a train passes through the market and venders have to quickly remove their stalls and wares – mostly fish, vegetables and other food items - to make way for the train! And, of course, shoppers have to be quick on the feet, too.
As soon as the train passes through, the venders set up their stalls and wares, and customers return and business resumes.
The market has mistakenly been said to be located in Bangkok.
It is actually located in the town of Maeklong, also known as Samut Songkran, which is located on the River Kwai, seventy or eighty kilometers west from Bangkok.
The railway, which is over a hundred years old – or at least in operation – runs through rural countryside, makes eighteen stops at rather ramshackle train “stations” between Maeklong and Bangkok, and is interrupted once by a river.
The trains travel at speeds of no more than 50 kilometers per hour and often as little as 20 kilometers per hour.
The trip can actually be a pleasant journey as long as one plans so that one does not get themselves stranded overnight somewhere one would rather not stay.
Ticket prices are well under fifty baht.
The Maeklong Railway, begins – or ends, depending on one’s perspective – in Bangkok’s Wong Wian Yai Station in Thonburi, very near the Wong Wian Yai traffic circle and about a 20 minute walk from the Wong Wian Yai BTS station.
The train station is said to be so insignificant that even most local residents are not aware of its existence.
From Wong Wian Yai, the railway winds its way through villages and farm land to the seaport town of Mahachai, also known as Samut Sakon.
The trip takes approximately an hour and passengers desiring to continue must disembark the train, catch a cheap ferry, and cross a large body of water to the smaller town of Ban Laem.
After docking at Ban Laem, passengers then walk about ten minutes to board another train, which will take them to Maeklong, the westernmost point on the line. The journey to Maeklong will also take about an hour.
Travelers to Maeklong need to plan somewhat carefully – although some people say that planning is useless - as there are only four trains daily to and from Maeklong.
Trains leaving Maeklong leave at 0620, 0930, 11:30, and 15:30, so the window of opportunity for making the return trip to Ban Laem is limited.
One needs to get an early start from Bangkok to be able to enjoy the somewhat limited sights available in Maeklong.
Actually, Mahachai offers more in the way of tourism activity as there several quite interesting Chinese temples there as well as a couple of very good seafood restaurants.