The Maeklong Railway Market is one of Thailand’s most unique experiences, promising travelers unforgettable memories. Known for its extraordinary setup that operates directly on the railway tracks, this bustling train market near Bangkok has become a must-visit destination for many visitors to the Southeast Asian country.
Before embarking on this fascinating journey, there are essential things you need to know to make the most of your visit.
From understanding the mesmerizing train passage to navigating through the lively stalls, this guide to visiting the exciting train market near Bangkok delves into the history and what to expect on a day trip to ensure you relish every moment at the enigmatic Maeklong Railway Market.
About the Maeklong Railway Market
Located in the Samut Songkhram province of Thailand, the Maeklong Railway Market has a fascinating history that dates back over a century. Established in the late 19th century, this unique market evolved alongside the construction of the Maeklong Railway in 1905, which connected Samut Songkhram to Bangkok.
What makes this market truly extraordinary is that it operates directly on the railway tracks. When the train approaches, vendors deftly retract their awnings and move their stalls to allow the train to pass through, only to resume their positions moments later.
This quirky practice has become a hallmark of the market, attracting curious visitors from around the world eager to witness the market in action.
Over the years, the Maeklong Railway Market, sometimes called the Mae Klong, has grown into a popular tourist attraction, blending historical significance with a lively shopping experience. In fact, along with the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market, the train market near Bangkok is one of the most popular day trips from the capital city.
Book a day trip to the Train Market and Floating Market
How to Get to Maeklong Train Market from Bangkok
The Maeklong Railway Market’s location in Samut Songkhram province, only a short distance from Bangkok, makes it easily accessible for a day trip. About 50 miles (80 km) from the capital city, a day trip to the train market and floating market is one of the best things to add to your Bangkok itinerary.
There are several ways to get to the popular train market from Bangkok.
Of course, a guided tour is the easiest and fastest way to get to Maeklong Railway Market. We took this group tour – which picked us up from our hotel and dropped us off at the MBK Center.
Our guide was friendly and knowledgeable. After a brief stop at an outdoor shopping center where we could use the restroom and buy a coffee or breakfast, we then made our way to a rural train station.
There we boarded a 60-year-old train. This train is not like the newer, nicer overnight trains from Bangkok to Chiang Mai or elsewhere. This train is old and vintage, with no air conditioning and a slow speed. But it is a cool experience, nonetheless.
You’ll get to see the market from the train as it arrives, waving at people, even giving high fives as the train squeezes through the market. Upon arrival, you’ll have free time to explore the market and watch the train depart before meeting up with your guide again to head to the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market.
Our guided tour had about 12 people on it, but you do not have to stay as a group during your market visits. You are basically just together during the drive to and from Bangkok. If you prefer, you can also book a private tour to the markets for just your family.
Private Car / Minivan / Taxi
If you are planning to rent a car in Thailand, you can do a self-drive to Maeklong Railway Market. Additionally, you can opt for a private transfer from Bangkok to the train market in a minivan or taxi.
Be sure to do the math, but if you have a family of three or more, a private transfer may cost less than booking a group tour.
There are 4 scheduled arrivals (and 4 departures) during the day. You’ll want to be sure to check their schedule before you head there to make sure you are there when a train is arriving or departing.
As of 2023, the trains arrive at 8:30 a.m., 11:10 a.m., 2:30 p.m., and 5:40 p.m.
Your best opportunities are around 8:30 am and 11:10 am (when you can catch the train arriving and then departing 30 minutes later.) After 5:40 p.m. the train spends the night at the market and leaves at 6:30 a.m. to begin its daily routes again.
What to Do at the Maeklong Railway Market
Once you arrive at the Maeklong Railway Market you are greeted with the chaos of a bustling market in action. Here are a few things to do during your Maeklong train market day trip from Bangkok.
Ride the Train
If you take a guided tour to Maeklong Railway Market, a train ride may be included. Riding the train to the market is just as much an experience as the market itself. The short ride takes you through the countryside and past farms and fields.
As you get closer to the market, the buildings begin to narrow in and the passageway becomes a tight squeeze. As the train slowly rumbles its way into the market, you’ll hear cheers from the crowd of onlookers, eager to wave and give you a high five as you pass by.
It is hard not to get excited along with the crowd as you wave and celebrate your arrival at one of Thailand’s most famous markets.
Explore the Train Market Stalls
Once you depart the train you’ll have free time to explore the market. Peruse the various market stalls, and enjoy the atmosphere of this busy market. You’ll find lots of local vendors selling fresh seafood, produce, apparel, and souvenirs all selling their goods from beneath collapsible tents and tarps.
Walk in the direction from which you just came in on the train so you won’t feel rushed to get to a good spot once the train starts to depart.
Sample Fresh Fruit and Thai food
Aside from the novelty of the market’s operation, visitors can also explore the diverse array of goods and fresh produce sold by the local vendors. Sampling some of the fresh fruits and vegetables gives you the chance to immerse yourself in a small part of Thai culture and enjoy some of the country’s authentic flavors.
Two fruits to try are rambutan and durian. The first grows wild in Thailand but is hard to find in the United States. Durian is a famous fruit across Southeast Asia. Known for its pungent, often putrid smell, durian is a fun food to try in Thailand. Although it doesn’t have a pleasant smell, it tastes somewhat like a melon crossed with a mango.
The Maeklong Railway Market also offers a variety of delicious Thai street food and snacks. Take some time to sample the local delicacies and indulge in the unique flavors of the region.
Shop for Clothing and Souvenirs
Along with fresh fruits and yummy food, you’ll also find plenty of vendors selling clothing like elephant pants, t-shirts, and lightweight sundresses that are perfect for Thailand’s warm climate.
While you’re taking in the atmosphere of the market, it is a great time to shop for souvenirs and support local vendors in the area.
Watch the Train Depart
The grand finale of your visit comes when the train is scheduled to leave the market.
Witnessing the incredible synchronization between vendors and the train is a sight to behold, and the lively atmosphere adds to the charm of the experience.
The train blows its horn, an alarm will often sound within some of the booths, and vendors begin moving racks of clothes, and boxes of produce into their stalls. They then fold up their tarps that offer shade from the sun when the market is in full swing.
Find a spot to stand in one of the stalls and wait and watch as the train starts to depart. Although the train moves through at a snail’s pace, be sure to keep a tight grip on little children who might otherwise get curiously close to the train while it is in motion.
Other things to do near the Maeklong Railway Market
If you have extra time and are interested in exploring the surrounding area, you can consider visiting nearby attractions such as the Damnoen Saduak or Amphawa Floating Markets or other cultural landmarks in Samut Songkhram province.
Damnoen Saduak Floating Market
The Damnoen Saduak Floating Market is another unique market located only 10-15 minutes away by car from the Maeklong Railway Market.
The largest and most famous floating market in Thailand, visitors will enjoy a boat ride through the canal lined with vendors selling their goods from their longtail boats.
Amphawa Floating Market
Similar to the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market, the Amphawa Market is another great floating market in the Samut Songkhram province. Less touristy and crowded than Damnoen Saduak, you’ll have the opportunity for a more authentic, local market experience here.
FAQs about a Maeklong Train Market Bangkok Day Trip
Of course, if you are considering a Maeklong Train Market Bangkok Day Trip, it’s natural to have a few questions. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions we have received.
Is Maeklong Railway Market worth visiting?
Yes, the Maeklong Railway Market is definitely worth visiting! It was one of the most memorable days during our 2 week Thailand itinerary. Its quirky setup, with vendors quickly moving their stalls as the train passes through, is a spectacle that you won’t find in many other places.
It offers a glimpse into the daily life and resourcefulness of the local community, as the market has coexisted with the railway for over a century.
Overall, the Maeklong Railway Market is a must-see attraction and well worth a visit for travelers looking to discover something truly special in Thailand. In fact, the unique markets throughout the country are one of the many reasons Thailand is one of the best Asian destinations for a family vacation.
Looking for other unique places worth visiting in Thailand? Check out Into the Wild Elephant Camp in Chiang Mai.
Is Maeklong Railway Market safe with kids?
Seeing the photos and videos of the train inches away from market visitors will undoubtedly give parents a reason to pause. But if you are visiting Thailand with kids, the Maeklong Railway Market can be a fun and safe experience for your family.
The market operates directly on the railway tracks, and the train passes through several times a day. But, the train departs and arrives slowly, giving you plenty of time to clear the tracks and move to the designated safety zones when the train is approaching.
While some have coined Maeklong Railway Market the most dangerous market in the world, it really isn’t as dangerous as perceived. However, if traveling with young children, be sure to hold onto them when the train approaches and passes by.
On the note of safety, you should also be aware of your belongings. The market can become incredibly crowded, and pickpocketing can be a concern in crowded places, in any country.
Also read: Things to Do in Chiang Mai with kids
How much time do you need at the Maeklong Railway Market?
How much time you spend at the Maeklong Railway Market will depend on how well you schedule your visit. You will want to check the train schedule and plan to be there when a train arrives and/or departs. Alternatively, you can take the train to the market and then watch it depart to experience the unique process from two perspectives.
If you take the train in, or arrive shortly before the train arrives, you’ll only need about 30 minutes at the Maeklong Railway Market.
The train will arrive, and then about 20 minutes later it will leave the way it came in. Watching the train pass and the market retract and reorganize is the main reason for visiting!
You’ll also want some time to explore the various stalls and enjoy shopping for fresh produce, local snacks, souvenirs, and other items, as well as time to take a few photos and soak in the ambiance.
With all that said, you can visit the market in less than an hour if you time your visit accordingly with the train schedule. Additionally, if you’re visiting the market as part of a guided tour, the allotted time might be predetermined by the tour itinerary.
Other Thailand resources:
- Things to Do in Krabi, Thailand
- Travel Guide to Khao Sok National Park
- Taking the Overnight Train to Chiang Mai
Like it? Pin this travel guide to visiting the Maeklong Railway Market to save it for later!
Do you have a question or comment about taking a Maeklong Railway Market Bangkok day trip? We’d love to hear from you! Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
Did you know…
When you make a purchase or book hotels, tours, or other travel services, through our links, we receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you. We only EVER recommend service providers, websites, or products we personally use when booking our own travels. Your support enables us to keep producing helpful travel content. Thank you!