Thailand is a country that’s filled with fun and quirky things to do. That’s why it’s so popular with many tourists that visits Thailand year round. 29.8 million to be exact according to the Tourism Authority of Thailand.
But how much can you see of the temples, the shopping malls and the floating market?
After visiting Thailand for a week, we wanted to take a quick day trip outside of Bangkok. I suddenly remembered Mitch and his fascination with the train that runs through a working market at Maeklong Station. Its known locally as “Talad Lom Hoop” or collapsing parasol market. For the past couple of years, watching video after video on Youtube and seeing the shopkeepers and tourist alike move out of the way of a multi-ton beast meandering to the final station, we were finally going to get to see it ourselves!
Maeklong railway runs 67 kilometers between Bangkok’s Wongwian Yai station to the Maeklong station in Samut Songkhram province with a transfer in Ban Leam station. The final line from Ban Laem to Maeklong is about an hour ride and goes through 15 stations. Maeklong sits in the port of Samut Songkhram and for almost a century, this train line shuttles seafood, merchandises and locals to and from Bangkok.
All of that is interesting but just sounded a little too long for me. So we decided like many others to hire a car that takes us directly to Maeklong Station which is about an hour and a half ride from our hotel (pending on traffic). We arrived at the station with a few minutes to spare. We walked through the local market that sells fresh seafood from the Gulf of Thailand, some local desserts and tons of produce. The train runs four times a day so planning your arrival time is critical if you don’t want to spend too much time down there.
We decided that we wanted to see the train in action, up close and personal with the beast! As we were shopping, we heard the pre recorded announcement in six languages to be aware of the train as it’s due to arrive in a minute. Like clock work, the shop keepers sprung into action: covering up their produce, wheeling in their fresh catch, making room for tourists and locals to escape the path of the train.
We heard several horns warning it’s arrival and then around the corner comes the giant beast itself. As tightly packed as the pla tu fish the vendors were selling, we were all squeezed into a small area to stay clear of the path. How close were we to the train? Let’s just say we could feel the dragon’s breath. The train moved by us slowly as it comes in to the final station to drop off passengers and goods from Bangkok.
We wanted to have a different perspective to the view so we decided to ride the train itself to the next station. With 10 minutes to spare, we arranged with the driver to pick us up about 5 kilometers down the road, went to the ticket booth and purchased our ticket. We paid a total of 9 baht for the three of us and it was worth it!
As the train pulls out from the station, everyone’s camera was attached to the window to catch the “money shot”. As the train picks up speed (about 40 km/h) it was about a 5 minute ride to the next station where we previously arranged for our driver to pick us up.
You can find the train schedule by clicking here. It makes 4 runs a day.
If you’re looking for something fun to do or have always been curious about the market then it’s well worth the adventure. Initially, we were looking at an arranged tour that would take us to the market, let us ride the train for an hour and a small lunch for about $60 USD per person. But doing some research and hiring our own driver, we found that it was much easier to head to the Maeklong Station, watch the train come in and then ride it back one stop and get off. Keep in mind, this is a HEAVY tourists spot, so it’s going to be crowded, loud and hot. I wouldn’t make a full day out of this, but try and piggyback it with another spot or tour.
Overall, it was worth the drive and time to watch the train come into the station and be face to face with the train as it goes by. I have to say, honestly, my favorite part was at the VERY end when we got off, catching a look at the train engineer and seeing how genuine and happy he was to be “driving” the train! Nice to see people loving their job! (see in video below!)
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