The fascination of the Mae Klong Railway Market
We went to Thailand in January – February 2018 and one of the must see and must do was Mae Klong Railway Market. It always fascinates me when 2 or more organisms (entities) find ways to coexist. It is the same here, the market and the train find a way to work in perfect symbiosis: every pumpkin, every cucumber and every onion has a very well defined place in space so it fits perfectly in to both worlds: the static and the moving one.
Despite being a little hard to reach, the market is really popular, and when I mean popular I mean really crowded. After the train passes people take its place and you cannot imagine how did the train manage to pass through there and where all those people came from.
How to visit Mae Klong Railway Market
What is the best way to visit this place you wonder. Being a railway market, the best way to visit is obviously: with the train. In reality it is not so obvious because there are a lot of tour services that takes people there with buses (funny, no?). I actually witnessed a very weird scene: a guide with 2 tourists just got up on the train with 2 stations before we arrived at Mae Klong, and they have arrived to that station by bus from Bangkok. The guide was telling the couple that the train is not connected with Bangkok – which is more a lie that a truth, and I will tell you why.
The route: Wongwian Yai – Maha Chai – Ban Laem – Mae Klong
This train line was build to carry salt from the region of Samut Sakhon to Bangkok. It was a private transport line that later entered into the national rail system of Thailand. The railway is not a direct one, I believe the reason was mainly economical because it had to cross a river, but nevertheless, it is very well thought out so you could do this trip easily. The trip from Bangkok to Mae Klong has 3 segments:
- train from train station Wongwian Yai in Bangkok to Maha Chai Railway in Samut Sakhon
- ferry over the Tha Chin River from Mahachai Pier to Chalom Pier
- train from Ban Laem Railway Station in Tha Chalom to Mae Klong Railway Station in Samut Songkhram
So you see the connection is there, it is easy to make the trip like this, but it is not a direct line in the true sense.
Time Table of the train
There is the consideration of time, how the 2 lines timetable match one another. The first connection to Maha Chai Railway is very often (every hour or so), but the second one has only 4 trips a day, so you have to organize around them. The train from Ban Laem Railway Station to Mae Klong Railway Station leaves every day at: 07:30 / 10.10 / 13.30 / 16.40
Time table for Wongwian Yai (Bangkok) to Maha Chai Railway
Time table for Ban Laem Railway Station to Mae Klong Railway Station
Our experience with the train to Mae Klong
We wanted to catch the 7:30 so we had to wake up at 4 am, take a taxi to the station, take the 5:30 train from Wongwian Yai. We arrived at 6:36 (we had a delay – the train was supposed to arrive in Maha Chai at 6:23), we went for the ferry (10 minutes walk), and in a few more minutes we were on the other side of Tha Chin River. From here there is another 10 minutes walk to the station of Ban Laem. From here we took the 7:30 train to Mae Klong and arrived at the destination at 8:30.
In our itinerary near Bangkok we wanted to see Damnoen Saduak Floating Market, so we only went with the train and returned with the bus.
This is how our day looks (recorded with Toura Android App):
You can see our hole trip in Thailand or this specific day on Toura: day 18 in our 23 days itinerary:
How to plan your trip to Mae Klong Railway market:
Because it is a very interesting event I suggest to make a plan to see 2 trains coming and going through the market like this:
- go in the train through the Mae Klong Market and see the shops leave their curtain over the rail
- see the train you came with leave
- see another train come
- leave with this train that just came in.
It usually is a 3 hours waiting time between trains, which gives you enough time to visit the market and the city.
If you are in Bangkok and want to visit something unique, don’t hesitate to visit Mae Klong Railway Market. You will probably need a full day for this. You can add to your trip: Tha Kha Floating Market and Damnoen Saduak Floating Market.