Thailand is a cornucopia of vibrant street markets, but none can quite compete with the spectacle and uniqueness of the Maeklong Railway Market. Located approximately 80 kilometers west of Bangkok, this marketplace offers a truly unforgettable experience for its visitors. In this article, we delve into the history, uniqueness, and essential details of this peculiar market.
What’s also interesting about the Maeklong Railway Market is that you can actually book a tour online to experience some of the amazement I’m about to share below.
A Peek into the Past: The History of Maeklong Railway Market
The Maeklong Railway Market, locally known as “Talat Rom Hup,” which translates to “the market with umbrellas closing,” has been in existence for decades, with its origins dating back to 1905. The market started as a local fish trading center, with traders setting up stalls along the railway tracks. It continued to flourish even when the Maeklong Railway Line was introduced in 1905, serving as a critical link between Samut Songkhram Province and Bangkok. Despite the thrice-daily trains passing through the area, the market adapted, making it one of the world’s most unique markets.
What Makes Maeklong Railway Market Unique?
The highlight of the Maeklong Railway Market is its transformation whenever a train approaches. Shopkeepers and vendors have perfected the art of swiftly and efficiently pulling back their goods, awnings, and umbrellas from the train tracks whenever the market’s siren rings, signaling an approaching train. Within moments of the train passing, the market resumes its bustling rhythm, with the vendors returning their goods and continuing their business as though nothing occurred. This fascinating sight has earned the market a reputation as the ‘umbrella pulldown market’.
Getting There and Other Essentials
Address: Kasem Sukhum Alley, Mae Klong, Samut Songkhram, Thailand
Getting there: The easiest way to reach Maeklong Railway Market is by catching a train from Wongwian Yai Station in Bangkok to Maha Chai. Once at Maha Chai, you’ll need to take a short ferry ride across the Tha Chin River to Ban Laem Station and board a train to Maeklong. Alternatively, you can take a minivan from Bangkok’s Southern Bus Terminal directly to Maeklong.
What to Shop for at Maeklong Railway Market
Visitors to the market will find an array of fresh produce, seafood, spices, clothing, souvenirs, and Thai street food. The market is renowned for its fresh and dried seafood, local fruits like durian and mangosteen, and an array of traditional Thai snacks and sweets. Be sure to sample some of the delicious street food such as Pad Thai, grilled seafood, or mango sticky rice.
Safety Measures at Maeklong Railway Market
Visiting the Maeklong Railway Market is generally safe, and it is a kid-friendly attraction. However, as with any busy public area, especially one with a functioning railway line running through it, certain precautions are necessary. Stay alert to the market’s siren, which signals an approaching train, and follow the locals’ lead in moving clear of the tracks. It’s important not to get too close to the passing train, as there is little room to spare. Remember that the trains move slowly, so there’s sufficient time to retreat to a safe distance.
While the market has become a major tourist attraction due to its unique feature, there have been very few reported accidents. The system that has been perfected over the years ensures a high level of safety. Nevertheless, individual caution is crucial to ensure an incident-free visit. Despite the potential danger of a train running through a bustling market, the actual incidence of accidents or fatalities is surprisingly low, reinforcing the effectiveness of the safety measures practiced by the vendors and locals. It’s a testament to the harmonious co-existence of everyday life and a functioning railway that makes this market an iconic destination in Thailand.
FAQs about Maeklong Railway Market
- What are the market’s opening hours? The market operates from 6:30 AM to 5:30 PM. However, the highlight is when the train passes through the market, typically at 8:30 AM, 11:10 AM, 2:30 PM, and 5:40 PM.
- Is it safe to visit Maeklong Railway Market? Yes, the market is safe to visit. However, visitors should stay alert and move away from the tracks when the train is approaching.
- Is there an entry fee? No, there is no entry fee for the market.
Why is Maeklong Railway Market a Must-Visit?
Visiting the Maeklong Railway Market is about more than just shopping; it’s an experience that encapsulates the vibrancy, resilience, and uniqueness of Thai culture. The market’s spectacle of a fully operating market existing on a functional railway line is a testament to human adaptability and innovation.
Moreover, the Maeklong Railway Market offers an authentic insight into local Thai life. Tourists can interact with friendly locals, taste exotic food, and take stunning photos of this extraordinary spectacle.
Maeklong Railway Market is indeed an unparalleled phenomenon, a place where the unusual is the norm. For anyone traveling to Thailand, a visit to this exceptional market is a must, a chance to witness an everyday miracle and soak up the authentic local atmosphere.
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