Truly Mixed-Use TOD. Try it, You’ll Like It – The Bourse
Bourse Note: Every day in the Thai province of Samut Songkhram, about 43 miles southwest of Bangkok, the unique Mae Klong market is held whose vendors need feet as quick as their minds. Why? Because much of the market is located directly on a set of operational railway tracks. Eight times daily, a train runs through without care for stopping, sending vendors and visitors to action stations before business as usual resumes. It works like a charm, even though it may raise a few US regulator eyebrows. Check it out:
by James Clark
One of the more interesting train journeys I’ve had is riding through the Maeklong market railway in Thailand.
Even if you’ve never heard of the town, you’ve probably seen a youtube video of a train going through a tightly packed market, where market stalls are set up on the rails. The train barely fits through the market, and once the train passes through the market stalls occupy the railway line almost immediately.
I took a day trip from Bangkok out to Maeklong, and sure enough this crazy market wasn’t just a figment of my youtube imagination, it really exists.
I always like walking around markets in Thailand, so to have one with its own railway was an added bonus.
Thai markets are like English TV cooking shows. I never cook, but I love watching those shows. It’s the same with the markets. I’m never going to buy and cook any of this stuff, but I love looking at the piles of sea creatures I hitherto didn’t know exist, and piles of neatly stacked vegetables that I rarely eat.
This train has become famous around the world so there were many people in the market taking photos. The market operators seemed to be used to visitors and pointed out a few spots that were best for taking pictures.
More videos at youtube.com/nomadicnotestv
How To Get To Maeklong
Maeklong is under 70km from Bangkok, but getting the train there will make it feel longer. The journey involves two train trips, punctuated by a ferry ride.
From Bangkok the train departs from Wong Wian Yai. This station is near the King Taksin Statue on the non-touristic side of the river in Thonburi. The nearest BTS Station is Wangwan Yai, which is about 20 minutes walk.
The station itself only has one track that runs along the side of a small street, so it is not an obvious station to find. From here you get the train to the end of the line at Mahachai.
This train takes about an hour. At Mahachai, exit left of the train, then turn right into the market street. It’s a fishing port so you will see seafood everywhere. Walk to the end of the street and on your left you will see the river and the ferry terminal.
You now catch the ferry across the river to Ban Laem. At Ban Laem walk through the market and at the street entrance, turn right. Keeping walking down this street for about 10 minutes and you will get to the station. Once again it is a one track station, so the station is not that obvious. This is the train that will take you to Maeklong.
This train also takes 1 hour, and the trip through the market is right at the end, just before the station. It takes about 2 minutes to get through the market. You should start seeing the outer urban area of Maeklong at about 55 minutes, so that would be the time to get ready if you are going to take photos.
I also noticed that a tour group got on the train at the station before Maeklong. They would have been part of a bus tour going somewhere else, and it would certainly be a less time consuming way to do the trip. I haven’t seen this advertised anywhere though.
Planning Your Trip
There are only 4 trains a day to Maeklong, so you really need to plan your day here. This is the timetable from Ban Laem to Maeklong.
Hi, I’m James
I’m a location independent entrepreneur from Melbourne. A long term wanderer, on the road as a full time digital nomad since 2003, and a geek for all things travel + internet related.
Check out my about page for more information.