Joy, joy, joy and happiness – that was me the day I finally got to go to the Maeklong Railway Market near Bangkok and stand by the side of the tracks as a huge great locomotive thundered about three inches past my nose.
However, that wasn’t the only fun bit about my day – because I’d actually arrived at Maeklong on that very train myself about 20 minutes earlier – and I’m in hundreds of holiday photos somewhere to prove it.
So, here’s how to get to Maeklong Railway Market by train (aka the fun way), so you can do it too!
Bonus, going by train is also the cheapest way to visit the Maeklong Train Market.
Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links which mean I earn a small commission if you use them to book. This does not cost you any extra.
What is Maeklong Railway Market?
It’s a market located about 80 kilometres outside of Bangkok in an area called Samut Songkhram.
As markets go, it’s more aimed at locals than tourists selling fruits, vegetables, household utensils and things you don’t really need on your holiday, but, what makes hundreds of tourists visit here every single day is the fact that it’s held alongside a railway track.
A working railway track. And eight times a day, upon the sound of a thankfully very loud horn, the stallholders pick up their produce, pull back the awnings that protect them from the sun and let the train come and go – literally inches from their faces, feet, neatly stacked oranges or anything else that gets in its way.
How to Get From Bangkok to Maeklong Railway Market.
There are a few options.
You can get minibuses there from Bangkok (see the note below on that one!) which are cheap and relatively inexpensive.
Another very common idea people suggest to get from Bangkok to Maeklong Railway Market is to take a tour which also takes in other nearby markets like Amphawa Floating Market or Damang Saduak Floating Market. It’s convenient and stress-free, but they often have a very early start, don’t let you set your own schedule and cost, around £17 or AU$31.
However, I think the most fun way to get there (and perfect if you’re on a budget) is to take the train to Maeklong Railway Market.
I admit, it’s not everyone’s first thought when they are considering how to get to Maeklong Railway Market, but it’s relatively simple and very, very cheap at just 23 baht (that’s 50p or 90c Australian).
I know it’s a bit of a secret because when we did it on our last trip to Bangkok there were no more than 10 tourists on the whole train (and hundreds at the market itself)- but it’s an absolutely brilliant way to see the market and a really, really cool journey.
And don’t worry, once you get off the train you still have enough time to wander around the market for a bit and take your position alongside the tracks ready for the thrills when the train makes its journey back.
I think one reason why so few tourists work out how to go to Maeklong Railway Market by train is that it’s really hard to find out information – it took me weeks of lounging in bed piecing together information from lots of different websites to come up with a plan. But, here’s how we did it in February 2017.
NB I can’t promise that all the timings will be completely up to date when you read this (it’s Thailand, nothing is set in stone), nor can I promise anything will run on time – but I can at least give you an idea of what to do and where to look. So here we go…
Start by Checking the Maeklong Railway Market Train Schedule
No matter how you decide to get to Maeklong, the key point is that you are there when the train makes one of its eight journeys a day in or out of the market, so you need to know what the current Maeklong train timetable is.
The last time I checked the train would pass through the market at…
6.20am, 8.30am, 9am, 11.10am, 11.30am, 2.30pm, 3.30pm and 5.40pm
Ideally, at this point, I would send you a nice reputable source that lets you double check this, but if there is one, I can’t find it.
I, therefore, found the easiest way to check the up to date Maeklong train schedule was to check google images. People often post a picture of the train timetable, like my slightly wonky one below, taken at the starting station Ban Leam which then gives you the info you need to ensure you’re by the tracks at the right time.
Getting from Bangkok to Maeklong Railway Market
Yes, your journey starts in Bangkok, as so many cool things do!
Specifically, it starts at Wongwian Yai Railway Station which is across the Chao Phraya river in the west of the city – note this is NOT the Skytrain/BTS station with a similar name, it’s about a 12-minute walk away.
The train you’re going to be getting on is going to take you to a place called Mahachai about 45 kilometres outside Bangkok. There are two trains in the morning – one at 7.40 or one at 8.35 – I’d recommend the earlier one for reasons we’ll come to at the moment.
In my normal, super organised fashion, I decided we had to get to the station super early to ensure we found the right platform, got our tickets (in case there was a queue) and so I could check, check and double check I was on the right train with as many signs and uniformed station staff as possible.
Imagine my surprise therefore when our taxi driver dropped us here!
Yep, the line to Mahachai is a single track service. One train, one way, one platform, one ticket window in which you hand over your 10baht! Even I couldn’t get lost!
However, what a platform it is. There were vats of bubbling curries, monks talking alms, candy floss sellers, the odd stray cat – the 20 minutes flew by as we wandered about.
I looked at all the exciting street food, The Boyfriend tried to take arty pictures of the train tracks. All too soon the train arrived and we climbed aboard.
Your journey from Bangkok to Maeklong Railway Market will take three steps – this is the first one.
Step 1. The Train to Mahachai
I loved this journey. it takes about an hour but it passes through hundreds of tiny houses so close you could almost touch them (don’t, no-one needs to lose a finger on holiday).
At every station, there was something going on – a market stall, a soup seller, a stray goat wandering about.
It was a great way to see parts of Bangkok you’d never normally get to visit. There’s no air-conditioning on the train, but the windows and doors are all open so it’s cool and breezy. I thoroughly enjoyed myself.
When you get to Mahachi, you’ll be confused.
You’re in a market. But no, it’s not THE market – it seems trains going through markets is a bit of a thing in Thailand, I suppose it’s handy for carrying home the shopping.
I love markets which is why I suggest you get the earlier train, it gives you half an hour or so to wander about looking at the stalls and again, exploring an area of Thailand you probably wouldn’t go to otherwise.
The other reason I suggest you get the earlier train is that before you get on the connection that actually takes you to Maeklong Railway Market you have to get on a ferry…oh, didn’t I mention that bit. Well, this is Step 2 on your instructions of how to get to Maeklong Railway Market!
You see, the train journey to the train market isn’t quite direct – there’s a river in the middle of it, but instead of putting in a bridge, the powers-that-be decided that they’d just get people to get off the train, walk round the corner a bit and jump on a ferry, then walk a bit at the other end to a station called Ban Laem.
This is why it’s so hard to work out how to go to the Maeklong train market yourself – you’ve got to find three different bits of transport information. And the ferry was where my meticulous research had fallen down.
For starters, I’d assumed the ferry port would be right by the train station, or at least well signposted – but it wasn’t – cue panic, panic, panic.
Step 2. How To Find the Ferry to Ban Laem
Thankfully google maps saved the day, but the simple description is, get off the train and walk toward its back, with the train still behind you, turn right and then first right again. Walk along the market until you get to the park.
You’ll find Mahachai Pier on your left – just as with the train, there’s one boat going one way – to the other side of the river. It costs 3 baht and it takes no more than five minutes.
This also explained why I hadn’t been able to find a ferry timetable for Ban Laem anywhere – they just go when they are full.
We waited about five minutes until enough people were on board ours and then puttered across the river.
Step 3. The Final Train…the one actually to Maeklong Railway Market
Once you get to Ban Laem, it’s about a 10 minute walk to the next station – again, don’t expect St Pancras, it’s a few seats with a couple of shops and a lot of very sleepy stray dogs who will love you forever if you give them a crisp – and would probably follow you on the train if you buy them a snack from the man cooking chicken at the station!
To find it, walk straight ahead when you leave the ferry then when you reach the ‘main’ road turn right toward the temple. Keep walking toward the temple until you see train tracks ahead of you – the station is to the right at the end by the river.
It’s a short walk, but if you’ve got time to kill, the shops have some interesting foods in them and it’s a great way to see Thai life out of any kind of major city – we stumbled across a dog playing with a pair of piglets friends that amused us greatly.
The train to Maeklong leaves at 10.10 and costs another 10 baht.
It doesn’t matter where you sit – you’ll see the market at the other end from both sides. the journey takes about an hour and goes past some amazing salt flats – you’ll see piles and piles and salt piled up – but keep an ear out. When the train gets close to the market itself, it will toot its horn.
That’s your sign to stand up, position yourself near the window with your camera – and put on your best smile as you are about to appear in about two hundred people’s holiday photos!
All of whom are going – oh, what, I didn’t realise you could actually get here by train, that’s awesome.
And it was – I really don’t think we would have enjoyed our trip to Maeklong Railway Market as much as we did without coming in this way. It just gives a totally different angle to the experience.
Once you arrive (waving to all the people as you go through the railway crossing), get off walk to the back of the train and head down the tracks to check out the market and position yourself ready for the train to come back the other way.
Note: it’s close. I’d seen videos but didn’t appreciate how close it gets to you – if you’re a bit nervous make sure you stand near one of the alleys that head back out to the street from the market, then you can step back a bit of the sight of a few thousand tonne bright red train about a foot from your face freaks you out.
Check out the video I posted at the time. The whimpering noise is not me!
What Else is Near Maeklong Railway Market?
Once you’ve pottered around the market a bit more, you can head off on a songtheaw to the floating market at Amphawa which is open on weekends.
We didn’t have time as we had to get back to Bangkok so we just jumped in the next minibus out of there – it cost us 60 baht to get back to Bangkok and it takes about an hour.
Note: the minibuses no longer travel too or from Victory Monument. Instead, they go from Bangkok’s Southern Bus Station also known as Sai Tai Mai which is a bit of a nowhere land. You’ll pick up a taxi easily at the bus station though.
Apparently, buses also travel to and from Mo Chit which does have a train connection to the city (but the Southern one was closer to our hotel).
Tours to Maeklong Railway Market
If you like the idea of seeing the market, but don’t fancy doing it yourself, there’s a heap of tours to Maeklong Railway Market out there that can bring you there – including one that takes you to Maeklong Railway Market on the train with a guide (no hunting for train timetables required) Have a look at the ideas below.
Maeklong Market Tours by Train
If you like the idea of getting to the market by train, but aren’t keen on dealing with the logistics yourself, then you can now book a tour to do it.
The Mahachai and Maeklong Tour
This pretty much follows our exact itinerary, but you have a guide to negotiate everything for you – plus, you’ll also find out heaps of cool stuff on the way.
It’s a full-day tour that brings you back to Bangkok at about 5pm (traffic willing)
If that sounds fun, click here to see more about the tour and make a booking
Bus and Car Tours to Maeklong
If you aren’t worried about getting the train to Maeklong, then you can pick a car or bus tour that takes in some of the other nearby sights.
Maeklong Day Trip – with a floating market and fireflies.
This trip takes you to Maeklong to watch the train go past, but also checks out nearby Amphawa Floating Market and ends the day on a longtail boat watching fireflies – which sounds pretty cool.
Maeklong and Damnoen Saduak Floating Market by Private Tour
If you prefer not to travel with other people, then you might prefer a private tour.
This one offers half-day and full-day options and also visits the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market which is the biggest floating market near Bangkok.
Other tours are available from both Klook and Get Your Guide, so if the ones above don’t quite fit the bill, check out the other Maeklong options and you might find something else you like the look of.
Where We Stayed
We stayed at a few different places on this Bangkok trip. Most useful for this little day trip is the Bangkok Riverside Condo which is south of the river and an easy 15-minute taxi ride to Wongwian Yai station.
We loved this place – it’s an absolutely huge apartment with a lounge, kitchen, double bedroom and a huge bath with a view that overlooks the river (make sure you close the blinds when using that one!)
The area is more local than many of the super touristy areas in the middle of the city, which we like – but, because the river nearby is lined by five star hotels there’s bars and restaurants around (and more cropping up each day).
When you want to get into the city, there are two BTS stations just a few minutes away.
If you want to be in the centre of the city though, we also stayed at the Amari Watergate which is great as it’s walking distance to all the main shopping areas of Bangkok. If you want to spend most of your time around the main shopping area of Bangkok this is a great choice.
Oh and the buffet breakfast is AMAZING.
We had an executive room which also gave us access to the roof terrace bar perched high above the city – with free drinks to enjoy on it at certain times of day!
What to Read Next
You might want to check out some of our other Bangkok posts
Starting with our huge guide on fun and unusual things to do in Bangkok. It’s been compiled over our eight trips to Bangkok so it’s pretty thorough.
If you’re interested in Bangkok on a budget, then, visit our guide to cheap eats in Bangkok which has some great places to check out.
The Khao San area of Bangkok is best know for it’s bar scene, but there’s also a really cool local area not too far away – have a look at our guide to the less touristy side of Khao San to see more about it.
Talk to Us
Do you think Maeklong Railway Market sounds cool – or scary? What other odditys have you seen in or near Bangkok that we might want to check out? Let us know in the comments – erm, keep that one clean folks, we’ve been to Patpong too!
And if you like this post, why not share it on social media? You can help show other people how to get to Maeklong Railway Market the budget and fun way more easily.
Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links which mean I earn a small commission if you use them to book. This does not cost you any extra.
Who Writes Differentville?
My name is Helen Foster and I’m a journalist and author living in Sydney.
My travel articles have been published in titles including The Australian, Body & Soul at the Sunday Telegraph, RAC Horizons, Jetstar magazine and more.
I like the weird, the wonderful and anything that makes me jump and down with glee like I’m about three. That’s what you’ll find here.