My first solo travel adventure in November 2018 included a visit to the Maeklong Railway Market or some would refer to as Maeklong Train Market. Maeklong Railway Market is famous for being a market that sits right on top of railway tracks that are currently still operational.
Maeklong Railway Market is primarily a wet market selling all sorts of fresh produce like vegetables and mostly seafood, especially dried seafood. There were also many stalls selling Thai snacks, ice cream and cold drinks – catering mostly to tourists.
The sight of these stalls packing up minutes before a train’s arrival has become quite the spectacle for tourists. Once the train has gone past, the stalls revert to their original places and business resumes as per normal. Watch the video I took right on the railway track when the train passed (very very slowly due to the stupidity of tourists who stood in front of the moving train!).
I believe Maeklong Railway Market was probably at some point in time a “best-kept secret”. But today it is definitely not a secret – no thanks to the hordes of tour groups visiting, especially from China. You know this when you hear the Thais promoting their merchandise in Chinese! The place was crammed up with an endless line of tour groups all over the narrow walkway of a railway track. In short, Maeklong Railway Market is a very profitable tour to sell since it is a free attraction.
Looking back, I am quite thankful I chose not to contribute to the tour companies and embarked on my own journey to Maeklong Railway Market. Located about 31 km away from Bangkok city, Maeklong Railway Market was no easy feat to get to. But it was not impossible too!
There were a few articles online that offered you steps to get there. Using those as a guide, I made my own way there. However I felt the articles lacked detail so here is a more detailed guide to ensure you have all the steps you need to get to Maeklong Railway Market.
There are websites that offered free and easy tours to Maeklong Railway Market but the price for such a packages may not offer as good a value and more importantly, were restrictive on their timing plus they do not usually provide a pick-up from your hotel.
Here are the steps you will need to take to make it to Maeklong Railway Market and an optional visit to Amphawa Floating Market after. Take note that Amphawa Floating Market only opens on weekends.
Step 1: Head to Mo Chit Minibus Station
To get to Maeklong from Bangkok, you need to take a minibus from the new “Minibus Station (Chatuchak)”. On Google Maps, I had mistakenly marked Mo Chit Bus Station for this. On arriving, I spent 20 minutes going in circles trying to find the minibus service.
You can learn from my mistake and mark this as the correct place where you should head to buy tickets and board the minibus to Maeklong. This is a new Minibus Station located under an expressway, across the road from the Mo Chit Bus Terminal.
Below are two ways you can consider to take you to this Minibus Station:
A) By taxi or Grab car
Take a taxi or hire a Grab car (using the Grab app) directly to this Minibus Station. Taking Grab may be cheaper and will point the GPS location of where you want to go. I feel that it helps in reassuring the right location rather than a taxi where you may encounter language barrier.
B) By BTS and then local bus
This would be the more adventurous way but it will take more time so depart early so you have extra time set aside to “get lost”. I made my way to Saphan Khwai BTS Station from Ratchathewi on the Sukhumvit Line. My single journey fare cost 37 THB.
Travel Tip: If you don’t have a local data plan on your mobile phone to access the internet, you need to download offline Google Map for all the major stops you will be heading and pre-plan your bus journey (if you need to take the public bus).
I alighted at Saphan Khwai BTS Station and used my phone GPS on google map to direct me to the mysterious bus stop. So I read that here in Bangkok (and probably many parts of Thailand), there is no visible signs of a bus stop. You will find the bus stop when you see a group of people waiting for something by the side of the road.
As I had expected, there was no sign of a bus stop though I did see a small gathering of people right after I exited the BTS staircase. I walked about 40m past them before realising that that was the bus stop.
I used my Google Maps to check for the right buses to take to get to Mo Chit Bus Terminal as I had it marked out on my map. I planned to take bus 9 which was recommended by Google. I waited from 11.10am till about 11.45am for the elusive bus 9 but it never showed up.
I was afraid I would lose time as I needed to make it to Maeklong Railway Market latest by 2pm so I could catch the 2.30pm train’s arrival. So I decided to switch to bus 509 (advice offered by a helpful local who did a Google search on her mobile using Thai language). I am not sure why Bus 509 did not show up in my path recommendations.
Bus 509 takes a slightly longer route to get there but I decided not to wait again. I had probably missed more than one bus 509 due to my relentless wait for bus 9. When I finally saw 509 come along, I stuck my hand out to signal for it to stop. Bus 509 was the right decision. It was an air-conditioned bus and I was surprised to see tourists on board – they were headed to Chatuchak Weekend Market.
The bus conductor was seated in front and I showed him my google map direction to the bus terminal. He asked for 11 THB which I paid and was then given a tiny ticket.
Upon arrival at what seemed to be the final stop defined as Port Bus Terminal on Google Maps, I made the mistake of following the locals. I should’ve trusted my Google map. Take note of the following valuable instructions so you don’t walk an extra 400 m (like me) in the sweltering heat for nothing.
Once you alight, head backwards towards a large carpark and walk towards the opposition side of the main road. You will see an overhead bridge. You need to cross this overhead bridge that is unsheltered. After crossing the bridge and as you come down, you will see the entrance to the new Minibus Station. I took a photo of the official signage outside that called it “Minibus Station (Chatuchak)”.
Upon arriving at the main entrance, turn right towards Building D for the minibus to Maeklong. I took the wrong turn to the left and arrived at B only to be redirected twice from C to go to D.
Step 2: Buy Your Ticket & Board The Minibus
At Building D, the information counter directed me to Counter 9 to buy my ticket to Maeklong. You need to inform them that you are heading to Maeklong which is also the final destination. The counter lady hurriedly sold me the last seat which I paid 90 THB for. Then I was hurriedly ushered to my minibus.
The only seats available were the last row by the window and a seat next to it which allowed for a roomier leg space. I had intended to get that roomier seat but a local girl sneaked up behind me and compelled me to move into the back corner seat by the window.
I was grateful for a quick visit to the toilet halfway through when the driver made a petrol stop for a 5-minute break. It rained midway through our journey and water started dripping inside the minibus at the back of my seat so I stuffed a tissue to stop the drip.
Throughout the journey, I noted the driver made a few impromptu stops to pick up and drop off random passengers waiting by the road side. I was tempted to move out of my cramped corner to a seat up front which was occupied by these ad hoc passengers. But I was too “cornered” to do it.
I wondered if this was his little business on the side for some extra cash. Might as well make a quick buck while he was on the way right? It felt like a local version of a paying hitchhiker.
The journey to Maeklong would take about 1 hour 40 min but I think we arrived slightly under that duration.
Step 3: Walk to Maeklong Railway Market
On arrival, we got off at a small minibus station at Maeklong where they actively promoted the sale of your minibus ticket back to Bangkok. If you have no intention to go to Amphawa Floating Market, you should buy your return ticket there and then. The minibus should take you back to the same place where you boarded – the Minibus Station (Chatuchak).
However I planned to go to Amphawa Floating Market after Maeklong Railway Market so I did not buy the ticket. Assuming you have taken my above advice and downloaded the offline Google Map for Maeklong, then you can use your phone GPS to guide you to the Maeklong Railway Market.
Alternatively it is very possible that 90% of the passengers on your minibus would be headed the same way so you can just follow them. The walk is about 300 m and you will definitely not miss it when you see the hordes of tourists crowd to take pictures of Maeklong Railway Market.
>> Watch out for Part 2 on How to Get to Amphawa Market from Maeklong Railway Market
Love Asia and want some ideas? How about a romantic beach resort in Terengganu, Malaysia called Tanjong Jara?