The loud blasts from the train’s air horn shattered the hushed silenced that had fallen a few a minutes ago. People stood aside in awe as metal carriages slowly rumbled pass, sometimes just inches from their faces. In a moment, the train had passed and people started to walk on the tracks following the train to it’s final station just a couple of hundred meters ahead. Awnings that had been pulled back for the train’s passage were pushed out again, store fronts mounted on rollers extended out onto the train tracks, the loud voices of buyers and sellers haggling over prices replaced the silence. It’s just another busy day on the Mae Klong Railway Market.
For most visitors to Thailand, Bangkok is the main draw for their visit. However, if you were to look just outside of Bangkok, there are many places where you can experience something unique. This time. I’m starting off a series of blogs on the province of Samut Songkhram that is just 1.5 hours drive southwest of Bangkok. It’s not very far (85km) and can be accomplished in a day trip from Bangkok.
Samut Songkhram is the smallest province in Thailand and is well known for it’s seafood industry as it lies on the coast off the Gulf of Thailand. The Mae Klong River (not to be confused with the Mekong River) runs through the province from it’s mouth in the Gulf of Thailand and stretching for 132km to the north in Kanchanaburi (near Myanmar) where the Death Railway lies. There is a small town near the mouth of the river called Mae Klong, and here you will find a market where trains run through it everyday.
Even if you have not heard of Mae Klong, you would probably have seen the video of a train passing through a market where wares are all laid out beside the tracks in some documentary or YouTube.
The train runs through the market 8 times a day (4 trips, coming and going), but the best times to view this phenomena is during the morning when the market is at it’s busiest. The train’s timetable can be seen at the station and also online, but based on local advice, it’s best to check the latest timetable when you are in Thailand, since the timing changes very often.
Pictures can’t really convey the action that goes on in the Mae Klong Railway Market, so here is a video that I filmed and edited.
Although the train travels very slowly when it passes through the market, you shouldn’t stand on the tracks to take a selfie if you don’t want to get squashed by it. There isn’t much room at the sides too so make sure you are safe from getting dragged or hit by the train. Some people call this the most dangerous market in Thailand. And talking to some of the shop keepers, they said that some people have been injured before when the train hit them.
You can take the train to Mae Klong (Yes, the same one that goes through the market) and get a different view of the market from the train. Going by train takes some planning and effort as it involves 2 trains and a ferry ride. Alternatively, you can take mini-buses from Victory Monument in Bangkok to Mae Klong. Detailed travel information can be found in this Wikitravel page.
Although most people would just take a day trip to Mae Klong to see the Railway Market, there are more sights and activities in Samut Songkhram that you can spend a weekend here and indulge yourself. So look out for my next couple of blogs on what else you can do here.