The Maeklong Railway Market (or Samut Songkhram Railway Track Market) in Thailand is one of the most unique markets that you will come across anywhere in the world. Located within the Samut Songkhram province or about 70 kilometres southwest of Bangkok what makes this outdoor market so unique is that it is located on an operating railway line.
This outdoor market is situated along a 100 metre stretch of the Maeklong Railway line which is 67 kilometres in length and was constructed back in 1907. It was originally built to transport fresh produce from Samut Songkhram to the Bangkok markets. This line runs between Wonwian Yai in outer Bangkok and Samut Songkhram; also located within the central Thailand region.
However, this railway track market is also located relatively close to the popular Amphawa Floating Market which is also a sub-district of Samut Songkhram.
Samut Songkhram is actually the smallest province within central Thailand, and is located at the entrance of the Mae Klong River on the Gulf of Thailand bordering Samut Sakhon province. With a total land area of just 416 square kilometres (and divided into 3 districts) and being situated approximately 70 kilometres southwest of Bangkok, Samut Songkhram draws its water from the Mae Klong River through a series of canals. These canals are used to irrigate its fertile land for the production of fruits and vegetables (including oranges, lychees, guavas and grapes), grains and seafood products.
Like most Thai provinces within central Thailand, Samut Songkhram has a long history dating at least back to the early Rattanakosin period and it is thought that this province was once part of the Ratchaburi province when it was called Suan Nork. This province also has some cultural significance for Thai people being the birth place of the queen of King Rama 1, and the hometown of King Rama II (1809-1824).
THE MAEKLONG RAILWAY MARKET
However, the Maeklong Railway Market is in many ways like many other Thai markets as you can find a good selection of fresh produce including fruit and vegetables, herbs and spices and this is also one of the largest seafood markets in Thailand.
The chief difference with this market is that many of the shop vendors have to shift their stalls and awnings several times during the day or whenever a train arrives at the station (see image below). It is this novel idea which seems to attract foreign visitors here just to see how it all works for themselves.
A warning bell at the Maeklong Station sounds approximately 5 minutes before the next train is due to arrive which allows both vendors and shoppers time to move safely out of the way of the regular two carriage train which travels from the Ban Laem Railway Station.
Each day there are seventeen trains which run in both directions so this routine of getting up to move out of the way of the train occurs very regularly between the hours of 6.30 AM and 5.30 PM 7 days a week; which doesn't seem to bother the locals at all.
Maeklong Railway Market in Samut Songkhram is open 7 days a week. Being
located about 1.5 hours from Bangkok, the best way to travel there
is by bus or train. A public bus from the Southern Bus Terminal in
Bangkok is available which also stops at Damneon Suduak. Alternatively, you can also catch a train along Bangkok's Maeklong Mahachai railway line which starts in Wongwian Yai Railway Station in Thonburi, Bangkok and runs all the way to Samut Songkhram on the Gulf of Thailand.
However, you will have to exit at Samut Sakhon Station. At the Maha Chai Pier catch a ferry across the Tha Chin River to the Tha Chalom Pier and then you can catch a train at the Ban Laem Railway Station which will take you to the Maeklong Station where the market is held.