Caution “steam train”, or how the train became a landmark
According to local residents, it is nothing remarkable, except for a variety of fresh and cheap products. But for travelers, this place is more than just a bazaar, and all because the train runs a daily train.
Mekong Railway Market (Maeklong Railway Market), located in the province of Thailand Samut Songkhram, about 80 km south-west of Bangkok. At first glance, it looks like any other market in Asia. On it is a sea of fruits, vegetables, spices, and freshly prepared local delicacies. And here, just like in other Asian markets, people are rushing from morning to evening.
Nevertheless, Maeklong is considered one of the fun attractions of provincial Thailand and has a couple of informal, but more accurate names that characterize its feature. The first is something like the umbrellas market (ตลาด ร่ม หุบ), the second is the risk to life (Siang Tai).
The fact is that the market is not just located near the railway station. But with its hundred-meter strip of shopping arcades, it lies on the rails.
Who is more important
Mekong Market has existed for over a century. At this place, it was before the track connecting the Ban Laem fishing port with the province of Samut Sakhon lay here in 1905. With the advent of the iron monster, the market not only did not cease to exist but also turned into a local landmark.
From above, the market is covered with scales of low improvised marquises that serve as reliable protection from the sun. Under the makeshift roof, in the morning, life is in full swing. Here they fuss, cook, bargain, joke and laugh. It looks like an ordinary market, but as soon as you look down, you will find sleepers under your feet. Many “trading rows” are located right on the ground, right next to the rails, aligning the product line with a strict line.
When the train approaches, there is a loud signal, which is not impossible to hear. This kind of team starts the process of market transformation. Buyers are disappearing. Awnings above the head apart and the view opens a blue canvas of the southern sky. With clear, practiced movements, sellers move goods so that the train does not touch it. The market is shrinking and this is probably the most entertaining moment. It is interesting to observe at first, for the clever, verified movements of the merchants, and then for the train, which at a speed of 20 km/hour is jeweler passes within a millimeter of some kind of fruit, literally without touching it.
But as soon as the train passes, everything will return to normal, as if nothing had happened. Awnings, fruits, vegetables, baskets, and boxes will rest again in the rails. And on the trail of the departing train, stretch out their arms with the phones, hoping to catch the moment, like an iron thug, sneaking through the colorful, lively corridor.
The market is open daily from 6:20 to 17:00. Come here better in the morning. In this case, you will not have to languish from the heat, and the choice on the market will be richer. The train passes through the Mekong railway market every day seven to eight times. At the station, Maeklong locomotive arrives at 8.30, 11.10, 14.30 and 17.20. Departure from the station at 6.20, 9.00, 11.30 and 15.30.
How to get to Mekong Market
The easiest way to visit the Hoop Rom Market, by car, which in turn can be rented in Bangkok with or without a driver. You can order a minibus. At the same time, it is worth planning another number of stops outside the city (what to see in Bangkok, read our guide ). Also, local tour operators have options for trips to the market.
If you prefer an independent trip and do not want to take a car, here from Bangkok can be reached by train-ferry-train. The trip will be quite fascinating. The road passes through lush greenery and mangroves, as well as past impressive salt farm fields. It will take a little time all the way – 2.5 hours (including the ferry), and the pleasure will be around 23 Thai baht per person.
The route is the following: by train from Bangkok’s Wongwian Yai station, you need to get to Mahachai station – it takes about 50 minutes. From the Mahachai railway station, a few hundred meters away, there is a pier. On the pier, you need to take the ferry to cross the river. Then a five-minute walk to Ban Laem station, where you buy a ticket already to Maeklong station.
In the latter case, you will not only see the train from the side but also drive through the colorful market. By the way, before reaching Maeklong station, you can return to the market and look at Maeklong and the passing train from a different angle (GPS market coordinates: 13.407502, 99.998752).
In fairness, it should be said that this is not the only place in Asia where life takes place on a railway track. A similar picture can be seen in Hanoi, where the train cuts through the residential areas of the city (read the blog about the train in the streets of Hanoi ).