The Maeklong Railway Market has been around since 1905. It’s found in the province of Samut Songkhram, located on the Gulf of Thailand. Fishing is one of the main livelihoods of the people who lived here, and the market was another way in which to sell their goods. Officials decided to build a railway in order to better deliver these goods to provinces around Thailand, including the capital. The market remained, however, despite the new tracks that cut through it.
The Maeklong Railway was built in two separate stages. The Tachin Railway Ltd, founded in 1901 constructed a line to Samut Sakhon from Bangkok. It opened in 1904 with eight stations. A year later, The Maeklong Railway Company opened the 34 kilometer Ban Laem Line. The lines merged in 1907 to form the Maeklong Railway Ltd. The company originally opened the railway as a goods line, transporting produce from the fishing ports of Samut Sakhon and Samut Songkram to the Bangkok markets.
In 1961 the line’s original terminus at Khlong San was closed and replaced with a bus stop, to ease traffic congestion in Bangkok. The railway became famous for its route through the Maeklong Railway Market. It is one of the largest fresh seafood markets in Thailand and is centered on the Maeklong Railway’s track. Whenever a train approaches, the awnings and shop fronts are moved back from the rails, to be replaced once the train has passed.
The Maeklong railway market has everything that we’ve come to know and love in Thai markets. Its stalls have displays of fruits, veggies, meats, seafood, as well as sweet snacks, clothing, and flowers. The major difference is that there are train tracks running straight down its middle! The train passes through the market 8 times per day. A little warning bell goes off over the speaker system just a few minutes before the train comes.
Within a few minutes of receiving the warning, vendors pull back their specially designed awnings before the train comes, sometimes only moments before. That’s why the market is locally known as the Talat Rom Hoop which translates into “Market Umbrella Close”. The train’s fog horn announces its arrival just before it rounds the bend. Prepare yourself a good camera for recording this unique moment!
It’s a pleasure to just walk along the market and see what the vendors have to offer or you can ride the train through the market, you will be able to see how the vendors move their things and pull in their awnings seconds before you pass by. Walking along the market in the train is only part of the experience, Riding the train is also a great experience. The Maeklong railway market is one of the most favorites among visitors with much to offer a feeling of “real” Thailand.
According to Local Insider