When someone mentioned going to one of the largest seafood markets in all of Thailand, I was somewhat intrigued. Then, when they told me a train runs right through the middle of it every hour, I knew I had to go. The Maeklong Railway Market is a big draw for tourists and for good reason. There is a ‘anything goes’ mentality that is quite entertaining, and the characters you’ll find strewn throughout the market bring the experience full circle. My favorite was the woman yelling “You die!!” to the tourists who weren’t backing up far enough off of the tracks when the train was approaching. And that woman wasn’t kidding!
Five or so minutes before the train is due to come through the market, there is a loud horn over the speakers warning the shopkeepers and shoppers. I definitely suggest, at that time, scoping out a place that you are going to be able to stand when the train arrives. My best tip is to find a tour guide who is leading his or her group to somewhere safe. Soon the awnings will be pulled back and the train will be on its final approach. Be prepared to squeeze!!
After you narrowly escape your death on the train tracks, it’s time to make your way to the floating market for another unorthodox and popular market. Tell your driver to bring you to a less expensive area to get on a boat, preferably one that you share with other people, otherwise it is roughly $30/person to float around through the market. In my opinion, that’s a little on the steep side. After you’ve plopped your bum down in your water taxi, just sit back relax and enjoy. Be prepared to be pulled to both sides of the river by eager shop owners hoping to sell you a cheesy trinket. Penis shaped salt and pepper shakers aren’t your thing? No worries, just tell your trusty captain that you want handmade pieces instead of the tacky souveniers that are usually pushed at tourists. One of my favorites was this shop with really beautiful paintings.
Another great thing about the market, it’s full of food! These ladies literally pull up next to you and prepare a delicious creation to snack while you shop. My personal favorite: mango and sticky rice. Yum! And you thought ordering takeout was easy…
On your way back to the car, tell your driver to put the pedal to the metal for a fun ride to your final destination (no, not like the movie, I promise). You will whiz past houses on stilts, through the narrow channels of the river all the way back to the car with goodies in tow. What could be better?