Maeklong & Amphawa

self portret Maeklong railway market Thailand

 Although Bangkok has a few local markets of its own, which are worth to have a look at, the markets in Maeklong and Amphawa are just a little bit different. The Maeklong Railway Market might be a bit of a tourist trap but a market on a railway – which is still in use – is definitely something unthinkable where I’m from. In Thailand this is everyday life. Looking back, the journey I took that day turned out te be one of the best experiences during my travels through this amazing country. Tip: visit the less touristy floating market of Amphawa in the afternoon. What all this will cost you? No more than 5 euros and 6 years of your life.

How to get there?
According to my travel guidebook and the internet – supposed to be up-to-date info – it is very easy to get a minivan from Victory Monument. I don’t know if you guys have ever been to Victory Monument but it’s quite a task. If you thought there’d be signs pointed out where to go then you better think again. After being sent from one side of the huge roundabout to the other for like an hour or so, I finally found someone who handed me a handwritten note in English saying that the minivans to Maeklong stopped running from Victory Momument 2 weeks ago. I was referred to a local bus which brought me to the correct place on the other side of the city. If you’re wondering: it’s one of the three bus stations in Bangkok. Which one? I still have no clue. My travel guidebook was right about the rest. For about 70 baht you’ll be in Maeklong within 90 minutes. You’ll be dropped off on the side of the road near the market. The driver will point you in the right direction. Just follow the road.

traffic Victory Monument Bangkok

Maeklong Railway Market
Initially the market gives you a glimpse into the daily life outside the city. On the market you’ll mostly find fresh vegetables, fruits, herbs and fish. Beyond the fact that you’re walking on a railway, the market seems like any other. At the end there are some cute little shops where you can have a drink and sit down for a few minutes. Watch people pass by or talk to a total stranger, who happens to speak English – because of a study in London but still. Good chat! By the time the train is expected, it will start getting more crowded. On one hand it was after all why you were there aswell but on the other hand it’s a pity because the market kinda loses its charm. It remains fascinating nonetheless. The sound of a bell rings and stallholders rush to make some room. An invasion of tourists pull their camera and start posing in the middle of the track. The fact that there’s a train approaching doesn’t seem to bother them. I was standing closely against the wall as the train passed me less than an arm length away. My arms aren’t particularly long if you wondered so do the math. As soon as the train passed the umbrellas were pulled down again and it was back to business as usual. The train passes the market a few times a day. Before heading off to Amphawa do walk around the railway market to explore some more.

fresh fruit local market Maeklong Thailand

Amphawa floating market
I had read on the internet that you could take a songthaew – those trucks that operate like buses- from Maeklong to Amphawa for 8 baht. This is true. You’ll just have to find the correct one. Good luck with that! Want my advise? Just ask somebody, anybody. Yep, language is a bit of a thingy but really: (almost) everyone is willing to help you. Sometimes they offer to take you to Amphawa on a scooter themselfs – for more than 8 baht of course – or they tell you to take a tuk tuk instead. Just have patience, be clear on what you do and do not want but stay friendly. Often you’re just not understand right or you’re not quite getting what it is that they’re trying to tell you. When you’ve finally found the right spot, all those directions – which made no sense what so ever – suddenly fall right into place. Have a laugh about it. I definitely did. Within 10 minutes you’ll be at the floating market in Amphawa. It’s so much fun! Of course the main thing here is the seafood but there’s more. Besides food and souvenirs you will also find art and cultural related products at the many stalls along the canal. The Chaba Café is pretty cool. The market has a very nice atmosphere. Thai like to visit here aswell. Therefore it can get quite busy during the evening. The market is only open on weekends. Note: the van back to Bangkok doesn’t depart from the same point as the songthaew dropped you off. Again, be patient! Keep asking for directions untill you find someone who can help you. Eventually someone will take you some place – only god knows where. A friend of a friend appears who apparently speaks good enough English to tell you it’s at the end of the road “somewhere”. You’ll probably start thinking – if you didn’t already: “Ok, I’m fucked”. That could most likely be the case. For a moment there I thought:”it’s going to be a very expensive taxi ride back to Bangkok for sure”. Cause at the end of the road there were still no vans in sight. Just ask one more time! You probably only needed to turn right and cross over the birdge. Mission accomplished! What a day..

floating market of Amphawa
atmosphere floating market Amphawa after sunset

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2 Replies to “Maeklong & Amphawa”

  1. Wat boeiend en interessant beschreven.
    Ik zie echt alles vóór me. Ben eens in Thailand geweest maar dan alleen op toeristisch terrein.
    Dit is écht. Is er nooit van gekomen. De leeftijd.
    Nu beleef ik het toch door jouw fantastisch relaas.

  2. Dankjewel! 🙂
    Nou, die treinmarkt was best toeristisch kan ik je vertellen haha maar ach daar ontkom je nou eenmaal niet altijd aan. Blij dat ik je op deze manier een beetje kan meenemen op mijn reisjes. Van de zomer gaan we naar Cuba! (spannend) -X-

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