Living Life On The Edge In Thailand: Shopping On An Active Train Track

Thailand shopping
Maeklong Railway Market

While not it may not be an adventure seeker’s idea of high end adventure, locals and tourists can live life on the edge in Thailand at Maeklong Railway Market. For those looking for Thailand shopping, this traditional Thai market may appear to only be a market, but it’s not. It’s a market on active railway tracks for a fully functional train.




Maeklong Railway runs between Wongwian Yai, Bangkok, and Samut Songkhram in Central Thailand. When the train gets to Talat Rom Hup or the “umbrella pulldown market,” everything about the market changes. Awnings and shop fronts are pulled back to accommodate the train passing through on the 3 foot wide tracks. That’s what I call living life on the edge.

Thailand Shopping: Fruits and Vegetables of Maeklong Railway Market

Thailand shopping
Fruits and veggies including banana tree hearts

Before the train passed through the market, we were off discovering what was for sale here. That included banana tree hearts, those beautiful purple items at the center of the picture above. Considered a vegetable in Southeast Asian and Indian cooking, the taste is similar to an artichoke.

Thailand shopping
So many green veggies!

Not sure what to buy? I was completely overwhelmed by the sheer volume and variety of vegetables.

Thailand shopping
More fresh veggies

Many of which I couldn’t even identify.  But that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t try them. Look at all of the cauliflower and cabbage. Yum.

Thailand shopping
Pepper time

Don’t forget to buy your peppers for a little spice, too. This was one of the cleanest, freshest, and most organized markets I’ve ever visited.

Thailand shopping
More fresh vegetables in the market
Thailand shopping
Fresh watermelon and pineapple

For the record, 18THB is $0.55. Whether it’s for the pineapple or watermelon, it’s still $0.55 and I think either way it’s a great deal.

Thailand shopping
Thai rose apple

If you’re looking for something completely different, why not try the rose apple? I had never heard of it until my trip to Thailand, but why not try something new. It’s the shape of a pear, but an crisp and crunchy. Did you know that it’s also often eaten with salt and sugar? Strange, but true.

Flowers

Thailand shopping
Fresh flowers

In addition to fruits and vegetables, you can always count on flowers for sale in Thailand.

Thailand shopping
Marigolds

Marigolds are quite popular in Thailand and are used for various purposes. These include good luck garlands and floral arrangements at weddings and festivals.

Fish And Seafood

Thailand shopping
Fish bundles

While I don’t eat fish or seafood, I can appreciate the freshness and easy access for those that do.

Thailand shopping
Fish

Whether you choose tiny little fish or…

Thailand shopping
Shrimp

…shrimp, there’s plenty of it available for purchase here at Maeklong Railway Market.

Thailand shopping
Fresh shrimp

Lots and lots of shrimp. I admit that I’m kind of weird that I like taking pics of things I won’t ever eat, including seafood.

Thailand shopping
Fresh fish

If you’re looking for big fish, yeah – they’ve got that here, too.

Thailand shopping
Fresh fish

But the sheer variety, color, and quantity is what roped me in. I mean, take a look at the size of these fish.

Thailand shopping
Dried fish

Even if you don’t want fresh fish, they have dried fish for you to take to save for a rainy day.

Novices At The Market

Thailand shopping
Male novice in the market

Our visit to Thailand was during the summer holidays when young boys from age 7-14 take vows temporarily. These novices are seen everywhere as it’s like the equivalent of summer camp. This young boy looks so serious.

Thailand shopping
Male novices in the market

But you can see here, boys will be boys and here this young boy is smiling. You can read a beautifully written post about these boys along with stunning images here.

Waiting For The Train

Thailand shopping
Waiting for the train at Maeklong Railway Market

You can definitely spot the tourist at Maeklong Railway Market vs. the regular who’s there to shop. No local would be caught standing here looking for a train. But since we were, I found a spot to stand and wait alongside everyone else.

Thailand shopping
Child near the tracks at Maeklong Railway Market

This little guy wasn’t as interested as everyone else. I can hear the conversation between parent and child though. “C’mon let’s go stand next to the tracks and wait for the train to pass really close to us, ok?”

Thailand shopping
Maeklong Railway Market

This area is almost completely devoid of color and I could almost feel myself transported back in time.

Thailand shopping
Maeklong Railway Market

The train has been operational since 1901 and runs 42 miles. There are only four trains that run daily between Samut Sakhon and Samut Songkhram. I imagine having to stop each time to accommodate the train becomes normal for shops, but for the rest of us, it’s completely unusual.

Before the train arrives, you’ll hear a warning bell and then an announcement over the loudspeaker. Here’s a quick video showing the train approaching.

Here’s another one as the train is passing by. Can you see how close it is to us? Our guide, Kat, made sure to keep her arms in and a safe distance from the train.

Thailand shopping
Maeklong Railway Market

Finally, the train arrives and as you can see, people are rushing to get out of the way. Ok, maybe rushing is an overstatement. Once the train passes, it’s life as usual and vendors go right back to work.

Time For A Quick Drink At Maeklong Railway Market

Thailand shopping
Fresh bananas and coconut

When you’re in Thailand shopping, it’s inevitable you’re going to get hot and thirsty. So what do you do? Have a quick, ice cold beverage, of course. You can choose from soda, water, or perhaps something more local.

Thailand shopping
Fresh bananas and coconut

Like fruit or maybe a fresh coconut cut on the spot for you for a mere 30 THB ($0.92)?

Thailand shopping
Fresh coconut

Nothing says hydration better than something completely natural and hydrating like coconut water.

Thailand shopping
Thai iced tea

That is unless you opt for a Thai iced tea like I did. Have one and watch how quickly you’ll be completely hooked.

Other Shopping At Maeklong Railway Market

Thailand shopping
Amulets for sale

While fruits, veggies, and seafood may be the top sellers for Thailand shopping at Maeklong Railway Market, you can find other things here as well. That includes trinkets and oddities as well as amulets. What’s an amulet? These items are blessed by Thai Buddhist monks and are used to improve luck for the wearer of the amulet.

Kat’s brother was a monk so she was kind enough to get us a few amulets that were already blessed by him. You can see many have cases, but those without, you can still get a case. Just look for a vendor who can create the perfect case for your special amulet and a chain or necklace to it and you’re good to go.

Feeling Hungry?

Thailand shopping
Khanom Krok

Maybe you’ve spent the morning getting all of your Thailand shopping purchased before it gets too hot. With all of your fruits and vegetables in hand, you’re now famished. Did you know that can have a quick snack or a meal here? We tried the Khanom Krok, a special coconut pudding unique to Thailand.

The Khanom Krok has two layers and is made in a special pan to cook each individually. The bottle layer has jasmine rice, coconut, rice flour, water, and salt. The top layer or topping has coconut cream, sugar, salt, and green onion. Sounds strange, but it’s quite good and yes, it’s vegan, too.

Thailand shopping
Woman making Khanom Dok Jok or ขนมดอกจอก

As we were walking back to our car, I spotted a woman making Khanom Dok Jok or ขนมดอกจอก, a fried flower shaped sesame cookie. She had me at cookie, but with sesame in it? Yeah I had to have me some of that.

TSG Tip: Dok Jok means lotus, a flower commonly found throughout Southeast Asia. In Thailand, the lotus flower is closely associated with Buddhism because it’s the traditional flower of Buddhism.

Thailand shopping
Khanom Dok Jok or ขนมดอกจอก

These delicate lotus blossom cookies are perfectly crisp and sweet and I could have eaten the entire bag of them. Don’t worry, I shared.

Final Thoughts

Overall, I’m so incredibly glad I had a chance to do a little Thailand shopping at Maeklong Railway Market. While I didn’t do full on grocery shopping, I had a chance to get out and explore this area and see how locals shop at this extremely unusual market. If you’re visiting Bangkok, it’s definitely worth the trip to visit to Maeklong Railway Market.

Maeklong Railway Market
Sala Thammasop, Thawi Watthana, Bangkok 10170, Thailand
Open Daily: 7 am – 5:30 pm

Have you visited Maeklong Railway Market? Can you suggest other Thailand shopping locations that you found equally exciting? Leave your comments below. Discover some other great destinations and travel ideas here on the Travel Shop Girl website .

On my new SPONTANEOUS TRAVEL SCALE of 1-5, with 1 being super easy and spontaneous and 5 being you better plan far in advance, Maeklong Railway Market scores a 1 for spontaneous travel since it’s open daily for both tourists and locals.

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