This is a guest post by Koren Cohen of City Gal on the Go.

I find one of the best ways to immerse myself in local culture when traveling is to visit a local market.  Markets are a fantastic way to sample local cuisine and see what the locals are eating, purchasing and wearing.  I’ve seen my share of interesting markets around the world, but nothing compares to the markets in Thailand.  Although there are certainly many things to do in Thailand, I highly recommend visiting at least one market. Chatuchak in Bangkok is perhaps the most widely known Thai market and Damnoem Saduak is the most popular floating market to visit, the best markets to visit in Thailand are often overlooked by visitors.  

Here are three Thai markets that you shouldn’t miss:

Maeklong Railway Market

Located about 70km outside of Bangkok, the Maeklong Railway Market may be the most interesting (and most dangerous!) market in the world.  If you aren’t familiar with the Maeklong Railway Market, as the name suggests, a train runs directly through the market multiple times each day.  To give you some background, the market was in existence prior the Maeklong railway, and when the Thai government decided to build the railway, the market vendors opted to stay.  And so, a train runs through the market multiple times each day.

It’s a pretty amazing sight to see.  Minutes before the train runs through the market, vendors lower their awnings and stand back from the tracks.  Vendors have become particularly adept at positioning their produce so it barely escapes being crushed multiple times a day.  Once the train passes, business resumes as usual.


How to get to the Maeklong Railway Market:

The approximately 2-hour trip to the Maeklong Railway Market is an adventure in itself!  To get to the Maeklong Railway Market, take the train from Wong Wian Yai train station in Bangkok to Mahachai.  Mahachai is the last stop on the line, and this leg of the trip will take you approximately 1 hour.  When you arrive at Mahachai, exit the train left, walk through the station, then turn right and walk through the fish market.  When you reach the end of the street, you will see a ferry on your left; take this ferry across the river to Ban Laem.  When you exit the ferry, walk through the covered market and turn right onto the street.  Follow this street for about 10 minutes until you reach the Ban Laem train station.  Wait there until the next train arrives.  Take this train all the way to Maeklong, the last stop on the line.  You’ll know you have arrived at the Maeklong Railway Market because you will be on the train when it passes through the market!
 
Tips for visiting the Maeklong Railway Market:
– Take the earliest train possible from Wong Wian Yai station (there is usually a 7:30am and a 9:30am and either are fine, but check the train times in advance as they are subject to change).  If you take a later train, you may not have time to see a midday train run through the market.
– Be careful if you’re sitting by a window on the train to Mahachai or Maeklong.  The train passes through some heavy brush and you can easily get hit in the head or poked in the eye!
– When the train from Ban Laem reaches Maeklong, hop up front by the conductor to get the best view as you pass through the market.
– Make sure you check the return times, as the last train from Maeklong often leaves as early as 5:30pm.  If you miss it, you will be stuck in Maeklong until the following morning.
 

Amphawa Floating Market


There are many floating markets in Thailand, but Amphawa Floating Market is my favorite.  Amphawa Floating Market sits on the Amphawa canal, a network of several canals connecting to the Maeklong River.  
 
I particularly like Amphawa because of its distinctively local flavor.  You’ll hardly see any tourists (if at all).  To the contrary, you’ll get to see the Thai locals enjoying a meal and going about their business.

The vendors at Amphawa serve some of the best local seafood in Thailand.  Watching the vendors cook and prepare the seafood on the boats is a truly unique experience.


How to get to Amphawa Floating Market:
Amphawa Floating Market is easily accessible from the Maeklong Railway Market, so combining the two makes sense, especially if you have limited time (another reason to catch one of the early trains to Maeklong).  While at Maeklong, catch one of the blue tuk tuks from the 7-11 outside of the Maeklong Railway Market.  If you’re unsure where to go, most people will be able to direct you to the 7-11.  The ride is just a few minutes.  Make sure to leave yourself enough time to return to the Maeklong Railway Market in time to catch the last train back to Bangkok.

Phuket Night Market
 

If you’re into Thai street food, the Phuket Night Market has some of the best street food in Thailand.  The market is open every weekend from late afternoon into evening and has the widest selection of ready-to-eat street food I saw in Thailand.  The market sells everything from fresh fruit (dragon fruit and pineapple), veggies (corn on the cob and Thai beans) and seafood (prawns, fried fish, squid skewers and sushi) to every dessert you never knew existed.  The Phuket Night Market is also the place to go if you’re craving some of the more adventurous Thai dishes:


Bugs.
 The Phuket Night Market sells an array of bugs for consumption.  I was daring and at the urging of a very nice Thai woman, ate a few maggots.  They were fried and dipped in sauce, crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside.  I hate to admit this, but they were fairly tasty!
Pig snouts. I definitely was not daring enough to try the pig snouts.  
Quail eggs.  I wanted to try these, but by the time I discovered them, I’d already had my fill of Thai sweets and couldn’t eat any more!  

Additional items for the adventurous foodie include bird heads and horseshoe crabs.  The Phuket Night Market also sells clothing and souvenirs, though they are a bit more expensive than at other markets in Thailand.

 


How to get to the Phuket Night Market:

The Phuket Night Market is located just outside Phuket Town.  To get there, hire a taxi or a tuk tuk from Phuket Town or one of the beaches.

With all there is to do on a trip to Thailand, it’s difficult to decide what to do when your time is limited. I hope this post encourages you to consider adding at least one visit to a local market when in Thailand!

 

How to plan your trip to Thailand:

If you’re planning to travel to Thailand, I recommend you check out my post on How to Spend Two Weeks in Thailand and Tips for Traveling Around Thailand

By | February 7th, 2013|Thailand, Travel Tips|5 Comments

About the Author:

Ellen first traveled overseas at age 15 when her father insisted upon sending her on a school trip to Germany. And that’s when it happened: high atop Switzerland’s Mt. Pilatus, she was bitten by the travel bug and has never quite recovered. Since then, she has traveled to 34 countries on five continents. She currently resides in New England and continues to hold her father responsible for all the money she has spent on travel since that first trip to Europe.

5 Comments

  1. Koren @ City Gal February 7, 2013 at 9:24 AM - Reply

    Thanks, Ellen! This was such a nice surprise to wake up to here in Colombia!

  2. memographer February 8, 2013 at 1:56 PM - Reply

    Love Thailand and its culture. Thai markets are very unique. Great story by Koren and beautiful set of photos.

  3. BlogDaz February 12, 2013 at 9:17 PM - Reply

    Seen a video of Meeklong Market, it’s an amazing sight to behold as the train comes through.

    • Koren Leslie Cohen February 26, 2013 at 4:14 AM - Reply

      This was one of my favorite days in all my travels. It REALLY is amazing to see the train go through the market, and how quickly vendors prepare and subsequently go about their business. Unlike anything I’ve seen before. That, combined with the actual market and neighborhood, the adventurous trip there, and the side trip to Amphawa, made for a fantastic day in Bangkok. HIGHLY recommend!

      • Ellen Small Billard February 26, 2013 at 9:32 PM - Reply

        I’ll be heading to Thailand in April, so I’ll keep all your recommendations in mind!

Leave A Comment