Adventures

Maeklong Train Market

960 1280 Carrie Hoffman

by Yim Yam Volunteer Camila from Colombia

 

If you are trying to find unusual things to see  while you are in  Bangkok, then we have the best  plan for you. Located in Samut Songkhram Province, just one hour and a half away from Bangkok (depending on traffic) you are going to find one of the most incredible markets in Thailand, the Maeklong Railway Market. Full of authenticity , local people, fruits, veggies , meat, sweets, restaurants and even clothes, this market is going to give you one of the most amazing experiences in your life because it has an actual train that goes straight through the market itself!

Getting there is easier than it seems. Depending of your location , get the BTS to Mo Chit station and walk through Chatuchak Park (FYI, around this park you can find the weekend  Chatuchak Market on Friday, Saturday and Sundays). If you go  during the morning you can appreciate the peace of the park,  walking through the gardens, watching different birds, and  being surrounded by nature and people exercising , meditating or practicing yoga.

Keep walking until you get to Mo Chit Bus Terminal where you are going to find a ticket office that sells the minivan seats  to go to the market.  It costs around 130 Baht  one way and leaves you just couple blocks away from the Maeklong Market.  You can also get a taxi from your location to go directly to the bus station, it’s up to you!. On the way back it’s the same process.

On the van ride, you will definitely notice the differences between the city and the towns around which are full of street food, little stores , farms and a couple temples that make it interesting and exciting ride.

Plan to go the earliest you can to avoid the hit of the sun and all the crowd of tourists. We suggest you to leave Bangkok around 7:00 am. At the market, walk around, try the food, talk with locals, and don’t forget to ask people what time is the train coming because it just goes by a few times during the day and of course you don’t want to miss it. However, the warning bell will let you know when the train is close; be ready because most of the time the bell sounds just a few seconds before the train passes by and you’ll definitely want to find a good place to take pictures!

In that moment, when the bell rings all the vendors must move all their products to the side off the railway tracks.  They are super fast!  Some of them even leave the fruits and vegetables on the middle of the train tracks but the trains don’t touch them when they pass over.  You are going to be shocked when you see how big the train is and how narrow the space is, nevertheless it fits perfectly!

After the train passes by, the market is on again in just a few seconds and the people get back to the normal routine as if nothing had happened. Simply incredible, this is one of those amazing experiences in Thailand that you definitely can’t miss!!

 

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Exploring Bangkok with Tuk Tuk Hop!

1620 1080 Carrie Hoffman

Tuk Tuk Hop is a great way to explore Bangkok’s temples! Bangkok is an enormous city and its public transportation systems aren’t the easiest to figure out for travelers. It seems every destination requires a different and sometimes confusing combination of Skytrain, bus, ferry boat, taxi, tuk tuk, Metro, etc. Some of the most historic and famous destinations in Bangkok aren’t anywhere close to the BTS Skytrain or Metro lines. What’s a budget-conscious traveler to do?

Enter Tuk Tuk Hop! Tuk Tuk Hop is a new mobile app which is kind of like Uber for tuk tuks in the historic old city area of Bangkok. Users pay a flat fee for unlimited tuk tuk rides from 8:30am-6pm. The service area includes 23 available drop-off/pick-up locations at points of interest. Basically, you get to create your own tour by picking and choosing where you want to go in what order and not having to walk the long, sweaty kilometers in between destinations! Just download the free app, pay, and enjoy personalized service by certified TukTukHop drivers! If you don’t have a Thai data plan on your phone, TukTuk Hop will even rent you a WiFi device for the day.

Here’s a short video explaining #TukTukHop!

tuk tuk hop temples

For our Tuk Tuk Hop tour, we started by getting ourselves to Wat Arun then Wat Pho using the BTS to Saphan Taksin then the Chao Phraya river-crossing ferry boat. Wat Pho is home to the world’s largest reclining Buddha! It was truly impressive.

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From Wat Pho, we ordered our first tuk tuk ride to the Grand Palace! It was great not having to negotiate for an overpriced taxi. We just waited at the point marked on our app for our certified TukTuk Hop driver. He knew exactly how to go to avoid some of the traffic around the Grand Palace (“Sanam Luang”) and get us where we wanted to be. Around the palace, we got to witness the massive crowds of mourners there to honor the late King Rama IX. What a special time to be in Bangkok!

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After walking through two temples and around the Grand Palace we were starving so it was time to chow! We had heard that there were a lot of good restaurants around The Giant Swing, which was another Tuk Tuk Hop stop, so we ordered another ride and jumped in! Riding in tuk tuks and feeling the breeze as you dodge traffic is definitely the most fun way to get around the busy Bangkok streets!

 

tuk tuk hop

For those confused by the Giant Swing, we learned that it was formerly used in an old Hindu religious ceremony where men would have a swinging competition symbolizing “swinging their way into heaven.” The ceremony was stopped in 1935 after several people died! Now the huge swing structure serves as a landmark in Bangkok and there are many great Thai restaurants nearby. We found some vegetarian noodle soup from a small shophouse to satisfy our hunger and enjoyed seeing lots of shops selling golden Buddhas and Hindu relics for temples— so cool!

After our late lunch we didn’t have too much time left, so we decided to grab our tuk tuk and hit up one more temple — Wat Benchamabophit, “The Marble Temple.” This amazing place is made completely of Italian marble and it is stunning!

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You can go to way more places than this using Tuk Tuk Hop if you start early enough! We recommend starting right at 8:30am so that you can use the service all day and really get your money’s worth. It’s such a fantastic way to experience all the most famous historic sites in Bangkok without spending all your time and energy walking! Tuk Tuk Hop is also offering 10% off their normal price AND free umbrella rental for the rest of 2017!

tuk tuk hop

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Loi Krathong Festival at The Golden Mount

5760 3840 Carrie Hoffman

With Loy Krathong festival happening in Bangkok this week, it’s a perfect time to take a trip to one of the city’s best temples!  The Golden Mount, or Wat Saket, is Bangkok’s highest temple, at the top of 344 winding steps! Check out our video which takes you all the way to the top!  It’s absolutely amazing at sunset. Below the temple at the Phranfa Bridge, we got to participate in the Loy Krathong festival. Loy Krathong is a special Thai festival taking place during November’s full moon each year. People release “krathong” offerings — little boats made from banana leaves, flowers, candles, and incense — on the canals and lakes as a religious ceremony. The festival originated as a way to honor the river goddess, but it also has Buddhist meaning. “The candle venerates the Buddha with light, while the krathong’s floating symbolizes letting go of all one’s hatred, anger, and defilements.”

In the video you can see a lot of the different, colorful krathongs you can buy.  The festival continues for a few more days so make sure to get your krathong and participate at any body of water in the city!

Loi Krathong is here!

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Tonight is Loi Krathong, a special Thai festival in which people release floating candle offerings on the canals and lakes as a religious ceremony.  “The candle venerates the Buddha with light, while the krathong’s floating symbolizes letting go of all one’s hatred, anger, and defilements.”

Ask our staff for the best places to go to see the floating candles tonight at sunset!

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