Visiting a floating market often features high on the ‘to-do list’ of many travellers to South-East Asia. Observing the life of people who live and trade their fresh produce on the river is a fascinating experience. Probably the best things to buy from the traders are tropical fruits which are unrecognisable from what you’re probably used to in your local supermarket back home. Look out for the delicious mangoes, pineapples, papayas and dragon fruits but beware of a large, prickly fruit called ‘durian’ as it’s probably the smelliest fruit in the world! Such is its odour that it has been banned from many hotels and some public transport in this part of the world.
Below are some of the floating markets which are accessible from Bangkok by means of independent travel or as part of a tour group:
Taling Chan Floating Market
This is one of the closest floating markets to Bangkok which lies approximately 10km north-west of the Grand Palace. It is smaller and less touristy than better publicised markets such as Damnoen Saduak allowing visitors a more authentic experience than being amongst hordes of tour groups. Visitors can take longtail boat rides around the ‘khlongs’ (canals) and enjoy a barbecued seafood lunch in the company of local market-goers. The market is only open on Saturdays and Sundays from 8am until 5pm and is best reached by taxi from the city. Alternatively, you can take the BTS Skytrain to Wongwian Yai Station then take a shorter taxi ride to Taling Chan.
Khlong Lat Mayom Floating Market
Located very close to Taling Chan, this is another authentic floating market which attracts relatively few foreign tourists. On arrival you’ll find local operators who will offer short boat tours around the ‘khlongs’ which provide a great opportunity to observe the beautiful countryside and daily life of remote villages. Back at the pier you’ll be able to enjoy some terrific Thai food cooked on small, wooden boats and served to you at the riverside whilst you sit on a tiny stool. The market is only open on weekends from approximately 9.30am until 4.00pm. It can be reached by taxi from Bangkok otherwise you can take the BTS Skytrain to Wongwian Yai Station then take a short cab or tuk-tuk ride. It’s very easy to combine a visit to both Taling Chan and Khlong Lat Mayom in the same trip.
Please note that reference to a ‘floating market’ when referring to these two markets nearest Bangkok is a little misleading as most of the trading takes place along the riverbank rather than on the water. Nevertheless they offer a unique travel experience and are highly recommended for visitors who like to get off the beaten track.
Damnoen Saduak Floating Market
Located 100km west of Bangkok this is the granddaddy of floating markets which is best reached on an organised tour. Visitors are transferred by coach to a river where long-tail boats are waiting to take them on a short tour of the canals before arriving at the market. In spite of the number of tourists at this market the frenzied activity of hundreds of traders in wooden boats laden with fruit and vegetables is a sight to behold. Whilst not the most authentic of travel experiences the visit to Damnoen Saduak is still well worthwhile and has long been the most popular short excursion from Bangkok.
Amphawa Floating Market
This market lies some 80km southwest of central Bangkok. It attracts less foreign tourists than Damnoen Saduak but is extremely popular with Thai visitors who come more for the food than the shopping. The market is renowned for its delicious seafood, which is barbecued on wooden boats, and its Thai desserts. The market is only open from Friday to Sunday and doesn’t really get started until after midday. The best way to get there is on an organised tour or by minibus from Bangkok’s Southern Bus Terminal. Visitors can walk to the nearby Wat Amphawa Chetiyaram and visit numerous other Buddhist temples such as Wat Thong Khung and Wat Bang Kung from longtail boats. These short tours which cruise along the Mae Klong River can be booked at the central bridge in Amphawa. Shopaholics with time to spare might also be interested in visiting the Maeklong Railway Market which is only 7km south-east of Amphawa and easily accessible by taxi.
TRANSPORT TIP: Whether you’re travelling to Thailand for business or pleasure it’s well worth booking a private transfer from Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport. Your professional driver will be waiting for you on arrival and will safely transfer you to any hotel or other accommodation in the city.
Tha Kha Floating Market
This smaller floating market lies just 10km north-east of Amphawa and about 75km southwest of Bangkok. Being off the beaten track it is much quieter than the others listed above and is very much geared to catering for the local population rather than serving as a tourist attraction. It’s a great place to observe people trading their fresh produce on the river and to enjoy first-class Thai food from the vendors along the riverbank. The market is open at weekends from 6am until around midday and is best reached by hiring a private vehicle with a driver for the day from Bangkok. Anyone staying in Amphawa or Damnoen Saduak can get there by tuk-tuk.
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