Top 5 Floating Markets in Thailand
A floating market is a market that is located next to a body of water and vendors sell goods directly from their boat. Although some major waterways have been filled in to make way for the road, Bangkok, which was once called the Venice of Asia because of its extensive network of canals, has preserved several of these places to this day. Many people moved around the city by boat, they were the ones who went to market their wares directly from them.
Floating markets were once commonplace and of no interest to Thais, but these days Bangkok’s floating markets have become another form of entertainment, mostly for tourists. Floating markets are located throughout Bangkok and the surrounding provinces and are very popular for weekend visits for locals and foreigners alike. Today the biggest attraction of the floating market in Thailand is the food, which is prepared and served directly from the boat floating in the canal.
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The markets also offer lots of all kinds of trinkets, souvenirs, jewelry, and are also a place for boat rides. If you wish, the floating market can be visited by personal boat.
Everyone loves the floating markets – Thais and tourists alike . You just have to see it as locals flock to one place on weekends! Such markets have deep roots in Thai daily life, and eating out is not a special event like in Western culture: it’s fun, cheap and casual. Thai food has so many variations that it could be a separate topic for tourists traveling on their own – Thai food.
So, visiting the floating market on weekends has become one of the most popular things to do in Thailand. There are 5 markets that deserve your attention:
Amphawa Floating Market
The most popular floating market among locals, Amphawa is a whole neighborhood community that turns as if it were Disneyland – a floating market on weekends. Crowds of people leave Bangkok for a day to see these little stores and sample the delicious food sold from the boats.
A huge number of boats stop in the canal and serve visitors with incredible speed, serving any complicated orders quickly.
Mostly, of course, seafood is eaten here, bought from wooden boats moored around the famous central bridge, where they serve mouthwatering huge shrimp, clams, and squid. From noon until late in the evening, the streets are filled with just an ineffable aroma. The grilled calamari and fried shrimp are especially delicious here. The price of a portion of five large shrimp is 300 baht. If you don’t want to sit on the concrete promenade by the water, you can walk a little further from the bridge to find restaurants with tables and chairs. If you prefer more comfortable establishments, you can take a seat on the balcony at a restaurant near the bridge. This is the only place in the area, so you may have to wait a bit or get there early. The best and quietest restaurant is located at the very end of the waterfront, where the canal flows into the Mae Khlong River.
In addition to seafood, the Ampawa Floating Market sells souvenirs, and of course lots of sweets, snacks and ice cream – Thais are very fond of sweets.
Once you’ve walked around all the nearby streets in the Ampawa area, you can take one of the many long-tail boats and explore the surrounding canals and rivers. You can also take a temple tour or an island tour here. Each costs 50 baht per person for a group tour and 500 baht for a private boat. The first tour is cheaper, however, it lasts much longer because you have to wait for the boat to fill up and also to drop off passengers at each stop.
Ampawa is by far the most attractive of all the floating markets, preserving its identity and local color. But Thais also love this place to the extent that it becomes impossible to pass in the afternoon because of the crowds of people wandering in and out. The best way to enjoy Ampawa is to arrive before 10:00 and leave shortly after lunch.
Opening Hours: Saturday to Sunday
Damnoen Saduak Floating Market
Located about 1.5 hours from Bangkok, Damnoen Saduak is the most popular tourist floating market in Thailand, great for photo shoots, food, and more. It is best to arrive here early in the morning in order to avoid the heat and crowds, and to have time to walk the streets of Damnoen Sadoak freely.
Most tourists who come to Thailand want to visit the floating market, and many of them end up here. In addition to independent tourists, crowds of foreigners come to Damnoen Saduak in organized tours. This is because the floating market is more than an hour away from Bangkok and the easiest way to get there is to take a tour. Because of the masses of people, not everyone likes this market because all the fun of what you see can be ruined.
The bus leaves from Bangkok at 07:00. A chatty and cheerful guide entertains tourists with stories about Thailand, and there is a stop at an orchid farm and coconut production. After a short stop, tourists are put into boats that are waiting to take them to the market. The journey time takes about 20 minutes and this time can be spent in relaxation before a subsequent stroll through the market at a hectic pace of life. The minute you set foot on this island, you’ll find yourself among bustling stores selling small elephant toys, tiger balm, souvenirs and more. Here you can wander around, taste the local products and take lots of pictures.
If you take a boat on the canal, you can get away from the crowds and appreciate the beauty of the area, with its beautiful trees growing in the canal areas.
Khlong Lat Mayom Floating Market
Khlong Lat Mayom is one of three floating markets located near Bangkok, no more than twenty kilometers from the city.
Khlong Lat Mayom can be compared to an oasis in the cool shade, full of green trees. And it is also in a much more tranquil setting than the two floating markets mentioned above. Even though Khlong lat Mayom is also full of stores and countless food options, the market remains quiet and peaceful.
It’s a great place to relax, and enjoy some great food on the banks of the canal. You can spend a couple of hours here, then move on to the largest floating market, Taling Chan, just a couple of kilometers away. It’s best to start at Khlong lat Mayom, since it’s smaller, and then move on to Taling Chan, where you can take a long-tail boat and ride through the neighboring canals.
The canal here is very narrow, and few boats park along the shore, while the rest cook their food on a bridge next to the water, with customers sitting at low tables along the water. The food is the highlight of the floating markets, here you can taste the food cooked on a tiny wooden boat, sitting on a small wooden stool no higher than 10 cm.
Since the canal is very narrow, most of the floating market Khlong Lat Mayom is located on land. The market is divided into two parts: one side sells fresh produce, mostly fruits and vegetables, and the other side sells all kinds of colorful snacks, sweets and cooked food. Walking further down the market, you can buy cheap clothes, home decorations, accessories, toys, flowers and plants. If you have kids, take them for a ranch pony ride down the road; they can ride them from the ranch to the floating market and back.
Hours of operation: Saturdays, Sundays and holidays, 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
How to get there: Take the subway to Wongwian Yai Station, then take a cab for about 150 baht. Taling Chan Floating Market
The charming Taling Chan Floating Market is only a few kilometers outside of Bangkok, but it’s still far enough away that it doesn’t turn into a crowded tourist attraction. Taling Chan has everything you need to have a great half day to yourself, without booking tours or any other fuss. It’s much more pleasant than the big famous floating markets . Taling Chan is famous for its freshest selection of fried seafood. If you’re in Taling Chan on a Saturday morning, you can get incredible crabs, enormous fried shrimp, and famous fried snakefish. In addition to having a great seafood lunch, Taling Chan can also be enjoyed just sitting on the floor with the locals, and you can take a motorboat ride through the nearby canals for 100 baht or do some shopping. You can also get a foot massage under the trees for only 200 baht. This is ideal if you get tired of the hustle and bustle of the floating market , here you can take a little nap if you are not disturbed by the masseuses constantly chattering in their language.
Most of the wooden boats moored along the river shore cook huge shrimp on small braziers, blue crabs, large fish, and the famous catfish salad there. If you arrive at 12 noon, the meal is already running full, and most of the tables in the center section will be occupied. Once you get past the first group of restaurants, the crowd begins to thin out.
If you don’t want to eat on the floor, you can find several restaurants with plastic tables and chairs near the railroad bridge. The restaurants usually have a small illustrated menu, so foreigners have no problem ordering. At worst, just point out what you’d like to try from what you see on the next table. Five giant shrimp cost about 200 baht. To add to the exotic atmosphere, a group of Thai musicians play local music.
Thailand’s floating markets are attractive to tourists and Thais alike. Wherever there are floating markets, there is food. And where there is food, crowds gather. But some markets are so popular, they just don’t seem like local attractions, they’ve just become a subject for photography, like the famous old Damnoen Saduak. Some others, like Ampawa, are not yet as crowded. However, walking along the riverbanks makes you feel like you’re in the subway at rush hour… On the other hand, you can find less crowded floating markets, but calling them markets is a bit of an exaggeration when they consist of just a couple of boats parked next to the pier.
Thus, the Taling Chan Floating Market, has enough boats to call it a floating market and the right number of people to still be enjoyable. Be sure to take cash as no one accepts credit cards. Enjoy while Taling Chan is not yet spoiled by tourism, as it has already started to change.
How to get there: take the subway to Wongwian Yai station, then take a cab for about 150 baht. You can also take a cab or bus (Taling Chan District stop). Opening hours: Saturday and Sunday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Bang Nam Phueng Floating Market
Because Thailand’s floating markets are so popular, there are several that have recently been established to meet the growing demand of people looking for a weekend getaway. Just like many other floating markets, they consist of several boats parked along a canal as well as a large number of stores located on land.
Bang Nam Phuen is located in an area of Bangkok known as Phra Pradaeng. Its proximity to Bangkok makes it a great place to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city and to experience village life. It is a relatively new floating market, which is another gourmet paradise, and a relaxing place where you can stroll, take a boat, or just sit and enjoy the surroundings.
If your idea of a floating market is a canal crowded with a fleet of wooden boats, Bang Nam Phuen is quite different. The exact opposite of Damnoen Saduak, Bang Nam Phuen is a real local market with lots of interesting food and sweets. On a typical day, only five or six boats can be seen here preparing food for customers. Rows of low tables are arranged along the riverbank under a long thatched roof. Here you can relax in a relaxed and pleasant atmosphere. Walking through the narrow streets of Bang Nam Phuen is very pleasant compared to the overheated and crowded streets of other markets. The people are also very friendly.
How to get there: by cab.
When visiting Bangkok be sure to make time to visit the floating markets! You might be interested in:
Bongkok Amphawa Floating Market / Bangkok Floating Market – A review
Floating markets in Bangkok – shopping on the water. The 5 floating markets – how to get there and whether it’s worth it.
Bangkok is the main waterway of Thailand, which like a spider’s web entangles many canals in the bed of the Chao Phraya River. Here for centuries there is a separate life with the usual centuries-old traditional way of life. Bangkok began here: from the many canals (klongs) and the banks of Bangkok’s main river Chao Praya.
People have long settled along these banks, and vendors on boats have come to every house offering fruit and vegetables.
The rivers and canals of Bangkok are used by the locals as roads, as means of livelihood, as sewers: in the rivers they wash, wash and fish… it has been this way for centuries and always will be: because of the clay soil and floods that prevent the building of roads, the river is the center of their whole life.
Thailand’s floating markets are exotic to any first time visitor: they are an attraction, a sightseeing attraction, and a great way to get to know the country from the inside.
All markets, including those on the water, in Thailand begin working very early and even long before sunrise goods are brought here. At dawn, the narrow canal fills with hundreds of boats loaded with such a colorful and diverse assortment that it is impossible to take your eyes off them.
Those who sell food on the streets, at the mobile points in Bangkok daily come here to buy food, so tourists in Thailand should not be afraid of poisoning, buying freshly cooked food from the trays “makashniki” – usually it is always fresh and cooked in front of you.
So, what is a floating market in Thailand?
Floating markets in Thailand are wooden platforms on stilts, sometimes several floors and always under the canopy, to which sailed such boats. This boat is called “Ryopai” – a rowing boat, which has great value in Thai families, it also serves as a means of transportation and a bench on which they lay out the goods for sale, and some even built a small kitchen and they sell hot food. As a rule, these boats in Thailand are the only means of family income and even passed on by inheritance.
Tourists in Thailand mainly ride on “longtails,” long-tail boats that are considered a symbol of the country. They are used since ancient times and to this day have not lost their relevance. They come in a variety of forms – simplified motorboats like this one and luxurious, carved boats used for festivals and ceremonies.
There are no floating markets in the center of Bangkok and they are all concentrated in the surrounding areas.
I have been to the floating markets three times: at Ampawa Floating Market on my way to the North Kwai River, Taling Chn Floating Market on my way to Tiger Monastery and Damnoen Saduak Floating Market on my way to Ayutthaya, the ancient capital of Thailand.
Here I will try to describe my impressions of the floating markets and the cruise along the Chao Phraya canals and at the same time talk about all the others operating in the vicinity of Bangkok.
The most interesting way to the floating markets by water. Sailing through the narrow canals, we can appreciate how and what the Thais, who have settled by the water for a long time, live.
Just turn off the water from the Chao Phraya River and enter a boat into one of the canals, the scenery changes immediately: a variety of slums drowning in the water on rotten wooden piles.
The richer ones are on panel piles. Here the laundry is dried, washed in the river. Life goes on as usual, it’s just completely different.
In Thailand, there is an interesting tradition: everyone tries to choose clothing according to the day of the week. Tuesday is the day of pink.
Along the way there are very interesting landscapes – coconut plantations, small neat houses among the rainforest.
Here, the Chao Phraya canals in Bangkok even have their own temples on the water:
Surprisingly, tall houses of several stories have begun to be built on stilts:
Everything possible is used as building materials – car parts and tires, planks, parts from boats, metal plates, everything that comes to hand.
Despite the fact that there is no sewage system and the smell that constantly haunts tourists in Bangkok is annoying, fish farms are organized at every step – the Chao Phraya River itself and the canals are literally swarming with catfish, carp, shrimp – you can see all kinds of seafood.
Yet Bangkok is the most contrasting city in the world. Poverty and disrepair within dozens of kilometers neighbors with the luxury of the best chain hotels in the world.
We take a boat to the floating market and watch the local life.
Several boats come up to us at once and offer us their goods. The boats maneuver so cleverly and avoid collisions with each other that their dexterity is something to be envied.
In fact, all of them are similar and the only difference is that some of them are tourist-oriented and are turned into a tourist attraction, and, accordingly, differ in the range of goods offered.
You can buy everything from homemade goods to food at these markets. A lot of souvenirs, there are small restaurants with local food at very low prices.
There are five markets in Bangkok:
✔ Damnoen Saduak Floating market
The market is open daily from 07:00 to 11:00, so it is better to plan in advance and get here as early as possible. This market is located 80 kilometers from Bangkok and is the oldest in the city. The market is notable for the fact that it was marked in the James Bond movie, it was local canals became famous for the film the whole world.
Now the market is turned into a real attraction on the water, designed for tourists, there are almost no local buyers and the range consists mainly of souvenirs, which can be found in major shopping centers of the city, for example in MBK, all much cheaper than at the market.
You can get to the market on your own by taking bus 78 and 996 from the city’s South Station.
Typically, a visit to this market is part of the tour program in Ayutthaya or on the River Kwai.
✔ Ampawa Floating Market
The market is open only on Saturday and Sunday from 08:00 to 19:00 and is more oriented to locals who come here for shopping or relaxation. This is where the local color can be fully appreciated: the national Thai food and low prices for fruit and any seafood, which can be seen here in abundance.
The biggest advantage of this market is its proximity to Bangkok. You can take a mini bus to Ampawa Market from Victory Monument Overground Station on the weekends and they leave every hour.
✔ Tha Kha Floaating Market
The market is open from 08:00 to 11:30. This market is 100 kilometers from Bangkok and a 15-minute drive from the largest floating market, the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market.
Only locals visit this market and there are no souvenir shops. Sale here are mainly vegetables, fruits and homemade goods. Prices are much lower than the “tourist” floating markets and only a few hundred baht to arrange an hour tour along the canals.
Here can be interesting houses of local residents and palm sugar production, low prices and, of course, the life of local residents without tourist glamor.
✔ Bang Khu Wiang Floating Market
The most nationally oriented market for locals only – it’s open from 04:30 to 08:00. Basically all the food is bought here for the mobile food outlets in Bangkok, the so called “makashnickas” I wrote about above. To tell you the truth, I wouldn’t recommend going here: there are no souvenirs or particularly noteworthy outlets here.
✔ Taling Chn Floating Market
A market that’s only open on weekends from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. It takes an hour and a half (about 2000 baht) to get to this market with a boat trip to see the coconut plantations, or you can take bus 79 (20 baht) from downtown Bangkok, which is much cheaper but longer. The pontoon itself where this market is located is small, it is smaller than the others.
One of the most important tips when planning an independent trip to the floating market is that it is best to leave here as early as possible.
I love the floating markets in Thailand, so I will recommend them without a doubt – both as a tourist attraction in Thailand and as a way to dive into the local color and do the unusual for Europeans shopping on the water. Which of the floating markets more to your liking – you decide, provided that all of them are essentially the same, but they still differ in their focus on tourists or locals.
It is best to take a tour, which will already include a visit to any of the floating markets.
Especially come here I would recommend only if you have a lot of time in Thailand or if you are too big a fan of local color, because there is more than enough.
In fact, this is one of the unique places in the world where food is cooked right in boats and houses stand on the water, and the locals live in a very different environment from ours.
Thanks for reading and enjoy your travels!
P.S. Here you can read about Lumpini Park in Bangkok, a unique place where you can feed huge lizards – varans – in the city center.
Here you can see how also live on the water in Cambodia, but much worse.
A Here you can read about swimming with elephants in Thailand and what positive emotions it can evoke.
Here you can read about the summer residence of the Thai King – Bang Pa In and find out where the highest guests of Thailand are received. You can also visit the Buddhist temple Wat Naphrameru and see the 1500 year old Buddha.