In Thailand, there have been several floating markets, mostly serving during the weekends starting in the early morning. It is a scenic type of traditional culture as the people sell merchandise by floating boat on a canal or a part of a river. All products are from local communities such as fruit orchards, handicrafts, local meals, etc. People come to visit floating markets not only for the floating market itself but also for touring around the nearby area to see local temples, and even to experience boating on a canal and purchasing and enjoying their own meal with family or friends during the visit.
The following floating markets are some of my favourites in Bangkok and the surrounding area:
1. Damnoen Saduak: It is located in Ratchaburi Province, about 82 kilometers to the southwest of Bangkok. It is the most famous and the top ranked floating market since it is the oldest one in terms of the fame to the tourists. The area is covered with several fruit gardens such as bananas, coconut trees, papayas, and mangoes. There are also a lot of canals of the inner part where the native people spend their days, generation by generation, mostly as agriculturalists. The floating market is open daily between 7am to noon. In the past (1866), the canal was dug to join two main rivers, Tah Chin River and Mae Klong River under the command of King Rama IV.
2. Amphawa: This is one of the famous floating markets in Thailand because of its colorful lifestyle and the location. It is not too far from Bangkok, just about 68 kilometers. Amphawa Floating Market is unique because it is the only floating market starting in the late afternoon and staying open until after dark (9pm), not like others which all start in the dawn and close earlier. The market consists of a variety of local products serving only during the weekends including Fridays. The location is also a part of the area of the Gulf of Thailand where the Mae Klong River flows out from the land to the sea as the final exit way. Hop on a boat to watch the fireflies or lighting bugs at night time. And because of her beauty, Amphawa is also legendary for inspiring musicians and writers to compose great works of music and literature.
3. Khlong Lardmayom: The word, khlong means canal in Thai. There are more than a hundred canals linked as waterways of local people. Khlong Lardmayom floating market is quite new in the Bangkok area, running only during weekends between 7am and 2pm. The surrounding area is used by native people cultivating their land for fruit orchards. There is also a walk-way along the canal to explore the green area.
4. Taling Chan Floating Market: Also open during weekends from 7am-3pm. This is one of many floating markets located in Bangkok at Khlong Chakphra. Most people visit here for their choices of delicious prepared meals. And it is the most centralized urban floating market of Bangkok area which can be reached by local public transportation.
5. Bang Namphurng: It is located at Samut Prakarn Province on the western side of Phrapradaeng District. This floating market also runs during weekends between 7-3pm. The local products for sale are from the community of Morn ethnic peoples (one of the major old Thai local tribes). This floating market is within the Bangkok metropolitan area and can also be reached by public transportation.
There are still some more floating markets in Thailand’s rivers or canals in other provinces throughout the country. And don’t forget that the areas surrounding the floating market are good places to witness uniquely Thai traditions and cultures.
Thank you Swai, for this thoughtful and detailed explanation of some of the Bangkok region’s most accessible and appealing floating markets. If any travelers are headed to Thailand in 2012, consider getting in touch with Swai to learn more about Thai culture and history.