Bangkok's vibrant and colourful floating markets

The floating market near Bangkok is a special attraction of Thailand. It is a symbol of Thailand that gives Thailand its real identity. It is impossible to visit Thailand and not see a floating market. These markets are ubiquitous in Thailand. After spending some time in Thailand, we become so comfortable with their presence that sometimes we do not even feel their presence.

Bangkok's floating markets
Bangkok's floating markets

You can visit floating markets in and around almost all major cities of Thailand. While touring Bangkok, you will also get the opportunity to visit many floating markets. Visiting these floating markets is promoted prominently in Thailand tourism. Especially for tourists visiting Bangkok for the first time, it is considered one of the best attractions of Bangkok. I also agree with them.

Some of these floating markets are made especially for tourists. Such markets are full of tourists. At the same time, there are some floating markets where items of general needs are available. Those markets are mostly attended by local people. I suggest that you must visit at least one of these two types of markets.

What is a floating market?

A typical floating market is a market where vendors sell various items on their boats. The items sold include vegetables, fruits, fresh flowers and items of daily needs, while on the other hand, snacks, drinks, etc. and souvenirs are sold for tourists.

The Floating Markets of Amphawa The Floating Markets of Amphawa
The Floating Markets of Amphawa

The customers of these vendors can range from people walking on the shore to people on other boats. Such markets are very common and popular, especially in Southeast Asia, where rivers and canals are the focus of commercial activity for large communities.

A tradition from ancient times that is still prevalent in rural areas of Thailand is that floating markets are often located near temples. These markets can be daily morning markets or weekly markets or night markets. They can even be floating markets on the riverbank.

Temples are considered the centre of the city. Most temples have a public place where people gather during festivals. If there is a river or any other water source near the temples, shops are set up there. If this market is being built for the purpose of tourism, then there is no compulsion of proximity to the temple, as is seen in modern times.

irony – Floating market, on many occasions, this term also has a different meaning. A market that is not fixed at one place, keeps moving, like a weekly market. Such weekly markets are often set up around the premises of popular temples. Some special markets related to special festivals are also set up inside the temple premises. That is, there are no boats in such markets.

You will definitely get a chance to taste delicious local cuisine here. That too while enjoying beautiful views of the river or canal flowing nearby. Like the Ban Toun Tan riverbank market in Saraburi.

Popular floating markets near Bangkok

Here are some of the floating markets near Bangkok, Thailand that you must visit during your trip to Thailand.

Damian Saduak – Bangkok's largest floating market

Damian Saduak is the largest floating market in Bangkok, perhaps in the whole of Thailand. Most tourists visit here during their Bangkok tour. This market seems to be developed especially for tourism. It is natural that this market will be full of tourists. This is both good and troublesome.

Damian Saduak Bangkok floating market Damian Saduak Bangkok floating market
Damian Saduak Bangkok floating market

On one hand, there is a hustle and bustle of tourists here, on the other hand, there can be some inconvenience due to the crowd. On one hand, it is good that most of the vendors speak and understand English. Means of reaching here are also easy. On the other hand, some anti-social elements who are ready to cheat the tourists also roam around here. On seeing the tourists, the vendors also increase the prices of their goods. So be careful. You can bargain with them for a reasonable price.

You must enjoy the market located along the canal. There are both types of shops here, on land as well as on boats. Another attraction for tourists here is that while riding a boat, you can closely observe the locals living their daily lives.

There are several one-day scheduled tours from Bangkok that can take you to Damyen Saduak. Alternatively, you can reach here by taxi on your own. You can also reach Damyen Saduak by bus from Sai Tai Mai Van Terminal on the outskirts of Bangkok.

Read more: Bangkok nightlife for family travellers – 8 top attractions

Amphawa's floating market

Another popular floating market is Damian Saduak. You can plan your day and visit both the floating markets in one day as a one-day trip. The floating market of Amphawa was actually a fishermen's village which has now been developed as a commercial complex. Hence the market here seems less touristy.

Amphawa market at dusk Amphawa market at dusk
Amphawa market at dusk

There is a cheap market on teak wooden platforms on both sides of the canal. Here you can taste authentic and cheap local Thai cuisine. Mostly locals come to this market, so you can also see the lifestyle of the locals closely. Here you can take a boat ride in the canal water at cheap rates.

Another reason to visit this market is that from here you can also go to the nearby train market. Yes, the train passes through this market. They collect their goods before the train arrives and set up the market again as soon as the train leaves. If you have come to Damian Saduak, then you can reach Amphawa Floating Market by taxi from there.

Read more: Ratchaprasong Tour – Visiting Hindu Gods and Goddesses in Bangkok

Don Wai Floating Market

Now we will discuss about the floating markets which are less popular from the tourism point of view. Don Wai is one such floating market which is popular among the locals. You may not see even a single foreign tourist here. Don Wai Floating Market is located in Nakhon Pathom province, on the western side of Bangkok. Due to its location in the rural area, you can experience the authentic local lifestyle here.

Don Wai Floating MarketDon Wai Floating Market
Don Wai Floating Market

This floating market is located right behind the Don Wai Temple. As you cross the temple, you will notice that most people in the area enjoy spending their Sundays at this local market. The variety of goods and shops available here will amaze you. There is a wide variety of items available here, from clothes, apparel, plants, toys, etc. to a wide variety of local cuisines and Thai snacks.

This market is located on the bank of a canal where some vendors also set up shops on boats. In this canal you will also see some huge boats which go to another major temple located nearby. You can go there by those boats from where you can further go to your hotel. If this boat ride is done in the evening then it can prove to be a pleasant boat ride.

If you want to reach here by road then the last MRT Station (Lak Song) It takes about 30 minutes from there. You can take a bus or two to reach here or you can directly reach this market by taxi.

Read more: Ayutthaya or Ayuthia – What to see in the ancient capital of Bangkok?

Bangnamphueng Floating Market

Bang Nam Phueng Floating Market is a beautiful rural market located on the island of Bang Kachao. Bang Kachao is also known as the lungs of Bangkok. It is a horseshoe-shaped island that has been created due to the circular path of the Chao Phraya River. The main attractions of this island are the huge trees covering it and the pure beauty of the countryside. As soon as you cross the river and enter this area, it feels like you are entering another world.

This market is located in the middle of Bang Kachao. On weekends, this floating market is full of customers. As I said earlier, it is not necessary that all floating markets are located on boats. Markets can also be located on hanging platforms over the river. This is one such market. Here many shops sell local products. Wherever you go in this market, the river is always your companion. A variety of dishes like fresh Thai snacks, meat dishes, cakes, honey, sweets etc. are available here.

Apart from the market, a major attraction here is the Bang Kachao Island itself. You can visit this quiet rural island located amidst dense trees. This is a great place if you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of Bangkok.

Taling Chan Floating Market

One of the reasons for the popularity of the Taling Chan floating market is its proximity to Bangkok. It is neither within Bangkok nor is it located far from Bangkok. You can reach this floating market quickly by any taxi. Or you can reach this market by taking the SRT of the red line to Taling Chan station and then walk from there.

Taling Chan Floating MarketTaling Chan Floating Market
Taling Chan Floating Market

Though most shops on land will sell regular Thai spices, you will find more exotic items on the boats floating on the water. You will find some noodle vendors on those boats from where you can buy noodles and eat them in the snack bars floating on the canal.

But the best attraction of this place in my opinion is the boat ride. You can hire a long tail public boat or a private boat from this floating market which can take you around the unmatched beauty of Thon Buri. It will be like visiting Bangkok 100 years back. While on the ride, you can feed the fish, visit the nearby temple and return after paying obeisance. It is a refreshing experience even if it is not thrilling.

Read more: List of Vegetarian Thai Dishes for Vegetarian Tourists to Thailand

Some travel tips for visiting floating markets near Bangkok

The pleasure of eating while floating The pleasure of eating while floating
The pleasure of eating while floating
  • Before visiting any floating market, make sure to check its entry fee on the internet. Entry to most floating markets is free. If there is an entry fee, get it from the authorized ticket counter only. There you may encounter some scammers who may lure you into providing these entry at a very high price.
  • Similarly, you may be surrounded by some fraudsters who may lure you into getting a boat immediately and charge you a very high price. Every floating market has a boat ride window from where you can get the exact price. Generally, these boats are arranged for rides in groups or privately. If you ride in a group, it is available at a lower price. The price of private rides is higher.
  • Generally the prices of food items are stable and are displayed on information boards. But if you want to buy some gifts or souvenirs to commemorate your Thailand trip, then their prices fluctuate. Before buying anything, do get prior information about their prices from other shops. You can bargain without hesitation.
  • Keep your phone, personal belongings and your wallet carefully with you while visiting markets and boating. Although pickpocketing is not common, it can be difficult to retrieve them if they drop while visiting crowded areas or walking near water. Also, cover your phone with a waterproof case while boating.

This is a guest edition written by Snigdha Jaiswal, author of the travel edition The Stupid Bear. Her travel edition provides practical information about untouched and interesting tourist destinations in South and Southeast Asia.

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