You always wondering where you can find real local Thai floating markets? in this article we will show you the most interesting unseen floating markets that tourists don’t even know they exist.
Floating markets are one of Thailand’s must-visit attractions. Unique to Southeast Asia and some parts of South Asia, floating markets have historically served riverside communities, the waterways allow ease of transport of goods and produce, leading to booming economic activity along the riverbanks. In Thailand, floating markets have existed since the Ayutthaya period from the 14th century and were still lively and crowded up to the mid-19th century.
It wasn’t till Thailand started to modernize, developing roads and railways that replaced the old canals as the preferred means of travel, that floating markets started becoming less popular. Many of them moved to land or were closed down. Luckily for us, the Thai government has long recognized floating markets as an essential part of Thai heritage and culture, and several markets now serve as weekend attractions for locals and foreigners alike.
Still, while places like Damnoen Saduak and Amphawa are the first names that come to mind, sometimes you want to get away from the hordes of tourists and go somewhere with a more authentic vibe. There are still dozens of traditional floating markets all over Thailand, many of whom aren’t on the itinerary of any tour group. If your idea of travel is to go off the beaten path, here are 5 floating markets within reach from Bangkok that are worth a visit.
Best Local Thai Floating Markets
- Khlong Lat Mayom Floating Market
Khlong Lat Mayom market has the advantage of being very close to central Bangkok, and is one of the easiest to get to in the city. It’s got all the attractions of a traditional floating market – boat vendors, colorful wares, picturesque views, loads and loads of food, and likely no foreigners in sight. Feel free to explore every inch of the place, before settling on a spot by the canal to enjoy delights such as grilled snakehead fish, fresh river prawns, and boat noodles – so named because it’s made to be prepared and served from a boat. Don’t miss the long-tail boat tour, which takes you along the canals for a glimpse of riverside life, and includes a visit to a lovely orchid farm nearby.
How to get there: by getting off the BTS at Bang Wa station, then taking a taxi.
- Taling Chan Floating Market
If you’re up for visiting two floating markets in a single day, you’re in luck – Taling Chan is just a few kilometres away from Khlong Lat Mayom. This market is smaller, but has all the charms of its neighbor, just in a more compact package. You can also take a boat tour here, which takes you to Wat Champa, a temple on an island amidst the waterways. The community of locals that live on this island is 500 years old, and the temple also houses the famous Buddha statue known as Luang Por Chokdee that grants good luck to worshippers. Lastly, a great way to cap off your visit is with a foot, shoulder or even full body massage, expertly performed by the masseuses offering their services here.
How to get there: take a taxi from the nearest BTS station, Wongwian Yai. If you’re coming from Khlong Lat Mayom, it’s another short (5 minute) taxi ride away.
- Kwan Riam Floating Market
Here’s a story behind Kwan Riam Floating Market’s name: it came from Thailand’s biggest box-office hit movie of 1977! Kwan and Riam were the names of the hero and heroine in Plae Kao, the aforementioned classic film, which was set in the area’s canals – hence the name. The market itself is divided by a beautiful bridge that spans the canal, with two picturesque temples on either side. It’s relatively new, having opened just a few years ago, but it’s not without its charms. Come at 7.30am and join the morning alms ceremony for the local monks, or view the cultural and dance shows that start at 3pm.
How to get there: there aren’t any train stations within convenient distance, so your best bet is to take a taxi – the fare should be between 250 to 350 baht.
- Don Wai Floating Market
For those seeking a truly historical floating market, Don Wai is your best bet – it’s over a hundred years old! That puts its origin in the reign of King Rama VI. Unlike other floating markets located on canals, Don Wai is situated on the banks of the Tha Jeen river. It’s also an absolute food paradise – tom yum noodles, stewed Java barb fish, all kinds of Thai sweets and desserts, and not one but two famous Chinese stewed duck stalls! So go ahead and pick up anything that grabs your fancy, but remember, you’ll have to carry it all home before you can dig in.
How to get there: there are buses, but we don’t recommend them unless you have a Thai-speaking friend. Best to just take the 40-minute taxi ride, which should set you back about 400-500 baht.
- Tha Kha Floating Market
The furthest floating market from Bangkok on this list, Tha Kha is located in the province of Samut Songkhram, about an hour’s drive from the city. And it’s regarded by those in the know as the most authentic floating market experience amongst all others. What makes Tha Kha unique is the relaxed, laidback vibe of the place. The vendors are genuine locals serving locals, not tourist attractions. And instead of boat tours, you can rent a (ridiculously cheap) paddle boat and take your own leisurely cruise along the waterways.
How to get there: this one takes some doing, since it’s about an hour and a half from Bangkok. Unless you rent a private car, your best bet is to take the Maeklong Railway from Wongwian Yai to Samut Sakhon, then switching trains to Samut Songkhram.
Despite the heat, the crowds, and the occasional touristy tackiness, floating markets are still a not-to-be-missed highlight of the Thailand experience. The bustling streets of Bangkok can feel indistinguishable from any other modern city – but on the banks of a river or canal, among friendly Thais in wooden rowboats laden with delicious wares, you can truly feel like you’re in a different world. So pay these markets a visit, and see Thailand at its best. If nothing else, your tummy will certainly thank you for it!