Thailand’s floating markets on ‘klongs’ (canals) are among the most photographed attractions in the country. And, although they can attract many tourists, they are well worth putting on your list of things to do in Thailand.
Tips and tricks
The trick is to make sure you get there as early as possible to avoid the crowds. Going early also means you’ll get to watch traders in boats barter their locally-produced flowers, fruit and vegetables in pretty much the same way as it was done centuries ago. You’ll get a glimpse of the authentic Thailand and how produce has been traded for centuries.
A good way to fully appreciate a floating market is to book a guided tour on a long-tailed boat or rowing boat. You can easily book these tours via your hotel or you can haggle directly with a boat owner.
A tour along the klongs also gives you an appreciation of Thai homes and gardens and you can get right up close to the market traders’ boats which are piled high with tropical fruit and vegetables, fresh coconut juice, and local food cooked from floating kitchens.
As the locals will tell you, no visit to a floating market is complete unless you sample the fabulous traditional Thai food on sale from numerous stalls, including ‘boat noodles’ – a simple and tasty dish served to you in your boat – and delicious Thai desserts such as deep-fried bananas and Kanom Bueng (crispy pancakes).
Many floating markets in Thailand also offer OTOP (One Tambon, One Product) goods for sale. OTOP is a sustainable development initiative by the Thailand government which promotes unique goods made by local communities as well as preserving traditional skills and Thai culture.
You can usually buy a range of handicrafts, gems, jewellery and textiles at the OTOP stalls, which not only make great souvenirs of your holiday in Thailand but also support the local economy and village communities.
The latest addition to the list of Bangkok’s floating markets is the weekend-only Kwan Riam floating market located in a temple on Saen Saeb Canal.
Bangkok’s other weekend floating markets include:
- Taling Chan floating market in Thonburi
- Khlong Lat Mayom floating market in Thonburi, &
- Bangnamphung floating market at Phra Pradaeng, Samut Prakan.
How to get there?
Further afield, there’s Bang Phli floating market, which has a 150-year history, near Suvarnabhumi Airport, 30 km east of Bangkok.
The Damnoen Saduak floating market at Ratchaburi, situated 101km southwest of Bangkok makes a great day trip from the city. This is one of the biggest and most famous floating markets in Thailand. This is the floating market that featured in the 1974 James Bond film The Man With The Golden Gun.
If you like cycling you can combine a visit to the Damnoen Saduak floating market with a gentle one-day 30 km cycle tour of the Mae Klong Delta area. The roads are fairly flat and take you through peaceful countryside trails filled with plantations of coconut and aloe vera as well as fruit orchards – this would make a great activity on a family holiday.