Haven't yet been to a floating market in Thailand? Then the floating markets in Bangkok are a definite must see even if they do tend to attract a lot of tourists - some more than others. While the Damnoen Saduak and Taling Chan markets attract the most foreign visitors, the Amphawa, Khlong Lat Mayom and Bang Nam Phueng markets attract mostly locals.
The floating markets are a fundamental, indispensable and essential part of life in Thailand. All this is possible due to its large scale network of canals. And it's no mystery why Bangkok was once known as the Venice of Asia. Floating markets are a great way to experience shopping with a difference.
Hundreds of vendors sell all sorts of goodies from fresh food to sun hats and everything and anything in between. All directly from their small wooden boats. And even if you choose not to make any purchases, the floating markets of Bangkok are great places to explore.
While floating markets are an integral way of life for many Thais, they are also somewhat of a novelty and a form of entertainment for many a tourist. What attracts me the most is the diversity of people from all parts of the world and just how they interact with their new found surroundings.
Of course the fresh food - prepared and cooked directly from the small floating boats on the canals top the list. Best time to visit is on the weekends, but you need to go as early as possible to avoid the crowds and then to get out of there when things get a bit too hectic.
Having said that, the floating markets do offer you the option of a boat ride on one or more of the canals. They are great places in which to stroll around while taking a good look at what's on offer. Bear in mind that some items on sale are more expensive than in other parts of the city.
One of the most interesting floating markets in Bangkok for me has to be the Amphawa floating market in Samut Songkhram which lies at the mouth of the Mae Klong River near the Golf of Thailand. It's less than ninety minutes from the city. Amphawa has several canals known as Khlongs in which to view the vendors and their small wooden boats as they go about their daily business.
Amphawa is extremely popular with the locals and it's here where you'll see just how tourists and locals alike escape the city for the day to browse the many stalls and stores to see the vast array of goods on offer. There's no doubt that a day at this market will be a day well spent.
While Amphawa may be popular with the locals, the Damnoen Saduak floating market in the province of Ratchaburi, about a one and a half drive from the city, is the one most popular with tourists. And this is especially true over the weekend when bus loads of foreigners flock to the market - mostly with an organised tour much like the one I chose.
I have to say that while Damnoen Saduak can get overcrowded at the best of times, it's also a little overrated too. However, when in Bangkok, you may want to go with the flow. Just be aware that buying stuff here other than fresh produce, is way over the top and best be avoided. You be the judge.
On a lighter note, the Taling Chan floating market is a much better alternative for those of you seeking to escape the crowds, but still want to get to grips with the whole floating market experience while in Bangkok. Also, if you love tucking into copious amounts of freshly caught seafood, especially the roasted type, then this floating market is the place to be. Here you'll see people munching on snakehead fish, huge prawns, crab legs and a variety of other fish species. Best to go on a Saturday morning.
The Khlong Lat Mayom floating market south of Bangkok is the place to go if you're looking to unwind and spend some quality time simply relaxing. Apart from heaps of stalls selling oodles of fresh food on the edge of the canal, you'll also find a haven full of lush greenery and cool, shaded areas. Klong Lat Mayom is located on Bang Ramat Road along both sides of the Lat Mayom Canal in the Taling Chan District of Thonburi. This market is open on weekends and public holidays from 9:30 am until 4:00 pm.
Wat Sai Floating Market is located in the Thonburi area south-west of Bangkok. This market is open daily from 6:00 am until 2:00 pm. And to get there, simply hop on a long-tail boat from either the Oriental Pier, the Tha Chang Pier, the Rachini Pier or the Saphan Phut Pier.
Wat Saphan Floating Market is another floating market in Bangkok that is open on weekends and public holidays from 9:00 am until 3:00 pm. If you're driving from the Taling Chan Floating Market take Ratchaphruek Road after which make a U-turn at Charan Sanitwong Soi 13 and then a left turn onto the Paknam-Krajome Thong Road.
Bang Nam Phueng is one of the newest floating markets in Bangkok, born about because of the greater demand for places in which to relax, take a slow boat ride amidst lush green surroundings and or simply dine on some great food. This market is in Phra Pradaeng, a district of Samut Prakan Province, south of the city near the mouth of the Chao Phraya River.
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