In a country where heavy rains create endless waterways, over the centuries goods have been transported by boat. From manufacturing areas to the cities and then inside the towns using the canals built by the inhabitants.
The passage of time and modern technology have changed the traditional ways, but there are still a few floating markets. They have charm and enable you to observe how was in the past the traditional Thai way of life.
The most popular are four:
Two in the Thonburi district within Bangkok, on the opposite shore of the Grand Palace, they are the Lat Mayom and Taling Chan markets.
Two others southwest of the city about 100km away near the coast, it is about the Damnoen Saduak and Amphawa.
Do floating markets deserve a visit?
As we said above, they lost the function that gave them life and over time they became leisure areas for the weekend. Looking at the images of this post you can get an idea of what you will find.
If you are looking for a more natural contact we recommend you go early, before the bulk of tourists arrive, and even spend the previous night in the surroundings so that you can enjoy the sunrise and the first hours of the day in the market and the canals.
When to go to floating markets in Bangkok?
During the weekdays the Damnoen Saduak is the most suitable, in others there will always be some activity, but not too much vitality.
On the weekend you can visit any of them.
Thais are very early risers so you have to go early, with the exception of the Amphawa floating market, whose activity extends beyond sunset.
Can you combine the visit with other destinations?
Within Bangkok (Taling Chan and Lat Mayom), no problem.
The visit to the Damnoen Saduak market is usually combined with the Mae Klong train market.
In the case of Amphawa, lunch or dinner is often the purpose of the visit, spending more time than necessary for the simple long-tail boat tour.
Damnoen Saduak and Maeklong markets can be combined with the Kwai River in Kanchanaburi or with the Ayutthaya historical park, on the same day trip.
If you are interested in the Damoen Saduak floating market excursion along with the Mae Klong train market, you can hire it from here, with an English speaking guide.
There is not a great difference between them and both are in the same area of the city, the Thonburi district. On the opposite bank of the Chao Phraya River, in front of the Grand Palace.
Taling Chan has access through the canals from the docks of the historic district of Rattanakosin, a pleasant boat ride through the classic district of Thonburi, while Lat Mayom is located more on the outskirts of the city and you have to go by bus or taxi, using the BTS Skytrain to get close.
In Taling Chan you could find a greater influx of tourists and in Lat Mayom the abundant clientele will be Thai.
Lat Mayom Floating Market
Opening days: Saturdays, Sundays and holidays.
Opening hours: from 09h30 to 16h30.
This market is very popular among the Thai public, who meets on the weekend to enjoy one of the activities they most appreciate, going out for lunch with family and friends.
In addition to tasting dishes of the local cuisine cooked in the most authentic way, you will also find many cheap products, among other reasons because this is not a market focused on foreign tourists.
Fresh vegetables, tropical fruits, fish, desserts, cooked food, snacks, spices, clothing, souvenirs, flowers, gifts, toys, paintings, beauty creams, massage oils, homeware, etc.
How to get to the Lat Mayom floating market?
We recommend taking the MRT subway to Fai Chai station and from there taking a taxi or tuk-tuk to the market. There are approximately 8 km, so the journey can take around 15 minutes.
You can also go to Lak Song Station (it does not appear on the map as it is hidden under the submap of the markets outside Bangkok).
Taling Chan Floating Market
Opening days: Saturdays, Sundays and holidays. Hours: from 07h00 to 17h00.
Our recommendation is getting up early on a weekend-free morning, hire a long-tail boat and go to breakfast with the locals.
Another option is to take the MRT subway to Bang Khun station and from there take a taxi or tuk-tuk. There are about 4 km away in a car journey of fewer than 10 minutes.
These pictures will give you a good idea about this market.
Amphawa Floating Market
Opening days: from Friday to Sunday.
Opening hours: 14h00 – 20h00.
The Amphawa market is just over an hour from Bangkok and extends along the final stretch of a canal, in an area already near the mouth of the Mae Klong River.
This part concentrates most of the restaurants and shops that sell clothes, souvenirs and other products. As we walk the sides inwards, the atmosphere becomes quieter and the accommodations begin to appear.
Grilled seafood is the favourite dish of Thais who come to enjoy their free time.
There is no frantic activity of ships moving along the canal, many are moored at the sides and from there they serve customers.
However, it is possible to hire a long-tail boat or join a tour to navigate the canal and the river.
After sunset, in the dark, the fireflies appear creating a curious night landscape.
The most usual is to come mid-morning or a later for lunch or dinner and then return to Bangkok.
Another very interesting possibility is to take advantage of the opportunity to sleep in its surroundings and take a pleasant early boat ride along the canals observing nature and the country lifestyle.
To go to this market you can take a public transport minivan, but since the return to Bangkok is at night, we recommend you book a private round trip vehicle.
Damnoen Saduak Floating Market
Days of operation: Daily
Hours: 06h00 to 14:00.
Floating markets in Bangkok usually extend more over land than along the canals and there are few left, in view of the great interest they arouse.
The Damnoen Saduak floating market would be an exception, opens every morning and extends through an extensive network of canals. It is one of the most popular destinations for those who visit Bangkok for the first time.
At many times, when the influx of tourists increases, Thai customers disappear and are filled with cameras that look for picturesque images, an unfavourable situation for shopkeepers. Making a planned purchase can make it a good day for everyone.
Again, arriving early is a good idea.
How to get to the Damnoen Saduak floating market?
Public transport is available by minivan from Bangkok, however, to combine the visit with the train market it is advisable to book the excursion either in a private group or by joining other travelers.
Of course, it is possible to make visits on your own, but it takes time and in brief visits to Bangkok it is usually scarce.