Thailand’s floating markets are famous for good reasons. It has a lot more to do beyond the local goodies, the souvenirs, and the food. The slender canals veining through an assortment of food and colors, the chirping sound of local sellers chatting in their loving mother tongue – those are only a few to be named when it comes to why Thailand’s floating markets are second to none.
Alright, what are floating markets anyway?
Simply put, at a floating market, people function entirely on canals with small boats moving up and down. And there’s no way you can visit a floating market without hopping on a boat. The best time to venture out is in the morning when you pay a small price to hire a boat driver to sail you on through an hour trip.
You’ve gotta eat, drink, and watch elderly women cooking up something really unique to charge up for a whole day. Wondering what the best floating markets in Thailand are to make a day trip from Bangkok? Let’s dive right in!
The Birth of Floating Markets in Thailand
While floating markets are not exclusive to Thailand, this country has nailed it to be one of the top places to experience this exotic way of life. Thanks to an immense network of rivers and canals, with the Chao Phraya River being the bloodline of Bangkok and the artery of the country, the Thai people have mounted this crucial stream of life to travel and sell their goods.
Back in the days long before urban Bangkok was developed, the local citizens could barely trade on land due to the lack of infrastructure and transportation. Hence, waterways became the only source of life to make money off their goods. Today, the floating markets in Thailand are living the heyday, beckoning millions of visitors every year to celebrate this unique lifestyle.
6 Best Floating Markets in Thailand with Distinctive Personalities
Damnoen Saduak Floating Market
Just one hour and thirty-minute drive southwest of Bangkok, Damnoen Saduak is a highly visited floating market in Thailand that’s large and full of life. As a leading tourist attraction in the province of Ratchaburi, Damnoen Saduak Floating Market is a bustling trading hub chock full of mini coconut pancakes, noodles, orchids, and souvenirs.
Owing to its well-established popularity, Damnoen Saduak Floating Market is jam-packed with tourists but it definitely offers a great opportunity for photography.
To avoid tourist traps you’re not aware of as a first-time visitor, the best way to visit Damnoen Saduak Floating Market is to join a guided tour. Taking a walk on the market, sampling regional eats, and soaking up the colorful scenery gives you an insight into a bygone way of life. Damnoen Saduak Floating Market is open daily from morning till 5 pm.
Amphawa Floating Market
Located in the Amphawa District of Samut Songkhram Province, Amphawa Floating Market is another top call for those falling in love with the assortment of aroma, flavors, and white noise at a floating market. Amphawa signs it up for the list of Thailand’s most visited floating markets thanks to a plethora of seafood offers that get you stunned in the middle of the day.
Local treats go a long way so you need to come with an empty stomach. Amphawa is a 10-minute ride from Maeklong which is well connected to the capital of Bangkok via bus and train. There are places to spend your nights along the river so feel free to mix and match to customize a two-day-one-night trip from Bangkok if you’re not short on time. Please note that Amphawa is only open on the long weekend.
Bang Nam Pheung Floating Market
A short 30-minute drive from Bangkok leads you to lesser-known floating markets south of the capital, Bang Nam Pheung Floating Market. Bang Nam Pheung has nothing to envy the heavyweights because it’s got two things that travelers of all ages will die for – the phenomenal Thai dishes, plus a sense of serenity to outrival any other touristy spots. And this means you can expect a better success rate of the bargain here!
One of the coolest things we experienced from our day trip to Bang Nam Pheung Floating Market is a chance to work our cores on a cycle trip around the green oasis that swathes around the market. Who cares about calories when you can pedal after devouring on a sumptuous bowl of spicy mango salad and sticky rice? Bang Nam Pheung Floating Market is open on Saturday and Sunday only.
Pattaya Floating Market
Born young yet mighty, but Pattaya Floating Market makes its way to the list of Thailand’s most immersive floating markets thanks to a unique layout spanning out into four separate areas. Each of the areas offers a typical range of goodies and products collected from the North, Central, South, and Northeast of Thailand. Pattaya Floating Market is also famous for an exotic water spraying festival, a range of hand-crafted items, and mementos to keep in your book of memoir.
Bang Phli Floating Market
Now we know Pattaya is one of the youngest floating markets in Thailand, it’s time to dig into one of the oldest markets ever existed on Thailand’s waterways. After an hour’s drive southeast of Thailand, Bang Phli Floating Market welcomes foodies and culture-vultures with an open arm. From authentic Thai noodles to fresh fruit, the food portfolio at Bang Phli comes large to stun even the most demanding eaters. It’s open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 am to 5:30 pm.
Taling Chan Floating Market
We’ve been talking about famous floating markets outside of Bangkok, let’s save the last spot for one that’s close to the capital’s core which is only 15 minutes away! Taling Chan Floating Market has a lot more to offer than its bustling dining scene. Those with a pulled muscle can barely overlook Taling Chan as it’s home to top-notch traditional Thai massage that helps you recover and fully charge in no time! Taling Chan Floating Market is open on Saturday and Sunday from 9 am to 5 pm.
Sum it up
To avoid tourist traps and pick the right food that your stomach agrees with at these Thailand floating markets, make sure to accompany a local guide. Check for the weather before setting out, and start early in the morning to make the most of your trip!