The Bangkok Floating Market
Oct 19 , 2011
The sensory delights of brightly colored flowers, sweetly scented fruits, and voices bantering and bartering are a Thailand mainstay. Spend the entire morning drifting from vendor to vendor at the Bangkok floating markets in order to inspect the many wares available from a bite to eat to a tiny elephant memento.
The Bangkok floating market is actually four markets each with a distinct personality. Here’s what to expect:
Tha Kha Floating Market is known for three things – fewer tourists than Samut Sangkhram, resting beneath a natural canopy of green, and being open only six days of the month, determined by the lunar calendar. (So, ask a local when you should go to this classic Bangkok floating market.) Open: 6:00 - 12:00 (weekends only)
Bang Khu Wiang Floating Market is considered the best way to enjoy a floating market without having to battle numerous other tourists. Very early in the morning, Monks arrive by boat asking for alms ('tak baat') and a plethora of produce is available straight from the farm at this Bangkok floating market. Open: 04:00 - 07:00 (every day)
Damnoen Saduak Floating Market was made famous in the Bond classic Man with the Golden Gun. Although totally chaotic, it can still be great fun. Just be prepared for the tangle of tourists and bevy of boats at this Bangkok floating market. The colorful, raucous experience is all about the journey. So enjoy the ride and don’t worry yourself with what the destination might be or when you might arrive. Open: 7:00 - 11:00 (every day)
Taling Chan Floating Market is very close to Bangkok, making it an ideal weekend excursion for anyone looking for a unique shopping experience. Hire a boat, wind through the canals, and gander at the variety of small villages along the way. If you want to make your Bangkok floating market experience truly remarkable, add a homestay to your excursion. Open: 09:00 - 17:00 (weekends only)
Insider Tips for the Floating Markets
Go early (before 9am) – The earlier the better. Because even at the less touristy Bangkok floating markets, the waterways get very busy.
Rent a small boat – The smaller the boat, the easier it is to maneuver through any of the Bangkok floating markets. And don’t let a taxi driver, tour guide, or hotel employee force you into choosing one boat or another. It may not always seem like it, but the choice is completely yours.
Negotiate ahead of time – Be sure you have agreed upon prices, timing, and destinations ahead of time, so you don’t end up not going where you like and/or paying more than you should on your Bangkok floating market visit.
Tell the taxi where to drop you off – Decide where you want to go and then be explicit with your taxi driver or boat paddler. You generally want to be in the vegetable and fruit area of the Bangkok floating market. Otherwise, you’ll end up in chotchkie central.
Take water – It can get hot on the water in the Bangkok floating market, and they charge a bundle per bottle once you’re underway.
Wear a hat – There’s little to no shade to be found. So come prepared unless you want to be forced to buy something from one of the vendors at the Bangkok floating market.