The frenzied energy of Bangkok’s buzzing streets is carried all the way to the waterways. Two main canals - or khlongs - host the city’s famous floating markets, microcosms of what seems like utter chaos. But there is most certainly a method to the madness.
These beloved markets and their savvy vendors hawk all kinds of wares - exotic fruits, Thai spices, fresh fish, plants, souvenirs, clothes, and so much more - from dawn to dusk. While many of the markets are quite similar to the eye, they separate themselves from each other by size, use of their location, and specialty offerings.
But there’s only one way to understand it all: hop into a longtail boat and see for yourself.
For years, this market has held the top rank as Thailand’s most famous floating market. With the title comes the inevitability that it’s also the most touristy. Even so, a visit is well worth the time and effort. It’s huge - but it’s as exciting and lively as it is big. You can make a whole day of an excursion to this market, as it’s 100 kilometres from Bangkok (and our advice: arrive early!). This is the perfect market to find souvenirs to take back home for friends and family and grabbing fresh fruit for yourself to enjoy.
Perhaps the second most famous floating market, Amphawa makes up for what Damnoen Saduak lacks in authenticity. It’s only 50 kilometres from Bangkok and is actually built on what was once a small village in the 17th century. Any cravings for sweets will be satisfied here - ice cream and sweet treats are the name of the game at Amphawa! Our advice: join a group or have a local guide who can help translate - most visitors here are Thai.
Not only is Taling Chan a floating market, it’s also part of a local market on land. The market is much smaller than the likes of Damnoen Saduak but it punches well above its weight. The scent of spices will tempt you, the sight of brightly-coloured flowers will lure you, and the taste of authentic Thai cuisine will keep you there.
Khlong Lad Mayom
Like Taling Chan (and not far from it either), this floating market sprawls from the water to the riverbanks. This is the perfect market to get the experience of eating on a stool or chair along the banks, snagging fried fish or noodles or soups from the boats floating by, and soaking in the charming buzz of the surrounds.
Bang Nam Pheung
One of the best parts of travelling is sampling the local produce. A trip to the Bang Nam Pheung floating market is the perfect opportunity to try Thailand’s unique fruits. From the imposing jackfruit to the smaller, spiky fak kao, you’ll find delicious ways to satisfy your curiosity and your hunger at the same time.
You’ll find plenty of produce, fish, and curries at the Koh Kret's floating marketing. But you’ll also find housewares (where else would you want to put that produce, fish, and curries?), such as pottery. Koh Kret is actually a rather isolated, forlorn-looking island in the middle of Chao Phraya River, but it has built itself up as a pottery village and gets very crowded on weekends. It’s open all week long but the floating market opens on weekends, so if you want to avoid the crowds, visit during the weekdays.
From 9am to the hours of the evening, this one-of-a-kind floating market welcomes visitors to get a view of traditional Thailand. Actually, Muang Boran, or Ancient City, is an enormous open-air museum with replicas of Thailand’s most famous buildings from the 6th century all the way to today. The area’s floating market serves authentic food and plenty of opportunities for a photo shoot!