A floating market is a market where you buy goods from vendors straight out of their boats, usually by a river. In the past, most villages in Thailand were built on the riversides, and boats were mainly used for trade. As Thailand’s road and rail system developed, floating markets were forced to move onto the land, and today most of the floating markets are aimed at tourists.
It’s pretty cool to see how they sold things in the past, and a visit to a floating market should be on your list. Below are four floating markets I have visited in Thailand including the famous Damnoen Saduak Floating Market.
Damnoen Saduak Floating Market (Ratchaburi)
Damnoen Saduak is the most famous floating market in Thailand and has been featured in movies such as James Bond – The Man with the Golden Gun. The market is huge, and unlike other floating markets where you walk on walkways, you can go by boat which means you get really close the vendors, providing many great photo opportunities. Come here early in the morning when the canal is crowded with boats.
Amphawa Floating Market (Samut Songkhram)
If Damnoen Saduak is the most popular floating among tourists, Amphawa is no doubt the most popular among Thais. This authentic market, 80 km outside of Bangkok, is held on weekends and can be very crowded in the evening. The old wooden houses and shops on stilts along the canal are really something to see, and I recommend to come here in the afternoon before it’s too crowded. Read about our guesthouse stay in Amphawa.
Khong Hae Floating Market (Hat Yai)
Hat Yai, near the Malaysian border, is a highly popular destination for both Malaysians and Singaporeans. Most of the food at Khong Hae is halal because of the high proportion Malay-Muslims in the area. The market is pretty small and not very authentic but worth a visit if you are around.
Ayothaya Floating Market (Ayutthaya)
The floating market in Ayutthaya is made for holidaying Thais with replicas of old shophouses. Families love to come here to enjoy the food, watch boat parade shows and traditional Thai dancing, and to feed animals. The area is big with hundreds of stalls lined along walkways and bridges around the river with a lovely east Asian feeling. I’m sorry about the bad picture which I took with an old mobile phone on my first trip to Thailand.