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)
We grabbed a tuk-tuk from Maeklong Railway Market and told the driver to go to At Casa Guesthouse situated by the canal in Amphawa a 15-minte drive away. Here we stayed one night as our plan was to visit the popular weekend market in Amphawa and later the same night take a boat trip to see fireflies along Mae Khlong River. Here’s our 24-hour stay in Amphawa.
Damnoen Saduak is the most popular floating market in Thailand, known all over the world from movies such as the James Bond film The Man with the Golden Gun. This morning market is located in Ratchaburi province, about one and a half hours drive from Bangkok. The fastest way to get there is by minibus close the Victory Monument in Bangkok. It costs 100 baht, and you should go around 8.00 a.m. to see the market when it’s crowded with boats, providing many great photo opportunities.
The best way to see the market is in a longtail boat. We took a one-hour tour, and it costs 2,000 baht. A bit expensive but the ride on the narrow canals and around the market was a pretty cool and worthwhile experience. Try some tasty noodle soup from one of the noodle boats with a cold Singha beer, and why not some coconut ice cream for dessert. And don’t forget to haggle when buying souvenirs.
Hat Yai, near the Malaysian border, is a highly popular destination for both Malaysians and Singaporeans. Hat Yai is the most populous city in southern Thailand and the fourth largest city in Thailand. However, it’s not a western tourist destination. Although the city is said to be safe, you can’t ignore the fact that there have been some bombings. Three bombs exploded in 2014, injuring eight people.
We took a day trip from Krabi to Songkhla and Hat Yai and arrived at Hat Yai late evening. We just came to see the Khong Hae Floating Market, located 20 minutes away from the Hat Yai city centre. Hat Yai is notable for a higher proportion of Malay-Muslims, and all the delicious food at the floating market is halal. A lot of the food and drinks are served in awesome clay pots, which you can bring back home as a souvenir.
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This is perhaps not a spectacular market, but definitely worth a visit if you are around. Here’s a short video I recorded standing on the bridge across the river.