One might feel as though they are entering a different world upon visiting a Thai floating market. Slender canals are crammed with boats selling an abundance of food and goods, while friendly vendors talk amongst themselves in Thai. While some countries in Asia have their own floating markets, none compare to Thailand’s, and the surreal experience is one you cannot miss while visiting the country. Here, we tell you everything you need to know about Thailand’s famous floating markets.
Floating markets are mainly found in Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam. Floating markets today are essentially tourist traps, with alluring food and souvenirs. They did not always use to be this way, however. The Chao Phraya River that weaves through Bangkok is often referred to as the artery of the city. The water was a way a life for people in Thailand, making it possible for them to travel and sell their goods. Before urban Bangkok was developed, the city was a jungle, making it almost impossible for vendors and sellers alike to make any money off their goods. These goods were sold both regionally and internationally on these waterways. Even when Thai people saw the creation of roads and different means of transportation throughout the city, the canals remained a popular means of trade. This is the case for waterways throughout Thailand.
Damnoen Saduak Floating Market
There are many floating markets in Bangkok, and the most popular one is the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market. This market is usually bursting with tourists, which is never a good thing. Regardless, the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market definitely deserves a spot on your travel itinerary. The market is about an hour outside of Bangkok. You can book a tour to visit and explore the market for an entire day. You will want to arrive early, as the bulk of people start to show up at around 9am. Arriving at 7am is ideal. Most tour itineraries include transfer to and from your accommodation. Some even include long-tail boat rides down the canals where the floating market is. It is a great way to see the winding canals you would not otherwise have access to on foot, including remote villages and plantations. Some of the tours you can book include Asia-Discovery, Soravit Sightseeing and Sun Leisure World Corporation. Half-day tours start at about ฿500 (about $15).
Bang Kachao is often referred to as ‘Bangkok’s Green Lung.’ It is about six miles away from downtown Bangkok. Shaded by papaya groves and coconut trees, many visit this island-like oasis for its great cycling paths. This is also where you will find the Talad Nam Peung Floating Market, sometimes referred to as the honey market. It is significantly less touristy than Damnoen Saduak Floating Market, and also much easier to get to. Here, you will find organic produce, delicious market food and more. Visitors can also rent a boat of their own to explore these canals solo.
Amphawa Floating Market
Amphawa Floating Market is Bangkok’s second most popular floating market, located about 50 kilometers outside of the city. While it does still see its fair share of tourists, it is not as crowded as Damnoen Saduak Floating Market. Most people who visit this market are Thai, making it that much more authentic. This market is famous for its seafood, with wooden boats filled with everything from shellfish to squid.
When To Go
Most floating markets are only open on the weekends. To beat the throngs of tourists, the best time to go is before lunchtime, when the majority of visitors show up. Ideally, head there early in the morning.
By Kelly Iverson
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.