Floating markets near Bangkok are Thailand’s poster child, a seller of its true authentic feel that makes Thailand itself. You cannot think of visiting Thailand and not come across one. They are omnipresent – sometimes you may pass by without even knowing and sometimes you may have to travel a few hours to find one.
While you can visit a floating market in and around almost every city in Thailand, there are quite a few you can explore from Bangkok. In any case, floating markets are often portrayed as some of the top things to do in Bangkok for first-time travelers and I cannot disagree.
On one hand, there are floating markets made for tourists and swarmed by tourists. On the other hand, there are those mostly frequented by locals. I think you should do both, at least once. But first…
What is a Floating Market?
A typical floating market is a market where you will find local sellers selling all types of items on boats. The items they sell can vary from souvenirs, fruits, vegetables, and fresh flowers to noodles, snacks, drinks, and a lot more.
The vendors can sell to customers walking in the area or traveling on other boats. This type of market is especially common and popular in southeast Asia where canals and rivers are centers of commercial activity for large communities.
In the earlier days, and still common in rural Thailand, markets are usually located near a temple. These could be daily morning markets, weekly markets, night markets, or even floating markets. Temples are considered the center of the town and most of them have a community area where people gather for events on all occasions. So you can still find many floating markets next to a temple. However, the recent ones built for the purpose of tourism do not follow this.
Fun Fact: Many times, some local weekly markets are also referred to as floating markets. These are located right behind popular temple premises. So don’t be surprised if you may not even find boats at some of these. But you will definitely find great food and a canal right next to it. Check out the Ban Ton Tan Riverside Market in Saraburi
Popular Floating Markets near Bangkok
Here are some of the popular Floating Markets near Bangkok, Thailand that you can visit.
Damnoean Saduak – Mother of all Floating Markets near Bangkok
Damnoean Saduak is the mother of all floating markets in Bangkok, and probably in Thailand. This is the place that most tourists flock to when in Bangkok. So you can expect it to be crowded and tourist-centric. It is both good and bad.
On one hand, most shopkeepers can understand some English and you have better transportation to the place. On the other hand, there are quite a few scammers lurking around and shopkeeps jack up the prices for tourists. So be careful. Bargaining is expected.
You can enjoy the market that is located right next to a canal and you will find shops both on land and on boats true to their name. The biggest highlight for the tourists is a boat ride that takes you around the area where you can see the local communities about their regular day.
You can consider taking one of the many same-day day tours from Bangkok. Or if you wish to do it yourself take a taxi or a bus to Damnoen Saduak from the Sai Tai Mai van terminal just outside Bangkok.
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Amphawa Floating Market
Quite near to Damnoean Saduak floating market is another popular one. Often paired together, you can also visit Amphawa floating market on the same day if you plan ahead. The Amphawa floating market actually used to be a fishing village that has been converted into a commercial complex. Therefore, you will find it less touristy compared to Damnoean Saduak.
You can take your time to go around the low-key market built on a teakwood platform showcasing shops on both sides of the canal and enjoy some authentic cheap local Thai food. Since most people in the market are locals, you can get a glimpse of local life on a weekend. You can also take a boat ride around the canals at a surprisingly affordable cost.
Another reason for visiting this market is to also visit the train market which is nearby. Yes, a train that runs from the middle of the market. If you are already visiting Damnoean Saduak, you can simply take a taxi to reach here.
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Don Wai Floating Market
We are now moving on to the lesser-known floating markets. Don Wai is pretty popular amongst locals, but you may not find even a single foreign tourist during your visit. Don Wai floating market is located in Nakhon Pathom province, right west of Bangkok. And since it is located in the countryside, you can experience the authentic local atmosphere.
The market is located right behind the Don Wai temple. And as you walk past the temple, you get the feeling that most of the local community in the area is here enjoying their Sunday at the local market. The variety of stalls is insane. You can get anything – from clothes, plants, and toys to all kinds of local cuisines and Thai snacks.
The market is located right next to a canal where you can find a few vendors on boats. You can also spot huge boats that travel to another important temple nearby and drops you there to head home. Makes for a fantastic evening boat ride.
It takes about 30 mins from the last MRT stop (Lak Song) if you travel by road. You can either take a couple of buses from the MRT station or a direct taxi to the floating market.
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Bangnamphung Floating Market
Bang Nam Pheung floating market is a sweet countryside market located on the manmade island of Bang Kachao. Bang Kachao, also known as the ‘lung of Bangkok’ is a horseshoe-shaped landmass south of Bangkok, known for its thick tree cover and rural beauty of the countryside. It could seem like entering another world so suddenly as you cross the river.
It is right in the middle of Bang Kachao that you will find this floating market busting during the weekend. Now as I said earlier, not all floating markets have boats. And this is one. Therefore, you will find plenty of shops lining up selling products from the rural countryside. You are always accompanied by a canal though. You can find freshly made snacks, grilled fish and meat, brownies, honey, desserts, and a lot more.
A great upside is a chance to explore Bang Kachao which I think is a fantastic place to visit if you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of Bangkok once in a while.
Taling Chan – Floating Markets near Bangkok
Taling Chan is another floating market that is popular because its proximity to Bangkok. It is neither right inside the city, not it’s too far. You can reach the floating market with a quick taxi ride or take the SRT on the red line and walk from Taling Chan Station.
While you will find most of the shops on land selling the regular Thai market condiments, there are still some things to be done on the water. As you explore around, you will come across some noodle sellers on a boat that you can eat at a floating restaurant on the canal.
But I think the highlight of the place is the boat ride. You can hire a public or a private long-tail boat from the floating market that will take you around some of the wonderful neighborhoods of Thonburi. For a moment, it looks like Bangkok but just 100 years ago. You feed fish on the way, go to a nearby temple and return back. Nothing fancy, but a refreshing experience.
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Travel tips for visiting Floating Markets near Bangkok
- Check online beforehand if there is any entry price to any of the floating markets. Most of the floating markets are free to enter. But if a ticket is required, only buy it at the ticket counter. You may find scammers asking you to buy tickets at exorbitant prices.
- People will swarm you selling a boat ride at a super-expensive price. Go check out the actual price at the boat ride counter at every floating market. There are usually a group tour and a private tour. The group tours are extremely affordable.
- The prices for food are usually fixed and mentioned on the carts of the food seller. However, the prices of souvenirs usually vary. In places heavy on tourists, check around a few places to find the correct price of an item before buying. Don’t hesitate to bargain.
- Keep your money, phone and belongings close when in the market or on a boat. Pickpocketing is not very common, but since you are mostly walking around the water, lost belongings cannot be retrieved. Also, cover your phone on a boat ride for the chance of some serious water splash.
This is a guest post by Snigdha Jaiswal of The Stupid Bear – a travel blog with practical guides to unexplored and interesting places in South and Southeast Asia.