The famous Damnoen Saduak floating market outside Bangkok
Nowadays, most of the colorful floating markets in the Bangkok area are a spectacle for tourists, but you’ll also see plenty of locals getting their tropical fruits and fresh vegetables. The real reason many visit these markets, however, is the food, prepared on the “floating kitchens.” These boats have cruised down the river and canals ever since they were the only means of transportation between neighboring cities and villages, and are now where vendors offer their foods, their fresh produce, and their crafts. Most travelers don’t leave Bangkok without experiencing one of these markets, but they’re all located outside the city, so you’ll need to reserve at least half a day or more in your itinerary.
- Damnoen Saduak Floating Market
- Taling Chan Floating Market
- Amphawa Floating Market
- Khlong Lat Mayom Floating Market
- Bang Nam Pheung Floating Market
The most popular (and touristy) of the floating markets, this one is located 100km (62 miles) southwest of the city. It’s a maze of narrow canals (called khlongs), crossed by small wooden boats mainly paddled by female vendors wearing traditional farmers' shirts and conical straw hats. Some boats sell those hats as souvenirs, together with the fruit, vegetables and spices the market is known for. The fresh produce comes straight from the farm, and is available at the three different khlongs that make up the market.
To see it all at its freshest and the atmosphere at its liveliest, arrive early, between 7am and 9am. It closes at 11am (opens daily).
To get there, take a bus from the Southern Bus Terminal (the “Sai Tai Mai”) in Bangkok or, more conveniently, go on a tour .
Seafood lovers won’t want to miss this market on a small, narrow river flanked by traditional longboats, that’s yet to become too touristy. It’s an energetic place on weekends, filled with local families waiting for old ladies to grill their huge prawns, octopus and a variety of other fish. Those who prefer meat, will also find pork dumplings or chicken, and if you’re a vegetarian, go for a papaya salad or try a fresh fruit juice.
It opens at 7am and closes at 5pm, on Saturdays and Sundays.
It’s located just 12km (7.5 miles) outside Bangkok, so the taxi journey is never too expensive.
Bangkok's second-most popular floating market remains rather authentic, with more locals than tourists. The main attraction is the grilled seafood on the wooden boats, but there are now stalls spread around the surrounding streets. Charming wooden shops lining the canal sell souvenirs and snacks. Many find this to be the most attractive of the floating markets around Bangkok, but it can also get quite crowded. It’s located 50km (around 30 miles) from the city, and takes place on Saturdays and Sundays.
To get there, take a bus or van from Bangkok’s southern station.
Taking place on Saturdays and Sundays, between 8am and 5pm, this market is divided into two areas, where you can enjoy a variety of food. One side focuses on fresh produce, while the other is for the cooked meals. It’s still mostly a local market, with very few tourists, and it’s more “riverside market” than “floating market,” but it does have several boats floating as they prepare the food. Nearby are stalls selling cheap clothing, plants, and houseware.
Taxi is the only way to get there from Bangkok.
Open on weekends from 8am to 2pm, this is one of the most recent floating markets around Bangkok. Since it’s not easy to reach by public transportation, it’s mostly a market by locals for locals, offering the crops grown in the area. Those who live nearby go not just to get their fruits and vegetables, but also to enjoy a meal of traditional Thai food. If you want to experience a floating market without tourists, this is where you’ll want to go, but note that it has few boats, with the eating taking place at tables along the riverbank.
The only reasonable way to get there is by taxi.