Floating Market Thailand, 5 Reasons Why It Is Still Worth Your Visit

Thailand Floating Market
Floating market in Thailand will touch all your 5 senses in a brilliant way possible.

Is it true that Floating Markets are no longer worth it? Or that it is only for first-time visitors? As a Thai person, I disagree! And here are the 5 reasons why I beg to differ!

What is a floating market?

It is a market that is located next to a body of water, mostly to a natural canal or river. Some market vendors sell their items directly out of their boat. However, you can also expect to see many ‘floating markets’ that no longer have boat parking around. Many floating markets in Bangkok are just located next to the water and the shop is not a boat, but a simple desk or a small kiosk along the water.

What is sold at the floating market?

Food, Food, and More Food! You can definitely expect to enjoy as many authentic Thai dishes as you can at the floating market. The menu ranges from a traditional Pad Thai to a Japanese Takoyaki! The most common menus found in floating markets are Pad Thai, Hoy Tod (Thai oyster pancake), Boat Noodles, Papaya Salad, Grilled whole fish and prawns, coconut juice, and many more. If you are lucky, you might find a shop that cooks your food from a boat! Apart from ready-to-eat food, you can also find tropical fruit and vegetables.

Why there are so many floating markets in Thailand?

Believe it or not, the famous Bangkok was once bestowed as “Venice of the East” due to its extensive network of waterways. Thailand’s great river, the Chao Phraya river, weaves through Bangkok creating many canals around the Greater Bangkok area. Water was a way of life for people in Thailand. Before Bangkok was developed, the city was full of canals and rice fields. My mother told us that the house I am currently live in, which is surrounded by tall buildings now, used to be neighboring by rice fields. In the past, daily commerce used to happen along the river and canals. And even now, canals remain to be a popular method of transportation in Bangkok.

After the city became more developed, markets along the canals and river started to disappear. In 1997, the Tourism Authority of Thailand boosted the Thai tourism industry with an Amazing Thailand campaign with the objective to support the country’s economy with more foreign tourists. And that was when floating markets were promoted and supported by the Thai government. And the rest is history. There are so many floating markets in Thailand up until now.

Chao Phraya River in Bangkok
The Chao Phraya River runs through the heart of Bangkok. It is also referred to as the artery of the city.

5 Reasons why you should explore the floating market in Thailand.

Some said once is enough to visit the floating market. Many say it is no longer worth your visit. As a Thai person who still continues to visit the floating market, I disagree with those statements! Here’s why;

  1. The floating market will touch all your 5 senses and make your Thailand trip memorable.
    The alluring smell and taste of delicious food, the sound of sellers talking to each other in Thai and to visitors to invite them to the shop, and the sight of colorful tropical fruits and vegetables are what you can expect to see at any floating markets in Thailand. For first-time visitors, it will be a surreal experience for you. For repeat visitors, trust me, it will still be an eye-opening highlight of your day.

  2. Each floating markets in Thailand are unique. You can never gain the same experience from anywhere else.
    Though there are a few other countries in Asia that also offer a floating market experience. The floating market in Thailand is different. Its target customers are end-user and tourists like you and me, not for a wholesaler. Also, as mentioned above, the Thailand Tourism Board has promoted it with the aim for it to be a tourist attraction. Therefore, you will find Thailand floating markets are arranged in a more beautiful and neater way than in other countries.

    Each floating markets in Thailand differ in terms of vendors, buyers, products, and ambiance. As a repeat visitor, I still enjoy different kinds of food each time I visit the market. The ambiance is different in each floating market as well. Bang Nam Phueng Floating Market has kiosks lined up under the shade of the trees, while Amphawa Floating Market is located around traditional Thai wooden buildings. Believe it or not, each floating market is unique in terms of food variety as well. I love going to Amphawa Floating Market because of its sweetest pomelo in the country and the freshest mackerel in Thailand! While I probably go to Damnoen Saduak Floating Market for its fried Garlic Chives Dumpling because it is the best one I’ve ever had!

  3. If you are a foodie, the Floating Market will be your paradise!

    I know that many foreigners come to Thailand with food as their priority! As a Thai person, I have never enjoyed eating as much anywhere else in the world as in Thailand! We offer great food in every corner of the country. Street foods are huge and easily found everywhere. However, if you would like to have a one-stop service for all kinds of Thai food, savory or sweet, you got to come to the floating market. Imagine the biggest food court you have ever been to, multiply that with two and that’s the food you can get in the floating market.

  4. It’s the cheapest way to taste all the good food in Thailand.
    There are many floating markets close to Bangkok. There are almost 10 of them in Bangkok itself. So, you will not need to waste too much more time and money to travel outside Bangkok. And the produces and food prices in the market are generally cheaper at the floating market than in the city. I often buy a lot of fruits and vegetables back until I cannot carry all of them back to the car, that is when I stop shopping. Sometimes I put them all in a car and go back to the market once more!

    The products are cheap at the floating market not because they are of lower quality, but because most of the vendors are local. So they do not have to incur the travel cost into their cost of goods. I once went to a new floating market at Ratchaburi province (3 hours drive to the west of Bangkok). The village committee got an idea of building a floating market along the river as a channel to help their villagers to sell their produce and earn money.

  5. It’s an awesome way to observe the local way of living and lifestyle.
    Going to the local market will give you an opportunity to mingle with locals, either vendors or tourists. Unlike vendors in the mall, vendors in the local market are more willing to chat and share their stories with you. Like I mentioned earlier, when I visited a new local floating market in Ratchaburi, the vendors enjoyed chatting and sharing with me how the market was built, and what they did to earn a living prior to selling at this market. A very kind uncle selling Thai traditional crackers insisted on having me try to make a cracker because I was so intrigued by how they were making it, and not to mention it was one of my all-time favorite snacks when I was a little girl. That trip was imprinted in my mind, not because of the beautiful resort I was staying in, but for the experience and stories, I learned from the locals in that floating market.
Why Floating Market is worth your visit in Thailand
Lots of authentic Thai food, tropical fruits and variety of local vegetables at the floating market.

Which floating market is the best?

It will depend greatly on your preference of what you would like to experience. The most famous ones among foreigners would be Amphawa and Damnoen Saduak Floating Market. But there are many others that are on the top list among local Thais. Here’s my recommendation to you, along with what to expect from each of the markets.

Here is a short summary of the renowned floating markets among foreigners and the top 5 list among local Thais!

  1. Damnoen Saduak Floating Market
    If you would like to have a picture-perfect for the gram, this is the place. It is one of the most popular and well-known floating markets on the planet! If you have seen floating market pictures from social media, 95% of the time, it is possible that it’s a picture from this market. The visitors are mostly foreigners than local Thais.
    📍Location: click here

  2. Amphawa Floating Market
    Another popular floating market, both among locals and foreigners. Its setting is many original wooden houses. There are not as many boats as Damnoen Saduak Floating Market. So you will get a different view between these two popular markets. Walking along, following the river, you will feel like you are walking back in the old days because the wooden houses there were well-preserved. Many of them are original. Another unique thing about Amphawa Floating Market is that if you go there at night, you can join the long-tailed boat ride tour for a fireflies watch. The experience was so dreamy. I love the wind on my face and a beautiful twinkle of light under the trees along the river.
    📍Location: click here

  3. Klong Lat Mayom Floating Market
    I found more local people than foreigners at this market. The variety of food and produces is unmatched. I normally buy too many things that my arms can hardly handle to carry back to the car. There are some vendors on the boats, but not as many as Damnoen Saduak. Most of the vendors will be selling through their kiosks under the roof.
    📍Location: click here

  4. Don Wai Floating Market
    Another popular floating market among local Thais due to its variety of food options. You won’t see many boats here. And its decoration won’t be special as any others recommended on this list. It is more like a big market under the roof that located next to the river. It will blow your mind how much food you can find here.
    📍Location: click here

  5. Kwan Riam Floating Market
    One of the newest floating markets in Thailand. It becomes popular due to its closeness to Bangkok (it is actually located in Bangkok), and its setting is beautifully decorated. Though it is new and not original, aka it is built to look and feel like a traditional floating market, it is very well built. You will get all the convenience given its well-planned layout e.g. plenty of sitting area.
    📍Location: click here

  6. Bang Nampueng Floating Market
    I personally love this market so much, not because of its food or Instagram-worthy setting, but more because of its natural surrounding. The market is located in Bangkok’s green lung area (Bang Kachao). Though it is located in Samut Prakan province, it takes less than an hour’s drive from Bangkok. You will see some boat vendors here, but most of the vendors will be on land. Plenty of kiosks under the roof surrounded by natural trees and canals. It’s a lovely walk even you are not there for the food. One unique thing about this place is the sitting area under the shades of trees. It is a spacious area that is full of trees about a meter or two away from each other. Chairs and tables are put there under the trees for the visitors to rest and enjoy their meal from the shop around the floating market.
    📍Location: click here

Last but not least….

There are several types of travel. You might enjoy luxury travel and prefer to mostly get your tan by the beach than to go to the local market. None of these are good or bad, they are just your preference at a certain stage of your life. So of all the reasons I laid out above, I definitely would like to encourage you to visit (or re-visit!) different floating markets in Thailand. I do not think it is a tourist trap at all. I still love going to these floating markets being born and raised in Thailand for over 30 years! Try it for yourself, and I would love to hear about your experience. Share it in the comment below if you have been to the floating market in Thailand, or if they are on your bucket list. If you have any questions about any of this, feel free to comment down below as well!

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