A Bangkok floating market visit is one of the must-do’s on any classic Bangkok itinerary. These bustling markets on the water are a riot of colour and activity as vendors in traditional Thai garb row their longtail boats full of goods along the waterways.
Boats full of fruits, Bangkok floating market © firstname.lastname@example.org
There are actually several different floating market locations around Bangkok. The most famous, Damnoen Saduak floating market, is actually located 100 miles away from Bangkok in the province of Ratchaburi.
Smile, Bangkok floating market © email@example.com
The reason it’s famous is because it featured in the 1974 James Bond movie The Man With The Golden Gun. It also showed up in the 2008 Nicholas Cage movie Bangkok Dangerous. As such, it’s also the most touristy market, but if you get there early, you can still get some great photos.
Fruit for sale, Bangkok floating market © firstname.lastname@example.org
Other floating markets include those at Don Wai, Kwan Riam and Taling Chan which are nearer to Bangkok, but you’ll need transport to get there. Again, if you plan to get there early you can beat the crowds and the heat.
Checking the goods, Bangkok floating market © email@example.com
Perhaps the most picturesque is at Amphawa, which is a small riverside community where you can stay overnight in a guesthouse and experience traditional river life as well as the floating market.
There’s also a well-marked bicycle route around the area if you enjoy cycling. (There are also a lot of interesting cycle routes in Bangkok too).
A moment in the sun © firstname.lastname@example.org
Bangkok’s floating markets originate from Bangkok’s beginnings two hundred years ago when the city’s main method of transportation was a network of klongs (canals), which led early visitors to christen Bangkok the Venice of the East.
(Similar floating markets can be found in Indonesia and India, also due to water being the lifeblood of cities).
Umbrella, Bangkok floating market © email@example.com
Businesses and homes lined the length of the canals and traders found it lucrative to travel the canals selling their wares rather than waiting for customers to come to them.
Pass it over, Bangkok floating market © firstname.lastname@example.org
During the 20th century many of these canals were filled in and replaced with roads with the rise of the motor car. However, the tradition of the floating market persists. If you take a Bangkok klong tour, you will likely encounter ladies selling their wares from a longtail boat on the city’s canals.
Three boats by the steps, Bangkok floating market © email@example.com
It’s best to get to the market super early – arriving at 6.30 is ideal – because much of the market is over by 9 am. Booking a floating market tour which will organise transportation to and from your Bangkok hotel to the market makes it the easiest way for someone else to deal with the logistics and let you catch up on sleep on the way there (and on the way back).
Lots of pots, Bangkok floating market © firstname.lastname@example.org
There are also numerous Bangkok markets you can visit that involve less organisation – Chatuchak Weekend Market being the most famous of all, but with several others definitely worth visiting if you love browsing and people-watching.