Utilising canals and rivers to easily access towns, villages and cities, floating markets came into existence for pure practicality purposes. Nowadays, however, they attract people far and wide for a slice of Thai hustle and the most beautiful photo opportunities. Not to mention, some pad thai cooked on a little boat.
Top three Thai floating markets
1. Damnoen Saduk in Ratchaburi
The most popular and well known of the floating markets, Damnoen Saduk is only an hour and a half from Bangkok. Perhaps not the best market to go to if escaping the other tourists is the name of your game, but it comes packed with photo opportunities and boats packed high with colourful produce.
2. Amphawa, Samut Songkhram Province
A favourite amongst the locals, Amphawa brings more authenticity with it than the likes of Damnoen Saduk. Laden with noodles, pad thai, traditional coffee and Thai desserts, call boats over and get the freshest food whipped up without the hassle of touristy crowds and stalls full of souvenirs. The grilled squid is not to be missed.
3. Tha Kha, Samut Songkhram
Another more off-the-beaten-track market, Tha Kha is how Damnoen Saduk was but 20 years ago. Operating as a traditional market, the main days of opening coincide with the waxing and waning moon on the 2nd, 7th and 12th. Be sure to get to Tha Kha early, its rural traditions bring a “start early and finish early” mantra.
Our tips on becoming a market maestro
- Haggle like a local – which in the Land of Smiles means be friendly, have fun and enjoy the bargain banter. We usually start at about half the price we’re willing to pay and work up from there.
- You don’t have to hire a boat to go shopping at floating markets as some of the stalls are canal-side. However, we recommend you rent a long-tail boat to cruise the klongs for the authentic market experience and the best photo opportunities.
- The early bird catches the worm at the floating markets…and nabs the best produce whilst beating the crowds. Some marketplaces, including our number two choice Amphawa, are worth visiting in the evening as well, when the fireflies put on a beautiful show.
- Slurp up some ‘boat noodles’ – a spicy pork or beef noodle broth – as a mid-morning snack or munch some deep-fried bananas and Kanom Bueng crispy pancakes to recharge your bargaining batteries.