The waterways system, an interconnected series of inland rivers and canals, have been harnessed since the beginning of Thailand’s history by the use of boats as the primary mode of transportation.
The development of the country’s landscape was defined as olden villages sprung up along the banks of these rivers and canals and the practice of “bringing the market” to the villagers instead of the other way around was practiced.
Boats, of many varied sizes and shapes, supplied vegetables, fruits, meat, fish, poultry, flowers and other household items to the water’s edge communities. Many depended on the inland waterways for their very existence.
Progress brought about the paving of roads with it, an increased demand and supply of other land based transportation methods. The floating markets of Thailand never really “died” during this transformation period, but rather evolved into something that today is a mix of necessity for the few, but a tourist opportunity for the many!.
There are still communities who depend upon the tradition of buying and selling by boats. The boat trading might have changed in some ways but the intent is basically the same.
Today, the floating markets of Thailand are one of the more popular tourist attractions of the country. There are many floating market districts in central Thailand, with each district presented in its own quaint way.
The most popular three floating markets in Thailand are:
Damnoen Saduak Floating Market:
Called the Klong Lat Phli Floating Market ,this very popular spot is located about 80 kilometers from Bangkok. Open everyday from 6:00 A.M. to 11:00 A.M., this water way community has a bustling commerce, thanks to tourists.
You can buy a lot of (and sometimes tacky)things in the floating market. There are flat boats that ferry different food and fruits along the interconnecting waterways of Damnoen Saduak.
You can even hail a boat that serves as a “floating” restaurant. Order away your favorite Pad Thai! The narrow waterways are bursting with boats jostling for a good spot, so be careful. It would not be a pleasant experience to fall in the water.
Taling Chan Floating Market:
Located in the Taling Chan district this spot is open during weekends only, from 9:00 A.M. to 4:00 P.M. The floating market in Taling Chan was put up by Chamlong Srimuang to honor the 60th birthday of King Bhumibol 20 years ago. The purpose of the establishment was to bring back the glory days of floating markets. Today, the floating market in Taling Chan enjoys the patronage of the locals more than tourists. Simple wares and food are sold and there is none of the frenetic hustle and bustle of tourist commerce.
Amphawa Floating Market:
Compared to the other floating markets, the Amphawa Floating Market is much simpler. If you’re aiming for a great photo-opp, this is not the place to be. There are fewer boats and therefore less wares and food plied along this waterway. However, if you want to experience simple yet authentic “floating market” experience, the one in Amphawa is the one to go to.