This week’s ‘Thailand Travel Tales’ comes from Campbell and Alya of Stingy Nomads sharing some of the best markets in and around Bangkok. Enjoy.
Our last Thailand travel experience was all about local delicacies and food markets, somehow we missed both during our first visit to this amazing country. We visited weekend, railway and floating markets in Bangkok the last were our favourite by the way. Thailand is a real paradise for seafood and fruit lovers, which we are, with many interesting and exotic things to try. For those who are worried about food poisoning and all sort of stomach problem, I want to say we ate street food in Thailand all the time and never had any issues. I guess it depends on how sensitive your stomach is.
Chatuchak market in Bangkok was our first big food market in Thailand, we ventured there one Saturday and spend half of a day strolling through it. Located not far from the city centre, easy to get by metro (Chatuchak station) from anywhere in Bangkok. The market is huge except for food you can buy here souvenirs, clothes, shoes, pottery, carpets, all sort of things you can only imagine finding at a Southeast Asian market. We spent some time wandering around stalls with souvenirs and then followed the aromas coming from the food section. There were some many things from fried or grilled fish and seafood to strange flavoured ice creams and funky cookies. Here started the food frenzy! There was no order in eating mains first followed by dessert, we just wanted to try everything! Here I discovered I had a love for dried seafood and fish, who would’ve guessed! Dried squids, tiny dried fish, calamari what a delicacy. Next were fried potato spirals rolled on a stick, what a great idea. The only seafoody thing that looked great but I didn’t dare to try was grilled squid stuffed with squid eggs. The idea of squid eggs just didn’t sound too attractive to me. Sweet stuff, surprisingly good tasting durian ice cream, who would think so! I just finished my durian treat when I saw a stall selling tiny sugar cones filled with fruit ice creams, all different colours. I couldn’t resist and we got a set of these delicious cuties. Then we had some Chinese fortune cookies and a pineapple on a stick. Then we reached the end and started walking back. After all these sweet things I felt like eating something savoury and we stopped at one of the seafood places, their king size prawns looked so good I went for them. All this food was consumed with different fizzy drinks and fruit shakes. Needless to say, after that I didn’t feel like eating again until the next day!
Maeklong and Mahachai railway markets
These two were our next market adventure in fact we visited both on the way from Bangkok to Amphawa market. We decided not to take shuttle buses from Bangkok and try to get to Amphawa by public transport. It was quite a mission but an interesting experience at the same time. First we arrived by train from Bangkok right at Mahachai railway market and were quite surprised as we didn’t really expect to see such a big market there. Some of the stalls were located along the railway the rest spread around nearby streets. Fish and seafood everywhere, there was not really anything else. This market caters mainly for locals who come here from Bangkok and other nearby towns to buy provision for their restaurants and canteens. We bought several dried fish for a snack as we had more than an hour to wait until our next train to the more famous railway market of Maeklong. Before we had to take a short ferry ride to get to another train station from where our next train was leaving.
The second train ride was quite scenic past temples and fields. We didn’t even notice we had arrived at Maeklong while enjoying the scenery and fresh breeze through the open windows and chewing our fishy snacks. The arrival of our train at Maeklong was celebrated by excited screams, hundreds of flashlights going off and many tourists squeezed inside the station, at the platforms. We were quite surprised, it was a bit crazy and we thought there was a movie star on the train with us! We were mistaken, it was just the daily tourist rush. Maeklong railway market is the most famous of these kinds of markets in Thailand and hundreds of tourists every day come here with tours to see how the train makes its way along the piles of goods packed scary close to the rails. An interesting but very commercial experience. Most of the stuff here is souvenirs and clothes we didn’t see much food at Maeklong.
Amphawa Floating market
From Maeklong we took a bus to Amphawa market. Amphawa is our favourite food market in Thailand and one of the favourites in the whole Southeast Asia. It’s a great place to come on weekends from Bangkok. The best time to come here is Friday and Saturday evening, when the place gets busy, vendors open their stalls, streets and canals fill with lights and music – a great festive vibe. Amphawa is 93 km away from Bangkok and can be visited as a day trip but we’d suggest to spend here at least one night, to stroll through the market without rush. After sunset come to the main market street, the most interesting part is the boats on the river. You can see locals cooking food and serving it for clients while sitting on their boats. To handle dishes and get money and change they use special long poles. People get their food and can sit right here at the river at one of the tables enjoying delicious food.
Damnoen Saduak Floating market
Next day in the morning we went to Damnoen Saduak, it’s a 15 minutes bus ride from Amphawa, the last market of the trip. Unlike Amphawa Damnoen Saduak is a morning market, it is opened from 8 am to 12 pm every day. It is more touristy and gets very busy by 10 am, many people come here with tours from Bangkok. The best time to come here is early morning. There are hundreds of boats here mainly selling fruit, souvenirs and fish. It’s the place to try and taste all sorts of exotic Thai fruit and fruit shakes. The most popular way of exploring the market is by boat but it’s possible to walk, there are many pedestrian bridges. Amphawa and Damnoen Saduak are located 15 minutes by bus from each other. We’d suggest to stay overnight in Amphawa and come to Damnoen Saduak in the morning.
Campbell & Alya/Stingy Nomads https://stingynomads.com/
Stingy Nomads is a South African/Russian couple that met on the road, in the Philippines, four years ago. Since that time they’ve travelled together to over 30 countries following their biggest passions; hiking and diving. The blog is two years old, it started as a hobby writing mainly for friends and family. It focuses on budget travel and adventure activities all over the world; Africa, Latin America, Asia and Europe.