You know an attraction has lost its appeal when tour operators promote it as “still worth a visit.” Sounds like a response to “I heard it was crap?”. These days Bangkok’s cliché Venice of the East has taken backseat to the capital’s emergence as a modern cosmopolitan city. But are the floating markets ‘still worth a visit’? I guess so… The problem with floating markets (as with all tourist attractions) is the tourism. Neglect of tradition to push cheap tourist junk. Thankfully new, lesser-known floating markets can appear at any time. Arguably fake and unauthentic but do pretty much the same job as the rest. I recently called in at a newer addition to Bangkok’s famous floating markets – Taling Chan Floating Market. At the time I was in the area measuring a temple (as you do) when a tourist long-tail boat speeds past. Knowing the boat would inevitably lead to tasty Thai street food; we leave the temple (Wat Rerai Khlong Chak Phra) to go check out Taling Chan Floating Market.
Taling Chan Floating Market (Talad Nam)
Thirty minutes from central Bangkok (150 Baht taxi). The reason Taling Chan remains relatively unknown to tourists with tour operators pushing the more profitable tour options (Damnoen Saduak). I still expect the annoyances of other touristy floating markets but find none. Taling Chan Floating Market is relaxed and local. It also has more food than I can dream of. The street leading to Taling Chan is lined with stalls selling food on food. A park area next to the street is set up with picnic tables where locals snack on Thai foods, drink beers and whiskys and watch live Thai music on the park stage. The actual Taling Chan Floating Market is quite small. More of a floating riverside eating area than a floating market. Kids feed fish and turtles in the surrounding rivers. Occasional tourist boats tour surrounding khlongs (rivers). The rest of us sit on the floating promenade stuffing our faces with favourite riverside foods. Taling Chan is perfect for me.
Damnoen Saduak Floating Market
While local life is found at Damnoen Saduak it feels forced. If it weren’t for tourism I suspect the little old ladies would hang up their paddles. Bangkok itself was at a time swarming with local floating markets before new trade, trade routes and technologies forced the traditional floating market to be obsolete. Damnoen Saduak is the largest of Thailand’s floating markets perfect for cliched photo ops. However with a 6am start and 100km bus journey I can’t guarantee it is ‘still worth the visit’. Damnoen Saduak is easy to organise with any tour operator.
Amphawa Floating Market
Amphawa Floating market is the local favourite. Or at least used to be. Now it is swarming with tourists. Check the video below for Amphawa… just don’t expect it to be so quiet.