Damnoen Saduak Floating Market
Damnoen Saduak Floating Market is one of the most famous tourist attractions in the whole of Thailand. Ever since childhood, I have been fascinated by images of Thailand’s floating markets, or talat naam as they are known locally. What could be more exotic and inviting than the wooden boats filled with fruit, flowers and vegetables, floating through the narrow waterways? The vibrant colours of these busy market scenes are rich and evocative, especially to people who are used to purchasing most of their food from modern supermarkets.
If you book a trip to a floating market through a travel operator in Bangkok, you will without doubt be taken to Damnoen Saduak. This floating market is located around a two-hour drive from the heart of Bangkok and is surrounded by picturesque countryside. The trip includes the chance to explore the narrow network of canals that surround the floating market in a long wooden boat.
However, while speeding along the canals past the dozens of tiny houses fringe the waterways can be a thrilling experience, visitors may be less than impressed when they arrive at Damnoen Saduak itself. The entire scene is dominated by stalls selling trashy tourist treasures. The rich colours I had been looking forward to take the form of cheap wooden umbrellas, glass elephants and plastic fans.
If you take up the invitation to climb into another boat and drift through the floating market you will be steered through the crowded canal where you are bombarded by merchants on all sides. There are so many boats crushed together that it is almost impossible to progress along the waterway. The sellers take advantage of this, grabbing onto the boats and holding visitors hostage as they try to ply their wares.
Taling Chan Floating Market
The good news is that there is plenty of more traditional floating markets to be found in and around Bangkok where visitors can see traders sell wares such as fruit and vegetables rather than cheap and tacky souvenirs. Just a short bus ride away from central Bangkok is the Taling Chan Floating Market. This charming floating market is held on Saturdays and Sundays from 09:00 to 16:00. While the market may be much smaller than Damnoen Saduak, it is a genuine floating market where farmers from the suburbs around Bangkok travel each weekend to sell their goods.
The atmosphere at the Taling Chan Floating Market is very relaxed and visitors can sit at the side of the canal and simply take in the atmosphere as they watch scenes of local life unfold around them. Few tourists tend to take the time to travel to Taling Chan Floating Market, which means that the main visitors are Thai people who want to buy fruit and vegetables as well as a range of other types of fresh produce directly from the sellers.
As you approach the canal at the Taling Chan Floating Market you will be greeted by the sight of women in blue overalls, or ‘mor hom’ as they are known locally, and conical hats, slowly paddling boats filled with fruit, vegetables and flowers. Once you have finished shopping you will be able to sit alongside the canal, sipping a cup of sweet tea or perhaps indulging in a few snacks cooked by the merchants that line the narrow lane leading to the floating market.
By Kirsty Turner