A journey to explore the floating markets near Bangkok is a unique experience often filled with anticipation and curiosity: it’s hard to know what to expect! Here are six valuable tips from my experiences during my stay in Bangkok to help you prepare for your visit.
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1. Venture beyond the most famous floating markets
While the renowned floating markets draw crowds for good reason, don’t overlook the charm of smaller markets. These less frequented gems offer a more tranquil atmosphere, providing a refreshing contrast to the bustling nature of other markets. I really liked my time at Tha-Ka floating market.
2. Go with a local guide
You can visit floating markets by yourself. Some are not too hard to reach by public transport, such as Damnoen Saduak, which is accessible by bus.
However, consider enhancing your experience by joining a local guide. I recommend avoiding large tour groups and opting for a more personalized experience. I was fortunate to use the TakeMeTour platform* and join this tour* for a visit to Tha Ka Floating Market. It felt like a local friend showcased her country to me. This added a layer of ease and comfort, enabling me to embrace new experiences (especially food-wise) with the guidance of a knowledgeable local.
There are many other tours in the Samut Songkhram Province* to go to bigger floating markets too.
3. Arrive hungry and ready to explore culinary delights
Floating markets are a haven for culinary enthusiasts, offering an array of local dishes. Eating is actually one of the main reasons to go to a floating market, so don’t eat a big breakfast and plan to arrive hungry.
Traveling with a local guide* is an advantage, as they can guide you through the variety of offerings and educate you about the specialty dishes unique to each market, such as the renowned seafood in Amphawa, the snakehead fish at Khlong Lat Mayom or the special noodles in Tha-Ka. They also sell many fruits, snacks and delicious cooked meals. Sometimes, you can ask to try before buying.
4. Bring your straw and bag to Bangkok floating markets
Unfortunately, Thailand isn’t the best country in the world to reduce and manage waste. It’s likely that you will want to drink a coconut while you visit a floating market. The way they open them makes it hard to drink without a straw. That’s why having a reusable straw in your bag is a great idea to limit the amount of waste during your trip.
Although single-use plastic bags have been banned in many countries, they were still everywhere on the Thai markets when I visited. So keep your good habits from home (or learn new ones) and bring your reusable shopping bag.
5. Research prices in Bangkok beforehand
To make the most of your market experience, familiarize yourself with general price ranges in Bangkok. This will help you identify great deals at the floating markets. On my return to Bangkok, I realized how cheap the fruits at the markets were and wished I had known earlier so I would have brought a few more back to my hotel for breakfast!
6. Take your time
Floating markets offer a welcome break from the urban hustle of Bangkok. Avoid trying to squeeze too much into a single day, as you may be tempted to explore multiple markets and nearby attractions. I recommend taking your time to engage with locals, savor the unique atmosphere, and observe the vibrant surroundings at a relaxed pace.
Where to find Bangkok’s floating markets?
Damnoen Saduak and Amphawa floating markets are the most famous ones, but a few others are worth a visit.