What’s better than a boatful of fruits? Many boats full of fruits! Once you’ve seen the iconic pictures of Thailand’s beautiful floating markets, most are keen to enjoy the experience. As was I when I first arrived in Thailand, heading straight for the most popular floating market, Damnoen Saduak. The colors, tastes, smells, noise and general mayhem were a delightful assault on the senses. However I personally found the experience a little too touristy and wasn’t keen to return (if you decide on Damnoen Saduak, arrive early morning before 8am to avoid the tourist buses).
Since then I’ve discovered a bunch of other floating markets in and around Bangkok. Popular amongst Thai locals, they’re not quite as visually stunning as Damnoen Saduak. However they offer a more authentic glimpse into traditional Thai life and a wide array of delicious Thai delicacies.
Last week a visiting friend wanted to meet an energy healer at Klong Lat Mayom floating market. I’d heard good things about this weekend market (Saturday & Sunday only) and couldn’t resist the urge to tag along. Located around 20km outside of Bangkok, the easiest way to get there is to take a taxi from Wongwian Yai station at the end of the BTS line.
When we arrived around lunch time there was a steady stream of Thai’s arriving and not a foreign tourist in site – perfect! We wandered through alleys of clothing and handicrafts until delicious aromas led us into a large food area. Having skipped breakfast in anticipation of the many treats I knew would be on offer, I commenced stuffing myself with all manner of delights – fresh fruits, BBQ seafood, roasted rice balls and fried quail eggs, to name a few.
Come hungry and don’t be afraid to try anything you see as most dishes are very reasonably priced. I wasn’t sure what the lady pictured below was selling, but at only USD1.5 a bowl I was willing to try. They were snack sized Thai fish cakes and delicious (we went back for a second round!).
And these strange jelly-fish like creations had me worried at first. But for USD0.3 I figured it would be rude not to try. Made from coconut and rice and topped with roasted coconut, I guarantee you’ll be back for seconds.
A small canal runs along one side of the food court. With just a few boats, it’s not much of a floating market. However you’ll still be able to get some pretty pictures to show the folks back home.
The best way to soak up the calm atmosphere of the market is to relax at a table beside the canal. After a fresh coconut and roast bananas which we purchased from the passing boats, we went in search of some healing energy.
Khun On runs a small shop selling home-made organic soaps, shampoos and oils. I’ve tried many of them and they’re wonderful. She also practices a form of energy-healing, a skill she learnt after it helped her survive a terminal cancer diagnosis. After a 10 minute session I felt blissfully calm and recharged. Her small shop is located just behind the northern end of the food court.
After you’ve recharged, for just a few dollars take a fun boat trip down the canal to get a glimpse of river life, visit an orchid farm, temple and a traditional Thai desserts shop (yummy!).
If you’re still hungry and keen to see more markets, take a taxi to Taling Chan. It’s more of a riverside market with only around 10 boats. However the atmosphere is pleasant, the food delicious and you can lie back and enjoy a foot massage under a shady tree while watching the river drift by.
Another popular floating market is Amphawa market, surrounded by gorgeous old Thai wooden houses. Located 90km from Bangkok, you’ll need to get an early start. Whichever market you choose, don’t forget to take sunscreen, a hat and a healthy appetite. Go Thai, Be Free.