In the olden days, people in Thailand didn’t go to markets like we do today. The markets came to them. This is because most people either lived on canals or along the banks. The canals were the road system of the past and anything you needed would pass your front door. In addition, there were sometimes gatherings of vendors on boats which is their version of our land based markets. Today, floating markets are few and far between. Probably the most picturesque, at Damnoern Saduak, is now almost exclusively run for foreign tourists. Recently I have been visiting some alternative floating markets. On Sunday I went to Taling Chan Floating Market on the Chak Phra Canal on the Thonburi side of Bangkok. I have passed here before several times when I rented a long-tailed boat to tour the Thonburi canals.
If you go to Taling Chan Floating Market and expect to see hundreds of vendors on boats selling fruit and delicious things to eat then you will be disappointed. Damnoern Saduak is like a floating market on steroids so everything else, including the genuine article, will be a disappointment. However, Taling Chan does have its charm and it also has the advantage that it is open all day, though only at the weekends. I arrived there before 9 a.m. which is a good idea if you are coming by car. They have limited parking space. It also helps to beat the heat of the day. The road leading to the canal is lined with market vendors selling plants as well as a large variety of freshly cooked food and sweets.
The main attraction of the market seems to be the floating restaurants on the canal. Moored alongside the platform were a number of boats where vendors were cooking up a variety of mouth watering dishes. The floating restaurant has groups of low tables and you sit on the floor to eat. The food is cooked for you on the smaller boats. There are also traditional tables and chairs if you have long legs like myself. The size of the market isn’t that large. It is nothing compared to Don Wai Market which I visited the other week. There were also more foreign tourists at this one. Though most of them turned out to be on a boat tour of the Thonburi canals and this was one stop for them.
Although I enjoyed wandering around and sampling the food on offer, I don’t think it is worth a special trip to come all the way out here just to visit this floating market. Maybe do a brief stop here when you rent a boat on the Bangkok side of the river. Alternatively, you can catch bus number 79 to the market and then join a boat tour that starts by the floating restaurant. As this tour is mainly for Thai tourists it will work out cheaper for you. I went on this boat trip and I will tell you about that soon. When I came back, the market was very crowded. There was no space to eat on the floating rafts so I ended up having lunch at one of the land based restaurants. I probably would come back here though I think I prefer Don Wai Market more. Even though Don Wai is further away in Nakhon Pathom Province, it was a lot simpler for me to driver there. Plus there is a greater variety of Thai food on offer there.