Canalside Commerce: Bangnamphueng Floating Market
Bangnamphueng Floating Market is a miniature floating world in the outskirts of the capital, where you can leave the modern world behind and get up close and personal with Thai river life.
Bangkok is a city full of markets and commerce, but Bangnamphueng Floating Market is a little bit different. Built in 2004 to provide a place for local farmers and merchants to sell an excess of agricultural produce, Bangnamphueng is off the normal tourist radar and is all the better for it. A trip here is a trip to a more traditional way of life, with the air buzzing of the sound of friendly haggling and the waterways chock full of boats taking eager shoppers to hunt for the best deals.
The Main Attraction
Nestled between Thai and indigenous Mon communities to the south east of the city, the floating market is something of a cultural exchange between local people. The nice thing is that you can participate in this exchange too just by rocking up and being part of the scene!
It’s unusual to go shopping by boat but this is just what you can expect here at Bangnamphueng. If you know what you want to buy then flag down a row-boat and tell the skipper, who is bound to know someone who can help. If you don’t know what you want then just charter your craft for a couple of hours and enjoy the atmosphere as you get paddled along the canals and side-rivers that crisscross the area. For a few extra baht you might even be able to get your boatman to show you the local caves. Keep your expectations modest and you’ll be fine!
It’s best for…
Unsurprisingly for a water-based market, Bangnamphueng is a mecca for sea food. Come here to try fresh seafood noodles, stir fried shrimp and hundreds of varieties of dried fish as well as the Thai market staples of sweet, gelatinous desserts and a ton of mango.
The market isn’t your best bet if all you want to do is get in, buy some souvenirs and get out, but that’s OK- there’s always Chatuchak for that! This is much more of a holistic place which invites you to slow down, explore and take things a bit easier.
After You’ve Eaten Your Fill…
Once you’ve enjoyed the delicious food that the market has to offer, you might want to burn some of it off again! Bike hire is 30 baht an hour (yes, there is some dry land around obviously!) and there are some great kitsch craft activities like painting plaster models of Thai landmarks.
If you want a bit of culture then you can head to nearby Bang Nam Phueng temple to meet the monks and check out the beautiful prayer hall, and still have time to get back in time for the live music that plays every afternoon.
How to Get to Bangnamphueng Floating Market
The market is open every Saturday and Sunday from 8am to 4pm. Getting there can be an adventure in itself, but at least you won’t have to fight your way through the weekday rush hour! If you’ve got plenty of time then take aircon bus 138 from Chatuchak to Phra Pradaeng then take a tuktuk the rest of the way. If convenience is more your thing then just grab a taxi the whole way, remembering to fix the price before you set off to avoid any nasty surprises.
Bangnamphueng is one of those unexpected Bangkok gems that will live long in your memory. Head out to explore and you’re sure of a great time.