Ready to take the plunge? Plan your Thailand trip today.

The Secret to Visiting Floating Markets

Walk down any major tourist street in Bangkok, and the pitch is impossible to miss. Whether there’s a multi-lingual banner (as there is along Langsuan or Khao San roads), or simply taxi and tuk-tuk drivers shouting at you from the street in Silom or Sukhimvit, you can’t avoid the pull of floating market tours.

To hear many Travelers But Not Tourists™ tell it, these places are completely fake—and utterly irredeemable. Most would never recommend anyone go there, let alone consider going there themselves (even though they all seem to have content about them).

This is simply not true. Whether you visit the best floating market in Bangkok, or simply the one that’s most convenient to you, seeing one can be an exciting and colorful way to break up your time in the city. Who cares if it’s not totally “authentic”?

Need help planning your trip to Thailand? Commission a custom Thailand itinerary!

Are Floating Markets Actually Authentic?

When it comes to floating markets near Bangkok, the reality is that very few people come here to purchase their daily goods, let alone to eat food cooked on boats; they certainly don’t arrive by river or khlong. In a very literal sense, it’s true that floating markets are “fake.” Without the influence of tourism, it is unlikely that any of them could survive for very long.

On the other hand, I dispute the notion that something existing primarily for tourists means that it isn’t valid or interesting. Wouldn’t Venice have been allowed to sink into the sea decades ago, were it not for the billions of euros visitors infuse into its economy every year? Arguably, the floating markets are interesting not in spite of being artificial, but because they are.

The Best Floating Markets Around Bangkok

Damnoen Saduak Floating Market

If you see postcards or advertisements of a floating market, it’s probably Damnoen Saduak, which is located in Samut Songkhram province just west of Bangkok’s city center. Fittingly, most of the taxi drivers who try to take you to a floating market will be taking you to do this one.

Amphawa Floating Market

For a long time, the market at Amphawa wasn’t listed among best floating markets in Bangkok, which was strange: It’s among the only ones that real people still use! However, it’s not as picturesque as Damnoen Saduak. If anything, it’s now popular primarily due to its proximity to the Maekhlong Railway Market.

Bang Noi Floating Market

Also located in Samut Songkhram (are you noticing a pattern), Bang Noi is much less crowded than the first two floating markets on this list, and is also smaller. This is a good place to come if you’re more interested in the “market” part and less about the “floating.”

Tha Kha Floating Market

Many people say that Tha Kha is the best floating market near Bangkok, because it remains “authentic” and doesn’t see the hordes of tourists that Damnoen Saduak (or, increasingly, Amphawa) does. On the other hand, I maintain that like Bang Noi, it simply doesn’t have the same visual appeal.

BONUS: The Khlong of Bangkok Noi

While the khlong (canals) in Bangkok’s western Thonburi district aren’t floating markets, per se, they are windows into real local culture. I especially love exploring the ones around Wat Pak Nam (which I list as one of Bangkok’s best temples), though your mileage may vary.


How to Visit Bangkok-Area Floating Markets

If you don’t speak Thai (and, most importantly, if you don’t have plenty of time and patience to navigate minivans, songthaew and other manners of public transport in Thailand), the most sensible way to visit floating markets is with a private driver. There are two methods of doing this, the easiest of which is to arrange one via your hotel. I don’t recommend a normal taxi or Grab, unless you arrange return transport with the same driver.

Another option for seeing the best floating markets near Bangkok? Taking a tour, of course. If you don’t avail one of the ones I’ve mentioned in the intro, there are plenty of options available online. If you happen to click any of the links you find below, I earn a small commission, so I would greatly appreciate it. (If not, don’t worry—I still love you!)

Other Floating Market FAQ

Which of Bangkok’s floating markets is a popular tourist attraction?

The most popular “tourist” floating market near Bangkok is probably Damoen Saduak, which is located in Samut Songkhram province about 60-90 minutes west of the city, depending on traffic. Amphawa is increasingly also becoming a tourist attraction, due to its proximity to the “train market.”

If you’re wondering where the popular Bangkok floating market in the main image of this article is located, that’s Damnoen Saduak, which as I mentioned in the preceiding paragraph is in Samut Songkhram province just west of Bangkok’s city center. It’s most easily accessible via private car or organized tour.

When should I go to the floating market in Bangkok?

Bangkok’s floating markets are best-visited during the dry season, i.e. between about the end of November and the beginning of May. In particular, I like the “shoulders” of this period, as these are much less crowded than peak travel periods just before and after January 1.


The Bottom Line

Everyone has their opinion on which is the best floating market in Bangkok. Well, except for the people who decry all such markets as inauthentic and not worth visiting, in spite of having been multiple times themselves. For me, the secret to enjoying floating markets is to see them for what they are: An excursion from the urban jungle, where you can eat amazing food, snap great pictures and spice up your time in Bangkok. Need personalized help putting your Thailand trip together? I hope you’ll consider hiring me to plan a custom Thailand itinerary, whether or not it ends up including a floating market.


Subscribe to email updates!


Words, images and design ©2019-2024 Robert Schrader, All rights reserved. Read Privacy Policy or view sitemap.