Floating markets in Bangkok have slowly been losing their charm. Some decades ago, locals depended on the hovering boats making up the floating markets. Today, however, foreigners are herded to narrow canals to stand idly by and gawk at Thais selling overrated souvenirs in their boats. This is not the case at one small, floating market found on the outskirts of the city. Here, everything you need to know about the Taling Chan Floating Market.
Taling Chan Floating Market
Though seeing a popular floating market may entice travellers, a visit to the lesser-known Taling Chan Floating Market is sure to provide all those who frequent with a fun, half-day journey at an affordable price. The market is found in Bangkok Noi, a quiet area some 15 kilometres or so outside of the city centre. The market is small yet bursting with character and gives off an aura of Thai-style charm. Authenticity is hard to come by in Bangkok, and this market, though slowly being discovered by more and more foreigners, still holds true to its charismatic ambience regardless.
The Taling Chan Floating Market was founded in 1987 by Mr. Prachum Charoenlarp. At the time, he was the director of the Taling Chan District Office. In establishing the market, he hoped to transform the area into one which would be known for its local and agricultural products, and he has certainly succeeded. The market is considerably organized compared to its competing counterparts, and there is even an information centre near the pier, should you need help with anything.
What to expect
When visitors first arrive, they will find themselves meandering underneath a green overhang with local goods sold on either side of them. The market, though small, has some unique finds sold by the vendors towards the entrance. The most popular thing sold at the market is shrubbery. Miniature Bonsai trees, hanging and vibrant flowers, cacti, and an abundance of other plants are for sale and scattered amongst green-thumbed vendors.
The other majority of the vendors sell on the go snacks and drinks, including sweet Thai crepes, coconut water, vegetable tempura, fruit smoothies, and more. Try not to fill up too much on the sweets lining the entrance as all visitors to the Taling Chan Floating Market should dine along the murky river before continuing their exploration of this cool attraction.
In addition to the unique finds and food, be sure to stick around for the free Thai classical music show and karaoke. The Thai band sits just adjacent the water and plays tunes originating all the way from Isaan (Northern Thailand). Stay later in the evening, and a live band and karaoke are available just next to the market, and you may even catch a few locals or two jumping from their seats to get their groove on.
Dining on the canal
Be sure to venture to the Taling Chan Floating Market on an empty stomach as enjoying breakfast or lunch along the river is a must. The restaurants are found on the Taling Chan Pier. The main restaurant’s menu is a concoction of mouthwatering Thai dishes, and there are even a few vegetarian options for meat-free diners to choose from.
What makes dining along the banks here so unique is that the food is cooked from the inside of the long-tail boats along the river. Locals sit hunched over their woks just above the water’s dark surface, making delicious dishes including pad Thai (stir-fried noodles), larb mawng sa vee rat (vegetarian stir-fried mushrooms), khao phat (fried rice), and more. Dishes start out at as little as ฿40 (approximately $US1.20) and are large portions, as well.
Go on a long-tail boat ride
Visitors to Bangkok are often suckered into a long-tail boat ride on the Chao Phraya River for prices upwards of ฿500 for an hour. This is not the case at the Taling Chan Floating Market, where foreigners and tourists alike have one set price for an hour tour by long-tail boat: ฿69.
This boat tour is sure to be one of the highlights of your trip. The hour-long journey takes passengers down the khlong (canal), and visitors truly get a feel for what life is like along the river. There are plenty of authentic and cool sights riders are sure to see along the way, including a handful of swimmers cooling off in the murky water as well as a monitor lizard or two.
After about ten minutes, the boat will stop off, and riders can purchase loaves of bread to feed to the fish beneath them. This is certainly a sloppy ordeal, with fish frantically flailing for a slice or two. Prepare to get wet at this point in the journey.
From there, the boat guide will allow you to get out at Wat Koh, or the island temple. The temple is a Buddhist one, and monks are known to meander the area and quietly reside along the river’s banks as visitors come and go. The stupas that make up the temple are bright in colour, making for some great photo opportunities, as well.
Where is the Taling Chan Floating Market?
To get to the Taling Chan Floating Market, visitors can take the BTS Skytrain to the Wongwian Yai station. From there, it is about a ฿150 taxi ride to the market. The market is relatively far from any train station, so Kit and I opted to get a taxi from the city centre which cost about ฿250. The Taling Chan Floating Market is open Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., though many of the vendors leading up to the river start to close at around 4 p.m.