When the subject of shopping and traveling is brought up, people usually think about bazaars or night markets. However, there’s an interesting shopping experience that only Southeast Asia offers quite well, one that Thailand is quite known for too. Travel a few kilometers outside of Bangkok and you’ll be sure to find these charming marketplaces that are not just quirky but also quite historical.
The floating marketplace is a well-documented place that attracts numerous tourists around the world as well as many local Thais. This kind of set-up came about when Thailand was still called Siam, its people just beginning to settle into cities by the riverside. Because so many communities were linked by rivers and canals, merchants took to hawking wares on boats—food, clothing, necessities—to reach as many people as possible. Of course, as industrialization took over, more and more of these markets had to leave the rivers and get on land until eventually, it disappeared from the daily experience of the Thais.
One market did survive. The Damnoen Saduak Floating Market is the most famous floating market in the world, having been photographed hundreds, if not thousands of times. After a while, some of the defunct floating markets were revived and little by little became not just tourist attractions but also, like before, a part of the daily life of an average Thai. An example of such a market is the Amphawa Floating Market.
Both markets are located several hundred kilometers outside of Bangkok, both with other interesting landmarks to visit after a day of leisurely shopping. The markets usually open early morning, which is the best time to go there, and closes by the afternoon. It’s a bit of a hassle to go to these places without a guide, however, and depending on the activities you want to do after you leave the markets, you can get a good deal between 45 to 99 USD—all details taken care of.
If you do visit Damnoen Saduak, why not opt to also visit the Tiger Temple, an equally famous temple where monks have tamed wild tigers into docile pets? Or if you go to Amphawa, try to drop by BangKung temple, an interesting temple that has been overgrown by a banyan tree but is still in use as a place of prayer these days—you can even pray and stick a piece of gold foil on the Buddha, if you would like.