I first went to Bang Nampheung Floating Market in the District of Phra Pradaeng in Samut Prakan about three years ago. I found it to be a quaint canalside market with about a hundred stalls selling mainly food and OTOP products made locally. It wasn’t really that busy, but scored well in my book as there weren’t any other foreigners. These days the market is now heavily promoted by the Tourist Authority of Thailand (TAT). You can even join boat tours or bicycle tours to the market from Bangkok. We drove over there this morning. At the turn-off for Wat Bang Nampheung Nai there were police directing us to keep going. Apparently the place where I parked last time was already full. At the next intersection for Wat Bang Nampheung Nok, another security guard was telling us where to go even though I hadn’t yet put on my indicator. That just shows you how many people head to the market at the weekend. We ended up parking in a field near a bridge for Klong Bang Nampheung. I remember walking down to this bridge from the market three years ago and commenting in my blog what a quiet and peaceful walk it was. No longer. Although it was about 9.30 a.m. on a Sunday morning, there were already hundreds of people walking along the path. The market stalls also seemed to have been extended towards the bridge.
In Thai, the floating markets are called “talat nam”. This translates literally as “water market”. The English translation makes you think that the market is floating on the water like the boats that can be seen at the more famous Damnoen Saduak Floating Market. Really, we should call this one a “riverside market”. Although, as you can see in the top picture, it is possible to rent boats for 20 baht for one hour, most of the market is on the banks. The only vendors on boats were these ones cooking food in permanently moored boats. To be fair to them, it is really hot in the sun and they are better off cooking under a shelter. So, as long as you are not expecting another “Damnoen Saduak”, then you won’t be disappointed. I must say it was very crowded compared to the last time I came here. Maybe, ten times more people. However, this does have the advantage that it has attracted many more vendors. And most of them were selling food. In the picture above, people are ordering noodles from the vendors and eating it on low tables alongside the canal. Other vendors were selling a great variety of food and snacks. There was also a lot of Thai desserts. Many of my favourites were there. It is best not to go to the market with a full stomach. There are so many snacks to try even if you don’t want to sit down for a full meal.
If you want to beat the crowds, then try and come here before 8 a.m. It is a weekend market so don’t bother coming during the week. There isn’t just food on sale. There are also stalls selling plants, handicrafts, clothes and home decoration. Many of the products are homemade as part of the One Tambon One Product (OTOP) scheme. There are stalls on both sides of the canal as well as along a stretch of land away from the canal. It seems to be spreading. Nong Grace likes coming here with her aunt’s family as there is an area where you can do painting either on plaster of paris models or batik paintings. If you stop to eat then you can easily spend two or three hours here. It took us an hour just to walk the circuit. We didn’t sit down to eat but we did buy snacks at a number of stalls. Although it was a hot day, there was some shade and of course plenty of drinks being sold to refreshen us. I will come back again for sure as it is a great place to bring other people. It is a hop, skip and jump from Bangkok and only about 30 minutes from my house in Samut Prakan City. As we were walking out of the market, we passed a group of foreigners arriving. They all had stickers saying that they were on a Chaophraya River Express boat tour. Apparently these depart from Sathorn Pier on the 2nd and 4th Sunday of every month. The cost is 399 baht for adults and 299 baht for children.
From the market we walked back towards the bridge where we had parked the car. However, we decided not to cut short our visit. On the other side of the bridge we could see a path running alongside the canal and not a sole in sight. So, we decided to do some exploring to see where it would lead us. After about ten minutes we had left the noise of the crowded market behind us and it became dead quiet. Only the sound of the breeze and distant birds. It took us about 15 minutes to walk to the Chao Phraya River. From here we followed another path through a community which on occasion gave us glimpses of the river on our right. At one point we passed a sign that advertised a homestay. That would be worth investigating in the future. Though I would hope they also had bikes for rent as this whole area is ideal for exploring by bicycle. Forty minutes after leaving the market, we ended up at Wat Bang Nampheung Nok temple. There is a ferry boat here where you can cross to Wat Bang Na Nok temple in the southern extremes of Bangkok. Which we did, just for the fun of it. For only four baht each, it was a pleasant ride with a cooling sea breeze. From Wat Bang Nampheung Nok you can catch a motorcycle taxi to the market for only 10 baht. They understand the English word “market” so you will have no problem. If you are coming here from Bangkok, then I would suggest taking a motorcycle to the market and then walking back along the river. However, we walked along the road back to the market where we had parked the car.
Our little walk and short boat trip had taken us about two hours. We had a great time walking through the jungle and along the river front. A great combination to do with the floating market. However, we weren’t finished yet. We wanted to do a bit more exploring. We drove up past the turn off for Wat Bang Nampheung Nok and headed towards Wat Bang Ko Bua where, according to my map, there was another pier. However, we couldn’t see any regular passenger ferries. Though it looked like you could hire river boat taxis to take you anywhere you like. On the other side we could see a number of big container ships offloading their cargo in the ports. There was still one more ferry pier to check out. This was at the end of Soi Wat Ratrang San. Along this road is the entrance to the Sri Nakhon Khuean Khan Park and Botanical Garden. I have explored here before and it is well worth a visit if you are in the area. At the pier, we caught a small ferry boat to the other side for only five baht. Behind us we were leaving the jungle and as you can see from the picture above, it was only high raised buildings in Bangkok ahead of us. The pier on the other side was at the Port Authority of Thailand. If you can find your way here, then I guess you could come this way to go to the market. I noted that a motorcycle taxi ride to the market is 30 baht. This is also the way bicycle tours come over from Bangkok. I have put together some maps of this area called “the lungs of Bangkok” over at www.ThailandQA.com. If you need extra help, then please post your questions over there.
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