When I first heard about the Four Regions Floating Market in Pattaya, I just thought that we would be getting another tacky and artificial tourist attraction built just to bring in the tourist dollars. There are not really that many authentic floating markets around. The famous one at Damnoen Saduak was recreated in order to cater for foreign tourists. It is situated on the site of a much older floating market that was abandoned years ago when people started going to local supermarkets by car. However, we now have an alternative that was specifically built as a floating market. The recent soft opening of the Pattaya Floating Market has already made it one of the best and biggest floating markets in Thailand.
Over recent years, Damnoen Saduak has become ugly with rusty corrugated iron roofs and rubbish piled up in plain site. On the other hand, the 350 million baht Four Regions Floating Market is purpose built on a 27 acre piece of land. The wooden buildings have been built in the different styles of the four regions of Thailand. So, as you walk along the board walk, you can admire the architecture as you go from region to region. The shops at Damnoen Saduak all sell the exact same tacky souvenirs. However, the Pattaya floating market has over 100 shops selling food and quality souvenirs. If you like Amphawa Floating Market then you will like these shops. The food here was also excellent.
Entrance to the floating market is free of charge. There is a museum to visit or you can just wander around the shops buying souvenirs or eating snacks. You can either buy from the shops or the vendors on the boats who are paddling around the canals. If you would like a boat ride, then it is only 200 baht per boat. These are big enough for four people. But, you don’t need to do this. It is just as pleasant to walk around the large complex. There are bridges criss-crossing all of the canals. You cannot do this at Damnoen Saduak. There are also free cultural shows and dancing. During the week there is only one show in the late afternoon. But, at the weekend there are fours shows in the afternoon and evening.
The tourist attraction isn’t fully open yet, but it can get very crowded at the weekends. So far it is mainly popular with Thai tourists as it is not featured in any English language guidebook. When we were there we only saw a few other foreigners despite being so close to the beach in Pattaya. Later they plan to have sunflower fields, elephants and a working rice field. In one corner they had bird cages on poles which will be used for turtle dove singing competitions. A popular event in Southern Thailand. The floating market is just south of Pattaya on Sukhumwit Road. It is open daily from 10 a.m. and 11 p.m. If you are planning a trip to Pattaya then I strongly urge that you visit this floating market.
Many thanks to the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) for taking us to Pattaya. Thanks also to the management of Pattaya Floating Market for giving us a tour and the Hard Rock Hotel for providing us with accommodation.