In the modern age, the hypermarkets and corner convenience stores are quickly taking over from the older traditional markets in Thailand. Many of these markets have closed down. What is interesting to see now in Thailand is a re-emergence of old floating markets and canal side markets. Amphawa Floating Market is a good example of this and has become a popular destination for local tourists. In Samut Prakan we also have a number of old and traditional markets that have been revitalized for the tourist sector. A good example of this is Bang Phli Market and Klong Suan Market where I went today.
Klong Suan Market straddles Prawetburirom Canal which, back in the reign of King Rama V, was a kind of super highway linking Chachoengsao with Bangkok. For over 100 years, local people have been meeting at Klong Suan Market to sell and buy produce while on their way to or from Bangkok. However, with the building of the road system, the popularity of the market started to decline. There were no longer so many boats on the canals and the condition of these waterways quickly deteriorated. Fortunately for us, the local government saw the importance of preserving not only the old buildings but also the traditional way of life.
Some markets, that focus just on the tourist trade, seem mainly to sell tacky souvenirs. However, at Klong Suan 100 Year Market, you have a chance to experience a living museum which will satisfy any culture junkies. This isn’t just a market for tourists. During the week, it is still popular with local who come here to buy products that they need for their every-day lives. You will find shops selling kitchen utensils, fishing accessories, hardware store, clothes, traditional toys for children and a lot more. What I liked are the coffee shops where you can sit and drink traditional coffee whether its is hot or cold. Then, if you need a trim, you could get your hair cut by this barber.
The highlight, of course, in any Thai market is the food that it sells. Boiled duck seemed to be a popular choice for many. However there was a large selection of traditional Thai food and desserts that you could choose from. You could either eat as you walked along or sit at the many canal side restaurants. Don’t go expecting air-conditioned comfort. This is the real thing and a slice of life in olden days Thailand. If you come here you will certainly be spoiled for choice. It is best not to eat before you go. Also, don’t fill up too much at one shop as you will undoubtedly spot a favourite dessert as you walk further down the market.
I drove over to this market at the weekend. It is fast becoming popular with Thai tourists from Bangkok. If you come at the weekend or late in the morning then expect a very crowded market. It is best to come early in the morning before 9 a.m. or during the week when there are not so many tourists. As we left, we spotted a couple of foreign tourists arriving by tuk tuk which was a bit surprising. I think it would be better by air-conditioned taxi. You could catch the sky train to On Nut. From there it would be about 28 kms along Soi On Nut and Lat Krabang. It is basically the same road all the way. We drove up from Bang Na-Trad Highway. I have marked the location on the map at Paknam.com and also posted road sign pictures on the Samut Prakan Forums.