A good excursion to do at the weekend is to visit one of the many floating markets that are within easy reach of Bangkok. The one that I visited last weekend is called Wat Takien Floating Market which is in Nonthaburi Province, to the Northwest of Central Bangkok. From Samut Prakan it only took us about 40 minutes to drive there along the Kanchanapisek Outer Ring Road. But, if you are coming from Bangkok, you can get there via the Rama V Bridge.
The floating market at Wat Takien is relatively new. There used to be a much older one nearby called Bang Ku Wiang Floating Market. However, that has long since closed due to the modernization of transportation during the last century. Once the roads and highways were built, people went from getting around by boat to travelling by car which is obviously quicker and more convenient. However, there is a growing trend these days to revive some of the old markets. That is why the local community opened this market at Wat Takien.
Many of these markets open early in the morning. However, even though we arrived there after 9 a.m., many of the stalls were still being set up. So we explored the temple first. In front of the chapel there is a giant tiger’s head which has a doorway which takes you underneath the building. Inside there are a number of different shrines. Buddhists here were walking around these shrines in a clockwise direction while chanting. They were doing this to bring themselves good luck. The exit was through the head of a giant dragon.
The market is open every day from about 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. However, it is a lot more active at the weekend. Probably best to aim to be there by about 10 a.m. But don’t have breakfast before you leave home. Like most markets, the highlight for our trip was the food. You could just snack all day long. You can buy food from one of the boat vendors or from one of the stalls set up in the grounds of the temple. I had a very tasty crispy and red pork on rice. For dessert I had deep fried bananas and a coconut pudding. All prices were very good.
For me, a trip to a floating market is not satisfactory unless there is also a chance to go on a boat trip along the canals. Only by exploring this way do you get to see the daily life of local Thai people, which probably hasn’t changed much in a hundred years. Even today, most of the houses that we passed are cut off from the road and people have to use boats to get around. Even the postman and garbage collector has to use boats.Some of the houses we passed were more modern but many, like this one, looked like they have been around for years.
I don’t think that many people go on these boat trips. We saw the boats there but we had a hard time trying to find someone who would take us out. I don’t think Thai people like going out in the heat of the day. We eventually found this guy who took us out for an hour long trip for a low 200 baht. If this was Bangkok we would have probably been charged 800 baht at least. For the whole time that we were at this market, we didn’t see any other foreigners at all. So, the vendors and local people were really friendly and happy to see us there. It is not a major floating market, but it is a good escape from the other tourist traps.
Map for Wat Takien Floating Market: