During 2011, two purpose built floating markets opened in the seaside resort of Hua Hin. Surprisingly, not only did they open during the same year, but they also can both be found down Soi 112 which is about 6 kilometres away from the city center. I visited them over the new year holiday and both of them were very crowded with tourists. I’m not sure at this stage which one will survive.
The first one that you will come across is Hua Hin Floating Market (see map). You can’t miss it. When we arrived the queue for the car park went out onto the main road. My first impressions were good. All of the shops were built in a retro style to remind you of the olden days in Hua Hin. The boardwalk around the lake is wide which allows you plenty of space as you explore the shops. There are no cheap or tacky souvenirs here. Most things are good quality handmade products that you won’t find elsewhere.
Hua Hin Floating Market is open Monday to Thursday from 9:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. and Friday to Sunday from 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. They have stage shows during the day at 1 p.m., 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. You can also join a boat tour which is 200 Baht for four people. It seems to be a good place to do some shopping for a few hours and then sit down for a meal. Most people came here by private car but I heard that there is a public songtaew from the town for 20 Baht.
If you drive a short distance away from this market, and then turn left at an intersection, you will see almost immediately Hua Hin Samphannam Floating Market (see map). Like the other market, this one was also very crowded. But as Samphannam covers a much bigger area, I would say that there were far more people here. There are 193 shops and 40 vendor boats. The floating market is built around a lake that was already there. The buildings might not be as stylish as at the other market, but it had its own charm.
I like Hua Hin Samphannam Floating Market more than the other one. This is mainly because they have many more activities that you can take part in. It isn’t all about shopping. The boat trip here is only 20 Baht each. You can also join a train trip around the market for the same price. There are also daily shows. At one end there is a replica lighthouse as well as beached fishing boats. Plenty of photo opportunities here which Thai people love. The best thing for me was the wide variety of food available.
Hua Hin Samphannam Floating Market is open every day from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Most people come here by private car. There is enough parking for 1,000 cars and it was full when I visited. Like the other market, you can take a public songtaew here from the town for 20 Baht. You probably don’t want to do both of them in one day, but if you are in Hua Hin for a week then it is worth visiting both. But, if you only have time for one, then go to Hua Hin Samphannam Floating Market. It has a much better atmosphere.