Category Archives: Road Trips

5 More Floating Markets around Bangkok

It has become popular these days to revitalize some of the old riverside markets around Thailand. New floating markets are also being built to match this demand. This is part two of my comprehensive list of Thai floating markets that you can easily do as a day trip from Bangkok. Click here to read part one.

Bang Noi Floating Market

A short distance north of the famous Amphawa market is the Bang Noi Floating Market in Samut Songkhram Province. This is an old market that has been around for over one hundred years. Although it doesn’t get as busy as Amphawa, it still has a lot of charm with shops containing quality souvenirs and delicious food. It is a weekend market that is open from about 8 a.m. to late afternoon. You can also join boat tours here [MORE].

Bang Nok Kwaek 100 Year Market

Another old market, a little further north on the Maeklong river, is Bang Nok Kwaek Market in Samut Songkhram Province. Although it doesn’t have the hustle and bustle of its younger cousin at Amphawa, it certainly makes up for it with its old time charm and friendly shopkeepers. If you want to experience an old Thai riverside market without the crowds then its worth spending an hour or so here. Boat tours are also available [MORE].

Ayothaya Floating Market

To the north of Bangkok there are two new purpose built floating markets in Ayutthaya Province. This first one is Ayothaya Floating Market.  It is conveniently next door to the Elephant Camp so you can do an elephant ride if you like before visiting the market. It is free to enter and wander around. There are shops with handicraft and souvenirs as well as lots of food. You can join boat rides and also watch scheduled shows [MORE].

Ayutthaya Klong Sa Bua Floating Market

The second purpose built floating market in Ayutthaya Province is Ayutthaya Klong Sa Bua Floating Market. This one is only open at the weekends and is more of a kind of “dinner theatre” than a traditional market. You first buy food that you want from vendors on boats and along the bank and then sit down to watch one of the scheduled shows. Each one is different. This market has an entrance fee [MORE].

Bang Nampheung Floating Market

Another relatively new floating market near Bangkok is Bang Nampheung Floating Market in Samut Prakan Province. It is built along a canal that flows into the Chao Phraya River. It is a good place to buy food and local handicraft. You can also rent out boats to go for a paddle on the canal. It is a weekend market that closes by mid-afternoon. Best to go early to avoid the crowds [MORE].

I have more floating markets near Bangkok to add to this list. Feel free to add your own favourites in the comments below.

Splash Jungle Water Park in Phuket

The first and only water theme park in Phuket is Splash Jungle Water Park. It is found in the north of Phuket close to the airport and very near Mai Khao Beach. The water park has been designed to international standards and has attractions for all members of the family.

The highlight for the younger children is the Aqua Play Pool seen in this picture. The water here is not deep and so is therefore ideal for younger children. There are slides, water cannons and other water based toys. Nearby is the Lazy River where you can ride on tubes around the 335 meter long flowing river.

The star attractions are the Boomerango and Super Bowl where you can choose between a series of different flume rides. On one of them you sit on inner-tubes and go down a sharp drop. Coming out the other end you race up an almost vertical wall. Close to the top there is a reverse free fall.

Other attractions include hot springs, a sauna, wave pool, sun loungers, bar pool and several restaurants. While you are in the water park you don’t need to worry about your money. You can keep all your stuff safely in a free locker. Each person has a wristband which has a unique number. You use this to buy things and then you pay at the end of the day.

I read about Splash Jungle while it was still being built the other year. I had the impression that is was going to be a big place. Although it does indeed have a good variety of water attractions, it is very small compared to say Siam Park in Bangkok. I know it is still new, but it is also too much like a concrete jungle rather than a real jungle. Very little shade.

Splash Jungle is open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The prices seem to be very expensive to me at 1,495 baht for adults and 750 baht for children aged 5-12 years. In comparison, the much bigger Siam Park in Bangkok is only 300 baht and you get a lot more. I am not sure how many people would pay that much considering Phuket is an island with beautiful beaches!

At the moment, Splash Jungle has some special packages for families. Two adults are 2,400 baht, 2 adults and one child is 3,000 baht and 2 adults and 2 children is 3,600 baht. Splash Jungle is also part of the West Sands Resort. If you stay with them then you can purchase special packages.I guess the prices might be alright for people here on short holidays, but what about the many expat families? I am sure the water park cannot survive on tourists alone.

Getting to the park might also be a problem as it is in the middle of no-where. From Patong Beach the journey is more than an hour. From Cape Panwa it is 80 minutes. The park has shuttle buses but it will cost you 350 baht per person for a one-way ride. Obviously for a family it is going to be an expensive day out. Even with the package deal, it will cost a family of four about $212 just for transport and admission. That doesn’t include food.

Map showing the location of Splash Jungle:

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Ta Klang Elephant Village in Surin

Surin Province, in Northeast Thailand, is probably most famous for the annual Surin Elephant Roundup that takes place in November. This year it is over the weekend of 19-20 November 2011. What I didn’t know before is that Surin is also home to the Elephant Study Center so that you can learn about the elephants year round. This elephant center can be found at Ta Klang Village in Tha Toom District, about 58 kilometers north of Surin.They even have homestays programmes for foreign tourists.

The Ta Klang villagers are descendants of the Kui ethnic group who have a gift of capturing, training and keeping elephants. Unlike in Northern Thailand where elephants are kept for labour, the Kui keep the elephants as one of the family. Even sharing the same house. In 2006, a project was launched in Surin to encourage mahouts roaming around Thailand to bring their elephants back home to Surin where they would be given assistance at the Study Center. It is claimed that already they are the biggest elephant village in the world.

According to the Kui’s tradition, the Pakam Spirit House is where dead ancestors of the Kui people are believed to reside, together with the revered Pakam spirit. Built facing north, the spirit house is used to keep the sacred “Pakam rope” made from buffalo leather, and other elephant controlling tools. Before they can do any kind of activity involving the elephants, they must first pay homage to the house to inform the spirits of their intention and to ask for a blessing.

Near the Pakam Spirit House there is the Elephant Museum which has an exhibition about the Kui people, as well as village life and details on how they are able to capture and train the elephants. There are also preserved elephant skeletons, which you can see here, and elephant controlling tools. The bilingual exhibition is fascinating and goes into a lot of detail about the life and culture of the elephants in this community. There are also many old pictures on display of elephant roundups.

I guess no elephant village would be complete without the inevitable show. They are certainly crowd pleasers for the school kids arriving in coaches and for people who haven’t seen an elephant show before. However, although it seems cute at times, I don’t think it should be seen as entertainment to force elephants to do unnatural things. Sharing their artistic skills (or memory skills) in doing a painting like this is probably clever. But I think it is sad to see them dance to disco music, play football or stand on their hind legs. But, I’ll let you make your own decision.

At the elephant center, there is also an opportunity to take an elephant ride which I am sure is the main reason for many people to come here. This costs 200 baht. From experience, these rides are great the first or second time. But really, anything longer than 15 minutes is very uncomfortable! For people who have a deeper love of elephants, there is an opportunity to live in a homestay at the elephant village. You won’t be trained to be a mahout but will be able to help out with the elephants. The all inclusive cost is 12,000 baht for 6 days and 7 nights. More information at the Surin Project website.

The entrance fee for the Elephant Study Center is 100 baht each for foreign tourists and 50/20 baht for Thai tourists. The elephant ride is 200 baht for foreigners and 100 baht for Thais. The ride lasts about 20 minutes. There are two elephant shows daily at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Below there is a map showing the location of the elephant village. It should be noted, that during the period of the annual elephant roundup, you probably won’t find many elephants at this village.

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The White Temple in Chiang Rai

One of the most beautiful temples in Thailand, done in a modern contemporary style, is undoubtedly Wat Rong Khun. This temple, which is in Chiang Rai in Northern Thailand, is more well-known among foreigners as The White Temple. I recently went back for my second visit and was surprised to see that work was still continuing.

The temple is located in Ban Rong Khun, about 13 kilometres south-west of Chiang Rai city along Phahonyothin Road. It is the brainchild of Thai artist Chaloemchai Khositphiphat who started building it back in 1998.In an interview, he said that “maybe in 60 to 90 years after my death will the projected be completed”.

Chaloemchai Khositphiphat, in his lifetime has become a great Contemporary Thai artist that is admired by many people. He has not only revitalized an interest in the ancient Thai murals found in temples, but he has at the same time produce his only unique style. Most obvious is the choice of white for the temple while others are golden. He said that he believes that gold is only suitable for people who lust for evil deeds.

The attention to detail in the temple is remarkable and you do need to spend some time here studying the beautiful artwork. To reach the temple you have to cross a bridge over a pit of hell. Down below there are sculptures of people who are presumably trying to escape from hell. Inside the temple is a beautiful coloured mural of the Buddha. If you take a close look at the devil you will see small portraits of Bin Laden and George Bush in the Devil’s eyes. Also on the murals I spotted the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center and also the creature from Alien.

One of the new buildings since my last visit is this Golden Toilet which is probably the most beautiful rest room in Thailand. Surprisingly it is also free, the same as for entry to the White Temple. Though obviously donations are welcome as up-keep of all the buildings is never-ending. You can buy reproductions of Chaloemchai’s impressive artwork in the souvenir shop. The White Temple is open daily from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Map showing location of Wat Rong Khun (The White Temple):

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5 Floating Markets around Bangkok

There are many floating markets and riverside markets around Bangkok. Some of these are new and others have been revitalized. This is part one of my comprehensive list of Thai floating markets that you can easily do as a day trip from Bangkok.

Damnoen Saduak Floating Market

Damnoen Saduak Floating Market

The most famous floating market for foreign tourists is Damnoen Saduak Floating Market in Ratchaburi Province. If you want that picture perfect postcard shot I recommend this place. However, if you don’t want any foreigners in the picture that you must go there early. By 9 a.m. there is a traffic jam of tourist boats. Most people go here from Bangkok on tours that include the Rose Garden [MORE].

Taling Chan Floating Market

A famous market that is actually in Bangkok is Taling Chan Floating Market. However, don’t go there expecting a canal full of boats with vendors selling fruit and other produce. This is more a riverside market that has a number of boats tied up alongside the pier. However, it is still a good place to go and soak up the atmosphere. The last time that I visited I also joined a boat tour from here [MORE].

Tha Kha Floating Market

I think probably the best market I have been to is Tha Kha Floating Market in Samut Songkhram. Of all the so-called floating markets out there, this one has mant boat vendors selling to local people. It is much like Damnoen Saduak but there are hardly any foreign tourists here. This is because it is not so easy to get to and is not on many tour routes. I also joined a very cheap boat tour from here that was really enjoyable [MORE].

Don Wai Market

One of my favourite markets for food is Don Wai Floating Market in Nakhon Pathom. Although they label it this way, I would much prefer to translate it as Riverside Market. You don’t have the boat vendors like what we imagine floating markets in Thailand should have. However, this doesn’t worry the Thai people. After all, it is too hot in the sun if there aren’t any shelters. From here you can also join a boat tour of the local river [MORE].

Amphawa Floating Market

I think the Thai favourite for a market is Amphawa Floating Market in Samut Songkram. I first went here about five years ago. It was popular and crowded back then, but mainly with Thai tourists. Hardly any foreigners. But that, of course has changed as word has spread on the Internet. I like the place. There is a mixture of riverside market and floating market like you can see in this picture. It is also a good place for a homestay. There are boat tours too [MORE].

I have more floating markets near Bangkok to add to this list. Feel free to add your own favourites in the comments below.

Visit Part Two >>>