The floating markets in Bangkok are among the city's star attractions. Almost every traveller has a visit to at least one on their first trip here. The colours, chaos, flavours and atmosphere make it a unique experience, and the novelty of buying a snack from a passing boat takes some beating. Even so, many will be discouraged by the distance, the price of the tour and definitely the ludicrously early wake-up time needed to get there early enough to enjoy the experience properly. 

    But... who wants to get up at 5am while on holiday? Why even bother waking up so early when there are actually several floating markets around Bangkok open all day, including a small but very nice one just 12km from Siam Paragon? You can be there before lunch without having to sacrifice your sleep! Let's take a look at some of the best floating markets in Bangkok for good reasons and so you can decide which has the atmosphere, the look and the location that's right for you.

    Damnoen Saduak has been Thailand's best known floating market for a very long time, but that also makes it one of the most touristy ones. It's popularity comes, in no small part, from its use as a setting in the 1974 James Bond movie The Man with the Golden Gun.

    It's huge, lively, full of boats selling food and fruits, and it's colourful – exactly how people imagine a floating market would look like, with the opportunity to capture the perfect photo to show off once back home. It's also about 100 km away from Bangkok and, being a victim of its own success, it often seems to lack the authentic atmosphere, feeling more like a theme park than a real local market.

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    Location: Damnoen Saduak, Ratchaburi 70130, Thailand

    Open: Daily from 7 am to 5 pm

    Phone: +66 (0)87 969 3428

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    Amphawa is a very popular floating market in Thailand, located 90 km south-west of Bangkok. It's cute and fun and very authentic, with many little wooden houses neatly lined up along the canal, selling souvenirs, snacks and sweets. Don't miss the amazing little temple swallowed by a giant tree located across the river.

    On the downside, it gets incredibly crowded! Past midday, it feels like half the population of Bangkok has moved to Amphawa! To avoid that, make it a morning trip, have an early seafood lunch on the river banks and get a little longtail boat cruise when the rest of the crowd just starts eating.

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    Location: Amphawa, Samut Songkhram 75110, Thailand

    Open: Friday–Sunday from 11 am to 9.30 pm (closed Monday–Thursday)

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    Taling Chan is one of our favourite floating markets near Bangkok as it has just the right amount of everything you could ask for from an iconic Bangkok attraction. Located only 12 km from downtown Bangkok, Taling Chan is open all day and has just enough boats to be called a floating market, plus a large local market attached to it. 

    There are small longtail boat cruises to take you around the nearby khlongs (canals) and get a relaxing glimpse of the surrounding area. It perhaps lacks the old-world charm of other markets, but it has the more genuine feel to it.

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    Location: Village No 15, 30/1 Bang Ramat Rd, Bang Ramat, Taling Chan, Bangkok 10170, Thailand

    Open: Saturday–Sunday from 8 am to 5 pm

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    Khlong Lat Mayom is a medium-sized floating market located really close to Bangkok. It's a really local market and you might be one of the very few foreigners around. The main market itself is on solid ground but it's very interesting with the chance to sample all kinds of fun sweets and fruits. As it's located just near Taling Chan Floating Market, it is better to combine both markets on the same morning.

    On the downside, not being a major tourist attraction, the Khlong Lat Mayom Floating Market lacks the size of the more famous ones. You might only see 10 floating vendors at the most, with no option for a longtail boat cruise to explore the area.

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    Location: 15-30/1 Bang Ramat Rd, Bang Ramat, Taling Chan, Bangkok 10170, Thailand

    Open: Saturdays–Sundays from 8 am to 5 pm (closed on weekdays)

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    Bang Nam Pheung floating market is one of the smallest but also one of the closest to central Bangkok – only about 20 km away. But closest doesn't mean most accessible and a taxi might be the only way to get there. Despite its modest size, the market has a very interesting choice of food to sample and a lovely location in 'The Lung of Bangkok': a relatively untouched sanctuary of nature protected by a curve in the river.

    On the other hand, with only about 6 boats, the market can barely be described as "floating". You can't get the chaotic and kaleidoscopic photos here that you would at the larger markets.

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    Location: Bang Nam Phueng, Phra Pradaeng, Samut Prakan 10130, Thailand

    Open: Friday–Sunday from 8 am to 2 pm (closed Monday–Thursday)

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    Tha Kha Floating Market

    Tha Kha Floating Market is the smaller sibling of the nearby Damneon Saduak market. It attracts a much smaller amount of tourists and, with a canopy of natural surroundings, it's protected from overdevelopment, so its modest size and local atmosphere are likely to remain.

    The market has a number of elderly Thais in their rowboats selling fruit, vegetables, local food, and delicious sweets. The main buyers here are the Tha Kha natives (also in rowboats). People here seem to know each other very well and there are often very few tourists around.

    Location: Tha Kha, Amphawa, Samut Songkhram 75110, Thailand

    Open: Saturday–Sunday from 6 am to 3 pm

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    Willy Thuan | Compulsive Traveller

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