Thailand's Unusual Food Markets (Pictures)

Categories: Travel Hog
Photo by Riki Altman
This is the last post in writer Riki Altman's three-part series about her visit to Bangkok. If you missed parts one and two, you can either click the links or just hop a plane and check it out for yourself.

Located about an hour outside of Bangkok are two fascinating outdoor food bazaars, The Floating Market and the Maeklong Station Market. Both are probably around exclusively for the sake of tourism, but each offers a unique charm that makes the trip worthwhile. If I could provide one tip it's this: bargain like your life depends on it. It's part of acceptable Thai culture and, frankly, us Americans look like walking bags of cash to street vendors. Anywho, here's a look at our two fantastic finds.

The Floating Market

Thailand has a few floating markets, offering visitors a chance to interact with vendors selling everything from apparel and tsotchkes to fresh produce. Orders can be made boatside or from a dock above.

Photo by Riki Altman
One could arrive by bus, but adventurous visitors tend to take a long-tailed boat (AKA the "James Bond boat") to get there by water. Trips up the canals are impressive, as many stilt homes grace the tour, along with the occasional supersized Buddha.

Photo by Riki Altman
A popular souvenir was this two-sided gift bag containing the herb and spice staples of Thai cuisine, including kaffir leaf, coriander, lemongrass, saffron, and chili.

Photo by Riki Altman
Maeklong Station Market

We thought our tour guide was full of crap when he said he knew of a food market where the vendors had to pick up their wares four times a day to let a train pass.* Perhaps something got lost in the translation, we thought, as he walked us around Maeklong, showing us all manner of foreign fruits and sea life for sale.

Photo by Riki Altman
But at 8:55 a.m., as we were busy staring at the buckets of live catfish and tables of neon-colored shredded rice cakes, a gentle alarm sounded and the vendors were instantly brought to life. Gently nudging us out of the way, they pushed back their tables, rolled down their makeshift awnings, and backed away as the quiet chug of an engine could be heard in the distance.

Photo by Riki Altman
I took this photo to show just how close the train gets.

Photo by Riki Altman
Five minutes later, it was back to business as usual. [Note: according to this video featuring Anthony Bourdain, sometimes the trip doesn't always go so smoothly.]

*Various websites claim it comes through eight times a day, but we weren't prepared to camp out and count.

Next week, Riki documents her visit to Prince Edward Island and surrounding areas for a journey through the world of Canadian seafood. That girl just can't seem to stay put.

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Riki- what is the best canned tuna!? You never shared with us the answer!


BTW, thanks for the link to our website, really appreciate it :)

Glad you enjoyed the markets. They're amazing. Actually the train market has nothing to do with tourists, it's just a local market that's just happened to become 'touristy' because it's unique.

But that floating market you went to is only for tourists. The real "Thai" floating market is called Amphawa - it's about an hour outside Bangkok and is frikkin' amazing. I went there last year with Thai friends and, I kid you not, at least 20,000 people (19,999 Thais and one 'farang' (westerner) (Me) show up for it.

If you get to Bangkok again, don't miss it. Waaaaay less cheesy than Damnoen Saduak (the one you went to :)


OMG--you're right! I never answered the tuna question! I'll have to do that in another blog. But since you were so astute, I'll tell you straight up: Chicken of the Sea. :-)

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