The Most Beautiful Bangkok Floating Market for Food & Photography

You will find floating markets across Thailand, a country that’s embraced transport via rivers and canals for many centuries. The floating markets in Bangkok are the most iconic and very popular with tourists. Most of them are actually an hour’s drive or so West of Bangkok city in the province of Samut Songkhram – sometimes also known as Maeklong for the river that runs through it.

Tha Kha Floating Market, near Bangkok, Thailand

I’ve always wanted to visit one of these floating markets to experience this bustling water-born trade, and to capture my own images of the photogenic boats, vendors and food.

As soon as our flights to Thailand were confirmed we booked a Bangkok floating markets tour which included visits to three floating markets plus a famous railway market in the same area, taking the hassle out of researching and booking transportation. We also appreciated having a Thai-speaker to help us identify and order delicious treats to taste throughout the day.

Although we enjoyed visiting each of the markets in the tour, we found Amphawa Floating Market so densely crowded that it was hard to appreciate the unique sights it had to offer, shuffling slowly along the narrow walkways in a sweaty crush of visitors, unable to stop readily without disrupting the flow. We were also surprised by how few boat traders were on the water during our visit, with most of the activity and sales occurring in the waterfront stalls; we only later learned that this market is at its best during the afternoon and evening rather than earlier in the day.

Described in tourist guides as more authentic than the larger Damnoen Saduak Floating Market a few miles further north (which we didn’t visit), we felt that Amphawa was more overwhelmed by the volume of tourists than we’d expected. Hopefully we will return to Amphawa in the future for an early evening visit and better appreciate (and be able to photograph) the charms of this popular floating market, even with the crowds.

Tha Kha Floating Market

In the meantime, it was Tha Kha Floating Market that captured our hearts and fulfilled our expectations of a traditional floating market..

This small floating market has traditionally operated according to the lunar calendar, scheduled for the waxing and waning moon phases. These days, it also opens on Saturdays and Sundays, making it easier to schedule a visit, though our guide said the lunar calendar days are busier. Note that this is very much a morning market, so time your visit accordingly.

Tha Kha Floating Market is situated in a green and rural area mainly given over to coconut palm plantations and pomelo fruit farms, these being two of the key crops of the area.

Hot Food Vendors at Tha Kha Floating Market, near Bangkok, Thailand

Much, much smaller than the sprawling Amphawa and Damnoen Saduak Floating Markets, Tha Kha is still very much a local community market, and you’ll spot many regular visitors warmly greeting the boat vendors as they buy produce for their home kitchens as well as fresh hot food to eat straight away.

A highlight is watching the mainly elderly women vendors deftly cook hot food right there in their small rowboats, passing dishes across to eagerly waiting customers on the banks of the canal as soon as they are ready. Often the women are chatting boisterously to each other as they work, nodding and laughing, no doubt catching up on the latest news.

Produce vendors at Tha Kha Floating Market, near Bangkok, Thailand

Although Tha Kha market is small in size, there are certainly enough vendors to try a wide range of delicious dishes. The boat sellers are supplemented by stalls on the shore, and there are covered seating areas too if you want to sit at a table to eat.

Of course, tourism is a factor here, and there are a few operators offering boat trips to tourists to explore the canals. Instead of a motorised boat, we took a more relaxing rowboat tour through quiet and green canals, with views of local farmland and houses.

Our boat ride included a stop at a small coconut palm sugar farm, before taking us in a loop back to Tha Kha Floating Market.

Boat Tour at Tha Kha Floating Market, near Bangkok Thailand

Visiting a Coconut Palm Sugar Farm

Many of the coconut palm plantations here are smallholdings, running a cottage industry process whereby each household makes their own coconut palm sugar from their small plots of coconut palm trees.

At the farm we visited by boat, we were shown how the sap from the coconut palms is collected daily, and how it’s then boiled over wood-fired basins in an open-sided shed. It’s hot work! The sap is transferred from basin to basin as it reduces, until it finally turns into a thick sticky boiling mass. As it cools, it solidifies into crumbly, golden-hued coconut sugar, usually sold in solid blocks to be grated on use.

Tha Kha Coconut Palm Sugar Farm near Bangkok Thailand

To cater to the influx of tourists now visiting the small factory throughout the weekend, this farm recently started using small flower-shaped moulds for a little of their production, allowing them to make sales of small bags of flower-shaped blocks as an edible souvenir. Most of the farm’s production is sold on to larger businesses who repackage and sell the coconut sugar onwards, often cutting it with less expensive refined sugars to make the end product cheaper. Being able to taste and buy 100% pure coconut palm sugar directly from the source is a big treat and of course, you can buy it from stalls at the floating market too.

The farm we visited was owned by a tiny elderly lady who ran it with the help of her brother and sister-in-law. They have no kids to take over the farm, so the future is uncertain, though the owner has no intention of slowing down anytime soon. Neighbouring farmers face similar uncertainty as most of the younger generation have chosen to move into the towns and cities for office-based work.

How to Get to Tha Kha Floating Market

We took a tour that included visits to three floating markets and the Maeklong Railway Market, travelling in a minibus with our driver, guide and two fellow tour attendees.

Provided you leave early enough to avoid the Bangkok morning rush hour, the drive from Bangkok city centre to Tha Kha takes around an hour. Parking seems straightforward, as Tha Kha Floating Market is not in a built up area.

Since we found Google satellite navigation to be accurate and easy to use when self-driving in other areas of Thailand, next time we go to Tha Kha we will visit independently with a rental car, rather than as part of a tour, allowing us to spend longer than the tour allocated.

You can also travel to Tha Kha by train, bus or minivan from Bangkok (plus a taxi or tuk tuk between the local station and the market) if you don’t want to drive and don’t want an organised tour.

A Three Week Itinerary For Touring Thailand

We visited Bangkok as part of an independent holiday, which we organised and booked ourselves. Check out our comprehensive three week Thailand itinerary, including tips on sightseeing, hotels, food and transport. You may also appreciate more Thailand travel tips and this post about where to stay in Bangkok.

Save for later:

Tha Kha Floating Market, near Bangkok, Thailand Tha Kha Floating Market, near Bangkok, Thailand Tha Kha Floating Market, near Bangkok, Thailand

Please leave a comment - I love hearing from you!
68 Comments to "The Most Beautiful Bangkok Floating Market for Food & Photography"

  1. Fiona Maclean

    I like the idea of this – Tha Kha Floating Market looks about perfect. It’s tricky isn’t it? We are, of course, tourists too – yet, I find crowds of visitors really offputting.

    The palm sugar factory sounds great too.

    Reply
    kaveyeats

    Absolutely, I have no truck with those who claim they are travellers rather than tourists… we are definitely all there to experience the sights and culture. But yes, I find extreme crowds offputting (as I do at home too) and prefer to avoid them, even though it sometimes means missing some of the big things!

    Reply
  2. Anna

    I’ve been coming to Thailand since I was 9 years and been living here 18 months now. But still haven’t made it to a floating market. I really should do it, though. It looks so interesting and authentic Thai!

    Reply
    kaveyeats

    This one is a lovely choice for a small but active floating market experience.

    Reply
  3. Justine Cross

    Seeing a traditional floating market is totally one of my bucket list items! This one looks incredible – beautiful photos by the way!

    Reply
  4. Lauren

    Cannot believe those women manage to cook onboard those boats! What an amazing experience – love markets but these are so unique!! Hopefully one day I can capture photos as beautiful as you and experience the Bangkok floating market for myself!

    Reply
  5. Danik

    I love this idea of checking out the floating markets. Havent been to Bangkok but when I do I sure would love to check them out. Its unbelievable that those woman can cook on boats!!! All credit to them.

    Reply
    kaveyeats

    Definitely worth seeing when you go to Thailand and yes, they are amazing to watch!

    Reply
  6. leanne

    Ah I loved the floating markets in South East Asia. I visited several in thailand and vietnam. Though some get quite crowded, I loved the photography opportunities and all that tasty food!

    Reply
    kaveyeats

    Yes, they are definitely visual feasts for the senses, as well as culinary feasts for the belly!

    Reply
  7. Kacie

    I loved seeing these floating markets on your Instagram and after reading this post, I really want to visit them even more. I bet you can pick up some really authentic foods here.

    Reply
  8. Anu

    I remember visiting the floating markets on the outskirts of Bangkok long time ago in the 1990s when I first visited Thailand. It was such a delight to sit on the boat as look at the fruits and vegetables all around. You are right – they are a photographer’s delight with all the colors and drama.

    Reply
    kaveyeats

    I bet that was an amazing time to visit! I understand that tourism in Bangkok has multiplied so many times since then that there are many more of us there sightseeing now than 30 years ago!

    Reply
  9. Nicky

    I’m another one who’s always wanted to see the floating markets – great to see that they’re as beautiful as I expected!! A shame that the first one was so crowded (I guess we’re not the only ones who always wanted to see it!), but wonderful that the second one met your expectations so well!

    Reply
    kaveyeats

    Yes, it was crowded for good season as it looks super interesting, but I found it overwhelming and hard to really see much as I was part of this constantly shuffling snake of visitors!!

    Reply
  10. Tamara Elliott

    I love the idea of a floating markets tour- I didn’t even realize that was a thing! When I think of floating markets, Vietnam comes to mind, but this is definitely something worth adding to a Thailand itinerary.

    Reply
    kaveyeats

    I think there are many elements of commonality in the cultures of South East Asia even though each is quite distinct… floating markets makes a lot of sense in this geographical region where water is a key method of transportation.

    Reply
  11. Chris Bloomfield

    How unique and fun! I haven’t heard of a floating market, but am impressed by these ladies cooking in the middle of a narrow boat on the river. We love visiting small farms because they offer such great products. It’s sad that most of the younger generation are moving away. Great article.

    Reply
    kaveyeats

    Visiting the farm was very interesting, especially so for me because it reminded me a lot of the tiny cottage industry jaggery producers I’ve seen in India when visiting regularly during my childhood.

    Reply
  12. Crysta Parkinson

    Wow! I am so blown away by the colors and the people – what an incredible experience. I hope I get the opportunity to see it up close and personal some day. Thanks for feeding my travel bug!

    Reply
    kaveyeats

    The colours and smells were so exciting! Hope you get to visit someday!

    Reply
  13. Kelly Keegan

    I can’t believe that I visited Bangkok twice and still didn’t hear about the floating markets until I’d left! Now I see information about them everywhere! Gutted. They look fantastic.

    Reply
  14. Kirstie

    I’m going to Bangkok, Thailand this in 2 weeks. I was wondering if it’s worth going to if it’s only a 3-day trip? Bangkok is so big and is so rich with culture, we mostly travel for food, but we are aware of the traffic. It’s gonna be our first time there. Is this something we need to go to or only if you have the luxury of time? I believe yours is a 3-week tour?

    Reply
    kaveyeats

    Hi Kirstie, with only three days in total, then I’d probably leave the floating markets for next time unless yo have a particularly strong wish to see them.

    Reply
  15. Sandy

    We went to the Klong Lat Mayon Floating Market which was nice but I was expecting to actually be able to buy things from the floating markets and not just do a cruise of the canals so I think Tha Kha Floating Market looks like a better experience 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
    kaveyeats

    Yes, a lot of people were buying both hot food and fresh produce from the boat vendors, as well as some from the vendors on shore too.

    Reply
  16. Lisa

    I love visiting markets like this. It looks like an amazing market to visit. I’m adding it to my list for Thailand.

    Reply
  17. Marvi

    I’ve always wanted to check out Thailand’s Floating Market too and this is such a great post to plan my itinerary. Good to know about the best time to visit the market and that it can easily be navigated. Like you, I’d love to get as much time as possible to explore the floating market too!

    Too bad about the farms not having younger generations to take interest in running it, though. It would be a shame if no one takes over and continue.

    Reply
    kaveyeats

    Yes, though it’s back-breaking labour for very little income, so I can understand why the younger generation look for something different.

    Reply
  18. Danila Caputo

    Visiting a floating market has always been my dream too! But just like you I wouldn’t like to deal with so many people. A densely crowded market makes it impossible to stop and have a proper look around… thanks for the honest review!

    Reply
    kaveyeats

    My pleasure! The busy ones are something to see, for sure, but I found them overwhelming and hard to really enjoy!

    Reply
  19. Jenn and Ed Coleman

    It sounds like Tha Kha Floating Market is a great place to take pictures and experience authentic life. The food seems super delicious and taking side tours of the canals would be a lot of fun. Thank you for sharing this experience.

    Reply
    kaveyeats

    So good, wish I’d been able to spend longer and try more delicious things!

    Reply
  20. Priya

    Wow, wow, wow! This post is about everything I dream of doing in Thailand – visiting floating markets and a local factory, learning, photographing and writing all the way. 🙂 The next time we go to Thailand, I’m definitely doing all of this. Thank you for this detailed, very helpful post.

    Reply
  21. Hannah

    What a great idea to book a tour – not something I would have thought to do… but for a first visit, it sounds like a good idea. Such a shame the Amphawa market was overcrowded – I find crowds like that quite difficult, especially in the heat, so probably would’ve sat at the side for that one! The Tha Kha market looks exactly how I picture floating markets to be – so beautiful.

    Reply
    kaveyeats

    Thanks Hannah, I looked at how complicated it would be to organise independently, especially on new year’s eve when we did this. Public transport exists but to visit several spots in a single day, doing it in a van with dedicated guide and driver made it much slicker!

    Reply
  22. Medha Verma

    How cool that you went to Thailand for 3 weeks! I agree, the floating markets are something quite interesting and unique about Thailand and I always recommend that as one of the things to do, to people travelling there. I love your pictures, they’re so lovely! I did not, however, know that you could also visit a Coconut Palm Sugar Farm, sounds like a great thing!

    Reply
    kaveyeats

    Thanks Medha, I was so happy with the itinerary I put together and this, our very first day in Thailand, was a great start!

    Reply
  23. Indrani

    I feel like kicking myself for coming away from Bangkok without seeing this floating market. So lively and colorful. Markets are supposed to be crowded aren’t they, much better than the crowds at malls. I love local flavours.

    Reply
    kaveyeats

    There’s so much in Thailand I wanted to see but couldn’t squeeze in to this trip, so don’t worry, we both have to go again!!

    Reply
  24. Ghia Lorenzo

    This is a cool adventure, to experience a floating market and see all of the stuffs they sell for everyday living. And the making of coconut sugar is amazing also, for them to be able to make it, they need a lot of patience and yes, indeed a hot work for them. Thanks for sharing this post!

    Reply
  25. Paige W

    I greatly wanted to visit a floating market when I was in Bangkok but I had heard from so many people that the biggest ones weren’t very authentic anymore and were just selling tacky trinkets. However, Tha Kha Floating Market sounds like it’s still authentic. I love that they have multiple things to taste and eat too!

    Reply
  26. Claire

    I usually try to travel independently as I hate being rushed when I am enjoying somewhere – but I wouldn’t have a clue where to start in Bangkok so I think I would have chosen a tour too! It is great you got to experience a couple of different markets to compare, Tha Kha Floating Market definitely sounds like the best one to visit, for an authentic experience.

    Reply
  27. Catherine Salvador Mendoza

    This truly makes me miss Bangkok. I’ve lived in Bangkok for 4 months but I didn’t know why I didn’t try the floating market? hmm. Anyway I’m gonna go back this month so I should give it a try! It’s so cool, right? And so many things to buy too! As low as 20 baht! Bangkok is the best!

    Reply
  28. Nisha

    Ah floating markets! To talk about them, No country can ever compete with Thailand. Have attended in several countries and can say with my experince.

    You are right in saying floating markets are a photographer’s delight with all the colors and drama around them. 🙂

    Reply
  29. Mansoureh

    yes you are right it is a great place to take colorful photos. I have visited the market, but I found it too touristy, At the end we are all tourists, aren’t we 🙂 then let’s play a tourist and get some beautiful shots for Instagram

    Reply
  30. Archana Singh

    Bangkok floating markets are legendary. You cannot go to Bangkok and not visit them. And, I absolutely agree with you floating markets are a photographer’s delight with all the colors and action around them.

    Reply
  31. Lara Dunning

    That is too bad the one market is too crowded. That is the problem when something like that becomes popular as it can become “loved to death.” I appreciate the tips and first-hand knowledge shared about visiting the markets. The palm sugar would be interesting to see to. I just made some cookies with that, and it had a very interesting caramel flavor.

    Reply
  32. Sandy N Vyjay

    The floating markets are indeed iconic in terms of drawing tourists. But some of them get too crowded for comfort especially if you want to photograph. Tha Kha Floating Market looks really colourful and vibrant. The way the ladies cook on the small boats is indeed something to see, their skills are really amazing.

    Reply
  33. Sindhu

    While I had known Thailand is popular for floating markets, I had not expected that there are more than one such markets. Th markets make for such amazing destinations for photography. I wouldn’t mind planning a visit to Thailand just to photograph the colorful market. The railway market is one more thing I would like to explore. How did you like it?

    Reply
  34. Brianna

    I remember the first time I heard about Thailand’s floating markets- I was absolutely enchanted! I’d like to see them myself one day.

    Reply
  35. Marteen

    I’ve only ever seen these floating markets in pictures. It must be a feast for the senses experiencing them all 😊

    Reply
  36. Denny George

    I’m a huge fan of local markets everywhere and have wanted to visit Thailand’s floating markets ever since I heard of them. Now, thanks to your recommendations, I know which one to visit – Tha Kha Floating Market. Hope you had fun in the market.

    Reply
  37. Punita Malhotra

    I have heard a lot about this floating market. Nearly everyone who goes to Bangkok visits it. Photographing the buzz would be a great experience, I agree. How did you manage the aerial shot?

    Reply
    kaveyeats

    Actually, not that many people visit this particular market, it’s Amphawa out Damnoen floating markets that most tourists visit.

    For the aerial photographs, I took it from a wooden pedestrian bridge over the canal!

    Reply

Please leave a comment - I love hearing from you!

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *