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Hoot Blog

The markets in Thailand? Yeah, they float

For a second, hearing that the markets float in Thailand is rather startling. Do they hover in the air? Nope, they float on the water! Goods are sold on boats and market-goers paddle from vendor to vendor as they collect what they need.

Still, sounds a bit challenging, doesn't it? How can you freely peruse all your favourite stalls when you're already carrying a handful of goodies from the last merchant? Well, that's all part of the fun!

First, check out these facts about the floating markets and see why you should get excited for this unique experience yourself. Then head to Bangkok - they have all the floating markets you'll ever need.

History of the floating markets

Let's give you a brief history lesson on how these unique markets came to be. Central Thailand is located in the wet lowlands of the country, so merchants had to get creative with how they distributed their wares as rivers often slowed land travel. That is until someone had the brilliant idea to move the markets to the water. Boats were already the main source of transportation for people who lived near the water, so it was a natural next step.

Time produced the development of canals and waterways to introduce even more merchants into the markets. And even as roads and more sophisticated means of transportation emerged, these simple floating markets were still regarded as the best way to do business.

Today, it's such a cool sight to watch from land as the boats carry a variety of goods, filling the river with rich, vibrant colours. Punt from boat to boat and you'll happen upon colourful fruits and vegetables, fabrics, arts and crafts among many other cool findings. Some markets are situated on the banks against concrete piers so landlubbers can participate in all the fun as well.

How to haggle 

You'll probably be excited about how cheap the prices are at the floating markets, but don't forget: you can haggle. Haggling around the world isn't very different, but here are some tips to ensure you get the best price possible.

  • Dress down - wearing nice clothing will instantly let the seller know you probably have more cash than you're letting on.

  • Go at the end of the market - near closing time, merchants will be desperate to move their goods and will sell for lower prices.

  • Scope the place out - there will always be multiple, similar products. Make sure you know where the cheapest ones are.

  • Bring small bills - come prepared with plenty of cash in small bills so you don't have to worry about the hassle of change.

  • Stay strong - don't let yourself get bullied, it's okay to walk away if you have to.


Don't miss Damnoen Saduak Floating Market

There are many popular floating markets in Bangkok, however, the most popular is Damnoen Saduak Floating Market. This one in particular is about a century old, and a hub of Thai culture and tradition. It also happens to be the best market for tourists as they can take to the waters and approach the various stalls.

You can certainly attempt to boat yourself through the mass and confusion of your chosen shopping centre, but if you want to ensure you get the best experience, it's probably best you sign up for a private tour. This way you can get picked up from your hotel and have someone lead you right where you need to go.

Sounds like fun, right? Thailand is full of unique adventures like this. Head out and see what you'll find at the floating markets!