Floating market

A floating market is a market where goods are sold from boats. Originating in times and places where water transport played an important role in daily life, most floating markets operating today mainly serve as tourist attractions, and are chiefly found in Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and India.


In Thailand, floating markets (Thai: talātnām) are well supported locally and mainly serve as tourist attractions.[1] One of their purposes is to allow domestic visitors and international tourists to be able to experience the culture of riverside shopping.


In the past[2] the areas adjacent to the rivers were the first to be populated. Thus most communities of Thailand were built at the sides of rivers. The waterways served as means of transportation and the center of economic activity as well. Boats were mainly used for both local and regional trade, bringing goods from those that produced to those that could barter and trade. Such ways of life of the riverside communities, especially in the Chao Phraya River Basin increased the number of floating markets.

Floating markets became the hubs of the communities in the central plain of Thailand for centuries.[3] In the Ayutthaya Period (1350–1767), due to the existence of several adjoining canals which were suitable for trading, they helped to gain popularity for this type of market.

Early in the Rattanakosin Period (1782–1868), this kind of market was still lively with the crowds. Nonetheless, soon after the region grew and Bangkok began to develop, road and rail networks were increasingly constructed in place of the canals. This resulted in people choosing to travel by land instead of by water. Therefore, some of the floating markets were forced to move onto the ground, some were renovated and some were closed down.

Notable floating markets

Amphawa floating market

Amphawa floating market is not as large as Damnoen Saduak floating market[4] but it is more authentic, with visitors almost exclusively Thais. It is an evening floating market but some stalls are opened at noon too. The market operates on Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 1600 to around 2100 hrs. It is in Amphawa District, Samut Songkhram Province (72 km from Bangkok). Moreover, due to its popularity, the food stalls have grown from the riverbanks and stretched far into the surrounding buildings. Another popular activity in Amphawa District is to take a boat and watch the flickering fireflies at night, especially in the waxing-moon nights.

Damnoen Saduak floating market

Damnoen Saduak floating market in Damnoen Saduak District is undoubtedly the largest and most well known floating market among Thai and foreign tourists. It is located in Ratchaburi Province, about 100 kilometres southwest of Bangkok. The market is open everyday from around 0630 to 1100 hrs but the best time to visit is in the early morning. The Floating Market is crowded with hundreds of vendors and purchasers floating in their small boats selling and buying agricultural products and local food, which are mostly brought from their own nearby orchards. It is a very attractive place for tourists to see the old style and traditional way of selling and buying goods.


The floating markets in Indonesia is a collection of vendors selling various produce and product on boats. Floating markets initially are not created as tourist attraction, but as necessities in Indonesian cities that has large river, especially in several cities and towns in Kalimantan and Sumatra. However, later it has been promoted in tourism itinerary, especially in Kalimantan cities. For example, the Siring floating market in Banjarmasin, and Lok Baintan floating market in Martapura, both located in South Kalimantan.

Product categories

Produce and fruit

Ideally, the floating market’s produce and fruit are normally grown from nearby gardens or local orchards.[5] Such produce are the assorted tropical fruits[6] and vegetables such as banana, jackfruit, rambutan, mango, pineapple, dragon fruit, carambola, fresh coconut and durian.


Local dishes are cooked and prepared by the vendors from their floating kitchens located on their boats. They offer various kinds of food ranging from traditional Thai meat to vegetarian dishes such as papaya salad (Som tum). Boat noodles and traditional Thai dessert (Khanom wan Thai) such as mango sticky rice and coconut rice dumplings (Khanom krok) are also available for tasting.


There are hundreds of locally produced goods that are available for purchasing and bargaining. Examples of these types of merchandise include:



Floating markets play an essential role in the tourism industry. They help to promote and preserve the cultural characteristic and heritage of floating markets that have existed for centuries. Furthermore, the development of infrastructure and public utilities like electricity and water supply due to the increasing number of tourists also made the locals’ lives more convenient and comfortable.


Economically, floating markets help to improve the standard of living by generating jobs, creating income and also employment opportunities[7] for local people directly. For instance, locals work as hotel staff or tour guides. Moreover, the plentiful resources within the communities can be used by the locals to produce souvenirs or dishes for sale. As a result, these can benefit communities by providing more funds to further develop them.

See also


  1. Floating Market (Famous Wonders of the World Best Places to Visit See Travel Pictures Floating Market Comments)
  2. History of Floating Markets (Around the Workd)
  3. Floating Markets (Floating Markets)
  4. Floating Markets (Floating Markets)
  5. Floating Market (Famous Wonders of the World Best Places to Visit See Travel Pictures Floating Market Comments)
  6. Floating Markets (Floating Markets)
  7. http://www.idosi.org/wasj/wasj30(icmrp)14/43.pdf
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