The Floating River Markets show up on nearly all lists of Essential things to do in Bangkok. So Mo and I made sure that we could work it into our plans when we were there over Christmas.
We were lucky enough to have a hotel concierge that was extremely helpful and booked us a private taxi to take us there early the next morning. The River market we chose to visit was about an hours drive from our hotel in Sukhumvit. Most people advised us to try and go early in the day, it’s less busy and the heat is more tolerable.
Here are a few tips from our experience which I feel would have been tres useful for us to have known:
1. Shop Around for your boat
There’s a lot of competition between vendors to get you onto one of their boats. There are motor boats, traditional boats, large group boats etc. etc. The minute we got out of our taxi we were escorted to what we thought was the entrance and were given a short tour and a long tour option. Just stepping back from the table there are lots of other sellers offering different prices for different things.
So before parting with your money, just take some time to look around and choose an option that works best for you. Whichever you choose, Ideally you want to make sure you can hop on and hop off a few times as there are a number of walking around areas within the floating markets waterways.
2. Take cash
Obvious isn’t it? yet we didn’t plan accordingly and went with minimal hard cash. The markets are in the middle of nowhere so surprise surprise there are no atm’s. We really weren’t using our brains that day (Although I suppose it stopped us from what could have been some obscene spending).
3. Don’t be afraid to ask to stop
There is lots to see as you cruise on the water, houses, temples, stalls, so don’t be afraid to ask to stop the boat to get a closer look or to take some snaps.
4. Bartering can be pretty hard when you’re on a boat
It’s hard but its not impossible. You’ll find your boat driver (I want to call him Captain?) will probably try and steer you to people he knows to encourage you to support his (or her) mates. No problem in that, you may get a good deal out of it but saying no can be awkward as you’re not in a position to just walk away. Don’t let that stop you though, they all understand and so long as you ask to move on politely you should be fine.
5. Pay attention
As lovely and relaxing as it is to be on a river boat, there are points where you may be caught up in traffic jams with other tourists. I saw a number of people get their heads knocked by oars, umbrellas, people… they didn’t look happy. So just keep your wits about you and mind where you (and others) go and be prepared to duck down once in a while.
Anyone else got tips or stories from a visit to the Floating Markets?