Thailand's floating markets are among the most-photographed destinations in the country. The river and 'klong' markets give a realistic glance of how daily life must have been in earlier times. The floating markets are where the sellers, their boats laden with a wide variety of tropical fruits, flowers, vegetables and fresh produce, come to meet and barter their products with other traders. These days, modern supermarkets and department stores have largely replaced the traditional floating markets, but a few still survive.
The most popular floating market, one of the must-see one-day trips from Bangkok, is at Ratchaburi, about 101 km to the west of Bangkok. The Ratchaburi market is the largest of its kind, attracting a large number of tourists each day. The lively and colorful images of boat vendors trading their agricultural products is one of the most fascinating and endearing images of Thailand.
There are also some interesting floating markets in Bangkok itself. The Taling Chan floating market is a weekend market in front of Taling Chan district office. Another one is the Wat Sai market in Bangkok's Thonburi area.
Efforts are being made to revive the old markets and reorganize them to support tourism. One example is the Wat Lam Phaya floating market in Nakhon Pathom, which was recently recreated and is now being promoted.
The best way to fully appreciate a floating market is to hire a long-tailed boat for the day. A tour along the klongs also gives you an appreciation of Thai homes and gardens. Don't forget to get up real early for a trip to see the markets. Usually they kick off at dawn, and most traders have already gone back home by late morning.