Thailand is known for its interesting markets. They are popular with tourists because of the wide variety of exotic foods. Some are also known for their remarkable settings. Two hours south of Bangkok are three very unique markets: Maeklong, Amphawa and Damnoen Saduak.
MaeKlong Train Market
Maeklong Train Market would be a typical Thai market except that it takes place on an active railroad line. The market is just down from the Maeklong Railway Station and follows the train tracks for a few blocks. Small market stalls crowd in the space between the rail lines and buildings. Vendors sell fresh fruits, vegetables, fish and other mysterious meats. Goods are displayed on trays or big plates right on the edge of the train tracks. Most stalls have moveable awnings to keep the hot sun off their wares. Shoppers walk along the railroad tracks moving from stall to stall while trying not to trip over the uneven ties.
A couple of minutes before the train arrives a horn sounds. Vendors pulls in their goods, raise their awnings and shoppers hop into openings between the stalls. The train travels through the market, coming within inches of the stalls. Some items that were left in place are narrowly missed as the train passes over top. Then, as soon as the train passes, the trays go back out, awnings come down and shoppers re-emerge. They have it down to an art form. It’s one of the craziest settings for a busy market.
Amphawa Floating Market
A fifteen-minute drive from Maeklong is the Amphawa Floating Market. The weekend market is held along the canal in Amphawa. Vendors, mostly women, serve meals of soup or grilled fish and seafood cooked on their long-tail boats. Patrons, on land, eat at narrow benches along the water’s edge. There are also stalls on land selling fruit and other goods such as clothing, candies and souvenirs.
The market is 3 or 4 blocks long with a pedestrian bridge at either end. There is a constant stream of shoppers moving along the sidewalks and over the bridges. We watched the action for a while and then had a yummy lunch of grilled snapper, rice and a cashew salad. After our meal we saw a man washing dishes in the river. It’s a good thing we didn’t see this before our lunch.
At night the market really comes alive. Lights from the boats and shops reflect off the calm water. As the sun went down we were treated to a beautiful sunset behind the canal.
Damnoen Saduak Floating Market
At 10 minute tuk-tuk ride away is, Damnoen Saduak Floating Market. This is the most popular floating market in Thailand. It is very colourful with long-tail boats full of fruits, veggies and flowers floating up and down the small canal. Some boats even sell coconut ice cream, soup and other snacks. The difference at this market is that customers can also travel in long-tail boats and float beside the merchant boats. There is only one small sidewalk beside the canal, so the best views are from one of the 2 bridges at either end.
Operating your business on a small boat has a few disadvantages. One of them is passing goods and receiving payments from customers who are on land. They have an interesting solution to that. Long sticks with bags or pots on the end are used to pass transactions back and forth.
Phra Nakhon Khiri Palace
On hour south of Damnoen Sadauk is the small city of Phetchaburi, often called Phet Buri. On top of a hill above town is a beautiful palace, a stupa and a temple. The walk up to the palace is an event on its own. Aggressive long-tailed macaque monkeys patrol the sidewalks and growl at passers-by in hopes they’ll drop some food. The palace employees are armed with slingshots to help keep the monkeys away. We armed ourselves with sticks. Richard was very good at keeping us safe. These were the some of the most aggressive monkeys we came across in Asia.
The hill has 3 peaks. On the first, is Phra Nakhon Khiri Palace built in the 1850s. It was used by the king as a retreat from Bangkok. It’s a simple palace, but built in an extraordinary setting. The middle hill has a large chedi (stupa). The stone stupa with a bright white base can be seen across the hilltops. The last peak has a small wat (temple) on top. All the buildings are in very good condition and the setting makes for fantastic pictures.
Not far from the palace hill is a cave shrine, called Tham Khao Luang. It is a natural cave with 3 large caverns. In the mid-1800s the king began to fill the cave with Buddha statues. Today there are over 170 statues in the cave making it an impressive shrine to Buddha.
Walking through the streets in Phet Buri we were often chased by long-tailed macaques. Since we’ve been home in Canada we watched a documentary about the aggressive monkeys in Phet Buri. That let us know we were not the only ones being chased.
To watch our 2 minute video from Maeklong Train Market click below.
Coming next – Thailand – Ancient Capitals of Ayutthaya and Sukhothai
To read stories from other places visit Destinations.
If you like what you read, please share, with credit, using one of the links below.
Click here for Travel Tips in Thailand.