Bangkok is famous for its floating markets. Read any guidebook and they’ll tell you that a visit to one is a quintessential Bangkok experience not to be missed. That alone guarantees that when you visit you’ll be sharing the experience with plenty of other tourists. I read a few travel articles and the big question seemed to be which market, of the many possibles, should I visit?
Logistics helped solve this question. Many of the more interesting sounding floating markets were quite a long way outside of Bangkok, and with limited time I needed somewhere accessible. Talin Chan market is handily located in Thonburi, an ancient district criss-crossed by canals that can be visited as part of a boat trip around the area, and is only a few kilometres from the centre of Bangkok.
It’s more fun to reach Talin Chan by boat, but it can also be reached by road. The food market here isn’t the typical fresh produce market that you get elsewhere; instead Talin Chan specialises in floating kitchens, where you can have food cooked to order by a chef bobbing around in a wooden canoe. There are pontoons with tables and chairs where you can relax while eating noodles or rice with fish, crab, prawns or pork.
It’s a small market – don’t expect to be wandering around for hours – but less touristy than I’d expected. Mostly there seemed to be more Thais than non-Thais and, because it was the weekend, everyone seemed to be having family lunches. The boat I’d arrived on parked up and I had an hour to explore, eat and drink. An hour was easily enough time.
I strolled amongst the boats, amazed yet again by the sheer variety of foodstuffs on offer in Thailand, checking out which of the floating kitchens looked good for lunch. Top tip, they all look good and do similar meals. I passed a young boy drumming up a frenzy of fish as he tossed stale bread into the water. I couldn’t help but wonder if these same fish would be grilled and served up one day soon.
I had a walk around and discovered a land-based market behind the floating market. There wasn’t much to see – more food stalls – so headed back in search of lunch. A tasty pad thai washed down with a beer and (to my shame) two portions of mango sticky rice later, and it was time to clamber back on the boat and head off into Thonburi’s canals again.