The floating markets are a trademark attraction in Southeast Asia. Found all over the region, the markets began back when boats were the main form of transportation in the area. Farmers wanted to sell their goods without fighting through the jungle, and boats were the answer. Although there are now roads, floating markets still exist to serve both tourists and locals with fresh fruit, vegetables and deliciously authentic street food.
Visiting the floating markets is a great way to open your eyes to something new, delight your senses with all the interesting sounds and smells emanating from the boats and perhaps pick out a souvenir of your trip to take home. For photography fans, the array of colours on show here will make for some brilliant photos – don’t miss out on these beautiful, vibrant markets on your next trip to Southeast Asia.
Where to go
Although there are floating markets all over the region, there are several rightly famous ones which you should seek out. Damnoen Saduak Floating Market in Ratchaburi, Thailand, is the most popular floating market. It began as a way to bolster the country’s economic growth, and has now become one of the biggest, most well-attended markets in Asia.
Cai Rang Floating Market in Can Thao City, Vietnam, is the largest market in the Mekong Delta. This market runs for longer each day, from 5 AM to noon. A wholesale market, this gathering is best reached by river.
One of the most unique markets to visit is the Aberdeen Floating Village in Aberdeen, Hong Kong. This market has 600 junk boats that house around 6,000 people, and you can find some of the freshest seafood in the world here.
How to see them
As technology evolved, many roads were built in Southeast Asia, making water transportation less prevalent. Because of these, some markets can now be accessed by road. But for the full experience, look for a boat or bike tour to take you through these markets. Local guides will show you the market on water, as they were traditionally meant to be experienced. Taste local delicacies, fresh produce, and interesting drinks.
These markets can get crowded, so plan on going in the early hours of the morning, before it gets too hot or busy. These markets can be located outside of the city, so make sure your tour will get you there before showing you around. For an exotic, unforgettable experience as part of your next personalised Asia holiday, look no further!