Of the many floating markets in and around Bangkok, weekend-only Taling Chan might not be the one you first hear of when you arrive in the Thai capital. The likes of Damnoen Saduak and even Amphawa see far more tourist footfall, but Taling Chan is still a worthy alternative, large enough to satisfy most visitors and un-sprawling enough that you can squeeze it into a couple of hours – or even a quick trip out for lunch.
Taling Chan’s strongest draw is the array of food you’ll find there. It might not rival the spread that’s on offer at nearby Khlong Lat Mayom – itself almost undeniably Bangkok’s best floating market for foodies – but there’s plenty of standard market fare to try. Seafood is particularly prominent, meaning you won’t struggle to arrange yourself a feast that ranges from enormous grilled salt-encrusted whole fish to prawns, scallops, mussels and more.
The large communal dining area at the heart of Taling Chan floating market makes this a perfect place to head for a quick yet relaxed (and delicious!) lunch just outside of downtown Bangkok. Remove your shoes and tuck yourself into one of the low tables on raised platforms, and you can order a combination of dishes from the vendors all around you, who will bring the food to your table as it’s ready (it’s common to be asked to pay as each set of dishes arrives, which saves later confusion for everybody).
Aside from the seafood, expect Thai market staples like noodle soups, meat satay skewers, hoy tod mussel omelettes, pad thai, and somtum papaya salad alongside an array of accompanying northeastern Thai dishes. There are also roaming drinks vendors serving the likes of iced teas and coffees as well as run-of-the-mill soft drinks, plus dotted around the market itself are plenty of stalls selling fruit shakes, local ice cream, snacks and sweets. If nothing else in life is certain, this much is: you will not go hungry at Taling Chan.
Taling Chan is also a solid choice of market for green-fingered Bangkok residents (or those with an adventurous approach to carry-on luggage!) looking for a decent selection of potted plants, seeds, and other gardening garb like soil and plant pots. At the very least, it’s an easy place to pick up some potted Thai herbs to form the foundations of your new kitchen-windowsill garden.
There’s frequently traditional Thai music being played in a garden-like space set just back from the canal, where Thai massages are also on offer. If that’s not enough adventure, you can join an inexpensive local boat tour of nearby canals (between approximately 100 and 160 baht per adult), passing through adjoining neighbourhoods – if you join the morning tour, you’ll also get to visit the more isolated Khlong Lat Mayom floating market (you can also get to it yourself by road – see below).
Taling Chan might not be utterly tourist-free, but what’s refreshing is that – quite unlike more renowned floating markets like Damnoen Saduak – there’s no aggressive touting of these tours. On the contrary, if you ask the boat operator to sell you a ticket, they’ll simply direct you to the low-key booth.
To get here, either take a taxi from downtown (most drivers will know it – though, if it helps, the Thai for ‘Taling Chan floating market’ is ‘talat nam Taling Chan’), or catch the orange-coloured, number 79 air-con bus from the bus stop outside the front entrance to Central World on Ratchadamari Road, around the corner from Siam Paragon. Buses run from 04.20 to 22.00, the fare is 17 baht, and the conductor can tell you when to get off. You can catch the same bus in the opposite direction on your return journey, though you shouldn’t have trouble finding a taxi outside the market if that’s preferable.
From Taling Chan, it’s also possible to carry on by local shared truck (songthaew) to the more isolated Khlong Lat Mayom floating market. From outside the entrance to Taling Chan, and continuing in the same direction as you travelled here from downtown Bangkok, catch a small red truck with a white sign on the front, just above the driver’s cab (if you can read Thai, this white sign displays the truck’s destination).
To be sure you’re going the right way, check with the driver or another passenger that the truck is going to Khlong Lat Mayom – someone on-board will almost certainly understand and be able to tell you either way! Once again, on your return to Bangkok you can either do the same in reverse (take the red songthaew to Taling Chan, and then bus 79 back to Central World), or catch one of the numerous taxis that passes the road that cuts between the two sections of Khlong Lat Mayom floating market.
If you want to go with a local guide to this or any of the other floating markets in Bangkok and the surrounding areas, we can arrange a custom tour for you – combining markets, food, and a little unique adventure! Find out more about our private and custom tours and what we can do for you.
Have you been to Taling Chan floating market? Let us know in the comments!
All photos by Chris Wotton.