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Of the many floating markets for visitors to Thailand to choose from, Tha Kha is perhaps the most local of them all, and the closest to whatever that idyllic ‘authentic’ version really is. It’s a great place to get off the well-trodden tourist path and experience a quaint, laidback floating market in a rural Thai setting.
Alongside the Tha Sala canal, Tha Kha floating market is set in a small village in Samut Songkhram province – also more colloquially known as Mae Klong – just an hour out of Bangkok. It’s only a short hop from the more popular Amphawa floating market that takes place in the late weekend afternoons and evenings – but if you thought Amphawa had a relaxed vibe, then you haven’t seen anything yet.
This is a more traditional kind of floating market, and in more ways than one. For a start, it gets going early in the day, reflecting the rural Thai lifestyle where daily routines are shaped around getting as much as possible out of the day while avoiding the brutal midday heat.
Until recently, Tha Kha floating market – which has been going for over six decades – was also much more of an infrequently operating affair, taking place only during certain phases of the moon each month. In the past few years, however, it has adapted to demand, and now runs every weekend (though the lunar-based markets are still much busier).
The leisurely pace of Tha Kha is what makes it the pleasure it is to visit, and no trip here would be complete without hopping in a boat and heading out for a (ridiculously inexpensive – think 20 to 50 baht) paddle around the area’s waterways. Passing the local homes that sit along the palm-fringed banks, you’ll come in for more smiles and cheery ‘hellos’ than you might expect back in Bangkok – and there are a good number of temples you can visit, alongside more unique attractions like working sugar palm dessert ‘factories’.
Back at the market, you can expect much of the same excellent spread of Thai food staples that are common at other floating markets around the country. In addition, a wide range of fresh produce is testament to the fact that this is a floating market in the true sense of the word – that is, it’s one that primarily serves the local community, rather than being designed to cater to foreign or even domestic tourists.
Floating market enthusiasts will be especially pleased to learn that the usual caveat applied to these places – that much of the action actually takes place on land, rather than on the water – doesn’t apply here. This is one floating market where you’ll genuinely see local villagers rowing their boats along to sell fresh fruit and vegetables to one another – and not in the semi-contrived manner that it’s done at the likes of Damnoen Saduak.
Tha Kha floating market might not be the quickest or easiest to reach from Bangkok, but nor is it by any means the most difficult. To get here, first head to Samut Songkhram (Mae Klong) itself – you can either take a bus or minivan from Bangkok’s southern Sai Tai Mai bus terminal, or ride the more interesting two-part railway via Mahachai; the details are in our post on Mae Klong’s own Talat Lom Hup railway market. From there, catch a morning songthaew shared truck taxi from the market to Tha Kha; expect the ride to take around 45 minutes and cost 20 baht.
Alternatively, let Expique take you to Tha Kha floating market! We can build a custom tour to take in any of the floating markets, regular land-based markets and other attractions you would like to see in and around Bangkok. If you’re interested, find out more here.
Weekends from 7am
Have you been to Tha Kha floating market? Let us know in the comments!
Photos by Richard Barrow and Niwat Tantayanusorn
At Expique our mission is to help people discover the real Bangkok (and beyond) and the local cultures. We do this through a combination of offering our own award winning tours and through producing informative content.
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