If you love Thai food, make certain to visit Phra Phradaeng on a weekend and spend a day at Bang Nam Phueng market. Grilled squid skewers, Chinese-style veggie dumplings, boat noodles, Isaan spicy salads and coconut sticky rice stuffed into pieces of bamboo and grilled are just a handful of the head-spinning arrays of food on offer at Bang Nam Phueng. Several sit-down areas are found along the canals where much of the food is prepared on small boats, but the market gets uncomfortably crowded around noon, especially on Sundays. It’s open from 08:00 to around 15:00, Saturdays and Sundays only.
If you arrive on a weekday and miss Bang Nam Phueng market, head to the small but colourful night market that sets up near Petchahung Soi 26 in Bang Kachao for a taste of Thai staples like grilled chicken, som tam and coconut ice cream, but bear in mind that it’s closed on weekends when all the vendors move to the far bigger Bang Nam Phueng market. Further west near Petchahung Soi 5, a fairly large and energised night market called Talaat Ton Mai ("tree market") gets rolling every evening around 17:00, and although it’s a bit of a hike from the guesthouses of Bang Nam Phueng, it’s worth it for an array of local Thai food, not to mention clothes, electronics and much more.
Back in Bang Kachao, Krua Ban Nayok is a local favourite located just past Petchahung Soi 28, on the right if heading northeast (the restaurant is set back from the road; look for the red and blue sign with Thai script, a red arrow and the restaurant’s opening hours of 11:00 to 22:00). This relaxed sit-down restaurant is the place to enjoy whole fish and other seafood along with a range of Thai salads and soups on a patio tucked into the forest. Beer and liquor are also available, as is an English menu.
A short walk or ride further northwest brings you to Raan Yai Ban just past Petchahung Soi 33 on the left (if you hit Soi 35 you’ve passed it). It’s a nondescript open-air shopfront with no sign at all, but it’s worth seeking out Raan Yai Ban for its locally beloved homemade Mon-Thai style sweets, including egg-coconut custards and bite-size rice flour candies flavoured with pandan leaf, coconut and palm or coconut sugar. Raan Yai Ban also sells delicious curries and stir-fries for take away, but no on-site seating is available. Open 08:00 to 17:00 daily.
Each of the accommodation options around Bang Nam Phueng have restaurants with English menus that range from cheap and basic Thai at Bang Nam Phueng Homestay to organic vegan/vegetarian fine dining on the veranda at Bangkok Tree House. With much of the produce grown on-site and many dishes paired with carefully selected wines, the latter is by far the area’s best bet for a more romantic and sophisticated setting.
Several other hole-in-the-wall shops selling Thai coffee, som tam, fried chicken and noodle soup are scattered around Bang Nam Phueng and Bang Kachao, with a good number of vendors setting up near the main pier at Wat Bang Nam Phueng Nok. Eating options increase considerably as you head west towards Phra Phradaeng, and a few Thai style steak houses are located near Talaat Ton Mai on Petchahung Road. Phra Phradaeng town is filled with riverside markets and there are no shortage of local restaurants and coffee shops to be found here as well, although we didn’t see anything resembling an Italian or other Western-style spread. Of course, the plethora of international food in Bangkok isn’t too far off.