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Thaling Chan floating market

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Nestled to the north of old Thonburi along the Chak Phra canal, the Thaling Chan floating market is a convenient choice for those who want to see (and taste) a canal-side Thai market without straying too far from Bangkok. It may not be the best, biggest, or most "authentic" floating market around, but it certainly won’t leave you hungry.

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Her som tam is not to be missed.

Her som tam is not to be missed.

Established in 1987, this was among the first of a modern wave of “floating markets” set up for tourism in the greater Bangkok area. Those expecting to see farmers rowing boats that brim with tropical produce will be disappointed — we suggest heading down to Tha Kha at the crack of dawn if that’s what you seek.

Like most of the newer “floating markets”, a more accurate description for Thaling Chan would be “canal-side market“. It consists of tables on a pontoon dock that floats on the canal and is surrounded by locals who prepare food, some in moored rowboats and others on land nearby. A line of vendors also sell fresh fruit, potted plants, coconut ice cream and plenty more along Chim Phli Road, near the “official” gate to the market.

Don't skip the vendors who set up away from the canal.

Don’t skip the vendors who set up away from the canal.

Thaling Chan is a small floating market that has a fairly touristy atmosphere, though lots of locals flock here as well. We arrived at 10:00 to find plenty of breathing room, but by 11:30 the market was crowded with a mix of weekending Thais and foreign tourists on the “floating market” stop of their canal tours.

Starting to get busy.

Starting to get busy.

Several ‘sit-on-the-floor’ tables are set up on the floating dock and a handful of tables with proper chairs are found nearby on solid ground. All of the tables filled up fast leading up to lunch time, and the noise and air pollution caused by diesel longtail boat engines detracted from what had been a very relaxed setting when we arrived.

While the market has no shortage of snarling longtails and photo-hungry tourists at noon, it’s also not lacking in fabulous food. Goodies that can be scored from floating vendors include chicken satay, hoy tort (fried oysters with egg) and whole grilled fish, prawns, razor clams and squid with sour and spicy Thai seafood sauce on the side.

Heavenly smells.

Heavenly smells.

We went for a whole salted and grilled snakehead fish to go with rice steamed in coconut milk and some excellent northeastern Thai-style som tam pounded by a very friendly woman. It was a filling meal, but we managed to save room for khanom jeeb, delicate rice flour dumplings stuffed with pork and spices. They go great with fresh Thai coffee.

Another day in the neighbourhood.

Another day in the neighbourhood.

After this not-so-modest brunch, we wandered on to the land part of the market and found a sala where traditional Thai instruments can be tried out for a small donation. Thai massages can also be enjoyed nearby for cheap. Glancing back at the canal, we saw that not only people rush to the market around noon on weekends; countless canal fish also arrive for a feast of their own.

Check out the complete list of floating markets that can be hit out of Bangkok.

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