The smell of incense and jasmine waft up my nostrils as soon as we enter the markets.
It’s pretty and calming, much like this side of the canal where there are only a handful of craft stalls.
Over the bridge is where we most want to go, the smell of roasting BBQ pork guides us to the Klong Lat Mayom, the Bangkok floating markets popular with the locals.
Flags stretch across the canals, tied to the thatched roofs covering the markets.
We’re here early and there’s plenty of space to move amongst the colourful stalls.
The crowds thicken at Lat Mayom during lunchtime – peak hour.
“That’s when we play musical chairs,”
Our guide Tim shares with us a little about the Klong Lat Mayom Floating markets.
The floating markets are only about 30 minutes from Bangkok on the Thonburi side of the river. They are lessor known than the heavily touristed floating markets of Damnoen Saduak and Amphawa.
Whilst Damnoen and Amphawa are more energetic with traffic jams of long tail boats, Klong Lat Mayom is a narrow canal with a more authentic feel, with the majority of vendors and eating areas on land.
Tim describes these markets as a way of life of the local people.
“Not spoilt by tourists. No tourist goods or souvenirs.”
It’s also the sort of place travellers love – the authentic local markets. I envisioned a few years down the track the invasion of the falangs (foreigners) once word began to spread.
The market is only a few years old and is the joining of lots of small local markets in the nearby canal neighbourhoods, and the food is fantastic.
It’s a market made for the local people and Thai tourists.
The biggest draw card to the markets are the food stalls. There is no Thai dish you cannot find here. The hardest decision is narrowing down your choice to one or two, or maybe five. Squashed in amongst the food and tables lining the canals handicrafts, plants and clothing stores too.
“Thai people love shopping. After we’re full, we look for beauty and things that give us enjoyment.” Tim chuckles as she steers us through the markets.
There’s no room in my suitcase for the things that give me enjoyment, but there’s certainly room in my stomach to get full.
We walk past a few stalls and I mentally pick out several dishes to come back and try. My grin widens and my tummy rumbles even louder at the prices of the meals, 20 baht for fish cakes, 30 baht for a curry, sticky rice – we certainly were in the locals market.
Tim takes us to the long tail boats waiting on the canal.
“We go to the local village first, before it gets to busy.”
I grab a bag of Kanom Tarn from a long tail boat first. The moist sponge cake, topped with shredded coconut – one of my fave Thai desserts – is perfect for the gentle ride to the village. Not too sweet and silky smooth. Catfish jump out of the water beside the boat to try and get some.
We’re content as we putter through the back canals of suburbia Bangkok.
Many of the homes have large gardens on the edge of the canals, a place to sit in solitude – almost unheard of in Bangkok.
I took to it immediately.
We pull up at the dock, cross a bridge, and walk along a footpath to the row of homes that open their doors to the odd passing tourist. Mangos, papayas and bananas dangle over our heads and we stop to point them to the girls.
“Oh look Mummy, the papaya’s your favourite and Savannah loves banana and I love mango!”
“Yes so very cool!”
We enter the first garden, there is a pretty red swing the girls sit on and play with their colourful balloons the owner of the house gave to them. They are happy. We walk around the gardens soaking in the serenity before moving to the next house.
Grandma sits on a stool in the shade, a steel cauldron sits on a small cooking stove in front of her adding to the already stifling Bangkok heat.
Here by the canals, a slight breeze blows, but still the beads of sweat run down her face.
For 30 minutes she sits and patiently stirs, eyes on the green gooey pandan.
We become just as mesmerized as Tim describes how she will make the popular Thai dessert.
Once cooked, she’ll take the pandan, run it through a hand operated machine which cuts it into worm-like noodles. And then she’ll pour coconut milk over the worms and top it with shaved ice. It doesn’t look too welcoming, but the sweet freshness is exactly what I need on yet another hot Bangers day.
A store set up in a room outside the house also sells a variety of small sweets made from coconuts. At 10 baht a container how could you say no to three different types?
Tim takes us to the end house, a guest house for those wanting a village stay. It’s a quirky wooden shack with unusual furnishings. Strange eclectic folk tunes play in the background as we wander upstairs to have a poke about.
I could picture myself spending a weekend here to escape the madness of Bangkok. The sun chair out the back beckoned me to sit with a glass of wine and a good book.
We walk along the footpath and around the corner to meet the boat.
A cyclist rings his bell and waves hello, a little further down an elderly man with a long Ho Chi Minh beard patiently chops washed up debris from the previous years flood to make charcoal, and we are soon tooted out of the way by the village postman on his motorbike.
Once again Bangkok is fascinating Kalyra as her young mind tries to grasp why the postie is riding around on footpaths.
Tucked away from the madness of inner city Bangkok, there is a peace and tranquility here usually only found in rural Thailand.
The trees, vines and vibrant flowers surround us and the air is fresh and clean.
We pick up a bag of fish cakes before boarding the boat back to where the real eating would begin.
Rows and rows of food stalls line the river and by now it was getting difficult to move. We see only the odd falang (foreigner), their heads bowed down in worship to another bowl of cheap, authentic Thai noodles.
There’s seafood, fresh fruit, BBQ chicken, pork skewers, thai pancakes and much more.
We could have spent all day eating, but with two small girls who hate crowds, our time was pretty limited. We didn’t have long before meltdown would begin.
We watched as a lady stood rolling large balls of eggs and mixed seafood in a hot muffin tin. Tim told us they were omelets. A little egg mixture was placed in the container, seafood filling added, and the balls continually rolled around and around until they cooked.
They were delicious and hearty and a good lunch for little Savannah.
Kalyra settled for her favourite Pad Thai, brought from the boats cooking it on the canal. It came folded up in a white paper, very typical of Thai street food. The taste was on par with it as well.
We leave with full bellies, but enough space to move to our next restaurant back in inner city Bangkok. It’s a famous one for Thai people, and yes, in Thailand, there is always room for just one more authentic dish.
Klong Lat Mayom is a weekend market on Saturdays and Sundays from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm. I would suggest arriving for opening time, as it gets pretty busy around lunch time.
The market is located on Bang Lamad Road off the Bang Khae-Bang Bua Thong Outer Ring Highway, Taling Chan, Thonburi.
Using the BTS Sky Train, take the Silom Line and get off at Wongwian Yai Station. From there get a taxi (approx 100 baht).
If you don’t want to go it alone, Tim (our guide) and her team at Absolutely Fantastic Holidays run small private tours direct from your hotel to Klong Lat Mayom.
Read more Travel tips for Bangkok
- Things to do in Bangkok
- 6 places to escape the chaos of Bangkok
- Planning a trip to Thailand with kids
- Eating Thai Food Guide
- 101 Things to do in Bangkok
- Vegetarian Thai food guide
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