There seems to be quite a few communities around Thailand now that are trying to replicate the success of Damnoen Saduak Market. I think Amphawa Floating Market in Samut Songkram have been doing a good job. Bang Nampheung Floating Market in Samut Prakan have also been trying to have a weekend market along the canal. Strictly speaking, these new markets shouldn’t really use the word “floating” as they are firmly on the bank of the canal. But they do have water activities. Now comes the news that the Old Bang Phli Market in Samut Prakan wants to develop a kind of floating market. They actually have one of the longest running markets in Thailand as this one was established just over a hundred and fifty years ago in 1857 by Chinese traders.
The market runs alongside Samrong Canal. Today they kicked off a series of activities that will be organized for every weekend from now until the Rub Bua festival in mid-October. They had quite a few vendors today selling their wares on boats. They are hoping to keep this going throughout the year but that really depends on the interest of the general public. There were certainly quite a few people there today. Though, as expected, I was the only foreigner there. It is the kind of place you go to where the local people are surprised to see you speak Thai. If you like to get off the beaten track away from the other foreign tourists then Bang Phli is an excellent choice. But, don’t expect any English to be spoken and you will hear people calling out “farang” a lot. In addition to the market, there are also boat tours which you can join.
The old Bang Phli Market starts at Wat Bang Phli Yai Nai. It is basically a series of wooden shophouses with one long covered roof. It stretches for about 500 metres or so. I have been here several times before and I could see today that there are more shops for tourists. Before they just had household goods, only of interest to local people. Now they have a wider selection of food, as well as a small museum of old photos. There is still room for improvement but they are going the right direction. I think it is a nice place to eat a meal alongside the canal. At the end of the market, there is a bridge which you can climb over (see top picture) and then you arrive at another stretch of shophouses. This section is more open and so easier to take pictures.
There are quite a few alleyways running off from the market and if you have time it is worth exploring. At the temple, there is the famed Luang Pho To image which, according to legend, was spotted floating down the canal and was rescued by local people. During October every year they have a lotus throwing festival where a copy of this image is paraded up and down the river on a boat. People in their thousands line the banks and throw lotuses onto the boat. I will be going there for the festival next month and so will tell you more about that later.