One of the oldest markets in Thailand that is still operating is the Bang Phli Riverside Market in Samut Prakan. It was first started by Chinese traders back in the 1850’s. This now makes it older than 150 years. The original name for the market is “Talad Siri Sopon”. It is situated along the Samrong Canal which used to be a major trading route between the Chao Phraya River and Chachoengsao. I visited Bang Phli this morning for the launch of their Old Market Fair which will run every weekend between now and 27th September 2009.
The market consists of wooden two storey shop houses along the northern bank of the canal. The market stretches for about 500 meters along two sections which is broken up by a bridge. You can gain access to the market from Wat Bang Phli Yai Klang. There are shops along the entire length which are selling a diversity of old and new products. When I first visited this riverside market they were mainly selling items for local people. These were practical things like household items and school clothes. However, there is now more of a variety and shops selling items that are of interest to tourists. However, it still maintains its unique charm and beauty.
If you come and visit this market now, you will have a good opportunity to see the traditional way of life of the Bang Phli people living along the canal. Every weekend there will be special activities that include folk plays, sea boxing, boat tours, traditional sword fighting and of course local food. In fact, I think the variety of food on offer is one of the highlights of the market. The market runs throughout the year but they always have special activities during September in the run up to the Rub Bua Festival. The boat tours exploring the local canals also also run for the whole year.
I am very impressed in how the local people have gone about conserving the local market and also restoring the local traditions and customs to their former glory. They have certainly gone to a lot of effort. If you are in the area now then I do strongly urge you to go and visit Bang Phli and this market fair. Also make sure that you pay a visit to their local museum which is situated in the market. Although most of the displays are in Thai, there are plenty of pictures to view as well as scale models. At present the market doesn’t get many foreign tourists so this is the best time to come.