Thai hospitality begins with food.
“Have you eaten?“
I was greeted with this question almost as soon as I arrived at the cooking class that marked the beginning of my tour in a little shack along the canal’s edge. I didn’t have time to answer before I was presented with a huge fresh coconut to quench my thirst from the day’s rising heat and told lunch would be ready shortly.
It was barely 10 am, and I had only finished eating breakfast an hour earlier. I pondered how my tour leaders would react if I went for a run around the shack to make room for even more delicious Thai food…
Less than half an hour from Bangkok’s city centre you can find Khlong Lat Mayom. Unlike the city it borders, the neighbourhood is peaceful with a thriving local floating market that is a hit with locals and visitors alike. It’s not as touristy and some of the bigger markets and the peaceful authentic vibe was what I was seeking.
My guides for the half-day tour were the team from HiveSters, a sustainable locally-based travel company that showcases ethical authentic Thai experiences across the country.
The tour I chose – the Khlong Lat Mayom Neighbourhood tour – is divided into two parts: learning how to cook Thai street food (and eating it!), before taking a Thai paddle boat to the market and touring it.
As we were finishing our coconuts, I could hear the crackle of oil in a wok heating up. On the menu was one of Thailand’s most famous dishes: Pad Thai!
As a local chef demonstrated what we would soon be doing, I was surprised at just how easy it’s to make.
There’s a reason Pad Thai is so popular both in Thailand and in Australia: it’s fresh, it’s fast and best of all you can customise it to suit almost everyone’s needs. I swapped out the prawns for some chicken and added a lot of soy sauce, one of my weaknesses; while one of my friends didn’t add as much fresh chilli, and another chose not to eat the green beans nor didn’t garnish with coriander.
In less than 10 minutes we each had a steaming plate of Pad Thai to enjoy and share with the rest of group.
As we cooked, the guides brought in more food from the local market. Fried chicken, spring rolls, and pre-prepared coconut ice cream which were served in a young coconut!
Riding a Thai Paddle Boat to the Khlong Lat Mayom Floating Market
After we ate… then ate some more… and watched a quick video about the neighbourhood and HiveSters mission across Thailand, we watched as two long-boats pulled up.
“Let’s go!” someone called as we scurried to get prime position on the boats.
Bangkok and its surrounding area has a vast network of canals and waterways and was formally known as the ‘Venice of the East’. These canals acted as a transportation route and place for floating markets.
In this area of Bangkok, many of the canals have been filled in to make way for roads, but this particular canal is still used frequently as transportation, and people really do sell things out of their boat, keeping with the traditional sense of Thai floating markets.
As you are paddled along the canal I was transported in time.
Many traditional Thai homes still grace the banks of the canals and some small businesses have set up shop. Fragrant flowers, hanging orchids and the dense forestation around the river’s edges will have you questioning how close you really are to Bangkok.
While you are making your way to the market you may even be allowed to have a go paddling if you are brave! Our boat captain laughed when one of the girls tried and found it hard to keep the steady momentum going with the specialised paddling technique they use.
Exploring Khlong Lat Mayom Floating Market
Khlong Lat Mayom is not like some of the photos you see with hundreds of boats in the river. The ‘floating’ section of the market is in fact quite small and sell things like fresh fruit and vegetables, flowers and pot plants from their boat and there are a few ‘restaurant’ boats.
The main section of the market is massive and brimming with food, a quirky little cafe, and plenty of shops to find apparel, homewares, and even a massage!
Contrary to the other Bangkok floating markets, Khlong Lat Mayom hasn’t been overrun with tourists. A real local feel remains, but with fewer tourists do come slightly fewer longtail boats selling goods. There is still plenty of things to do at the market though!
4 things to do at the Khlong Lat Mayom Floating Market:
- Shop for authentic Thai souvenirs
Skip the plastic trinkets. Klong Lat Mayom has lots of items which will bring you joy and a rush of happy memories from your trip. One of my friends picked up the cutest vintage Japanese bento box inspired lunch pale and I had my eyes on a pair of comfortable embroidered slip-on shoes.
- Go for a boat ride
If you are travelling to Khlong Lat Mayom Floating Market independently, be sure to sign up for aboatr ride tour! These longtail boats run from the center of the market along at the edge of the canal. There are two tour options: a stop at the temple or stop at a homestay. Tickets cost 50 THB (AU$2) and when the boat fills up you’ll head off.
- Enjoy a cool drink and people watch
If you are still full from breakfast or your Thai cooking class, grab a cool drink – I recommend the fruit juices but the cafe serves Thai coffee! – and sit along the water’s edge and people watch.
If you want fresh and authentic then Klong Lat Mayom Floating Market is definitely the place to explore. Grab one of the bamboo first-come-first-serve tables along the canal edge and then go pick out your food from different stalls.
More articles on travelling in Thailand:
First time in Bangkok? 20 Must See Sites
(with printable Bangkok Bucket List!)
Khlong Lat Mayom is a weekend market on Saturdays and Sundays from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm. I would suggest arriving early as it gets pretty busy around lunchtime.
How to get to Khlong Lat Mayom Floating Market:
As part of the tour with HiveSters transfers to and from the market were included.
If you prefer to explore independently, you can take the BTS to Bang Wa station and then take a taxi the rest of the way. The 15 minutes journey should cost less than 100 THB.
Taxis are fairly cheap in Thailand, so I would recommend taking a direct taxi to skip the BTS.
How to get around Bangkok:
If you are arriving from the airport, take a taxi. While it’s a few more dollars than taking the Skytrain, airport taxis have set rates so you will be charged a meter rate. Some drivers will offer to take you via highway, which will cost you extra toll fees that you will need to pay when you go through the toll booth.
Traffic is awful in Bangkok. By far the easiest way to get around Bangkok is using the BTS Skytrain and MRT Subway. Fares are based on zones, with an all-day unlimited pass costing 120 baht.
Personally, I love zipping around on motorbike taxis. It’s a little nerve-wracking the first few times, especially at the breakneck paces and narrow spaces the drivers manage to weave between, but it’s a cheap and fast way to get around the city.
If you do choose to take a motorbike taxi there are three important things to know:
- Make sure you go with a licensed driver. Only agree to go with drivers who are wearing vests from one of the taxi companies.
- Agree on a price before you hop onboard. Motorbike taxis aren’t metered.
- If you are travelling with a bag or camera be careful. Make sure it’s put between you and the driver or secure. It has been known that thieves will cut the straps of bags or simply grab them while the vehicle is in motion. I recommend finding a bag, like this Pacsafe backpack, that is slash-proof.
If you do decide to use a taxi in Bangkok, always use a meter.
Where to stay in Bangkok, Thailand:
Accommodation rates in Thailand are on the more reasonable side whichever city you travel to, even in Bangkok!
While in Bangkok, I chose to stay at Well Hotel Bangkok. Opened in 2016, Well Hotel is a boutique property centrally located in Sukhumvit at a price you are sure to love! The rooms are a little on the smaller size, but they are comfortable; offering plush furnishings which left me feeling like I could be in a stylish New York City apartment.
The hotel’s focus is wellness. The on-site restaurant offers delicious and healthy takes on classic Thai dishes. When I stayed, they were trialling new fitness programs in the gym, including Muay Thai classes! Whether you enjoy working up a sweat or not, the rooftop pool is a must try for every guest.
Best of all, the cost of staying at Well Hotel is very reasonable for the location. Check the best rates here.
On my return trip to the city, I chose to stay at the Hilton Sukhumvit Bangkok. Large, modern and spacious: you know what you’re going to get at a Hilton property and this one is no different. The property is in a great location in downtown Bangkok. I was able to easily get to the BTS station (Phrom Pong) to get around the city or pop down the road for a Thai massage and something to eat. If you are a party person, the Hilton Sukhumvit Bangkok isn’t far from some of great bars!
You can find the best rates here for the Hilton Sukhumvit here.
Still not sure if these are the perfect hotels for you? Click here to find a list of my favourite boutique hotels in Bangkok.
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I visited Thailand as a guest of the Tourism Authority of Thailand.
All thoughts, opinions and mini pineapples ate are, as always, my own.