When traveling, it’s always fun to head over to the local open-air markets and gain some insight into the culture and their products. To make the browsing experience even better, some markets forgo street stands and set up shop right in the water. To see this for yourself, checkout this list of the five best floating markets around Asia.
While there are myriad floating markets in Thailand, one in particular stands out for the rest. The Damnoen Saduak Floating Market is located about 60 miles southwest of Bangkok and is best experienced early in the morning before the crowds arrive and the heat gets unbearable. The market is very colorful and lively as merchants paddle down the canal in their canoes selling fresh fruit and vegetables which are usually grown directly by the seller. The market also has some history behind it, as Damnoenssaduak was the name of the canal made by military soldiers and local people during King Rama IV’s reign. Back then there weren’t rivers and canals, making transportation quite limited. This was a concern for the king in terms of the country’s economic growth, and the result is the canal that is now home to the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market.Cai Rang Floating Market
Can Thao City, Vietnam
Located about 3 miles from Can Tho City is the largest floating market in the Mekong Delta. Hundreds of boats gather to sell food, plants, fruits, and vegetables, hanging their goods on a tall pole so that potential buyers can easily see what is being sold. If you don’t want to drive the short distance from Can Tho City and instead want a more relaxing, scenic experience, opt to do the 12 mile boat loop. Just make sure to leave early, as the market begins at 5AM and closes before noon. Bonus: Seeing the sunrise over the Mekong Delta, the sky glowing orange as life on the river begins for the day, is a can’t-miss experience.
The Banjarmasin Floating Market is located on the Barito River and takes place from 5AM to 9AM each morning. It is very traditional, and a way for locals to trade goods such as handicrafts, seafood, spices, fruits, and vegetables from boat to boat. To get there, the journey will take about 20 minutes by waterway.
The Aberdeen Floating Village is more than just a market (as you can probably tell by its title). On the Aberdeen Harbour reside about 600 junk boats that house approximately 6,000 people. These boat locals are mainly Tanka people who arrived in Hong Kong around the 7th-9th centuries and hold a long history of marine and fishing culture and tradition. To sample fresh seafood, you can visit one of the many boat restaurants, the biggest being The Jumbo Floating Restaurant which is a major tourist attraction that serves high-quality Cantonese-style seafood.
Every morning from 5AM to 7AM the Srinagar Floating Market takes place on Dal Lake as vendors go to buy, sell, and trade vegetables. Most of the produce has been picked only hours beforehand, so you know what you are getting is fresh. In fact, about 1,250 acres of land surround the lake and are used for cultivating veggies. A visit to this market will not only guarantee a cultural experience, but also beautiful scenery as the lake is lush with lotus flowers.