Pattaya’s Not Yet Famous Floating Market

Pattaya Floating Market opened in November 2008 to a low-key fanfare and during my recent four night stay in the city it was a place I wanted to see. I didn’t expect it to better Thailand’s Famous Floating Market at Damnoen Saduak but I did presuppose it to have a flavour of the sin city itself.

I was expecting to see tourist laden long-tail boats surrounded by bobbing vessels full of Thai bar girls shouting  ‘Hello sexy sailor, you want boom boom… short time or long time’ …. How wrong I was, because there wasn’t much floating on the water at all.

Visitors can take a boat ride on the lake for 200 baht (per boat), but on the day of our visit there were very few traders on the water and no sign of any other boat activity. Looking at the lake’s rich brown colour I suspected plenty of smaller brown things floated on the water instead.

Who knows,  the market which cost 350 million baht to construct may have been built on a former sewage works. I had a sneaking suspicion the English/Thai script on the entrance sign (photo right) translated as below.

Pattaya Floating Market

We would like to remind older visitors to empty their colostomy bags into the water and not onto the jetty.


I’m probably wrong with my translation but if my summary of Pattaya’s floating market sounds a touch negative, then please do read on because I’ve got some real good things to say about Pattaya’s not yet famous floating market. I was pleasantly surprised at how good it was.

The main market action is on the jetties and sidewalks which form a village rising from the lake. The village is split into four quarters representing the North, Northeastern, Central and Southern parts of Thailand, which explains why this popular market is known as The Four Regions Floating Market.

There are over 100 shops in the market selling wood carvings, silks, art work, ornaments, t-shirts and a range of Thai food dishes representing each of the four regions.

Navigating your way around the floating market is easy – it’s signposted which makes it simple to find each region. There was also an impressive, but slightly perilous looking walkway over the water named The Swinging Bridge (above photo), although Pattaya’s swinging couples might think twice about crossing it hand-in-hand and side-by-side.

The village had a look about it from a time long before. The teak structured shops had sharp angled roofs and in the market’s quieter spots you could imagine how Siam might have been many years ago – not that the market was quiet, by midday a large number of Thai visitors, Asian tourists and a small number of westerners had started to make the jetties and small bridges creak. Nevertheless, no one dared cross The Swinging Bridge – Thailand’s safety reputation sails to many lands.

There is a huge contrast between Damnoen Saduak Floating Market and Pattaya’s Four Regions portrayal of market life. One has built its reputation on fables and folklore, and the other is trying to drown its reputation as a sex resort. Nonetheless, Pattaya’s version is not tacky and crude – the market’s vendors wore smiles and there was enough genuine looking baubles, bric-a-brac, clothing and food above the waterline to suggest sharks wouldn’t survive long in the mud-colored water.

The floating market’s official website (no link, due to an annoying pop up box) mentions daily cultural shows but during our two hour stay we didn’t see one. The shows must be periodically spread out during the day and our timing was out. Here’s a clip from the website.

Pattaya Floating Market provides daily several cultural performances, native to the four regions of the country, like Thai classical dance, martial art demonstrations, as well as water boxing where the fighters perform on a horizontal slipery pole above the canal.

Painters do show their artificial works, like umbrella and portrait painting. Pattaya Floating Market has recently provided Amphibian-boat rides, an agricultural rice field demonstration, authentic House-boats for home stay, and 10 mud-houses just right beside the rice field zone.

Pattaya Floating Market, the biggest man made floating market in the world, is located on the outskirts of Pattaya on Sukhumvit Road, on the way to Bang Saray and Sattahip.

My own view of Pattaya’s Floating Market is that it really is a first class alternative tourist attraction in a city desperate to lose its sex city tag. Entrance is free and the shopping experience is not pricey at all and I saw no hard sell tactics techniques by the market traders

If you are visiting Pattaya then I’d highly recommend a visit to its delightful floating market.


I'm a sixty-year-old Englishman living in the town of Swindon in rural Wiltshire and I have a real deep desire to retire in Thailand one day. If you don't have a dream then you won't have a dream come true.

22 Responses

  1. Catherine says:

    Fabulous post Martyn. After reading through, I will certainly stop by for a visit. And what do you mean by ‘crap photos’? They are quite grand; nice angles and all.
    .-= Catherine´s last blog ..Total Cuteness: Learning the Thai Alphabet on YouTube =-.

  2. Hoo Don says:

    Catherine you were quick out of the blocks on this one. The power of Twitter, even I’m getting convinced about its wonderful uses.

    It certainly is worth a visit and for someone like yourself a great shopping experience and a marvellous opportunity to take some good photographic shots. There’s plenty of food as well, didn’t see any wine.

    If you dip your toes in the water, try your middle one first or the turd one as I now call it.

    I was a bit disappointed with my photos, I was hoping for better.

  3. Talen says:

    Martyn, excellent write up on the floating market. Honestly, I was going to give this one a pass but after reading this and seeing your pictures…which are great by the way, I think when I hit town this summer I will definitely be checking it out.

    “We would like to remind older visitors to empty their colostomy bags into the water and not onto the jetty. Welcome.”

    Hoping I don’t show up on seniors day 😛
    .-= Talen´s last blog ..Thailand in the News Week Ending 6/12/10 =-.

  4. Mike says:

    Martyn, interesting and very similar, I think, to the “floating market” I found at Ayutthaya, which had a cultural show and was free.

    My favourite so far(I haven’t visited Damnoen Saduak )is Amphawa which is popular with the Thais.

    Glad you enjoyed the experience.
    .-= Mike´s last blog ..Wat Bang Koh Theppasak-Samut Songkhram =-.

  5. Erich says:

    They are great photos and I had no idea there was a floating market in Sin City….I’ll be down there for a visit in the next two months. We soon forget that Bangkok was the “Venice of the East”…..

  6. malcolm says:

    Great post and pictures , my sister-in-law from the USA is there in Pattaya visiting friends before a trip up our way for a week or two and I will call her and tell her about the floating market there , I think she will love it , thanks for the info . Malcolm
    .-= malcolm´s last blog ..BUTTERFLY HAVEN =-.

  7. Hoo Don says:

    Talen I recommend you visit the floating market, I know you’ll enjoy it. It’s a great asset for Pattaya, I was really, really impressed with the place. It’s on a par with Nong Nooch and that’s a compliment in my eyes. Check it out and make sure your camera battery is full.

  8. Hoo Don says:

    Mike I didn’t see any of the cultural shows but the website lists them. Anything free in Pattaya is a rarity and I think the floating market could charge 200 baht per head and have no complaints. If you ever hit Pattaya mark this place on your agenda. Impressive.

  9. Hoo Don says:

    Erich I wouldn’t say the photos were impressive but thanks anyway. A lot of people don’t know the floating market exists but give it a couple more years and I’m sure it will be a very big attraction, and there will be an entrance fee.

  10. Hoo Don says:

    Malcolm definitely recommend the floating market to your sister-in-law and mention Nong Nooch Tropical gardens as well. I’m sure she’d enjoy both of them. I hope you all have a great time when she hits Kanchanaburi and having been there I know you won’t be short on places to take her.

  11. Catherine says:

    Martyn, the power of twitter is spot on. I’m not always on twitter (the addiction comes and goes) but when I am I do click announced posts.

  12. Hoo Don says:

    Catherine I’m like you in that I come and go as far as Twitter’s concerned, mainly go, though I do think it is a powerful tool. Especially for blogs. The problem is when someone has say 1,500 followers (mine’s 52) because your message is soon lost on their page. Somebody like me who has a low number of followers has any new messages on screen for a while. I’ll stick and not twist as far as Twitter goes.

  13. Boonsong says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed this post – informative, witty, and I thought good photos too. Thanks for this.

    All the best, Boonsong

  14. Hoo Don says:

    Boonsong – I’m glad you enjoyed the read and the photos, perhaps you’ll take a visit there one day yourself. Now I’m off to see what this one sided conversation with a dog is all about.

  15. Steve says:

    Nice write up and great pictures Martyn (yes they really are). Up to this point I’ve given Pattaya a pass as there’s nothing there of much interest to me (honest!). However if I’m ever in the neighborhood I now know where to go for some good clean fun, especially important now that I’m a dad :>) Thanks for cluing me into the Pattaya Floating Market.

  16. Hoo Don says:

    Steve a very big congratulations to you and Golf on the birth of your daughter. Pattaya is hardly the place to take a young child let alone a baby. Perhaps when she is in her teens you could take her along to what could be by then, Pattaya Four Regions Famous Floating Market. I was well impressed with the place. I’ll definitely go again.

  17. Mike says:

    Hi Martyn, the email link is showing now, so I will subscribe and test it for you.

    Hot and sticky here today!

  18. Hoo Don says:

    Mike thanks for testing the plugin, let me know if you get an email about my reply.

    I’ve just finished a night shift and the sun is shining bright. Not bad for eight in the morning.

  19. Mike says:

    Hi Martyn it works fine, much quicker than Thai Post! Your mail was waiting after I arose from my afternoon nap:-)

  20. Lawrence says:

    Good post, Martyn. I liked the surprise change of tack when you realise you are going to enjoy the market. It sounds as if I would too, and your photos, disappointing to you they may be, go along way to convincing me this is a place I’d like to visit. You’ve helped to put me in a more positive mood regarding Thailand, too. Thanks for that.

  21. Hoo Don says:

    Lawrence I hope one day you do get along to the floating market in Pattaya. The city also has other ‘clean’ attractions and some good quality hotels at reasonable prices. There’s also a couple of beaches as too.

    It would be good if they built a few more of these tourist attractions in Isaan. A decent elephant park, water park and something like the floating market would do good business in some of the provinces. Maybe one day.

  22. Surf Ski Training says:

    Indeed such a nice place to visit.It was very surprising for me that it is not famous as other tourist spots.They should definitely advertise about it on local or global scale to make it more famous.Thanks for sharing.

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