As a Thai person, I always look forward to experiencing the unique colors, smells, and flavors of my country's many markets. From the vibrant street food stalls of Bangkok to the colorful, floating markets dotted throughout the countryside, each marketplace has its own charm and character. Recently, I had the pleasure of visiting one of the most beautiful floating markets in Thailand, Tha Kha, and I have to say, the experience left me completely blown away.
Tha Kha floating market is situated in the Samut Songkhram province, just an hour or so outside of Bangkok. It's a small, local market that's still largely undiscovered by tourists, meaning you can look forward to a more authentic Thai experience. The market gets its name from the fact that vendors actually sell their goods from small boats, bobbing up and down on the waters of the Mae Klong River. Along with the usual fruits, vegetables, and meats, you'll find an array of delectable Thai street food, handmade crafts, and much more.
What struck me most about Tha Kha was how peaceful and serene the whole experience felt. The narrow canals were lined with lush greenery, while the water itself was alive with colorful boats, each one manned by a skilled vendor with their goods on display. The whole market had a very laid-back, community-focused feel to it, with vendors and locals alike sitting around on the banks chatting and enjoying the food. It really felt like a place that was still very much tied to the traditions and customs of old Thailand. But the most memorable part of the visit? The food, of course! Join me as I navigate the twisting canals and bustling stalls of Tha Kha, discovering all the unique flavors and dishes this hidden gem of a market has to offer.
History & Significance of Tha Kha Floating Market
Welcome to Tha Kha Floating Market, one of the lesser-known but picturesque destinations that anybody visiting Thailand should add to their itinerary. Located in the heart of Ratchaburi’s countryside, this Floating Market draws its popularity for its authentic, easy-going, and people-friendly nature.
The market has been serving locals and visitors alike for over a century. Tracing back its history, Tha Kha Floating Market was established in the late 19th century as a small marketplace for locals to sell their produce. By the 1930s, it had gained a name for itself as the most critical agricultural hub in the western provinces of Thailand.
With time, the market became more prominent and added more vendors, drawing vendors from different regions of Thailand. Since then, it has grown to be one of the most celebrated floating markets in Thailand, featuring about forty boats lining up the canal selling a vast assortment of seasonal fruits, vegetables, and ready-to-eat goodies.
What to expect: sights & sounds
Tha Kha Floating Market typically opens up for business in the early morning around 6 AM and closes by noon. The market conjures images of boats buzzing along a canal, vendors greeting guests with warm smiles, loud bargaining and the pungent smell of spices wafting in the air. As you walk down the canal lanes, you may spot old wooden houses fringing the canals, providing an idyllic backdrop for visitors to take beautiful photos to share with their loved ones.
Top 5 must-try dishes
Any visit to Tha Kha Floating Market will be incomplete without trying out the local food. Here are five must-try dishes.
1. Grilled Mussel with Lemongrass
Grilled mussels seasoned with lemongrass should top your list of must-try dishes at the market. The dish presents a unique, smoky, and sour flavor that makes it stand out from other seafood dishes one may have tried before. The seasoning adds to the muscle's barbeque flavor, which is enhanced by dipping the shellfish in tangy chili sauce.
2. Fried Chicken with Lemongrass
Fried chicken with lemongrass is another delicacy that visitors must try, seasoned with lime leaves and garlic. The dish is crispy on the outside but juicy and tender on the inside, with a hint of sourness complimented by a sweet chili and garlic dip.
3. Roasted Pork Noodle Soup
Roasted pork noodle soup is a popular choice amongst the locals and features tender roasted pork that pairs well with the toppings of crispy garlic and fresh coriander, soaking in the flavors of the noodles in the broth. The noodle soup is served hot, making it a perfect meal to warm your soul.
4. Coconut Milk Jelly
Coconut milk jelly is an excellent dessert option for visitors seeking something sweet that will not leave them feeling too heavy. The jelly has coconut flavors, which are enhanced by the coconut sauce garnished with tender jackfruit pieces.
5. Thai-style Iced Tea
Thailand is famous for its Thai-style Iced Tea, a refreshing, sweet beverage made from brewed black tea with sugar and milk, served over crushed ice. Tha Kha Floating Market has some of the most exceptional and authentic local vendors of Thai-style Iced Tea found in Thailand.
Meet the Local Vendors & Farmers
It’s not just the scenery and the food that attracts visitors to Tha Kha Floating Market; it's the friendly people who make the whole experience worthwhile. Visitors meet locals and farmers who work together in running and operating the market. They offer visitors a glimpse into their daily life and the challenges they face as traditional vendors.
Most locals run the boats, which are somewhat unique as they consist of wooden floating shops where locals sell their produce. The vendors are friendly, polite, and welcoming, and it’s not unusual to engage with them about their products, their farm, or about their life.
Traditional Crafts & Souvenirs
On offer are textiles, silk weaves, and other products that are conceptualized, designed and woven locally. Also available are local snacks and traditional souvenirs such as wooden dolls, knives, handcraft earrings, and keychains.
Insider Tips for a Memorable Visit
A visit to Tha Kha Floating Market can be an unforgettable experience if done the right way. Here are some tips.
- Come Early – Plan to arrive at the market early in the morning, from 6 AM, to avoid the mid-day buzz and crowds.
- Bring Cash – Most vendors at Tha Kha Floating Market accept cash only, so bring cash to avoid any inconvenience.
- Wear Comfortable Clothing – With the weather being hot and humid, it's advisable to wear light, comfortable clothing, and shoes.
- Be Respectful – When engaging with the vendors or farmers, remember to respect their ways of doing business and do not haggle on prices too much.