Despite living in Bangkok for nearly two years, we hadn't actually done a lot of sightseeing, so when we were back last we decided we'd go on a tour and see a few sights out of town. After a quick bit of googling and checking TripAdvisor, we rang Tong from Tour with Tong and booked the half day Floating Market Tour (the itinerary of which has since changed from what we did) at very short notice.
Our guide, Khun Charlie, was waiting for us in the lobby of our hotel at around 6.30am the next morning. Now, I know that sounds disgustingly early, but Thailand gets HOT later on, so if you can book a tour in the cooler morning, then that's the way forward. We jumped into his air conditioned car and headed off to the Floating Market, with him giving a running commentary along the way. We were the only people on the tour, so it was very personal.
I had been to the Floating Market about 20 years before and it has really changed in that time. Now there is just a small market and hundreds of klong boats filled with predominately Russian tourists, cruising up and down the "market" klongs. There aren't many locals doing their shopping there now, just lots of tourist things for sale, and a few stalls with produce for the locals. It was still good to see, and very colourful, but I'm guessing that most locals shop at the supermarkets now. We enjoyed our klong boat ride around looking at things, and it was getting much busier by the time we left.
We then headed to a few local temples, one run by Monks who keep animals such as camels, horses, deer, goats etc. You can buy animal food to feed them, including Bok Choy which was so fresh and lovely I wanted to take it home and cook it, not feed it to a bossy goat. The temples always provide great photo opportunities - but make sure you take your shoes off, and ladies must have their arms covered (no coochie cutter shorts and boob tubes here, girls!).
Khun Charlie decided to throw something else into the mix, a surprise he said, so he zoomed off through the back roads and landed us at Maeklong Train Market. This place is AMAZING. I hadn't even heard of it before, but it's a real local produce market set up along side and on top of a functioning railway track. Really. Eight trains a day terminate at Maeklong Station and it's something you have to see to believe.
Around three minutes before the train arrives, a bell rings, and the vendors pull all of their produce off the lines for the train to pass through, putting them all back again with in seconds of its passing. I know it sounds bonkers, and it seriously is, but I'll post pictures and then you'll understand (maybe). It's something you have to experience to believe and it's much better than the Floating Market. The Maeklong Market is where locals actually do shop, and the Market itself is huge.
So, basically, give the Floating Markets the swerve,
and head for Maeklong - it's amazing!
Oh, and just in case you were wondering,
the photos above were all taken in under 10 seconds ...