The Exotic Experience Of A Floating Market In Thailand


floating marketThe other name for Thailand is “Venice of the East. ” Aptly named, the topography of Bangkok City and Thailand in general will reveal many waterways, canals, rivers, and tributaries. The waterways were used and are still in use as a convenient way of getting around the cities, as well as to get from one province to another. It is the shortest and fastest route to move around the large expanse of land in the Kingdom of Thailand. Therefore, these waterways are also the life-blood of the country.

 

floating marketWhen you visit Thailand, make it a point to check with your tour and travel agent in Thailand on sightseeing and tours to floating markets in Thailand . These companies offer sightseeing and tours to Amphawa Floating Market, tours to Pattaya Floating Market, tours, and sightseeing to Ayutthaya Floating Market as well as tours and sightseeing to Damnoen Saduak. These floating market tours normally take half a day or a full day depending on where it is located as other sightseeing places are also included in the packages. The Pattaya and Ayutthaya floating markets are open throughout the week but the other floating markets are only available during the weekends.

floating marketThe Thai people are rather innovative; their ability to adapt to circumstances has led to a very unique lifestyle that is both amazing and exciting to see. A visit to the floating markets of Thailand will reveal a different lifestyle that is still kept very much to the old traditions. Off course, there are the more commercialized versions such as those found in Pattaya and Ayutthaya but the other ones such as Amphawa, Damnoen Saduk , and Taling Chan are more in the traditional style albeit with slight touches of modernization in the infrastructure of the floating market place.

The difference between the commercialized floating markets and the more traditional ones are the setup of the place. A traditional floating market is where the small canal boats are still using the old original canal routes whereas the new ones are located in fabricated ponds and canals. If you want to feel the authentic ambience of a traditional wet market then make your way to Damnoen Saduak, Taling Chan or Amphawa on a weekend. It is advisable to go early as these places can get very crowded and seating space to enjoy your meals are rather limited.

floating marketThe floating markets of Pattaya and Ayutthaya are fairly new. Aside from the simulated “klong” or waterway, it is more spacious, cleaner, and easily accessible even for the disabled. They offer almost the same variety of products, produce and food as the more traditional ones but variety is off course more limited. The advantage is that they have more entertainment in the form of variety and cultural shows as well as traditional folk art and craft demonstrations. There are also cleaner amenities such as washrooms and rest areas with ample seating. Compared to the older more traditional floating markets , most visitors do opt for the new more modern versions. On the other hand, the traditional floating markets are a cacophony of noise, smells, sight, sound, colors and taste that is very uniquely Thai. IF you want a more authentic feel to your visit, then choose the floating markets in Damnoen Saduk, Amphawa, and Taling Chan.

The older floating markets are where the locals come and ply their trade in a variety of products. Most of them gain access to the floating market via the canals, their little boats laden with all the goodies they bring. Some of these boats even have a mini kitchen onboard where they prepare piping hot meals ranging from noodles, green papaya salads, and desserts to grilled seafood. An all-time favorite is off course the traditional green papaya salad known as “SomTum” that comes with sticky rice and grilled chicken or pork. Another food attraction is the “satay” or skewered pieces of chicken or pork served with a piquant sauce and vinegar cucumber salad. Most will also make their way to the grilled seafood boats that offer a variety of fresh seafood such as sea bass, local fresh water fish (both encrusted with salt and grilled), fresh and seawater prawns, crayfish, large cuttlefish and squids, sea and mud crabs as well as different types of shellfish. The seafood is normally accompanied by a spicy homemade sauce that brings out the flavor of the seafood plus of course the novelty of eating your meal by the side of a “klong.” Please note that seating in these older floating markets are rather low. You have to sit on very short stools to get at your meals, so for the disabled it may be an inconvenience.

There are also permanent stalls and shops at both the new and older floating markets. These shops sell everything from snacks to souvenirs and t-shirts. They are great mementoes to remember your trip there. The Ayutthaya Floating Market also has other activities such as elephant rides and baby goat feeding that will amuse the kids. The colors stemming from the variety of shops, boats, stalls, and goods on display makes it a great photo opportunity for those who are interested in photography. In the older floating markets, there are sometimes vendors who sell live fish, turtles, frogs, and eel just by the canal side. You will notice them from the many tubs on display containing these creatures. No, they are not meant for eating, but rather for merit purposes. The Thai believe that if you let them go it will take away all your bad luck and bring you good luck! Therefore, you might want to give this a go while you are visiting the floating market.

All in all, a trip down to these floating markets are a must to get a taste of Thai culture and traditions while you are in Thailand. There are not many places in the world where you can still observe this tradition but Thailand has definitely kept this tradition very much alive and thriving.

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Street Foods

The Amazing Street Food Of Thailand – Be Adventurous And Try Some!


Street Foods | Photo By flatsharp

Thailand is one of the most exotic destinations in the world, the blend of Thai culture and tradition, synergy with the neighbouring countries and influences from the West have helped to shape the country as it is today. One thing is for sure in Thailand, there is never a shortage for a variety of food, and in fact you can say that it is an open fiesta where food is concerned.

In Thai eating patterns the starters are not a fundamental part of the eating culture, however the main course, especially desserts and snacks are the norm. A walk down the rows of food stalls with vendors in small push carts plying their goods, you will find a cacophony of main courses such as noodles, rice, fried fresh food, loads of desserts and off course a huge variety of snacks on the go. Unlike the western eating habits where you have starters or appetizers followed by the main meal and then desserts it is just the opposite in Thailand. Indulging in the desserts first is a norm!

Street Foods | Photo by bahighlife

So where would you go to sample the local street food of Thailand aside from hitting some street and giving your taste buds a go with the side walk vendors? Most visitors to the country will take a tour of Thailand sightseeing and in some of these tours there is the opportunity to visit the floating markets of Thailand. This is where you can get an introduction to your first taste of Thai street food. A floating market in Thailand tour is the best place to try out first hand what authentic Thai street vendor food is all about and there is a great variety you can choose from plus the thrill of purchasing your food right off the long-tail boats is an experience in itself.  How is the Thai street food different from what you find in fancy restaurants or food courts? Most of these places cater mostly to the crowd that are either tourists or produce a fancy version of the originals. Most are not able to carry the actual variety that is available by the vendors. Also most of the street food outside is family run vendors who are small time businesses that have been at their trade for probably generations and the servings they give are not diluted for Western taste but more for the Thai palette.

Street Foods | Photo by bahighlife

Some of the sampling of street food you can get off the boat vendors are freshly barbecued seafood, you can select your pick of fresh water or sea prawns, large squids, sea and estuary crabs or salt encrusted barramundi all cooked to perfection when you order and served with a piquant dipping sauce. Other types of recommended dishes are the kiew tieau khai tun or braised chicken noodles, pad see eiew (fried flat rice noodles with bean sprouts and either chicken, pork or seafood), Kao nieow moo ping (grilled spiced pork skewers served with sticky rice), ban mee kieow nam moo deang (egg noodle soup with wanton and minced pork eaten with vinegar green chilli),  yen ta foh (noodles served with a red soup accompanied by seafood and minced meat), yam pla dok foo ( a deep fried cat fish salad made of young papaya, lime juice, fish sauce and sugar). Desserts have two varieties, sweet or savoury. A nice dessert to try aside from the usual mango and sticky rice is the fukthong (pumpkin custard), kah nom krog (a small pan cooked batter made from flour and coconut milk with corn or minced meat on the inside served hot), patong koa and nam tau hu ( deep fried flour pastry served with hot soy bean drink), kuey tod (fried battered banana served with crusty fried coconut shavings) and for snacks you can try the salted deep fried bay crabs and shrimps, ka nom huey lor (sesame seeded deep fried balls with bean paste), khao niew ping choop kai (sticky rice dipped in egg and grilled), Koo chai ka thiam (chives leafs stuffed in rice pastry served steamed or fried), and Nam prik sod sai (minced meat in flour coating steamed and served with loads of fried garlic and a dipping sauce).

kiew tieau khai tun Photo from foursquare

Exploring the Thai eating culture is both fascinating and a culinary experience. Not only is it cheaper than eating in a hotel or restaurant but the variety is much larger than even a good buffet in a fancy restaurant. They also do taste much better! So when you do come to visit Thailand, make it a point and try one of the sightseeing tours of Bangkok or river and canal cruise in Bangkok that will bring you to one of the floating markets where you can indulge in local Thai cuisine till your heart is content. The only thing is if you do not want something to be spicy just remember these words “mai sai prik” which means no chilli or “Mai phed” which is with chili but not spicy!

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