The Floating Tourist Trap

Every guide book I read about Thailand, every Google search I did on “Best Places to Visit in Thailand” said no trip to the South-East Asian country is complete without a trip to the floating market.  J and I had a free day in Bangkok before we were hopping on a train to head North to Chiang Mai and the lady at our hotel suggested the market. She was even willing to set us up with a driver to get us there and back so we figured, why not?  Everybody goes to the floating market in Thailand so we wanted that experience too.

Getting to the market
Getting to the market

We felt like royalty when our own personal taxi showed up to drive us out to the market.  The lady at the front desk had quoted us a price for the day but unfortunately we neglected to confirm what that price included.  Turns out, it was just for the driver and not for the actual boat tour at the market which ended up costing us just as much as the taxi.  Oops.

At first, we were really excited to be getting on the boat.  We were speeding through canals, and getting glimpses of the colourful houses built along the river.  Some of them were pretty cool.  Then, we entered the actual market and immediately felt like sitting ducks. It wasn’t super busy that day so we were the only boat on the water at that time, and I’m pretty sure the vendors could see the targets on our backs.  We had nowhere to go, not much money, and everybody is yelling at you to buy stuff.  It was incredibly uncomfortable. I will say however that the prawns and beer we had tasted amazing. I also got my first taste of mango sticky rice which became my obsession while in Thailand.

Little pink houses along the river
Little Pink Houses
Yummy Prawns
Yummy Prawns

Unfortunately, (or fortunately depending on how you look at it), we ran out of money really quickly and J was pretty sure our driver had somehow signaled that information to the shopkeepers as they stopped asking us to buy stuff.  I ended up with a fridge magnet that I negotiated on for about 10 minutes, and J bought me a really pretty shawl that came in handy at the temples where I had to cover my shoulders.  He thought it would be a really nice souvenir from the floating market until we went to markets in Chiang Mai and Koh Tao and found the same shawl.

This lady was calling all her friends to let them know there were a couple of suckers looking to spend all their money
This lady was calling all her friends to let them know there were a couple of suckers looking to spend all their money
Our guide for the hour we spent at the market
Our guide for the hour we spent at the market

So my advice to you?  Don’t believe everything you read in the guide books.  Just because tons of people before you have done it, it doesn’t mean it’s a great way to spend your time.  If you do go, bring lots of cash, and a sense of humour. Don’t feel pressured to buy stuff just because it’s the floating market because you’ll find the same stuff at every market you visit in Thailand. But do try the food.  Thai food is amazing no matter where you buy it.

This was the most expensive mistake we made in Thailand. It cost us an entire day of sightseeing and a ridiculous amount of money.  And unfortunately the day wasn’t over yet…..

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