Pattaya Floating Market opened in November 2008 with a rather low key fanfare and during my recent four night stay in the city it was the one place I was determined 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 half expecting to see 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 hired long boat activity. Looking at the lake’s rich brown colour I suspected plenty of smaller brown things had floated on the water before.
Perhaps the market which cost 350 million baht to construct had 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. Welcome.
I’m probably wrong with my translation, perhaps someone can help. If all so far appears a touch negative then please do read on because I’ve actually got some real good things to say about Pattaya’s not yet famous floating market. I was pleasantly surprised at how good it was.
Wonderful Wi and I arrived at the market and to my amazement we found there was no entrance fee to pay. Had Pattaya grown a soft underbelly or was this part of their efforts to clean up the city and make it more family user friendly. Whatever, it was an impressive start. We skipped past the photographer taking pictures for souvenir mugs and entered Pattaya’s new tourist revelation. Those souvenir mugs are always a reminder that after just a few days of holidaying you’ve put on one hell of a lot of weight.
The main market activity is up from the water 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 many of which are regional delicacies.
Passage around the Four Regions Floating Market was well signposted and easily navigated along the sidewalks and small bridges, there was also a much grander link over the water named The Swinging Bridge (above photo). Pattaya’s swinging couples would think twice about crossing this thing.
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. Knowledge of Thailand’s safety standards must span many lands.
There is a huge contrast between Damnoen Saduak Floating Market and Pattaya’s Four Regions portrayal of market life on Thailand’s waters. One has built its reputation on tradition and the other is trying to drown its city’s tradition of ill repute. Nonetheless Pattaya’s version is not tacky and crude. The market’s vendors had seemingly genuine smiles and there was no pressure sales strategy on view, sharks wouldn’t survive long in these waters.
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 witnessed no such events. The shows must be periodically spread out during the day and our timing was out of sync. 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 with zero hard sell tactics employed. If you are visiting Pattaya then I’d highly recommend a visit to its delightful floating market. My apologies for the watery (crap) photos.
I’d like to finish this post with a mention of Thai blog site Johnny Foreigner. Jon Russell has posted two interviews with Thai bloggers and wannabe expats ( first, Talen from Thailand, Land of Smiles ) about their plans on making the big move to Thailand. The second instalment was posted this week in which I answered Jon’s questions about my own hopes on settling permanently in the Land of Smiles. I’d like to thank Jon for giving me the opportunity to profile my thoughts on his terrific site. Moving to Thailand : Martyn, Beyond The Mango Juice is the title and I hope you find time to give it a view and to read some of Jon’s other excellent posts.
© 2010, Martyn. All rights reserved.