Pattaya Floating Market opened in November 2008 to a low-key fanfare and during my recent four night stay in the city it was a place I wanted 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 expecting to see tourist laden 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 any other boat activity. Looking at the lake’s rich brown colour I suspected plenty of smaller brown things floated on the water instead.
Who knows, the market which cost 350 million baht to construct may have 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.
I’m probably wrong with my translation but if my summary of Pattaya’s floating market sounds a touch negative, then please do read on because I’ve got some real good things to say about Pattaya’s not yet famous floating market. I was pleasantly surprised at how good it was.
The main market action is 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 representing each of the four regions.
Navigating your way around the floating market is easy – it’s signposted which makes it simple to find each region. There was also an impressive, but slightly perilous looking walkway over the water named The Swinging Bridge (above photo), although Pattaya’s swinging couples might think twice about crossing it hand-in-hand and side-by-side.
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 – Thailand’s safety reputation sails to many lands.
There is a huge contrast between Damnoen Saduak Floating Market and Pattaya’s Four Regions portrayal of market life. One has built its reputation on fables and folklore, and the other is trying to drown its reputation as a sex resort. Nonetheless, Pattaya’s version is not tacky and crude – the market’s vendors wore smiles and there was enough genuine looking baubles, bric-a-brac, clothing and food above the waterline to suggest sharks wouldn’t survive long in the mud-colored water.
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 didn’t see one. The shows must be periodically spread out during the day and our timing was out. 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 and I saw no hard sell tactics techniques by the market traders
If you are visiting Pattaya then I’d highly recommend a visit to its delightful floating market.
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