Travel news - attractions in Thailand

Riverside delicacies

Like other middle-aged career women, Tipwan loves shopping. One place she likes to go on weekends is the Bang Nam Phueng floating market in Phra Pradaeng district of Samut Prakan.

"Food is cheap there and there are a variety of hot dishes, snacks and desserts you can choose from," she said. Her favourite dishes are hoy tod khanom krok (crispy mussel pancake with bean sprouts baked in a clay pan with small round indentations), grilled egg of squid wrapped in banana leaf and fried small crabs.

According to the Tambon Administration Office (TAO) of Bang Nam Phueng, the floating market that's been operating three years now attracts on average 39,000 visitors a month. Since last October until February 195,364 people visited the market of which six percent were foreigners.

The floating market is the brainchild of the district administration that wanted to draw tourists to supplement the income of local residents, mostly farmers, vendors and small-time boat operators.

Bang Nam Phueng has gradually expanded by drawing on the experience of similar markets operating before it came on the scene. The district administration has built a two-kilometre-long concrete walkway, allowing more vendors to ply their trade.

At present, there are 228 shops selling OTOP products from other districts as well, like dishes goong yiad, a sweet shrimp dish from Sakhla village, and thongmuan sod, a Thai dessert that is a specialty of Bang Krachao.

Orathai, a housewife, also likes the market. She and her neighbours in Rat Burana always visit the market on weekends. Her favourites are hor mok (minced fish steamed in banana leaf), ma hor appetisers made from minced pork, shrimp and pamelo, and a variety of nam prik (spicy dips).

She also likes fresh coconut. The juice is sweet and it comes for only five baht, half the price it is sold elsewhere.

Fresh vegetables and fruits can also found in the market such as leaves of krathin (lead tree), krajeabdaeng (roselle), talingpling (bilimbi) and chompoo mamiew (Malay apple). Products made from teenped (cerbera plant) are also popular. Some shops sell its seedlings, while some sell products made from the brown fruit such as puppets.

Hand-made products are also available, such as flowers made from scales of fish or nylon stockings, T-shirts and home decoration items like tiny colourful birds made from silk cocoon.

Body and foot massage are also available. No one goes back empty-handed; and most people usually leave the market with their stomach full.

MORE INFO

Bang Nam Phueng floating market opens on weekends from 8am-2pm. The local administration recently also opened a night market which runs Friday to Sunday during 4-10 pm.

Apart from shopping, visitors can rent bicycles (30 baht/hour) for a tour of Samut Prakan's green zone or paddle a wooden boat (20 baht/hour) along Khlong Bang Nam Phueng.

Seven houses in Bang Nam Phueng offer homestay. The cost is 250 baht/person per night. For reservations call Arporn, the head woman of Bang Nam Phueng village, at 089-807-2501.

Getting there: From Bangkok drive to King Rama IX Bridge and turn left onto Suk Sawat Road. An alternative route is take the industrial ring road bridge and cross over to Suk Sawat Road. Then drive on to Phra Pradaeng market, turn left to Wat Songtham and drive for five kilometres before turning right. Follow the road signs; the market is a kilometre down the road.

There is no public bus direct to Bang Nam Phueng, but you can take either air-conditioned bus No. 138 or non-airconditioned buses No. 82 and 6 and get off at the Phra Pradaeng market. From there walk to the district office nearby and take the 'kaor' taxi to Bang Nam Phueng. The fare is 10 baht.

Conversely, you can take a ferry from Wat Khlong Toey Nok to Bang Krachao and then take a motorcycle taxi (20 baht) to the market.

For more information, call the Bang Nam Phueng Tambon Administration Office at 02-819-6762 ext 110 and 081-171-4930, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (Central Region Office Region 8) at 037-312-282, 037-312-284 Bangkok Post

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