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Pattaya was our first stop on our Southeast Asia trip, and while it’s not the typical “Thailand experience” of white sand beaches, palm trees, and sunset cocktails, we did find some pretty cool things to do in the area. Our first taste of Asia was Sri Lanka and Thailand was next. If you’ve heard anything about Thailand, you’ve probably heard about the notorious floating markets. Upon visiting a Thai floating market, you’re likely to feel as though you are entering into a different world. While Indonesia and Vietnam are also home to floating markets, rumour has it that none compare to those of Thailand. The Pattaya floating market entrance fee is well worth it and here’s why.
The floating market in Pattaya is the biggest of its kind in all of Thailand. Also known as the four regions market, you will find everything here from beautiful paintings and wooden sculptures to paper handcrafts, Thai silks, clothing, silverware, and lots more. But we were there for the food. A unique blend of the four diverse regions of Thailand; Northern, Southern, Central, and North Eastern (hence the name; Four regions market), you can expect some delicious traditional cuisine, as well as some, well not so appetizing options. I’m not THAT adventurous when it comes to food so I stuck to the more “Westernized” options. Overall our experience at the Pattaya floating market was out of this world.
About the Pattaya Floating Market
Covering an area of 100,000 sqm, the floating market in Pattaya is separated into the four major parts of Thailand and each section represents and sells items from their region. You can expect to find many souvenir shops, eateries, ice-cream stores, and some art galleries. There were some really beautiful paintings here and we so wished that we could have bought a few. Unfortunately, since we will be travelling for a few months we aren’t able to buy many souvenirs. But one day we will return and buy all that our hearts desire!
There is also a cultural show every afternoon which is really cool to see. This is included in the Pattaya floating market entrance fee. There’s a schedule up inside the market so you can see what show is taking place and when. This 350 million baht market has over 114 shops – many of which are water vendors who are selling traditional Thai food and specialties from all over the country. If you want the “real” floating market experience, you can hire a man-powered boat to get around to the stores along the river. This is an extra cost – it’s not included in the Pattaya floating market entrance fee. In our opinion this isn’t really worth your time or money, but I will get to that now.
These days, floating markets across Asia are often thought of as tourist traps, with alluring souvenirs and food. While the Pattaya floating market was designed with tourists in mind and would no doubt be classified as a “tourist trap,” we absolutely loved the time that we spent here.
The Pattaya Floating Market Entrance fee
Admission used to be free, you could just make a donation if you wished to. As of 2019, the Pattaya floating market entrance fee is 200 baht. It’s really not much, especially considering what you get. Free shows and an authentic Thai experience – granted you are paying for it.
But what in our opinion probably isn’t worth your money is the boat tour. This cost isn’t included in the Pattaya floating market entrance fee, and it’s quite hefty. I’ve seen quite a few articles that state that the boat fee is small, or something like 30 baht. I’m not sure how old these articles are or where the information comes from, perhaps it’s cheaper for locals. For foreigners it costs 800 baht (including the Pattaya floating market entrance fee).
The thing is, the boat tour seems to be for no other reason other than to say you did it. The trip is only about 20 – 30 minutes long and you will be with a group of other people. It’s not like you can stop where you want to stop. We feel that you experience a lot more on foot. Also, the queues for the boats are insane – you might need to wait a while. But if you don’t mind waiting and you want to have a “real” experience, then sure it might be worth your time and money. For us it wasn’t. On the contrary, the Pattaya floating market entrance fee of 200 baht is certainly worth it.
Our experience at the Pattaya Floating Market
We had originally planned to go to Jomtien beach for the day. We had already been in Pattaya for a few days and decided that we needed to check out the beach area. Call me a “beach snob” with my floppy beach hat but it is not a beach that I would spend much time on at all. I get it, we were not in Phuket or one of the Thailand island areas, so I wasn’t expecting paradise. But I also wasn’t expecting a “crumby” and dirty looking beach. The water is very unclear (it looks dirty) and there are sunbeds along the beach, but most of these look old and dirty – but I digress. This is a story for another day.
Where to start?
Anyway, as soon as we arrived at the beach we decided that we didn’t want to spend any time there. While not close, the Pattaya floating market is in the same direction so we decided to make our way there – and are so glad that we did.
We arrived at midday and while I didn’t keep tabs on how long we were there, it was easily about three to four hours. My Fitbit recorded that we walked about 12,000 steps that day. There are so many different routes to take once inside the market. It’s like working your way through a maze, so it’s easy to get lost. But not in a bad way, you will find your way back to where you need to be eventually.
We started off at the furthest entrance – on the art side of the market. The art on display is so beautiful. There was so much that I wish we could have bought. If you’re heading home after Thailand, then there are some beautiful souvenirs to buy here. So make sure you take enough money with you.
It might seem confusing at first, but just walk. Seriously, after a few minutes you will adjust. There are arrows along the walkway to help you – but we doubt you will need them.
What about the food?
As for the food, there was everything typical of Thailand that I’ve been expecting to see since we arrived. Scorpions, worms, bugs, I’m not even sure what half of the stuff was. Aside from being an animal lover, these are things that I, and I think many other people wouldn’t touch just because of the thought. But, I understand that it’s Thai culture so I’m not here to judge. Peter felt like being adventurous and wanted an authentic experience so he decided to give crocodile a try. Probably not as adventurous as some of the other choices, but for us it was. Apparently it’s really tasty, but I couldn’t bring myself to try it. There is also some delicious Thai dishes to choose from, like noodle soups, stir-fried noodles, and much more.
The best part is the floating vendors. Scattered in between the wooden houses and along the river are vendors selling their goods from boats – mostly food and drinks. There’s a really cute section somewhere in the middle where you can sit on cushions at little tables that are laid out across one of the wooden areas that has been built over the water on stilts. There’s a few people to serve you and you can order food and drinks from any of the water vendors.
We actually nearly missed this part. After thinking that we had seen everything, we wanted a meal. We decided to eat at one of the restaurants close to the exit. When we were done we looked around a little more, but were just about ready to leave. Thankfully, it started to rain so we decided to stick around for a little longer. That’s when we came across this magical section and stopped for a drink. So make sure you explore everything.
The Look and feel
There are so many cute little bridges all across the market which connect different sections. There’s even a zipline going across the river. The whole setup is just really pretty. I couldn’t help but take so many photos. It’s all the little details that make everything here so exquisite. Walking through the hundreds of wooden houses that have been built in different styles makes for a really pleasant and fun experience.
For those who need a little pampering, there are many Thai massages on offer, including head or foot massage, or maybe even a facial. Although you can do this just about anywhere in Pattaya and Thailand for that matter. So you might just want to stick to exploring the market and tasting the delicious foods.
How to get to the Pattaya floating market?
We made our way to the floating market by using the baht bus. In fact, we’ve used the baht bus to get around everywhere in Pattaya. It works really well and you never have to wait long for one. The floating market is not exactly close – it’s about 8 Km from central Pattaya, so we needed to take three baht buses.
You will need to make your way to the southbound side of Sukhumvit highway. The floating market is actually situated on the highway, so it’s really easy once you get to the highway. But depending on where in Pattaya you are staying, it may be a little complicated trying to get to the highway. Once you figure the system out it’s quite easy. If this sounds too stressful for you, you can try a taxi service app like GrabTaxi.
Where to stay in Pattaya
Most of the time we book our accommodation through Airbnb. If you haven’t yet signed up on Airbnb you can follow my link here and get £33 off your first home booking, and £12 to use towards an experience worth £40 or more.
We found a wonderful apartment inside Arcadia Beach Resort. Equipped with all the essentials and featuring a swimming pool area and gym, we could not have asked for more here.
Address and contact details
Pattaya Floating Market
451/304 Moo 12,
Sukhumvit Road Pattaya.
Te: 038 706340.
Operating hours: 10:00 to 23:00