Kwan Riam Floating Market
on the Saen Saeb Canal

By Eric Lim

View of the floating market from the arched bridge

The Kwan Riam Floating Market is a Bangkok floating market located in Ramkhamhaeng Soi 187 on a stretch of the Saen Saeb Canal between Wat Bamphen Tai and Wat Bamphen Nuea at the eastern end of Bangkok. 

This is Bangkok’s newest floating market opened since the end of June 2012.

At the time of writing this article in January 2013, it’s barely seven months old. 

It is one of the two Bangkok floating markets in the city proper, the other being Taling Chan Floating Market.

The other markets frequently referred to as Bangkok floating markets are actually in neighbouring provinces.

This floating market was a specially constructed floating market and looks quite well planned. The owner also operates the Saen Saeb canal boat service between the city to Bang Kapi. Unfortunately the boat service doesn’t extend to this stretch of the Saen Saeb canal. 

The place has a very local flavour; I didn’t see any tourists during my visit.

To get there, please see map to the Kwan Riam floating market

History of the Saen Saeb Canal  

In the reign of King Rama III (1824 – 1851) Siam engaged in a long and costly struggle with Vietnam for control over the Cambodian court which resulted in two wars in 1832/33 and 1845/46.

To facilitate the movement of troops in those days, thousands of Chinese labourers were conscripted to dig the Saen Saeb canal.

The canal stretches from the city centre at the base of Wat Saket, the Temple on the Golden Mount to the Bang Pakong River in Chachoengsao province, a distance of about 60 km. 

The general who led the Siamese to final victory was Chao Phraya Bodin Decha. The Chao Phraya Bodindecha Museum in a traditional Thai teakhouse, barely 600 m from the Saen Saeb canal, is in the grounds of the Bodindecha School in Ramkhamhaeng Soi 43/1.

Tour of the Kwan Riam Floating Market

Shops selling curios, souvenirs and other decorative toys line the road approaching the floating market.

At the floating market itself, shops and stalls selling food, clothing and souvenirs line the banks of the canal. Boat stalls selling a wide variety of food are moored on both banks.

Shops on the north bank

Boat stalls anchored on the banks

A bridge spans the canal linking the two sides of the floating market. This bridge is a favourite spot for souvenir photos and it’s also a good vantage point for photos of the floating market.

Bridge over the Saen Saeb

In other Bangkok floating markets the boat stalls are smaller just enough for the food vendor and his or her wares. However at the Kwan Riam floating market the boat stalls are large enough to seat the customers on board.

Dining in a boat stall

Here’s what you can expect as you stroll through the various stalls in the Kwan Riam Floating Market. Most of the food stalls are on the north bank, the side where Wat Bamphen Nuea is located.  

Besides food, there are plenty of stalls selling clothing.

Dresses and clothing

Sample the food in the boat stalls moored on the north bank.

Chicken rice in a boat stall

Have you seen such huge mortars for som tam? He must be expecting a big crowd.

Som tam - papaya salad

As the Ramkhamhaeng area has a sizeable Muslim population, Muslim food is available in the boat stall sector on the north bank. Dishes like khao muk gai (nasi briani in Malay) and salad kaag (gado gado in Malay) are served.

There are seats on the banks of the canal for those who prefer to dine on land rather than in the confines of the boat stalls. 

Dining on the Saen Saeb

It was a Saturday morning during my visit so it was relatively quiet. It could get crowded in the afternoon or on Sundays and the narrow walkways will be congested. So if you prefer a leisurely visit, Saturday mornings will be a good time. 

This floating market is noticeably neat and clean and well-organised. This part of the Saen Saeb canal is relatively clean compared to the canal in the city centre.

Peaceful scene on the banks

For visitors who wish to give alms, the monks from the two temples, Wat Bamphen Tai and Wat Bamphen Nuea pass the floating market in boats at 7:30 am on opening days.

Stretch of the canal for alms giving early in the morning

There are also guided boat tours in Thai on the Saen Saeb canal. Surprising, the guides on board are school girls from the Wat Bamphen Nuea School. This is a voluntary school program to give the girls practice in public speaking and build confidence.

Guided boat tour conducted by school girls

For Thai boxing fans there is a boxing ring permanently set up. Matches commence at 1:00 pm.

Boxing ring on a pontoon in the canal

After a mid-morning snack of barbecued pork and beef, I had this for desert, a choice of different condiments in coconut milk and crushed ice.

Desert from a boat stall

Coffee was taken at this quaint little boat café. It was a comfortable and delightful experience and the ladies who run this café were very pleasant.

Krachaeng Coffee

The clean toilets which are brightly and cheerfully decorated also deserve special mention. 

It was a very enjoyable outing at the Kwan Riam Floating Market on a Saturday morning, lots to eat and see in a very comfortable and pleasant atmosphere. 

Map to the Kwan Riam floating market

View Kwan Riam Floating Market in a larger map

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How to get to the Kwan Riam Floating Market 

If you are driving, you can get to the floating market via Seri Thai Soi 60 or Ramkhamhaeng Soi 187.

The canal boats don’t ply in this area.

There are also several bus services from the city to the floating market.

From Sathorn – air-conditioned bus no 173 

Route: Sathorn Road – Rama IV Road – Phra Khanong junction – Sukhumvit Soi 71 ( Soi Pridi Banomyong) – Ramkhamhaeng Road 

From Silom – air-conditioned bus no 514 

Route: Silom Road – Lumphini Park – Ratchaprasong junction – Pratunam junction – Din Daeng – Ratchadaphisek Road – Lat Phrao Road – Bang Kapi – Ramkhamhaeng Road 

From Hua Lamphong – air-conditioned bus no 113 

Route: Hua Lamphong Station – Rama IV Road – Mah Boon Khrong – Phaya Thai Road – Ratchathewi – Pratunam – Makkasan – Petchaburi Road – Ramkhamhaeng Road

Opening times and program 

  • Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays from 7:00 am – 8:00 pm 
  • 7:30 am giving of alms to monks who arrive by boats 
  • 8:30 am guided boat tour starts 
  • 1:00 pm Thai boxing
  • 5:30 last guided boat tour 

Admission to the Kwan Riam Floating Market is free

Other floating markets in and around Bangkok

Amphawa and Bang Noi floating markets

Bang Namphueng floating markets

Pattaya floating market

Sai Noi floating market

Taling Chan floating market

To return to Bangkok Communities.

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My Journey through Thailand Part I The First Steps

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You can have a virtual tour with this e-guide book or take the first steps yourself in this journey through Thailand.

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