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Talat Ban Mai River Side Market

the local community has revived its 100 year-old riverside market on the eastern end of Chachoengsao province. Open during weekends and public holidays, the well-preserved market offers visitors glimpses of traditional town life and an opportunity to taste a myriad of Thai and Chinese delicacies for which the area, an 80-minute drive east of Bangkok, is known.


Though the name means ‘new village market’, this network of over 120 wooden shop houses and stalls has barely changed since King Rama V paid a visit on 25 January 1907. The Sino-Thai settlement, founded during the reign of King Rama III, prospered from waterborne trade at the confluence of the Klong Ban Mai canal with the 230-kilometre-long Bang Pakong, one of the major rivers flowing into the Gulf of Thailand.

The market was built to face the river and the best way to reach it is by the frequent ferries running there from Wat Sothorn Wararam Worawiharn between 10.30 and 15.00 hours.


The half-hour trip contributes to the sense of heading somewhere detached from the pressures of modern life. The charming wooden boat chugs past raft houses, fishing canoes, plantations of betel palm and nipa palm – home to a small colony of birds, and the quaint water frontage of Chachoengsao town.

Earlier efforts by the community to develop the old riverside market into a sustainable tourist attraction had stalled. Given its proximity to Bangkok, the development of vastly improved transportation networks meant that much of the trade soon bypassed the traditional riverside market. Modern modes of transportation also provided a quick commute to Bangkok for younger residents seeking work. Both factors contributed to its eventual decline. The situation began to change in 2004 when the Ban Mai Conservation Club was established. Public hearings were held and growing local enthusiasm won support from the Tourism Authority of Thailand. The community also secured some grassroots development funding allocated by the government for small and medium enterprises


Despite a couple of minor fires, disuse over many years actually helped preserve the teak shuttered structures, which are of an architectural style dating back to the reign of King Rama V (King Chulalongkorn), from major changes. Original residents have re-opened their shop houses to trade in goods not just for outsiders, but also local produce to give the market a self-sustaining function.

The re-opening of the riverside market has created local employment. Hawkers have been invited to set up a veritable buffet of stalls. Today, many of Ban Mai’s young generation return from jobs in Bangkok to help staff the market during weekends and public holidays. Their delight in revitalising their neighbourhood is palpable. Residents invite browsers to look inside their homes and engage in cheery banter without pretension or touting.

Floating Markets in Thailand Page 1, Amphawa Floating Market in Samut Songkram
Floating Markets in Thailand Page 3, Ban Mai River Side Market, Contact details