Bangkok: Pak Khlong Talat Flower Market
Pak Khlong Talat is the largest and oldest flower market in Bangkok, Thailand. Located in the Old City quarter and just one block from the majestic Chao Phraya River, this market is easy to find and a must visit! Thousands of freshly cut flowers – roses, orchids, lilies, chrysanthemum, jasmine, lotus, bird-of-paradise, carnation, marigold and many more – are for sale from the stalls and shops that jam-pack both sides of the street. You will be dazzled and delighted by the bright, colorful blooms and their heavenly fragrance!
Over a century old, Pak Khlong Talat was originally a fish market, it then gradually changed into a produce market, and finally became the vibrant flower market that it is today. There are still some vendors selling vegetable and fruits, but primarily it’s a flower market. The exotic blossoms – most of which come from farms in the cooler northern provinces like Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai – are carefully packed and ready for wholesale, but you can also buy a single bouquet (wrapped in newspaper) or an elaborate arrangement (in a vase). In addition to flowers, vendors also sell greenery like fern and palm leaves, bamboo stalks, eucalyptus, grasses, etc. for making floral arrangements. This market is where traders and retailers come to buy fresh flowers in bulk to supply the huge demands of Bangkok hotel/restaurant and wedding industries.
Flower is very important in Thai culture. Besides adorning people’s homes and offices, flowers are widely used in religious ceremonies and festivities. Traditionally, Thai people bring fruits and flowers as offerings when they visit a Buddhist or Hindu temple. Phuang malai or flower garlands are the most common offerings. These pretty and extremely fragrant garlands are made by stringing dozens of white jasmine or bright orange marigold blossoms together. Purple orchids and red rosebuds are sometimes included. The size of the garland depends on what it is used for. People usually hang phuang malai garlands on religious statues in the temple or leave them on the altars at the many shrines seen all over the city. If you take a taxi in Bangkok, you may notice phuang malai dangling on the taxi’s rearview mirror as a good luck charm. As an added bonus, it also works as an air freshener!
Pak Khong Talat flower market is open 24 hours every day of the year! It is most busy in the morning hours with trucks delivering flower shipments and traders negotiating and bargaining with vendors.
HOW TO GET HERE
Take the Chao Phraya Express ferry boat to Saphan Phut Pier (at Memorial Bridge). Exit the pier and walk to the left along the river until you reach Chakphet Road where the flower stalls begin. You may also take a taxi or a tuk tuk to this market from anywhere in the city.
TIPS ON VISITING FLOWER MARKET
- Go in the afternoon when it is less hectic and you won’t be in the way of vendors and customers.
- Take pictures but don’t touch any flowers unless you’re going to buy them.
- Prices are incredibly affordable, so no need to haggle! You can buy a bouquet of 3 dozen roses for 30 Thai baht (about $1 USD) - no kidding!
- Don’t forget to explore the side streets where you will find more flower stalls and some interesting houseplant/gardening shops.
- Nearby there’s a large “wet market” housed inside an old building with vendors selling fresh vegetables, fruits, spices, as well as meat and fish. Take a stroll through and absorb the fascinating sights, sounds and smells (like the pungent aroma of ripe durians!) of a local market.
- If you get hungry there is a great selection of street food vendors and food stalls.
- Fresh coconuts are abundantly available at many of the food stalls and there’s nothing like cold sweet Thai coconut juice to rescue you from the heat and humidity of Bangkok!
ABOUT THIS HUB
The author got lost more than once in the labyrinth-like soi or side streets at Pak Khlong Talat market. He loved exploring the Old City district of Bangkok and drank plenty of coconut juice!
All photos were taken by the author with an Olympus Stylus TG-630 iHS digital camera.
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Copyright © 2014 Viet Doan (punacoast)