Floating markets have long been a part of the culture in Thailand. Water is a large part of the environment in cities like Ayuatthaya and Bangkok with rivers, streams and canals making up much of the landscape.

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In the time before bridges were commonplace, getting around was no easy matter, especially if you did not have your own boat. As a result, traders and vendors found it made economic sense to take their shops to the customers rather than the other way around and from this waterborne trade, the floating market developed. In the modern world, as Thailand’s cities and road infrastructure developed and the population became more mobile, the floating markets began to disappear and it appeared that an important part of Thai history and heritage would be lost forever. Saddened by this development and wanting to retain this unique Thai cultural phenomenon, local businessman Warida Sae-eung built his own.

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The Four Regions Floating, often referred to as Pattaya Floating Market, opened in November 2008. The founder’s vision was to create an attraction that would not just appeal to tourists, but also local people, and provide an attraction that not only offered a glimpse of Thailand’s cultural past, but also showcased the best the country has to offer today. The market is divided into four sectors, each of which represents the traditions of different parts of Thailand. The sectors represent North, Central, North-Eastern, and Southern Thailand and feature food, clothing styles, arts and crafts from each of those regions.

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The market covers an area of 100,000 square metres (25 acres) and was built at a reported cost of 350 million baht. It consists of over 100 fixed shops and floating vendors all designed to showcase Thai architectural style. The market’s fixed shops are located over series of canals some of which are connected by a series of walkways and bridges. Tourists navigate the market from one of the 80 visitor boats which are tended by a waterman and can go in whichever direction they please pulling up to any platform to disembark and browse the shops.

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As one would expect in Thailand, there is a plethora of food options available, and cuisine traditions from all over the country are well represented. Many visitors enjoy snacking on a great variety of small, bite sized dishes. These are often available from floating vendors who will pull up alongside your vessel and serve directly from their own boats.

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Throughout the market there are many cultural experiences to be enjoyed. There are displays of dancing and traditional Thai music as well as of the Thai martial arts. One of the most popular attractions for visitors is a display of ‘water boxing’ where two fighters on a platform suspended above the canal while visitors watch from their boats or the nearby floating platforms.

The market also features a small demonstration rice farm so visitors can learn how Thailand’s most important staple crop is produced. There is also the small Nueng Siam Woodcarving Museum with some beautiful examples of Thai craftsmanship.

The Four Regions Floating Market displays the very best of Thai culture in a unique setting and is a must for tourists visiting Pattaya and the surrounding area. 

For more information, check out the official website of the Pattaya Floating Market.

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