KHLONG HAE FLOATING MARKET HAT YAI – A CARNIVAL OF COLOURS
Doris Lim heads to Hat Yai to experience the carnival atmosphere of Khlong Hae Floating Market, where she could almost walk on water’s edge.
Set in Hat Yai’s quiet northern outskirts, Khlong Hae Floating Market is a canal-side market set up for tourism.
“Authentic” Thai floating markets are practically extinct now.
Thai people in Bangkok have recreated modern floating markets as a sort of carnival-type spectacle with locals selling cheap foods from wooden sampans on the water, usually near a temple.
I headed to Hat Yai to experience the carnival atmosphere of Khlong Hae Floating Market, where I could almost walk on the water’s edge.
The location is in Tambon Khlong Hae, Amphoe Hat Yai, Songkhla Province opposite Wat Khlong Hae, a beautiful Buddhist temple situated 4 km north of downtown, right on the way to Songkhla.
This is not an old-school floating market where farmers traditionally row their boats to trade at dawn.
Khlong Hae follows this example with a line of almost 80 boat vendors moored to a walkway to make it easier for tourists to browse the food options.
Opened since August 2008, the floating market is born from an idea of the ex-village headman.
The market is held on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, and public holidays along the banks of a large canal.
On the weekends, this canal is covered with permanently moored boats selling some of the region’s best local products.
There’s also a large roofed section on land with more stalls selling food, clothes, and souvenirs.
KHLONG HAE FLOATING MARKET, HAT YAI
Hat Yai city, a sprawling commercial hub, is a favorite tourist shopping destination for Malaysian and Singaporeans.
Over the long weekends, public and school holiday’s busloads of Malaysians will head north for a shopping spree.
Add this to an eating adventure of an abundance of good Thai food that is simply irresistible.
Away from the city center, one of the places one should visit is Khlong Hae Floating Market. You can take local transport from Hat Yai City. It’s easily accessible via taxi, a minivan, or a tuk-tuk.
WHAT IS THE KHLONG HAE FLOATING MARKET?
At the floating market, vendors pack their wares onto small boats and jostle with each other for the attention of buyers alongside canals.
The floating market is a waterside market with a large number of vendors selling everything from home-cooked food to tropical fruits and other snacks from their boats.
The price is unbelievably reasonable.
THAI FLOATING MARKETS
Floating markets are a mega tourist attraction in Thailand.
I have been to Amphawa, a very popular floating market in Bangkok.
Most visitors have an image of hundreds of boats in the river. Each boat is laden with colorful food and fresh produce.
WHAT’S THE ATMOSPHERE LIKE AT KHLONG HAE FLOATING MARKET?
The atmosphere is quite different from the other floating markets in Thailand as the vendors wear hijab because most of the local people are Muslims.
THE DIFFERENCE OF KHLONG HAE FLOATING MARKET.
Unlike the bigger floating markets in Bangkok, where the wooden boats ply up and down the river, Hat Yai’s version, the Khlong Hae Floating Market has “parked” boats by the dock.
The line-up of hawker’s stalls on stationary small wooden boats feels like a “food court” on water.
Customers stand on the side of the canal to buy food and drinks from the boats.
The women traders dress in Thai retro costumes and wear large straw hats with plastic flowers to attract customers.
Many local Thais families enjoy buying a variety of food from the boats for a great carnival atmosphere.
For visitors, it is quite an experience to jostle for space and to check out the different snacks available from the food stalls.
Although it is rather touristy now, floating markets are still a lot of fun for the plethora of delicious cheap meals available to visitors.
What could be better than munching on finger foods beside the canal while listening to a Thai singer belt out popular Thai pop songs from the jukebox?
CHOICE OF FOOD AT KHLONG HAE FLOATING MARKET
There is a good selection of food here, with local food, Thai food, and Muslim food.
Food and drinks are priced between 20 to 30 baht each.
The hawkers at Khlong Hae Floating Market cook in their moored boats. The vendors use little baskets at the end of bamboo sticks to pass food and also receive money from their customers.
The customer places the exact price in the basket. The hawkers are swift in their preparation and serve customers promptly.
There is quite a selection from the 80 odd stalls. The food is decent, delicious, and reasonably priced. I spotted a few stalls selling both soupy and fried noodles, Thai salads, fried items, and quail eggs! The Thais have a penchant for these tiny fried quail eggs.
The Khlong Hae Floating Market is considered unique from Thai markets in other regions of Thailand, – there is good mix cultures here, Buddhist Thais, and Muslims Thais providing tasty food.
UNIQUE FOOD CONTAINERS
Khlong Hae Floating Market has a good campaign to reduce the use of plastic bags or foam boxes for a sustainable environment.
Another unique thing about this market is using eco-friendly food containers such as coconut shells, bamboo tubes, and earthen pot. It’s a nice touch that’s not only authentic but environmentally-friendly.
Generally, the food is sold in disposable paper bowls.
An interesting way to serve drinks is in a hollowed-out bamboo container or a clay mug.
A LIST OF FOOD AVAILABLE AT KHLONG HAE FLOATING MARKET
- Khanon Mod
- Khao Yam
- Kao Phad Talè
- Phad Tai
- Phad Si-Io
On small charcoal barbecues, sellers cooked
- large shrimp
- chicken satay
IS THE FOOD HALAL?
Most of the vendors are Thai Muslims, so the food is kosher or halal. You can find many Muslim families enjoying their meals there.
Southern Thailand has a large community of Muslims – pork is not on the menu offered, and other meats are mostly Halal.
All the food is cooked with traditional recipes in Southern Thailand, and it is very cheap.
ARE THE DRINKS HALAL?
The coconuts are opened right to order and taste sweet and delicious. When you’re shopping underneath the beating hot sun, you will enjoy a nice cold tinned drink or coconut.
WHERE DO I EAT?
You take it to the canal-side sitting area to eat.
There are some bamboo picnic tables and benches to sit on. The tables are on first-come-first-serve basics. If you go in a group, you can grab a table then start buying food from all the different stalls. Bring everything you buy from Khlong Hae Floating Market back to your table to start feasting.
It feels like a picnic environment, and it’s great to sit down and relax as the sun sets in the evening.
WHAT’S THE BEST TIME TO ARRIVE?
Best time to come in before 5 pm, just as the weather cools a little and before the dinner crowds show up.
MORE JUST FOOD STALLS
The stalls are also not just about food either. Away from the floating market, there is a covered area with vendors selling a good mix of food, snacks, clothing, bags, and even
However, the entire area is filled with crusher run or stone chips. It does get muddy when it rains as there is no visible drainage system.
There are many good buys for Muslim ladies as the clothing stores have ready stock of
Suitable long sleeves t-shirt in light fabric.
There are also plenty of head scarfs for Muslim women. Khlong Hae Floating Market has a reasonable price, and the quality is decent.
You can purchase
- household items
and of course a lot of street food.
WHAT ARE SOME POPULAR FOOD HERE?
If you love seafood, you’re going to love this. The food stalls on here sell an assortment of Thai deep-fried seafood snacks. There are battered prawns, slipper lobsters, and crabs deep-fried to a golden crunch. The crispy shellfish have soft sweet, moist flesh inside.
Other popular stalls sell Thai salads, Pad Thai, stir-fries, grilled sausages, coconut, mango sticky rice desserts, and drinks.
There is an assortment of nuts, crisps, and snacks available.
BEYOND KHLONG HAE FLOATING MARKET
Walking briskly up the slope and heading beyond the bridge, I looked back towards the Khlong Hae Floating Market. I could see the other view of the boats and shoppers with their reflection in the river.
I built up a little bit more of an appetite.
I found more stalls selling knick-knack, clothes, and light nibbles. If you’re looking for t-shirts and casual tops, there is a variety of reasonably priced tie and dye cotton wear. We saw colorful fighting fish in glass jars for sale.
The snacks here are 20 baht each.
There I bought some steamed groundnuts, purple sweet potatoes, a large young sweet buttered corn, and some strawberries with spicy chili sugar-salt mixture, back at the covered stall areas, I bought some coconut pancakes for my supper.
While I was shopping, the sun starts to go down over the canal, and the view is absolutely beautiful!
Of course, what is a trip to Thailand without the drumstick sized pineapples? These are a real treat. The pineapples are sweet, juicy, and the flesh has a crispy fresh texture. This is the perfect refreshing way to end a humid day at the Khlong Hae Floating Market, Hat Yai.
The parking area is limited at the Khlong Hae Floating Market, so it’s best to either go by tuk-tuk or a minivan rather than driving there yourself.
The main road is quite narrow if you want to park along the road.
GETTING TO KHLONG HAE FLOATING MARKET
You can negotiate the price of a round trip with the driver before leaving. Most of the time, he will usually be happy to wait for you in the temple parking while you shop.
Khlong Hae Floating Market operates from Friday to Sunday, including public holidays from 03.00 pm until about 09.00 pm. Prices are pretty reasonable. If you’re good at bargaining hard, you can score some good buys.
Most visitors are foreigners – Indonesians, Malaysians, Singaporeans than locals.
Large boats like this one take passengers out on the canal for around 20 baht a person. The market has no entrance fee, and most of the food ranges around 20 baht as well.
Opening days: Khlong Hae Floating Market is open on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, and public holidays, including Songkran’s day, when many Malaysians arrive in Hat Yai to enjoy the popular Thai festival.
KHLONG HAE FLOATING MARKET REVIEW
This is the only night floating market in Hat Yai. What is interesting is you can find both cheap HALAL and local Thai food here. I enjoyed the low prices for shopping and spent a nice evening walking around experiencing local Hat Yai nightlife in the area.
When you visit Hat Yai, drop by the Klong Hae Floating Market. You’ll leave with a full stomach and great memories.
So I’m going to take a ride on this boat and see all there is to offer! Come join me!
A story previously published in Fireflyz in-flight magazine.