Pak Khlong Talat Flower Market
The Bangkok Flower Market called Pak Khlong Talat “market at the mouth of the canal” originally at the beginning of the 18th century (under the reign of King Rama 1) it was a floating market, which then became an auction and a large fish market in the 19th century. In the 1950s, local authorities due to the fish smell that permeated the area, flower, fruit and vegetable vendors were allowed to set up and the business eventually developed into Bangkok’s current flower (dokmai) market. The area is, in fact, a set of 3 distinct markets. The private market of Yodpiman, old dock renovated with restaurants, cafés and other shops, the I.C.P market and Pak Khlong.
In 2016, the authorities decided to remove the vendors from the sidewalks of Bangkok and what was the historic street flower market had to move, some to different parts of the city and others to the Yodpiman market, the ICP market or simply to the Pak Khlong fruits and vegetable market. Also, a new market, Pak Khlong Talad 2 opened in Thonburi in 2017.
It is said that most of the ingredients for street cooking in Bangkok come from the Khlong Toei fresh market, this is also true for the Pak Khlong market, it is likely that the flowers you see in the temples, your hotel, hanging from the mirrors of taxis (to please Mae Ya nang, the goddess of travel), spirit houses or decorate a dish come from there.
Other than the local ones that are cultivated in the nearby provinces of Bangkok, Nakhon Pathom, Samut Sakhon, Samut Songkhram, Nonthaburi, there are also sometimes imported flowers including tulips (the Netherlands, which claims 44% of the worldwide trade in floricultural products). However, there is a Thai tulip “dok krachiao” from Chaiyaphum which has its annual festival, and from the northern provinces, roses (gulap) of which the Damask rose from Chiang Mai, lilies (kamon) from Chiang Rai which also has its festival from 26 December – 4 January.
For more than 40 years the most famous and popular festival is in Chiang Mai, it takes place at the beginning of February and lasts 3 days. The 43rd edition in 2020 will take place from 7 to 9 February.
Red jackets, very active from 6 pm to 6 am, and like at the Khlong Toei market their income is between 300 and 500 baht depending on the day, one of them, however, told me that it was more often close to 500 and sometimes a little more. Fewer than in the past due to the fact that the “small” vendors do the job themselves, but also certainly because of the harsh working conditions.
Skilled Flower Arrangers
it is also possible to see skillful flower arrangers creating beautiful displays and symbolic objects and you will have the opportunity if not already done to attend the making of a Phuang Malai garland. Art from a literary work Phra Ratchaphithi Sip Song Duean “Twelve Months of Royal Ceremonies” written by a prince who recounted the events and ceremonies of the kingdom of Sukhothai. Introduced by King Chulalongkorn Rama 5 who decided that garlands of fresh flowers should be made for the fourth month of the ceremony by the king’s “concubine chief”. It was during the Rattanakosin period that the garland became an ornament for ceremonies on special occasions. Used as a symbol of respect and importance, they are offered as gifts or offerings. Some keep it as a sign of luck in the hope that it will bring them good fortune. Phuang means “binding together” and malai garland. At the market or a florist shop one can’t be wrong but in a conversation yes, because it also means ‘steering wheel’ in that case better to specify phuang malai rot yon (car).
The most common type of Phuang malai is held by a chain of small white jasmine odorless flowers called malik “dok ruk” the flower of love, and for the finishing touch, yellow or red carnations and roses. Today glass beads, plastic or clay, perfumed with essential oil are used which visually resemble garlands. A charming lady told me that it takes her about 10 to 15 minutes to make a 12 to 15 cm garland.
It is also a way for many to make a living by selling them outside temples and shrines, on markets and even in the middle of the traffic.
Form and Use and Meaning
* Malai chai deaw – are those used as religious offerings that you see in temples and on statues
* Malai song chai – often white, are ceremonial garlands that hang around a person’s neck to signify their importance, such as for a bride and husband at their wedding.
*Malai chum Rui – The smallest form of malai, often similar to animal forms such as mice, rabbits, squirrels and monkeys that are offered as gifts to friends and family at a meeting or celebration. These are usually offered by the host as a souvenir to take home.
In spirit houses, with offerings and their smell, they are used to protecting from spirits. The more important the person’s status is, the more sophisticated the garland is.
Traditionally, according to Thai customs, a couple gets engaged in a ceremony called “Khan Maak” khan means bowl and maak betel nut. Nowadays it is common for engagement and marriage to take place on the same day.
Having made an agreement with the groom’s parents for Sin Sod (dowry), he can now go and join his beloved. In the past, the groom walked from his home to the bride’s house, accompanied by a procession led by long drums (Klong yao) and dancers guided by the groom’s representative, his parents, family, friends who carry food, fruit and nine (lucky number) different desserts as well as the sin sod khan maak.
The offerings they carry all have very specific meanings. What is put in Khan Maak’s tray represents important aspects of marriage, such as health, prosperity, fertility, and longevity, but these vary by province.
Generally, these have been:
Young betel nuts and leaves (bai ploo)
Silver bag (tung ngern) where are most often coins
Golden bag (toung tong) which contains mung beans, split rice, sesame seeds and significant flowers that are traditionally
– Calotropis gigantea (crown flower or giant milkweed) dok ruk “ruk” means love
– Globe amaranth “dok baan may roo roai” means always bloom, so the couple’s love will always be blossom.
– Carnation of India “dok dao rueang“, rueang whose tonality is close to’rung rueang’ which means prosperous.
Would you like to marry in Thailand?
Early in the Morning or Late at Night
I suggest an early morning visit because all fresh flowers are delivered at night. Sleepy during the day, it looks more like a fresh market. It regains its colors and a few aromas at the end of the evening, where it happens to see large tour buses pouring out its tourists, but the market is not a major attraction and it is possible that you will be the only tourist. If you are a night owl, the best time to observe the hustle and bustle of the market is from midnight to 4 am when pickup and trucks from neighboring provinces and further away arrive loaded with cut flowers, sacks of jasmine, a lot of marigolds ((dork daao rueang), colorful carnations, of course, orchids, and also vegetables, spices and fresh fruits where merchants and retailers come to buy their stock in bulk. Specialists and green hands will find shops that sell everything related to floral art, with huge bundles and rolls of ribbon, wrapping paper, pots of all shapes and sizes, dried and plastic ornamental flowers, leaves and branches, and also seeds.
Photos and VDO
From my experience, I didn’t encounter any problems, I was the only tourist and I must admit that I was not discreet, especially for the VDO. Many did not pay any attention to my presence. However, I asked permission to some people before taking pictures.
I like to wander through the markets and Pak Khlong and I.C. P, which combine fruits, vegetables and flowers are a little different but worth a visit. So why not a stroll after the visit to the Grand Palace, the nearby Wat Pho, and Chinatown area. But this time, after an early morning short tour, I crossed the Chao Phraya to go to the village of Kudee Jeen where I invite you to follow me.
Address. Chakphet Road
Boat Express to the Memorial Bridge (Saphan Phut)
At the exit of the pier turn left and after about 100 meters turn right
MRT Sanam Chai station exit 4
Open 24 hours, 7 days a week
If you want to stay in the middle of flowers and along Chao Phraya, Onion Hostel is perfect.
I hope this will be helpful for planning your next trip to Bangkok. If you have any questions, I will be more than happy to help you out.
Your support messages and comments are always welcome.