Floating Market at Damnoen Saduak is just over 100 kilometres outside of Bangkok and is on many people’s must-do list when visiting the Thai capital. Some may argue that it’s ‘too touristy’, but I would recommend anybody to pay a visit because it is still a unique experience. The Floating Market at Damnoen Saduak isn’t the only one in the Bangkok vicinity, but it’s certainly the most well-known and features on the itinerary of every Bangkok tour operator.
The vendors sell their wares from their boats as they paddle along the canals that criss-cross each other. Part of the charm is that most vendors dress in the traditional dark blue clothing favoured by Thai farmers together with the iconic triangular shaped straw hat. It’s all very photogenic, but don’t expect to be the only foreigners there. Damnoen Saduak is a genuine working market although there is no doubt that tourists sometimes outnumber locals.
Guided Tours to the Floating Market
I’m not normally a fan of tour parties, but I have to concede that there can be distinct advantages to letting somebody else arrange everything for you. The Floating Market at Damnoen Saduak isn’t the easiest to get to for those making their own way there and booking with a tour certainly does make it a lot easier.
Most Bangkok hotels and guest-houses will be able to arrange trips to the Floating Market. Buses have an English speaking guide and normally stop en-route for a refreshment stop (i.e. a chance to get you to spend some money at a few roadside stalls!). Once at the market, long-tail boats will ferry you across the labyrinth of canals until you actually reach the ‘talat khlong’ (which literally translates as ‘market canal’). The tour groups tend to arrive en masse which can detract slightly from the experience, but it is still memorable as you pass by the almost obligatory smiling and waving children and villagers before reaching the actual market area. Once at the market you will have the opportunity to buy fruit, food, handicrafts and souvenirs as the vendors paddle alongside you. Make sure you keep your hands and arms well away from the side of the boats as the canals are narrow and there is lots of bumping going on as the boats draw alongside each other. There are walkways and bridges from which to survey the whole scene and as with anywhere in Thailand, plenty of places to buy food. The market starts early in the morning at 6 a.m. and goes on until around 11 a.m. Most tour groups will arrive some time after 9 a.m. On the way back to Bangkok, full-day tours will normally make two stops; one at the town of Nakhon Pathom and the other at the Rose Garden Country Resort which both make for interesting ports of call.
Independent Travel to the Floating Market
It’s possible to get to the market under your own steam, but it does involve a bit of planning ahead. The earliest bus from Bangkok’s Southern Bus Terminal leaves at 6 a.m. and the journey time to Damnoen Saduak is around 2.5 hours so this will not give you much time before the tour groups arrive. If you want to get to the market when it opens at 6 a.m. long before the crowds arrive, this will probably mean staying in Damnoen Saduak the night before.
Photos © Thaizer