When we think of Thailand, pictures of floating markets often come to our mind. Images of men and women sitting in long, narrow, wooden boats selling fresh produce, souvenirs and grilled snacks. We had our first glimpse of these iconic vendors selling food from their boats at Damnoen Saduak Floating Market in Bangkok recently. It was an interesting experience to all of us! 😀
Damnoen Saduak Floating Market
Damnoen Saduak Floating Market is located in the Damnoen Saduak District, Ratchaburi Province about 100 kilometres southwest of Bangkok. It takes about 2 hours to get here by car. It consists of a maze of narrow canals that only boats can navigate, and it’s divided into three smaller markets: Ton Khem, Hia Kui, and Khun Phitak.
Now, I have to be honest here. Floating markets in Thailand are crowded with tourists and are considered a tourist trap. Therefore, things sold here are often overpriced. As a result, bargaining is a common practice. Personally, I don’t recommend you to buy anything here because most products can be found at any part of Bangkok and you’ll risk paying more if you’re not good at bargaining. 🙄
Talking about bargaining, I’ve something interesting to share. We chatted with a few tourists from Taiwan as they were seated in a boat next to us. They shared with us some tips on bargaining here. First, cut the price by 80%. When the sellers refuse, counter offer another 5-10% and if they still refuse, pretend to leave. They will likely to accept your offer. Hahah! I didn’t try it (honestly, I’m bad at bargaining). Then, the Taiwanese tourists showed us the item that they bought for 150 Baht (originally priced at 550 Baht). 😆
When I said I don’t recommend you to buy things from this market, this doesn’t mean that I don’t recommend you to visit this floating market. In fact, I highly recommend that you visit a floating market in Thailand if you haven’t been to one. It’s not something that can be commonly found in other countries. Especially for city kids like Edison, he truly enjoyed it!
Damnoen Saduak Floating Market consists of both old and young Thai vendors that have set up shops in hopes of peddling their specialty goods and snacks from their long wooden boats. The floating vendors will also display their boats with colorful ingredients, cooking gear and servings utensils for all to see. The visual display of goodies makes it a unique experience.
What impressed me most are the in-boat food sellers. Fruits and drinks are the common ones, you can even buy fried food like Pad Thai, soup noodles, made to order savory snacks and grilled meat served on banana leaf. It’s amazing how they can squeeze gas tanks, oil fryers, hot soups and all other ingredients onto their tiny boats! 😯
Have I mentioned that there are durians too? How on earth one can eat durian on a floating boat! Hahah! Other products that you can find here are local souvenirs, clothes, belts and wallets made from crocodile skin, as well as Thai handicrafts such as silk and teak products.
I read that there are paddle boats and motorized boats in this market. During my trip, I didn’t notice any paddle boats, only motorized boats. They can go quite fast when there is no boat traffic. Hence, all the boats are equipped with safety jackets. The boat trip takes at least an hour, so I’d advise you to visit the toilet at the terminal before boarding the boat. Don’t forget your mosquito patch too!
When cruising along Damnoen Saduak Floating Market, you can also disembark to walk along the banks of the canals to check out the shops or to take photos of the activities in the market. The shops on land are mostly souvenir shops – I think the products are pretty much the same as Chatuchak Weekend Market.
Damnoen Saduak Floating Market is open daily from 6:00am to 11:00am. By 9am, the market will be very crowded and boat traffic might delay your trip.
Getting to Damnoen Saduak Floating Market
The floating market can be reached by several different ways, including:
- Public buses leaving from Bangkok Southern Bus Terminal to Damnoen Saduak
- Hire a taxi from Bangkok
- Join a tour from Bangkok to Damnoen Saduak, you can book on Trazy.
For option 1 and 2, you’ll need to hire a boat on your own to get into the floating market. The typical rate for a motorized boat could cost about 2,000 Baht per boat but these operators might charge you higher and put you together with other unsuspecting tourists who arrived by taxi from Bangkok.
You can read all about the scam warnings on Trip Advisor. Hence, I wouldn’t advise you to take these options. The easiest and safest option is to join a tour. There are various tours to Damnoen Saduak Floating Market on Trazy, a one stop travel booking website where you can easily find the latest and trendiest things to do in Thailand at the best price.
We joined the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market Tour + Maeklong Railway Market Tour (Half Day) combo for just S$33 (for adult) and S$28.80 (for child). It includes hotel pick-up and drop-off, English-speaking guide and longtail boat ride at the floating market. We went on a comfortable mini-van and our guide was very friendly and speaks good English too.
If you haven’t visited the Maeklong Railway Market (I will blog about it soon), I highly recommend the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market Tour + Maeklong Railway Market Tour (Half Day) on Trazy to you. The tour takes only half a day (departs at 7am and return by 2pm). Both markets are near to each other and unique on their own. There is also an option to ride on the Maeklong Railway train if you’re interested.
My Concluding Thoughts
Even though Damnoen Saduak Floating Market is touted as an expensive tourist trap, I feel that it’s a unique place to visit and to expose our kids to things that they won’t get to see in modern Singapore. This floating market is definitely one of such rare experiences, and Edison was totally intrigued by the boats and atmosphere at the market. It was an eye-opener for all of us! 😀