Damnoen Saduak Floating Market was in the “maybe” pile on my itinerary to Bangkok. While definitely wanting to visit one of the floating markets in Thailand, I also read a lot comments about Damnoen Saduak Floating Market market on the internet. Most comments are mainly among those lines: “It’s too touristy nowadays…” ” It is very far from Bangkok city centre…” “Buyers there are 100% tourists… etc. ets.” Happy to report that I did manage to go to Damnoen Saduak Floating Market and thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience.
You might have been deterred from the thought of paying a visit to the market like I did originally, but come to think of it, you are going to Thailand for a visit, not to live there long term. You are going to be tourists! Hence being touristy is totally fine, right? Now, what about the problem of having to get up early and catch the 7am tour bus? Is that a real problem? 7am is not that early! Do you really want to spend your mornings on vacation in your hotel room? I hope not. It is actually easier to get to Damnoen Saduak Floating Market than you might have imagined!
Here’s a quick guide to Damnoen Saduak Floating Market based on my personal experience:
1.It’s the largest and most famous floating market in Thailand.
Damnoen Saduak Floating Market has the most boats! It was also featured in one of the James Bond movies.
2. It is about 100 kilo meters southwest of Bangkok.
That’s why I thought it might be a hassle and not easy to get too.
3. It opens everyday!
Damnoen Saduak Floating Market opens everyday from 7am -11am. “Open everyday” is very convenient for tourists like us because some markets only open on the weekends. As most short term visitors only have 1 or 2 weekends in Bangkok, it is very practical to fit this activity during the week.
4. The easiest way to get there as a tourist is to join a tour.
The easiest way to get to Damnoen Saduak Floating Market from Bangkok is by tour. As mentioned earlier, Damnoen Saduak Floating Market is the largest and the most famous floating market, it is so easy to book a tour in Bangkok. Most hotel help desk could help you with that. We booked ours through our hotel and it took less than 5 minutes of our time.
5. You’ll be looked after by your tour company.
The tour bus normally will come to pick you up in the morning at 7am and drop you off after the tour finishes. English speaking tour guides will keep your entertained and explain what to expect on the way.
6. You’ll have stopovers.
There will be stopovers on your bus tour to Damnoen Saduak Floating Market. Our tour had Damnoen Saduak Floating Market day tour stopovers: One to the Orchid Farm and coconut producer workshop on the way to Orchid Farm and coconut producer; one to an elephant farm on the way back. I’ll post photos of the stopovers in a separate blog post.
7. Long tail boat ride is going to be a bumpy one.
After the coconut workshop, it takes about 10 minutes bus ride to the pier where you can hop onto one of those painted long tail boats to finally arrive the market. The long tail boat ride will be a bumpy one. Remember to keep your head high and mouth closed, because you definitely don’t want to drink the water from that river, not even by accident!
8. You have the choice to hire a boat to cruising along the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market.
The long tail boat ride is included in your tour price. That’s how they get you to Damnoen Saduak Floating Market. Once you are in the market, you have a choice of just walking along the banks of the canals or hiring a boat to cruise along the canals.
9. The boat fairs are different for tourists and local Thai people.
Surprised? You shouldn’t. It is common practise to charge tourists much, much higher fees than local Thai so get used to it! To share a wooden rowing boat with other people, fares very between 200-350 bart. There are many boat hiring businesses among the banks of the canals. Those ones near the entrance usually have long queues and demand higher fees. But if you walk a few meters further, the queue will eventually disappear and you’ll also get charged 100 bart less.
10. Someone will quickly snap a photo of you and sell it to you later.
The moment I took a seat on the boat, a thai girl quickly emerged and took a snap of us. “How friendly these people are.” I thought and left to explore. The same girl appeared again on my way back with a photo of us stuck in the middle of a picture board and offered to sell it to us. It wasn’t a bad photo so I bought it.
11.The boat will stop at every vendor that offers merchandise that one of the passenger on board.
If you don’t want to spend 1000 bart to hire a private boat to cruise along the canals, you might want to consider who you want to share your boat with. The boat will stop at every vendor that offers merchandise that one of the passenger on board. So unless you are a keen shopper or not a shopper but super patient, ideally you’d like to share your boat with people who have less tendency to shop and haggle for a long time. But it’s hard to tell when you don’t really know people so it’s purely a game of luck.
12. Unless you have to, don’t buy souvenirs from the market.
The boat stops when the passengers want to buy something. The ladies sharing the boat with us stopped boat many times to buy stuff. Obviously they didn’t know anything about the hat shop in Chinatown. It took them at least 20 minutes to pick and haggle, the hats they bought on the boat were still more expensive than the asking price in the shop in Chinatown.
13. There are more boats for tourists than vendor boats.
Overlooking the canals of Damnoen Saduak Floating Market, there are boats of boats of tourists with the occasional vendor boats. Those vendor boats mainly offer food, fruits or … hats.
15. Authentic Thai food.
The food sellers along the docks have some nice photos of their food on offer and I do believe they are just as tasty as they look. But after seeing how food was usually handled locally and the cleanness of the canal water, I didn’t try anything:). On the positive note, big bottle of change beer were offered at super reasonable price. I really liked the taste of Chung beer and it was wonderful to sip cold beer in the shade.
16. Photo opportunities?
Guaranteed, there are quite a few fruit sellers rowing their boats along the narrow canal that provide a unique experience for tourists and great photo opportunities. Believe it or not, boats of tourists holding cameras also provide photo opportunities haha.
17. Countless stalls along the banks of the canals.
Souvenirs, fake handbags, Thai spices, buddha heads, wooden carvings are among the most popular merchandise on offer.
18. There are live monkeys and snakes.
Should these be grouped as photo opportunities too? It’s up to you.
19. Don’t try to buy a pig souvenir.
A friend of us wanted a pig figure as a souvenir from Thailand so we went for our mission seriously. Though I didn’t want to do any shopping here but still paid close attention to see if they have any cute pig figures for sale. Well, you guessed it, there were lots of elephants – no pigs.
20. Alright, call it a tourist trap but what isn’t?
It totally depends how you see it. Yes there will be more tourists than local Thai poeple. Most likely they’d try to rip you off just as you’ve been warned. But Thailand is touristy country nowadays and it is expected. If you choose to travel in Thailand, be ready for those type of experiences and enjoy the ride!
Want to see more photos? Here are more posts about my trip to Thailand:
- Top 10 Travel Tips To The Grand Palace Thailand
- 15 Weird and Wonderful Things to See/ Do in Chinatown Bangkok
- A Quick Guide to 20 Best Bangkok Shopping Places
- Thailand Photo Diary: Ban Pa In Summer Palace
- Thailand Diary: Coconut Producer, Orchid Farm & Elephants
- Ayutthaya Photo Diary
- Pattaya Photo Diary
- Bangkok Photo Diary: Eat, Pray & Party
- Bangkok Diary: Wat Pho (Temple of Reclining Buddha) & Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn)
- 12 Amazing Facts about Sanctuary of Truth, Pattaya You Want to Know Before You Go