Travel, Teach, Live in Thailand
Love or loathe it, Damnoen Saduak Floating Market will always be a traditional and fundamental part of Bangkok life. This particular market is situated 100 kilometers or 60 miles west of the capital in the Ratchaburi Province on canal also known as a khlong. It's an immensely popular floating market with a combination of vibrant colour and absolute commotion. Some tourists love the energetic vibe while others may feel it's a bit of a tourist scam. It may well be a little bit of both depending on your point of view. It will only become apparent should you decide to go. I will explain in due course.
Firstly let me tell you that this illustrious market is named after a canal that was specially dug out to connect the Tacheen River with the Mae Klong River. It then continues to run right through the center of the town and the neighboring region.
Ample fruit and vegetables are grown in the exceptional quality of the fertile soil that is found beside the canal. Cabbages, beans, onions, oranges, grapefruit, mangoes, bananas, papayas, coconuts and the malacca grape are just some of the many varieties of produce that can be both enjoyed and purchased here. For this very reason alone, the floating market should certainly not be missed.
Now while the market might appear to be a picture perfect utopia according to the brochures found at most hotels and ticket stalls, it may also come with a few disappointments. You might only experience this once you arrive but you need to go anyway. Not everyone comes away elated. I did say that it can get extremely crowded and noisy at times but the real irritations are the constant harassment's by touts who persistently peddle boat rides on the canal with exorbitant costs. Although the boat ride is a great idea, it can become rather tedious after a while.
Another letdown is the huge covered shopping area alongside the main pier where vendors sell all sorts of... can I say it... absolute rubbish. Well all sorts of mostly bland handicrafts that is. Don't waste your time buying anything here as prices are generally three times what you would pay at other markets around the city.
Don't waste your time bargaining either. You might just get annoyed and end up angry. There is nothing worth buying here. Rather go and purchase the fresh fruit sold by the boat people. If you do decide to go, go for the experience and not to shop. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and the great vibe. But then I do love most things about Thailand. I hope this greatly helps you in your decision making.
The real attraction for tourists is a long-boat ride along the canals where you will pass orchards, traditional Thai teak houses and places where locals do business. Enter their world and observe how the inhabitants live, work and play here. Tour companies cover these agendas in their itinerary and some even include a visit to Nakorn Pathom which is the site of Thailand's tallest Chedi called Phra Patom. Apparently this is the largest pagoda of it's kind anywhere in Southeast Asia.
A trip to the Damnoen Saduak floating market is well worth the visit. The market itself can only be described as a chaotic collection of canals crammed with small flat boats steeped with freshly picked produce. Many boats are paddled by ladies bearing a variety of goodies including much needed hats and fans. Traders here scramble around to compete for the best position to grab a sale. The market is intensely diversified, eventful, lively, noisy, great fun and definitely entertaining.
First and foremost, you need to get an early start should you be commuting from Bangkok because Damnoen Saduak Floating Market closes comparatively early at around noon or just thereafter. The trip by road will take approximately two hours but often takes a little longer due to frequent delays caused by heavy traffic and the ever present constant construction along the route.
Although you may have to get up a little earlier than you would normally, taking a Tour from Bangkok would be more than justified as the journey along the way is both pleasant and relaxing. All tours begin at sunrise so do not be at all surprised if your chosen tour company collects you at your hotel around six in the morning.
You may wish to travel by car yourself. To do this, take Highway 4 from Bangkok on the Phetchakasem Road for approximately 80 kilometers or 48 miles then turn left along Bangpae-Damnoen Saduak Road for a further 20 kilometers or 12 miles. You could travel the night before and sleep over at one of the hotel in the area.
Another possible option is to use the public bus service that leaves from the new Southern Bus Terminal at Phutthamonthon Soi 1 in the Taling Chan District.
If you are unfamiliar with the public transport system in Bangkok, the easiest solution is to take a taxi to the terminal. Only make sure the driver knows exactly where the new terminal is and doesn't take you to the old one, which has since stopped functioning. Although the new terminal is located along the same route, it is a little further afield. About 10 kilometres from the Khao San Road area, 15 kilometres or so from from Siam Square or Silom and a little bit more than that from Sukhumvit. Just remember it is always advisable to use the metered taxis.
The new terminal's building has a similar appearance to that of a modern airport and best of all, it has air-conditioning. All the departure monitors are electronic with schedules in both English and Thai. Tickets to the market can be purchased at a numbered counter for your particular destination. Price are reasonable and the buses are well-regulated and safe. If need be, you can draw cash from one of the banks as well as grab a bite to eat at the KFC outlet before you depart.
Hi my name is Grahame Pike and the author of this article. My passion is travel, art, writing and meeting new and interesting people in strange and exotic locations. If you enjoyed reading this page and would like to see the photos relating to this article as well as some of my other editorials on Thailand, please follow me at: http://www.luxury-thailand-travel.com/