The Floating Market in Damnoen Saduak is one of the most famous floating markets remaining in Thailand. Vendors on boats float down canals selling everything from coconut ice cream to elaborate noodle dishes. The town where the market happens is an easy day trip from Bangkok, but we would recommend arriving the night before and going to the market in the early morning before the hordes of tour buses arrive. Here is a short video from our trip.
Located in Ratchaburi province, the canals were originally build by King Rama IV in 1866 to connect two nearby rivers. These canals were very popular and there were many markets along them until roads were built after 1900. Most of the markets eventually fazed out, but the floating market in Damnoen Saduak remains to this day, mostly for tourists. Lots of souvenirs line the sides of the canal and some boat vendors float the river with entire restaurants which include woks for deep frying and boiling water for noodles.
There are two ways to see the market. One is to rent a boat to guide you down the river. These boats range from 250-1000 Baht depending on the size of your group. This is a great way to be part of the market as vendors can sell you food and souvenirs boat to boat. However, this can also be a problem since it makes it very hard to choose which boats you would like to purchase from. Once a vendor latches onto you, it’s nearly impossible to purchase from any other boat. We chose to walk along the sides of the river, saving money on the boat ride but still being able to witness the action. There are many vendors along the edges of the river and the sides give you a better opportunity for photographs.
Most people arrive at the Damnoen Saduak floating market in the morning on a bus from Bangkok. The bus trip takes a little over two hours then you spend the morning browsing the goods, then head back to Bangkok in the afternoon. The market is only on the weekends so the buses show up between 9-10am and it gets super crowded at this time. We would recommend arriving the night before and waking up early to view the market before the masses arrive. There are a few decent hotel options in town but by far the best option is The Peace Hostel & Cafe, a new boutique hostel only steps from the market. The Peace Hostel has super clean rooms and a friendly staff that can arrange a boat if you choose to view the market that way.
Don’t expect a lot to do in the town after the market. It’s very sleepy after dark and there are not a lot of food options. Daytime activities include a coconut sugar farm and a cobra zoo of sorts. We didn’t get the chance to go the either because it rained the afternoon we were there. Down the road from The Peace Hostel is a 7 Eleven which is the only happening place at night. There is a lady who sells a form of funnel cake out front, the only nighttime snack that’s available beside the normal 7 Eleven garbage.
We absolutely loved the floating market in Damnoen Saduak. For photographers it was one of the best places we’ve been on this trip. It’s the best floating market that’s accessible from Bangkok; an easy day trip or a nice overnight. You can take minivans from the southern Bangkok bus terminal, Sai Tai Mai. Thi station is the hardest one to get to from central Bangkok. Your options are either the 511 local bus from the Rathchethewi area or taking a long taxi ride.
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