This week, we were in Bangkok to take my mom to the tourist destinations before her flight back to the States. We planned on seeing the Grand Palace, Wat Pho, and the Jim Thompson House. Unfortunately, the protests taking place in Bangkok blocked these places, so we had to think quick. With the help of our wonderful driver Mr. Ning, we decided to check out the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market.
The famous original Thai floating market is about 1 ½ to 2 hours drive outside of Bangkok, in the district of Damnoen Saduak in Ratchaburi province. It is a small Thai town, filled with palm sugar (also called coconut sugar) plantations and the floating market.
Just a quick side note here: much of what I have seen online about this market says that it closes at noon. I believe that we arrived after that, but make sure to ask your driver, or tour provider just in case. DO NOT TRUST METER TAXI DRIVERS! Our driver told us that many times meter taxi’s will take you to places and not tell you that they are closed just to get the fare. So make sure to do some research on your own and ask around, no matter where you are going in Bangkok, and then take meter taxis if you want.
We arrived at the entrance to the floating market and it was quite busy with numerous tour vans. We were asked to wait and were treated to freshly prepared coconuts to drink their milk and given spoons to eat the meat. I have never tasted a better coconut, it was perfectly sweet and cool.
We only had to wait about 15 minutes before a gentlemen came over and explained the tour route to us. We were given the choice to take a big boat and skip the floating market part (ummm… isn’t that why we were there?!), or a small boat. We chose the small boat, which fit the four of us and our driver (who went along with us as our translator, such a nice guy), and bought our tickets. The tickets cost 800 baht per adult (I am not sure about children as Z still falls in the free age…yay!).
We sped down a river bordered by houses on stilts, that could only be reached by boat, in between coconut groves. The boat was like a small long tail boat but was covered, which makes the trip cool and safe from sunburns.
Our first stop was the Coconut Sugar Farm. Supposedly, we stopped there to learn how they make palm/coconut sugar, but really it was just an overpriced souvenir store (they wanted 400 baht for 10 postcards! That’s $12 US!!). There was a little area next to the store where they do make the coconut sugar, but they weren’t at the time we were there. We did get to try some coconut sugar juice and see the sugar drying in the sun.
We got back in our boat and headed to the actual market. The floating market consisted of some row boats offering fruit, food, or drinks to buy, and riverside markets that had the same souvenirs that you can get at any night/market anywhere in Thailand for a third of the price. If there was something we were interested in looking to buy at one of the shops, we just let our boat driver know and he would have the store operator pull us over with what looked like an extra long cane. It did not happen often.
The last stop on the tour route was a majestic looking Wat (temple). Unfortunately we were unable to get off the boat to look around as Z suddenly spiked a fever and we had to give her Advil, and rushed to get back to the car just in case. You can read about why we were so paranoid about her getting a fever here.
Overall, I thought the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market was actually quite fun, as I was in a touristy kind of mood. I would recommend it to anyone who feels like going to see something that has been shaped by tourism and take it for what it is. It was a great trip to take lots of pictures and spend time on a small long tail with your friends or family. Just make sure to wait to buy your souvenirs somewhere else.
Have you ever been to a floating market? What did you like/dislike about it?
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