Thailand’s Famous Damnoen Saduak Floating Market
Bangkok’s famous floating market is not actually in the capital city but can be found swimming in a sea of colours in Damnoen Saduak, Ratchaburi Province, 80 kilometres west of Bangkok.
In the mid-nineteenth century King Rama IV connected the Mae Klong and Tacheen rivers by constructing 30 km of canal waterways to create a transport and trade annexe for two neighbouring provinces. Nowadays nearly 150 years on Damnoen Saduak Floating Market is not only one of the most popular tourist attractions in Thailand but also one known throughout the world.
Wonderful Wi and I checked out of our Kanchanaburi guesthouse early morning and on our way to Suvarnabhumi airport our taxi stopped off at Damnoen Saduak and we enjoyed a long tail boat ride to the vibrant water market. Our total cost which included over three hours of taxi travel and a one hour boat ride was just 2500 baht ( $70 ). Be warned because if you seem greener than the murky canal water, tour operators will charge you 1000 baht for an hour long-boat ride because the fee to less unscrupulous operators is only 100 – 300 baht.
How do you describe somewhere that has had so many complimentary things written about it before. You remind yourself of the vivid bright colours, fresh inviting fruits and happy smiling vendors, then grab a pen and sprawl.
Long before the Honda’s and Toyota’s of the motor world spat their fumes into Thailand’s skies, canals and rivers were the major travel, transportation and trade routes in Thailand. Paddle boats shipped fruit, vegetables, rice, spices, small livestock and many handcrafted goods to sell on the banks of the small villages and the markets of the spawning towns dotted along the waterways.
The old wooden houses that still line the banks of the Damnoen Saduak canal look down on a canvas of dank green water and bobbing boats filled with the rich and contrasting colours of their owners wares.
The market is an artist’s dream setting and a navigators worst nightmare as the boats clash at every port and call. If your boat sank in these waters you’d die of toxic poisoning long before you drowned. Shade, tint and hue have enriched many an artist’s canvas portraying the market in its most seductive light, but whatever might lie under the water it is in stark contradiction to the market’s intoxicating allure and a reminder of beauty being only skin deep.
Wi’s temptation to fill our long tail boat full with flowers, fruit and vegetables was thwarted by our looming afternoon flight. If your temptation proves too much then leave a little room for some of the many other things the market has on display. If you need a souvenir or two look no further. From hand carved figurines to clothes and hot coffee, to ice cool beer, the floating market is a refreshing change and a unique experience.
The narrow canal waters were crowded with vendors and tour boats making clear photographic shots very hit and miss. I have seen some quite spectacular photographs of Damnoen Saduak Floating Market on the internet and I now know most of those were snapped looking down from the canal sidewalks. That’s the place you need to be if you’re after some good photographs .
On both sides of the canal rich fertile farmland gives many of the market vendors the source for the produce they sell. Bananas, oranges and watermelons are just a few of the fruits that give the market its wonderful span of colours and the image which is imprinted on so many people’s minds around the world. A floating market swathed in bright beautiful colours gently bobbing along.
The market has operated since 1967 and of the millions of people who have passed through here there could have been very few who have left unimpressed. On our boat ride we were never hassled into buying anything and we were greeted in the main by smiles.
Our boatman did pull over at regular stops that were probably commission points for himself but the world has moved that way since the flower power days of the 1960’s. Flower power is today clearly evident on the market’s canals alongside colourful fruit and tourist bric-a-brac which these days has a very tight grip on the market stalls.
First time visitors to the market should remember it starts early morning and finishes around one hour before midday. I know Wilai and myself will be making an early morning date with the floating market at least one more time in the years ahead. Damnoen Saduak Floating Market is an absolutely wonderful experience. I’m just disappointed I couldn’t get the pictures to prove it.
Martin , that was a great post , I love hearing about the floating market and all it’s charm, and color . Would you believe that having lived here now for five years I have never made it there , Just the thought of having to go to Bangkok gives me the shivers as it is . but after you and Talen both singing it’s praises ,I think when we go in December to the US Embassy for my income voucher statement , we may just have to take in a few of the sights ,a few blogers have been sharing in word and pictures ,. Thanks again for igniting a little fire. Malcolm
.-= malcolm´s last blog ..Mad-Dog Malcolm =-.
Malcolm I am very surprised you haven’t seen the famous floating market especially with your love of flowers. I really did enjoy our brief visit and would rank it alongside the Erawan Waterfall as the two most enjoyable attractions I saw on my holiday. Get on the boat and start clicking away, you’ll love it but remember for the best photos I think you’ll have to get up on the sidewalks. Don’t forget the market finishes around eleven in the morning.
Great report Martyn and some fine pictures. Did you make it around the other klongs at all or see the Wat?
I loved the atmosphere but the market itself left a lot to be desired. Too much trinkets and junk. I’d love to go back to get more pictures but I don’t know if I want to go to the trouble.
I’ve been told the best time is right after sunrise when the market is actually selling to themselves. So I might make the return trip to see that and do as you suggest and walk along the walkways and foot bridges to get pictures.
.-= Talen´s last blog ..Wat Phra Kaew Temple of the Emerald Buddha =-.
Martyn, thank you for the reminder of the Floating Market. I have a visitor arriving tomorrow night who wants to take in the Tiger Temple. The Floating Market is one spot I usually add to the itinerary on a trip in that direction.
Hell Fire Pass
Bridge over the River Kwai
Overnight at the River Felix hotel
Waterfalls on the way back to BKK
.-= Catherine´s last blog ..Interviewing Successful Thai Language Learners: Marcel Barang =-.
No we didn’t see the Wat, at least I didn’t and hopefully if we did I’d remember. We took a fair ride around the khlongs, guessing I’d say it took about 10 – 15 minutes to reach the market by boat. I really did enjoy the market and will definitely return and as far as the junk goes I think it’s probably mainly a fruit and veg affair with some junk thrown in. If you study the best market photos that appear on the net most seem to have been taken from higher ground. I’ll remember your sunrise tip.
Catherine that is a list that has made me green with envy, I can tick most of them off from my last trip. I take it the waterfalls is the Erawan Waterfall because if not then that is a must see, if time permits.
I don’t know how it happened but I retrieved this comment from my spam list, which for some reason I decided to check out. I think it may be the list format of the comment that did it. I best check further into the current 500 odd I have yet to delete. Thanks.
Martyn. Not a place I have visited, I had been told it was just for the tourists, so thanks for your perspective on it.
Maybe Talen is right about an early morning visit.
I did however do a trip around the river and klongs a while back that was most enjoyable-see the sights from a different angle. Good at night too.
.-= Mike´s last blog ..Loi Krathong Sai Festival Thailand 2009 =-.
Mike I’m very surprised that like Malcolm you have not visited the floating market. Yes it is a tourist type venue but also a great experience and early morning as Talen suggests would be a great opportunity for you and your Canon. I am sure both Duen and Doy would really enjoy the trip too.
My favourite taxi driver just picked up my house guest. First stop, the floating market. After, Kanchanaburi (Hell Fire, etc).
When he gets into Kanchanaburi, I’ve signed him up for a two gal massage: full body with hot herbal, foot, head.
And did you know that there is a special tiger/monk breakfast at the temple? A company takes in a small group of people (this is before the crowds get there). So instead of going in the heat of the day, you are there in the cool. First, shopping for the monks breakfast. Then, the breakfast with monks and bathing the tigers. Sounds good.
.-= Catherine´s last blog ..Interviewing Successful Thai Language Learners: Marcel Barang =-.
Catherine given the two choices I know which one I would take, afterall I’d be a dope to take the other.
I didn’t know about the breakfast and bathing the tigers, it sounds a real close up experience with them. Surely they wouldn’t be doped up that early in the day. I hope your friend has a real swell day and gets some great shots of all the sites you’re going to visit.
Don’t forget the Tiger Temple has a meditation centre, that might be worth a peek around. Enjoy.