No trip to Thailand will be complete if you haven’t seen its famous floating markets. A prime tourist attraction that is not too far from Bangkok is the Damnoen Saduak Floating Markets. I am a big fan of figuring out how to do-it-myself tours because I don’t like overpriced tours that come in groups, unless it’s a place that’s not easily accessible. Not only is it cheaper but is also a lot more fun. I originally planned to do it alone but went here with a new friend that I met at the HI hostel where I was staying. There are a lot more floating markets in Thailand but this was the only floating market I have been to. It is also the most popular floating market in Thailand and the one that is frequently featured in magazines. In this post I will show you how I did it (cheaply) so you can do it to.
The floating markets in Thailand is a great place to view colorful boats with vendors selling fruits, vegetables and other delicious goods. It’s a great place to also see the traditional way of buying and selling goods of the Thais. Aside from fruits, vegetables and food, the stores on the sides also sell clothing, accessories and souvenirs for tourists. I’m not big on shopping but I am big on eating and this is the place to be!
(one of the best veggie spring rolls in Thailand)
How to go to Damoen Saduak from Bangkok (Do-it-yourself tour)
Damnoen Saduak is about 100 km southwest of Bangkok city. The journey to the floating markets is my first do-it-yourself trip in Thailand. It was a bit uncomfortable at first because I am used to just booking tours in the past but I still managed to figure it out. Going here is that easy and there’s no need to pay a lot of money on tours.
So from Bangkok proper I took the taxi to go to the Southern Bus Terminal. As the name implies, the Southern Bus station operates for bus travels to the southern part of the country (i.e. the Thai Islands- Phuket, Krabi, etc.) I didn’t know this at first but eventually learned how to deal with the public transport system in Thailand. The transport system here is one of the most efficient transportation in the whole of Southeast Asia and is very easy to learn. Since I was traveling with a new friend, we split the cab cost to the Southern Bus Terminal. From there we asked for Damnoen Saduak floating markets. Unlike the minivans that go to other parts of the Bangkok, the regular buses have English symbols posted on the side of the bus below the Thai writing. The cost of the bus is around THB 60 or $2 per way (as of August 2011). The travel time is approximately 2 hours from Bangkok. It is advisable to get here as early as you can to beat the crowds of tourists by mid day. The markets are open everyday and are best seen around 8:00am- 10:00am, which means you’ll have to leave Bangkok around 6 am. Damnoen Saduak is also the last bus stop so you can either walk to the sides of the canals or rent a boat. I recommend renting a boat.
Since we were beginners in this boat trip, we didn’t know that we fell in the boat trip “scam” where you rent a boat for THB 800 per person. I was able to haggle it down to THB 500 ($16) but it was sure worth it to see the markets on the boat.
It’s still not a bad deal considering we rented the boat for 2 hours and had the boatman wait for us when we went down and we also had the whole boat to ourselves. You can do it even cheaper if you ask those paddle boats for a lot less. I haven’t done it personally nor do I know people who have done this that my guess would be around THB 200. This is also why I don’t recommend a packaged tour, not only is it more expensive, you will also be all packed in one boat like these tourists who paid at least THB 1500 for this trip.
So there you have it, a simple and easy way to go and see the floating markets! If you’re doing Bangkok as your starting point of your solo (female) adventures like I did, I highly recommend doing this one. It’s easy, safe, cheap and a lot of fun. We sure were happy campers by the end of our excursion!
From the boats of the floating markets to the long tail boats of the south, my next posts will be on the Thai islands. Tata for now!