Day Trip from Bangkok to Damnoen Saduak Floating Market6 January, 2013
Having checked out the Maeklong Train Market and Evening Amphawa Floating Market during our last trip to Bangkok, we decided to check out the famous Morning Damnoen Saduak Floating Market (ตลาดน้ำดำเนินสะดวก) – this is the floating market you see in most Bangkok postcards. Damnoen Saduak in Ratchaburi is about 109 kilometres south of Bangkok (approximately 2 hours drive – assuming no traffic jams). The best time to see Damnoen Saduak Floating Market is between 8am to 10am when the market is crowded with boats (vendors and tourists).
Similar to Amphawa Floating Market, locals from around the area of Damnoen Saduak will paddle their boats with their goods e.g. vegetable and fruits (and with the influx of tourists to the market, they have also started to bring in souvenirs and shirts) to the Floating Market. The key difference between the 2 markets is the time and date of the markets – Amphawa Floating Market is open during weekends evening whereas Damnoen Saduak is open daily in the morning. The layout of the markets are also very different i.e. Amphawa Floating Market comprises about 7-8 boats gathered at the bridgehead (so you don’t have get on a longtail boat to see it all) whereas you will have to take a longtail boat or paddle boat to see all of Damnoen Saduak Floating Market.
We left Bangkok at 7.30am on a private tour with Rat (see “Getting to Damnoen Saduak Floating Market” below for contact information and cost) to Damnoen Saduak Floating Market. The best way to see Damnoen Saduak Floating Market is on a motorised longtail boat – there are cheaper options i.e. paddleboat but I don’t recommend it as the longtail boat can cover 4 times as much distance so you can check out more shops and boat vendors along the Damnoensaduak canal. The cruise along the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market took about an hour – there are toilets at the boat terminal (I recommend you use them before the cruise).
You will get to check out the villages around Damnoen Saduak as you cruise past in your longtail boat towards the market. There are some small shops just before the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market that sells all kinds of tacky souvenirs and Thai handicrafts e.g. teak and silk products – we saw a few other longtail boats which had to stop at these shops along the canals (perhaps they pay a commission to the boatman). Thanks to our guide, Rat (it also helped that we had the whole longtail boat to ourselves), we steered clear of these “shops” and went straight to the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market where the action and fun is!
The Damnoen Saduak Floating Market was bustling with lots of activities – the vegetables and fruits vendors in their boats peddling their wares and of course our favorite – the food vendors! The first part of Damnoen Saduak Floating Market comprises mainly the local vegetable and fruits vendor (which you will see in postcards). The transition to the more commercialised part of the floating market is very obvious – lesser vendor boats, more tourists longtail boats and rows of “shops” setup along the banks of the canals and of course the types of things they sell e.g. LV, Chanel bags (most definitely counterfeit), souvenirs, I Love Bangkok T-shirts, keychains, magnets and all other tourist trap stuff.
Due to the latter, some feel that Damnoen Saduak Floating Market is an expensive tourist trap – I do not entirely agree as the genuine locals vegetable and fruits vendor part of the market is still there coupled with the food vendors who prepare their food right from their boat – see how they squeeze gas tanks, oil fryers, hot soups and all other ingredients onto their tiny boats! The quick peek into the lives of locals around Damnoen Saduak on the boat ride journey to the market is also very interesting.
When you are in Damnoen Saduak Floating Market, one thing you must try is the food! Thanks to the recommendations of Rat, we tried out a chicken and pork rice (40 Baht – more if you add more ingredients) and hot bowl of vermicelli fishball soap (35 Baht) – you can see the food preparation process from your boat and we were glad that the food we tried was prepared in quite sanitary conditions and were very delicious! :-). For the noodles, we were quite surprised when the vendor handled us our noodles in a porcelain bowl and then our boat was off to another part of the market – turns out that the boatman will return our bowls at a later time (charge of 5 Baht per bowl).
After cruising along the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market, you can disembark to walk along the banks of the canals to check out the shops and to take photos of the activities in the market. The shops on land are mainly souvenir shops – you will be able to get a better price for most of the items at Chatuchak Weekend Market so just enjoy the sights and take some photos.
Check out this video below for a preview of what’s it like to cruise, shop and eat at the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market (all from the comfort of your private longtail boat):
For more of such travel videos, check out Singapore Travel Blog PassportChop.com Travel Video Youtube Channel.
Getting to Damnoen Saduak Floating Market
Public bus from Bangkok to Damnoen Saduak
There are Public buses leaving from Bangkok Southern Bus Terminal to Damnoen Saduak every 40 minutes from 6am. Fare is around 50 Baht one way. You will need to check at the terminal on the correct bus to take and where to alight.
Do note that the bus will drop you about 1km away from the main Damnoen Saduak Market. From here, you will need to hire a boat to get to the market – you must bargain hard to get a good price.
Taxi from Bangkok to Damnoen Saduak
You can try to hire a taxi from Bangkok for half-day day trip to Damnoen Saduak – you will need to bargain hard and be clear about the destinations you want to go and those that you don’t want e.g. Thai craft shops (where they could earn a commission if you buy anything).
Scam Warning (not applicable to all taxi drivers): Some unscrupulous taxi drivers may quote you a very cheap fare to bring you to Damnoen Saduak but will actually take a huge commission by driving you to unscrupulous boat operators which charge you an expensive longtail boat fee. The typical rate for a longtail boat could cost about 1000 Baht per boat but these operators might charge you 2000 Baht per person and put you together with other unsuspecting tourists who had arrived by taxi from Bangkok.
Another common tactic of the unscrupulous taxi drivers is to bring you to a boat operator whom they know will quote you a high price and then pretend to be on your own side by bringing you to another boat operator with a cheaper quote (but still very overpriced).
Private Tour from Bangkok to Damnoen Saduak
Not wanting to bother with the uncertainty of public buses (language barriers, miscommunications and missing my stop or worse, getting lost) and the hassle of having to bargain, we took a private tour service e.g. Rat Service – http://www.ratservice.com. Our tour was organised by Vimonrat (can call her Rat) and she is contactable at firstname.lastname@example.org (Tell her that PassportChop.com referred you). Her tour fee is charged at a per car rate so you could share the costs with 3 other friends, making it an affordable and convenient way to arrange a day trip out of Bangkok comfortably.
If you haven’t visited the Maeklong Railway Market, I strongly recommend that you check out her Maeklong Railway Market and Damnoen Saduak Floating Market half-day tour day trip from Bangkok. This tour cost
3000 Baht per car (see updated pricing in red below) – includes the following:
- Private motorised longtail boat for your group to cruise the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market (you can choose to take a paddleboat and this will reduce your tour fees to 2600 Baht but not recommended as you don’t get to see as much on a paddleboat; the longtail boat can cover 4 times as much distance as a paddleboat)
- Guide fees
- Gasoline for the car
Personal expenses e.g. food and souvenirs are on your own.
Updated notice from Rat – the tour guide on tour pricing (as of 11 Jan 2015):
Now the government controls the boat price for one hour 2,000Baht, 2hour 3,000Baht but we give you one hour and half, the way still the same way or longer than the one take two hours. They almost stick on traffic on the canal. You can imagine every one do the same schedule, leave the same time after see Maeklong Train Market then ahead to Damnoen Saduak floating market. We have a trick try to take you prefect time for not stick on traffic as much as we can. The one take you two hour they drive slow and let you shop not try to escape it.
Now our rate is up price because of we have bigger car can fit 6 people (even me), minibus for 10-12people too. The cost for the one not over 6 people 3,600Baht, for minibus one boat 5,300Baht, two boats 6,500Baht include longtail boat cost and food for feed fish at Wat Prok Charoen (the end of the trip or the first place before start the trip)
You can also combine this half-day tour to Damnoen Saduak Floating Market with a tour to Kachanaburi area e.g. Tiger Temple, Bridge over River Kwai, Death Railway and the JEATH Museum. Just arrange over email with Rat. Sometimes when she is with tour groups, she might not have access to email and thus cannot reply your emails so it will be faster and easier to reach her by her mobile phone – 66(0)891082170 or 66(0)830059425 (in Bangkok)
During our last trip to Bangkok in Feb 2011, we took a half day private tour of Samut Songkram area which includes the Maeklong Railway Market, Amphawa Floating Market and 2 other beautiful temples, we paid about 2000 Baht for a driver/guide, gasoline for the car (Toyota Corolla 1.6) and expressway tolls.
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