There are several floating markets throughout Thailand, but Damnoen Saduak in Bangkok is without a doubt one of the most popular ones. With vendors and customers jamming the narrow waterways with their rowing boats, you can definitely call this an entertaining/unusual (albeit touristy) experience.
Damnoen Saduak Floating Market
We’ll be honest, Damnoen Saduak is the most touristy of all floating markets near Bangkok. However, we still enjoyed our visit, seeing with our own eyes the popular tourist attraction this became. With tons of rowing boats passing you on all sides, you’ll need another set of eyes to see it all.
To see Damnoen Saduak Floating Market, you can walk along the khlongs (Thai canals), right near the water or on the elevated walkways. From there, you can sample the yummy Thai snacks from the parked boat vendors and watch the tourists stuck in a rowing boat traffic jam.
To experience Damnoen Saduak Floating Market, you’ll have to hire a boat. We opted for a rowing boat (rower included), but you can hire a motorised long tail boat as well (not as environmentally friendly). There are several “boat service” points along the floating market, but we boarded a rowing boat right about here.
While floating on the khlongs between all those other tourists, you’ll pass souvenir shop after souvenir shop. These wooden market stalls on the banks of the canals sell every typically Thai souvenir you can think of, from elephant pants and Chang shirts to hand painted artworks.
There are also vendors selling from their rowing boats, usually food. They prepare all kinds of Thai meals, snacks and fruit while floating on the water. We tasted coconut pancakes and fried bananas, but they also have coconut ice cream, chicken satays, and tons of other Thai deliciousness!
All in all we spent nearly 2 hours exploring Damnoen Saduak Floating Market. First, we walked along the khlongs, where boat vendors were parked and selling snacks. We kindly turned down the offer to pose with a boa constrictor and headed to the rowing boat boarding point.
During the rowing boat tour of the floating market we shortly got off at the Coconut Sugar Farm. We watched how they made coconut sugar and strolled through the shop. We tasted coconut sugar, which is yummy but very sweet, and coconut nectar, a sweet drink made from coconut flowers. It reminded us of coconut ice cream, yum!
Damnoen Saduak is the floating market you see on the postcards. It’s the touristy one, opened daily.
Warning: If you decide to visit Damnoen Saduak Floating Market, be prepared to experience a rowing boat standstill in the Bangkok heat. Here’s a timelapse we made of our traffic jam:
Damnoen Saduak Floating Market Tour
We visited Damnoen Saduak Floating Market with a private market tour from Bangkok. It’s the easiest way to do a day trip to the most popular markets near Bangkok without having to worry about transport or being ripped off.
We chose one that combines the famous Maeklong Railway Market (where they fold their umbrellas when a train passes), with Damnoen Saduak, the touristy floating market, and Amphawa, a more authentic one. It’s interesting to experience both floating markets to see the difference.
We booked this floating market tour with Pandan Tour and loved how it combined all the markets we wanted to see in a day tour. Anan was an excellent guide, giving a lot of background information both in the ride over there and while exploring the markets. He also let us sample quite some Thai snacks and food, ending the tour in an authentic Thai restaurant. You can find more information about this tour on their website.
Of course there is plenty of choice when you’re looking for a Damnoen Saduak Floating Market tour. Ask for recommendations at the reception of your accommodation or at a local travel agency. You can also book a private tour with a local online at TakeMeTour or check out GetYourGuide for group or private tours.
How to get from Bangkok to Damnoen Saduak
Damnoen Saduak Floating Market is located about 100 km (~ 62 miles) southwest of Bangkok. The easiest way to get from Bangkok to Damnoen Saduak is joining a guided floating market tour, as mentioned above. However, you can also use public transport, or book an hotel in the neighbourhood.
Getting to Damnoen Saduak by public transport
From Bangkok Southern Bus Terminal (Sai Tai Mai) you can take bus 78 or a mini-van to Damnoen Saduak Floating Market.
We took a mini-van from another Bangkok bus terminal to Ayutthaya, which is pretty similar to Damnoen Saduak in distance. We paid 60 baht (~ $1.80 ~ €1.60) per person to get to Ayutthaya, so expect the price to be somewhere near that. Taking the bus will probably be cheaper, but take a lot longer.
Unfortunately there’s no Skytrain (BTS) station near the bus terminal, so taking a taxi from your hotel to here is probably the best option.
Book an hotel near Damnoen Saduak
If you prefer a more thorough experience of Damnoen Saduak Floating Market and its neighbourhood, you can book a stay there. You can then take a taxi to get to Damnoen Saduak, or book a tour. Chances are your accommodation offers a tour, or you can check GetYourGuide.
Even though Damnoen Saduak Floating Market is the touristy one, we still recommend paying it a visit, even just to see the rowing boat traffic jam from the side. And don’t forget to taste some Thai snacks like coconut pancakes or fried bananas!
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