Damnoen Saduak Floating Market
Wooden canoes laden with multicolored fruits and vegetables, paddled by Thai women wearing indigo-hued clothes and wide-brimmed straw hats – this quintessential picture of Thailand might have wooed you to my country but this image over 20 years old and is more a piece of history than a current snapshot. An updated version would show rows and rows of souvenir stands lining the canals, and boatloads of tourists glued to their cameras.
The floating fruit vendors are still there but the piles of exotic colors have diminished to a few lackluster, overpriced bunches of bananas. So should you scratch the famous floating market (Thai name- talaat naam) off your list? Not so fast – despite its decay, the floating market can still be fun, if you catch it early. The best advice is to arrive in Damnoen Saduak the night before and get up around 6am or 8am to see the market. By 9am the package tour from Bangkok arrive, draining what little authenticity is left. It is almost impossible to beat the tours if you leave that morning from Bangkok, especially on a weekend.
Talat Ton Khem, which is over 100 years old, is the town's only remaining market – regardless of what the operators tell you. Minor markets, such as Talat Hia Hul and Talat Khun Phitak, once offered more local exposure to the tradition but those have since disappeared. You can hire a boat from any pier that lines Thanon Sukhaphiban 1, which is the land route to the floating market area. The going rate is 150 Baht per person per hour.
Beyond the market, the residential canals are quite peaceful and can be explored by hiring a boat for a longer duration. South of the floating market are several small family businesses that welcome tourists; these include a Thai candy maker, a pomelo farm and a knife crafter. Damnoen Saduak's enthusiastic tourist office can arrange transport to this sites for a two to three-hour tour (around 600 Baht for a boat can take 6-8 people around 45 minutes). The tourist office can also arrange homestays and canal trips
Place to stay close to Damnoen Saduak Floating Market, clean and quiet, Nok Noi (Little Bird; Tel. 0-3225-4382; rooms with fan 200 Baht/ rooms with air-con 300 Baht) is about 15 minute walk from floating market. Ban Sukchoke Resort (Tel. 0-3225-4301; rooms 800-1400 Baht) offers comfortable bungalows set over the canal. There is also a small house that sleeps 10 people. Ban Sukchoke is 1.5km northwest of Damnoen Saduak's market area.
Getting there and Away
Damnoen Saduak is in Ratchaburi Provice between Nakhon Pathom and Samut Songkhram. Air-con bus number 78 and 996 go direct from Bangkok's Southern bus terminal to Damnoen Saduak (70 Baht, two hours) every 20 minutes from 5am. Most buses will drop you off at a pier along Khlong Hia Kui or Klong Damoen Saduak where you can hire a boat directly to the floating market. The regular bus stop is in town just across the bridge. A yellow sawngthaew (10 Baht) does a frequent loop between the floating market and the bus stop in town. The scenery between Damnoen Saduak and Samut Songkhram is a worthwhile excursion.
written by Thailande Tourisme, August 24, 2010