Getting to the Floating Market of Damnoen Saduak

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Getting to Damnoen Saduak Floating Market

 

I had visited the floating markets of Thailand before.  It was my first solo trip to Thailand and the notion seeing river houses raised on stilts and farmers selling their produce and wares on wooden boats felt so exotic.

Four years later and I’ve seen a handful of stilted river houses, floating villages and floating markets throughout Southeast Asia, such as Cambodia, Myanmar, Vietnam…  But Thailand is my favorite Southeast Asian country to return home to and its floating markets are still colorful and occasionally, places I like to revisit.

The timeless appeal of Damnoen Saduak Floating Market

Located around 30-40 minutes from Bangkok in the Ratchaburi province, Damnoen Saduak Floating Market is a colorful Thai market filled with vendors cooking up and frying Thai dishes or selling produce as they paddle their boats on the river.  Here, you can buy cheap trinkets, have your meal served to you from a boat via a fishing pole and even have your picture taken with… a boa constrictor?

Read 41 Best Things to Do in Bangkok in Historical Bangkok

Cheap tourist souvenirs are sold anywhere from a wooden frog sound maker to clothes. Food wise, a lot of Thai fruits are sold on the boats, while parked boats serve deep fried snacks, dried seafood and noodle dishes. It’s a wonderful Thai foodie experience. You can buy a snack as you ride your boat or on ground, pull up a plastic stool before a parked boat vendor and slurp your noodles as you watch the madness of the market.

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Experience the tastes of Thailand at Damnoen Saduak floating market

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This is the lady that will extend your food from a fishing pole.

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Savor the tastes of Thai food from floating boats

 

As the most popular floating market of Thailand,  Damnoen Saduak has grown into a tourist’s trap over the years.  But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t see it. There’s a timeless appeal and each time I’ve gone, I’ve enjoyed witnessing it, seeing familiar faces, like the women in the photo above and below.  Three years ago, they were all in the same spot!

Just a head’s up, there’s not as much variety as photographs may imply. While you’ll take a boat through the klongs, the actual length of Damnoen Saduak floating market is quite  short …about a block long!

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Shopper’s paradise: Buying souvenirs at Damnoen Saduak

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Trying delicious Thai food from the floating boats of Damnoen Saduak

 

How does Damnoen Saduak compare to other Bangkok floating markets?

As far as Bangkok floating markets go, Damnoen Saduak is the most popular.  Amphawa Floating Market is more Thai authentic, local and smaller.  For weekend seafood lovers, Taling Chan Market is the closest, easiest, best for a fantastic seafood lunch of prawns or fish, but it is less visual as grilling boats are docked at the restaurant.

Best time to get to Damnoen Saduak

Ideally, you’d like to arrive as early as 7 am. Once the crowd rolls in at 9am, the boat traffic jam begins and it’s not funny. My most recent trip, the jam was so horrendous, the boats couldn’t even move. Luckily, I just watched the bottleneck from the bridge.

How much do boat fees cost?

Boats can range from a cheap row boat (around 200-300 baht) to a motorboat (600-800 baht, which at that rate, you’d might as well just take one of the many cheap budget day tours offered in Bangkok). You can definitely haggle prices lower. The boat rides are said to be around one hour and on your way to the market, you’ll pass through the khlongs and see some stilted houses. But as I said, the market itself is only a block long. If you’re looking more for a khlong tour, a better option is to take the three hour boat ride from  Taling Chan Floating Market.

But take a look around the market on foot first. You may decide those fees aren’t worth it.  You can easily take photos from the bridge or on the walkway lining the market. Once 9am rolls around, it’s a tourist mess.

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3 Ways of Getting to Damnoen Saduak

Thailand is a wonderful country for budget travelers, so while getting to the floating market of Damnoen Saduak, may take some time, there’s ways to get there without burning your wallet.  The most costly method will be to hire a taxi to get you there, but if you’re short on time and prefer to avoid the hassle, it’s convenient. Here’s some ways to get to the market…

Hire a full or half-day budget tour

There are many ways of getting to Damnoen Saduak Floating market. The beauty of Thailand are its options and budget tour costs.  My first trip to Damnoen Saduak, I signed up for a half day tour . Not only was I picked up at my hostel in an air-conditioned van with an English-speaking guide; I got a boat ride at the floating market, a visit to a snake camp, wood carving shop and a free bottle of water!

Want a 6 hour floating market tour? Or maybe you wanna merge Damnoen Saduak Floating market and Maeklong train market ?

Downside:  You’ll likely get there at the worst hour of 9AM, when the whole market turns into a floating circus of boat traffic.

Taking Public Transportation

Thailand has a variety of transportation (I list 20 ways here) so don’t stress it. Take a taxi (although avoid the Bangkok taxi scams! ) to Bangkok’s Southern Bus Terminal (it’s outside the city center), where you’ll catch bus #78. Another pickup point is on the street level of Siam Square (there’s a tourism kiosk on the opposite side of the street).

Those wanting to book in advance, I recommend 12GoAsia (below). I’ve used them before and they’re great for advance booking and scheduling. Although it is always ideal to buy your tickets in person. The bus starts running around 6 am and runs approximately every 30-40 minutes. The bus will drop you around 1km from the market in a non-descript area and you’ll need to catch a taxi or  motorbike taxi who tried to charge me 100 baht, when it wasn’t far.  When you get to the floating market, you’ll need to negotiate the cost of your boat ride.

Downside: You’ll need to get up early and haggle half of that journey.

Read Taking the Bus in Bangkok

Stay overnight in Samut Songkhram and take a taxi or bus from there.

Samut Songkhram is closer to Damnoen Saduak than Bangkok and even moreso, the less crowded Amphawa Floating Market. An incentive is to visit the Maeklong Railway Train (aka the Pulldown Umbrella Train) and Amphawa Floating Market prior. Better yet, book a budget Damnoen Saduak to Maeklong Market tour . Check out the best hotels in Samut Songkhram/Amphawa Floating Market.

Read here for directions from Samut Songkhram to Damnoen Saduak.

 

Book your Thailand bus and train tickets in advance

12go.asia is a reputable booking service I’ve used, which lets you see timetables and make bookings in advance so you don’t have to stress!  You will still need to pick up your tickets in person, however.

Powered by 12Go Asia system

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28 Comments. Leave new

  • My wife and I are planning to visit Damnoen Saduak Floating Market – driving myself from Bangkok – not taking a Tour Package – so that I can arrive at around 7am.

    How can we hire a rowing boat (non-motorized boat) at Damnoen Saduak Floating Market to enjoy the canal and the market? How much does it cost? Is it based on hourly rate?

    Many thanks in advance

    Reply
  • Do not go with a tour company to the floating market
    My daughter went with a tour company and was disappointed
    They make a very sort trip in the market and you will not see much
    Take the public bus from the Southern Bus Terminal bus # 78
    then go to the pear and hire a boat to the floating market
    should not be more than 300 Bat

    Reply
  • Hey.
    Im reaching bangkok on may1st labour day an there are two things i want to know:-
    1) will damnoen market be open on labour day?
    2) how to reach the market from Dom mueng airport(DMK)?

    Reply
  • I took my wife and daughter to floating market and when we arrived by taxi , the taxi driver took us to one of those small boat’s hiring desks and they charged me 7500baht for around two hours tour & elephant ride !!! We felt it was too much but didn’t have the time or the guts to bargain !!!! later on I realized that we were not only victims of mafai but of not doing our homework before deciding to go there . As a matter of fact the taxi driver took us there knowing that we booked him to take us to the falls .. He later took us to the falls where we spent around two hours then drove us back to Bangkok!!!

    Reply
  • I took my wife and daughter to floating market and when we arrived by taxi , the taxi driver took us to one of those small boat’s hiring desks and they charged me 7500baht for around two hours your & elephant ride !!! We felt it was too much but didn’t have the time or the guts to bargain !!!!

    Reply
  • Mafia operating system!
    I was claimed to pay 1500 baht/person for motor boat tour only. Total cost 4500 baht.

    Reply
  • Hello.

    Read about your half-day damnoen trip at a most reasonable price, compared to what else the net has to offer. Do you have the name of the company offering this tour, as my parents and I are going to Bangkok next spring?

    best
    prp

    Reply
  • Hi… I want to take a Taxi from the Riverwalk in Bangkok.. Because the tours make go to the market way to early ….do you think it will be worth it?

    Reply
  • Hi there (=

    I’m just wondering which hostel you stayed at that let you arrange the half day tour?

    Thanks in advance!
    -Steph B

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Christine Kaaloa
      March 8, 2016 3:25 pm

      @Stephanie: Sorry, I can’t remember. Outside of that tour, it was a hostel I’d never return to.

      Reply
  • I can’t wait to go there, next time I am in Thailand. I just love that country…between Thailand and Vietnam, I am totally happy! The food in both countries is amazing, and so are the people. I will definitely have to check out this market. Thanks for the great photos and the awesome post!

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Christine Kaaloa
      February 4, 2016 11:32 pm

      Hi @Jay! Hope you get a chance to make it out there! It’s a bit over-touristed at the moment, but it’s still an experience. I’ve tried lesser touristy ones(more local ones); it’s still different. Vietnam has their own version of floating markets which are a different experience! Have you ever visited the floating market at the Mekong Delta?.

      Reply
  • Thailand always has a special place in our hearts.

    Reply
  • That’s awesome.

    Reply
  • Hi there, it’s not quite what I’m looking for.. I already know our way from BKK to Damnoen however my question is how to get to Maeklong Railway from Damnoen? Are there buses around? or taxi? We are considering doing a DIY tour.. tnx..

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Christine Kaaloa
      March 17, 2014 11:32 pm

      @Gladys : Maeklong is in Samut Songkhram. Whatever you see here in info and links is what I have.

      Reply
      • ok.. not really much info for first timers in the link there.. but I guess it’s best to get a tour then… thanks.. 😀

        Reply
        • Avatar
          Christine Kaaloa
          March 18, 2014 2:04 am

          @Gladys: If you’re going with a group, you might just split the taxi for it, b/c my directions say a taxi/bus is possible. When you get to Bangkok, you’re going to meet locals (either at your hotel or guesthouse) who may have the information. Wouldn’t discount that. Or a cheap one-day budget tour.

          Reply
  • My last trip to Thailand was 14 years ago and I can’t believe I haven’t made it back there now that I live in the region. It’s moving closer up the list every time I read posts about the food though!

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Christine Kaaloa
      August 24, 2013 7:22 pm

      @Victoria: Well get out there, girl! I can’t wait to see what foods you’d blog from that market. If you blog about it let me know and I’ll link to it!

      Reply
      • I know, I know. Just got back from wonderful Cambodia and was dazzled by the people and the food. Will let you know when Bangkok beckons!

        Reply
  • I wanted to see this but no time. Really great pictures btw. I hope to go back. I really liked it there and now know there is just so much to see and experience there. If you walk and don’t take the boats, is there still a way to interact and buy stuff?

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Christine Kaaloa
      August 14, 2013 1:07 pm

      @Tom: Definitely *don’t* need to use the boats. Most of the foods you’ll likely be interested in are fried stuff- like fried banana pancake- and they’re anchored next to the walk. if you want a Klong Tour, I’d point you to Taling Chan Floating Market (not as much spectacle, but the juiciest seafood) and a cheap 3 hour klong tour.

      Reply

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