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Damnoen Saduak Floating Market Excursion, Ratchaburi, Thailand.
There are several floating markets on various canals in and around Bangkok and other central region provinces, of which the most well-known is The Damnoen Saduak Floating Market, situated about 110 kms west of Bangkok.
We went to Damnoen Saduak Floating Market as part of a full day excursion booked through Mini Tours, Khao San Road, Bangkok.
Khao San Road to Damnoen Saduak Market:
To get to The Damnoen Saduak Floating Market (by road from Bangkok take the Thonburi-Paktoh Highway - Highway No. 4 (Phetchakasem Road.) to Samut Songkhram Town, then follow the signs to Damnoen Saduak (Highway No.325).
There are both air and non air-conditioned public buses that leave from the Southern Bus Terminal, Pinklao-Nakhonchaisi Road (Pinklao-Nakhon Chai Si Road) very 40 minutes from 06.00 onwards. The bus-fare is around 50Bht each way for air-conditioned and 30Bht for normal buses - bus journeys take well over two hours.
It took us well over an hour and a half by mini-bus to get to Damnoen Saduak in the central Thailand province of Ratchaburi, to visit its floating market, held every day lasting from early morning till noon on a khlong not far from the center of town. Once a thriving local fruit and vegetable market for locals to wholesale their produce to buyers from Bangkok it has, over the last few years, become a prime [overpriced] tourist attraction [trap] for visitors to Bangkok, going on day trips. The market has lost its true authenticity almost totally now and doubtful it will ever recover from tourism.
We arrived there about 09.30 but the best time (we are told) to be at the market is any time from 08.00.
The experience at Damnoen Saduak Floating Market (Drijvende Markt van Damnoen) is totally chaotic. The narrow 'khlongs' or canals are choked with traditional flat-bottomed boats, some deep in the water, piled high with fresh local produce, each vendors' boat jockeys for prime position, mostly paddled by Thai ladies wearing bamboo hats.
Damnoen Saduak Floating Market is colourful, noisy and touristy and the goods or produce are overpriced, but great fun for an hour or so. The market is on a section of the 32km long Talat Canal system of Damnoen Saduak originally connecting the Mae Klong River with the Tacheen River.
During the excursion a long-tail boat ride to the market was included, passing through a ramshackled area of tin shacks and traditional teak houses; local people going about their lives and small local business trading without the interferance of the passing tourists.
On arrival at the site of the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market you can buy a fixed price ticket for a shared flat bottom boat, with four or five other day trippers (150 Bht each - 2007), complete with oarsman/woman, that lasts about an hour. Or you can haggle for a boat of your own but expect to pay 400 Bht to 600 Bht for the privelidge. No matter which type of boat hire you go for you can ask your oarsman to stop to buy some stuff at any time. However any sign shown that you are interested in a particular product may result in your boat being hooked by the vendor.
These days the market is selling mainly souvenirs, Thai food snacks, fruit (ie. grapes, Chinese grapefruit, mangoes, bananas and drinking coconuts together with some veggies (but these are getting fewer and farther between now). An novel couple of hours entertainment.
Items annotated (TAT)
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