Bond, James Bond and it completely blew my mind off; it was the very first Bond movie that I was watching and I fell completely in love with Mr. Bond. I still remember the hotel room where I completely glued myself to the television set watching From Russia with Love. What I have noticed in every Bond movie is that they highlight different countries and its unique tourist places. Bond has come to India, Iceland, Russia and in this movie The Man with the Golden Gun, Bond had come to Thailand and during a particular chase scene, he can be seen running away from goons around Damnoen Saduak and its famous Floating Market.
Last month when I had visited Thailand a part of the tour which was organized by the Tourism Authority of Thailand and Thai Smile Airways included a trip to Ratchaburi Province which is around one hour drive from Bangkok. This place is famous for its Floating Markets. A trip to Floating Market can be a good half a day tour from Bangkok and can be easily combined with the Maeklong Train Market. Usually, tourist visits these two places together as a part of a day trip out of Bangkok.
How to Reach Damnoen Saduak Floating Market
Damnoen Saduak Floating Market is not the only floating market in Thailand but the most famous due to the movie and also due to the fact that over the years this place has become a tourist hub. Since most people combine the Floating Market with Maeklong Railway Market, thus this would be a post-lunch tour.
Either you can reach the Floating Market directly or you can take a Long Tail Boat ride from Maeklong to Damnoen Saduak. If you are traveling in a car from Bangkok with whom you have a return trip agreement then you can directly reach Damnoen Saduak Floating Market and then take a boat ride out there.
We took the Long Tail Boat from Maeklong and took the half an hour high-speed trip down canals to Damnoen Saduak Floating Market. Our minivan was waiting at a designated spot at the floating market for our return journey.
Experiencing Long Tail Boat Rides
The Long Tail Boat ride was something, which was very exciting for me, as I had seen them on many documentaries. It’s like Shikaras of Srinagar but a bit longer with a huge powerful diesel engine at the back. While getting on and off these boats one need to be very careful and maintain a balance, too much weight on any side may topple these. The water looks murky so I was expecting a stench but surprisingly there was nothing like it.
There are hundreds of canals, which connect each other, and just like small and big street, the sizes of these canals are also different. Even if they all look the same to you there are hundreds of miles of interconnected channels and known by heart by these boatmen.
The reason that these are referred to as the “Long Tail” is due to the propeller which connects the massive engine is placed on a long pipe and which acts as the control rod. These look like as if the boats are having long tails.
These boats are known to travel at a very high speed but the boatmen know where to ride faster especially during blind turns these boats slow down as they don’t have breaks so need to very careful while entering a bigger canal where you will find several of these boats crisscrossing each other.
When you have a boat, approaching from another direction be sure to find your boat rocking on the waves created by the passing boat. Do not panic it’s all part of the experience and keep a note that all the seats have lifejackets along with it.
If you love to take photos or videos, keep a note of the wind thus hold your devices firmly and keep a note that occasionally there might be water splashes also. Do not stand up to take photos as it can cause a disbalance.
Experiencing Damnoen Saduak Floating Market
This market has a free to use the toilet for the guest so I would recommend you to use it as it’s going to be a long tour of the market and its surroundings. Keep note that this is a tourist-oriented market thus do expect the prices to be on the higher side. A little bit of bargaining is possible but still have seen prices cheaper in Bangkok.
The best way to enjoy the Floating Market would be to soak in its presence, as it is, feel the smell of the fresh fruits, the old women on their boat selling noodle and soup, the people greeting you with a smile, etc.
Since this is a tourist hub thus there is some market section also, out here you will find typical shops selling copy products at a high bargainable rate. You are sure to find photo booths where you can pose with a Python or with a Civet.
Or you can just go and sit next to the canals and watch how daily business is being done where the vendors sit on their boats and the customers call them to the banks whenever they want to purchase. Watch the old lady selling noodle soup and the old gentleman selling fresh bananas.
You have the option of taking a Long Tail Boat ride from here also especially for those who have come here directly with a car. Make sure you bargain and keep a watch of the ongoing rate, which you can get from sites like Trip Advisor. The boat will take you around and visit the nearby villages.
Damnoen Saduak Floating Market is a foodies paradise thus you can surely enjoy a good sumptuous snack. Enjoy the local food experience especially the fresh fruits. There are also many restaurants and snack parlors in the nearby market section from where you can also enjoy some good food especially the ice teas served with a ton of ice.
For me, it was the Coconut Ice Cream, which I have fallen in love with. Served within a tender green coconut, which acts as a cup and served with a dash of sticky rice, peanuts and a purple orchid for giving you the visual pleasure. After finishing the ice cream just dig into the thin white layers of tender coconut. This along with Sticky Mango Rice will be the reason why I will again visit Thailand someday.
As a tourist, you will not feel uncomfortable here as the shop owners and boat vendors are used to tourists and do know some basic English words. Feel free to bargain on products and you are actually expected to do that. The vendors and shop owners are very friendly and are open to product inspection which you may or may not buy. If you are short of cash then do not worry there are banks with currency exchange facility thus carry on shopping and enjoy your stay at Damnoen Saduak Floating Market.
Other Floating Markets around Bangkok
Damnoen Saduak Floating Market is not the only Floating Market around Bangkok the list below has some of the most popular ones however Damnoen Saduak remains the most popular one for tourists.
Koh Kret Island Floating Market
Amphawa Floating Market
Bang Khu Wiang Floating Market
Bang Nam Pheung Floating Market
Khlong Lat Mayom Floating Market
Taling Chan Floating Market
Tha Kha Floating Market
Kwan Riam Floating Market
Lam Phaya Floating Market
Don Wai Floating Market
Bang Khla Floating Market
History of Floating Markets
Most of these details are already present on the net so I am just making a basic historical perspective. Historically rivers have brought in commerce and thus all over the world communities had sprung up around rivers. With limited road access, the river and its tributaries became the main access channels and traders used small boats to transport their products and sell them to the households based around the riverbanks. Later on, the access to water led to the digging of canals to feed the cultivation needs of the kingdom by the king.
With this expansion, communities started moving inland around the canals and apart from the canals dug by the king, the villagers themselves also expanded the water network thus the whole place became webbed with interconnected waterways. The people of these communities adapted the canals as roads and used them extensively for trade and commerce. Over the years with the expansion of road network, the dependence on these canals have shrunk but some communities have kept on with the tradition.
I was invited to this FAM trip by Thai Smile and Tourism Authority of Thailand in India along with other bloggers and media representative. Thank you Thai Smile and Tourism Authority of Thailand for this opportunity.