If you’ve ever picked up a Thailand travel guide or conducted a cheeky Google search of the country, you’ve seen the Damnoen Saduak floating market. Awake at 5am on a Sunday, I wasn’t completely lucid when I was shuffled off the 2 hour shuttle journey from Bangkok and onto a speedboat to take us to the market. I kind of went where I was told and trusted the smiling, chipper tour guide.
The speedboat was quite pleasant, even though I was in the splash zone. Overall, you don’t need to wear anything waterproof, because you won’t get more wet than a couple of drops. The breeze was quite welcome on a hot day in June. Granted, it was only 8:30 in the morning.
It’s just as it sounds–typical Thai market stalls, but set on a river where the customers cruise around in small boats. Some markets are also on the boat itself–as you can see from the coconut ice cream lady above.
Almost as soon as we disembarked from the speedboat, we boarded our market boat. Originally they said we could have a maximum of 6 people on the boat, but there were 7 of us in the group and they let us on? Because the market had just opened about 30 minutes before, there was plenty of breathing room in the boat. We all enjoyed the boat the best, because it was our first glimpse of all the stalls and a great photo opportunity. The boat lady stopped whenever we showed an interest/pointed at anything in the stalls. I felt a bit pressured to buy something, because who travels hours to a market and doesn’t? Things seemed a bit overpriced, but in the end I purchased a small, delicate little floral cup perfect for rings and small jewelry. I believe she originally said 700 Baht but I got her down to 300. Honestly, I feel haggling too hard with artisans in a small village in Thailand is a bit ridiculous. If it’s the difference of $1 USD, I can definitely afford it and that dollar will go much further for her than it would for me. Food for thought when you’re traveling through haggling countries.
I believe it cost 150 Baht for 30 minutes on the water (all prices are here), which seems short, but is the perfect amount of time. Most of the market can also be reached on foot if you walk through the lanes on the side, which is preferable because you can peruse at your leisure for the few hours you have left.
What can you buy? Trinkets! Journals, clothes, paintings, shoes, junk jewelry, and food of course (I had a lovely chicken satay. I don’t recommend the pad thai though!). This isn’t a market you go to with the intent of buying something specific. Anyway, you can also pay a few USD to hold animals such as these massive snakes and slow lorises.
So, I really wanted to hold a slow loris. I’ve included a picture of one to the right here. I could look into those eyes and just cry right there on the spot. However, they are nocturnal. It just doesn’t seem right for these market peddlers to charge money to keep them awake when they are trying to catch some much needed Z’s. It’s sad how Thailand is full of unfair animal treatment, really. Anyway, after the market the tour took us to an elephant tourism location nearby that was definitely not a sanctuary. There were holes in the elephants’ ears. A baby elephant was in a very small pen running around, with his/her mum nowhere in sight. I did not take pictures there, needless to say. It made us all feel a bit sick.
I’m not trying to preach from my soapbox, but please do research on any animal interaction you plan to partake in. Not just when traveling, but also before visiting zoos. Some zoos have controversial rules and less-than-ideal conditions. Just look it up and make an informed decision 🙂
Overall, I recommend you make the trip to the floating market if you’re spending awhile in Thailand. If you’re only here for a week, give it a miss as it’s a bit of long journey from Bangkok. The novelty wears off after the first hour or two, really.