If you have been researching things to do in Bangkok, I’m sure you have come across it’s oldest and most popular floating market, Damnoen Saduak! Most resources, books, or guides will tell you that the best way to see this market is to pay for a private tour; although this may be the easiest it will come with a heftier price tag! Often times these prearranged tours also have tacked on activities and expenses that are unwanted! For the budget conscious traveller there is another much less expensive way to see this bustling market!
Here is a Do It Yourself way to see Damnoen Saduak without breaking the bank!
Go to Bangkok’s Southern Bus Terminal – Sai Tai Mai there you will be able to get a 60 baht (1.70 USD) bus one way to Damnoen Saduak District, Ratchaburi. If you can’t find the correct kiosk to buy the ticket at, just ask! Because it is so popular all employees will know which stall is the correct one, and be able to point you in the correct direction. These buses depart roughly every 40 minutes to an hour starting at 06:00 am.
The journey will be around an hour and a half to two hours. The bus should have air conditioning, and when I went it wasn’t very full so you were not cramped what so ever!
When you’re there:
When you get off the bus, you will be confronted with people trying to sell you tours. These are all scams, all of them!! You will be told you cannot go to the market on foot you will have to take one of their pricy boats. This is false!! Get a motorbike taxi to take you to the entrance of the market.
We fell victim to this scam though because there were no taxis in sight. We were charged 400 baht to take one of their boats and although it was a nice ride through the little canals, it was not worth the money. Coming back from the market we were able to walk from the entrance of the market to the place the bus dropped us off! It was about 2km, so we felt pretty silly for paying for the boat when we first got there! Arg!
When you arrive to the market thennnn you can make the decision if you want to pay to get into a boat for a little bit and putter around the shops. Most places were selling short amounts of time for about 100 baht – so still a better deal then the scam you will confront when you first arrive.
When you have had your fill and are ready to go back, you can easily walk back to the station or grab a motor bike taxi! They will try and shuttle you into a coffee shop to buy a bus ticket back for 200 baht – again, this is a scam! We talked to the bus driver directly and got the same 60 baht price we had the first time around.
Seeing this cultural and historic landmark doesn’t have to be extravagant or pricey. You can easily make the trip without the help of an overpriced tour, just have to be confident and patient! Estimate about half the day for this trip, leaving anywhere from 6-7ish in the morning and returning around noon!
Most places recommend that you get to the market before 9:00 am which is when most tour busses arrive, but we got there around that time and it wasn’t too bad!
If you want to be able to see the market sans – tourists you probably should look into spending the night in Rachaburi. That is probably what I would do next time in order to see the market when it is really quiet!
Have fun! xx