Damnoen Saduak Floating Market – A Water Based Bazaar
Having now visited the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market I can say with genuine sincerity that any visit to Bangkok where you don’t take the opportunity to visit this vibrant water based Bazaar, is a wasted visit to Bangkok!
Yes – it’s the most popular floating market in Thailand (read, it gets more than its fair share of tourists). Yes, you have to be up with the sparrows on a holiday morning (read depart Bangkok by 7am) to get there when it is at its most active. And yes, there are as many stalls aimed at visitors now as there are aimed at locals.
Truly the highlight of our recent Thailand Holiday
But our 3 hours wandering this extraordinary hive of activity was by far and away the highlight of our recent holiday to Thailand, and given how much we loved our recent trip to Thailand, that is no shallow accolade.
The 20 minute journey from the mainland pier (just over an hours drive from Bangkok) to the market is fabulous. Your decorated long boat zips you through the narrow canals, past the small wooden houses on stilts that fringe the waterway. The peaceful ride is broken only by the sound of your boat, allowing you the opportunity to marvel at this very alternate way of life.
Local faces telling a million stories
In contrast to the serenity of this boat journey however, your arrival into Damnoen Saduk assaults your senses on every level. The noise of vendors vying for customers. The smells that arise from the floating kitchens (who knew that you could whip up a gourmet stir fry, steamed dumplings and hot mango and banana Poffertjes style dessert all from a kitchen that is organised to within an inch of its life aboard a narrow long boat!) The colour of the goods for sale aboard the flotilla of narrow paddle boats. The fresh scent of tropical fruits. The weather worn faces of the vendors, each with a million stories to tell of years hard work on the market.
Lined along the canal on land are the more ‘tourist’ focused shops – handicrafts, some local restaurants, Thailand ‘frocks’ and the like. But get past all that and focus on the incredible life that is taking place on the canal. Watch the faces. Marvell at the adept way the vendors can create an extraordinary meal from their boat. Eat these extraordinary meals! Our guide suggested that to avoid any unpleasant post market visit tummy upsets that we stick to food that is (a) cooked and (b) presented in some kind of disposable vessel. Our mango proffertjes were presented to us on a plate fashioned from a leaf. Many of the vendors serving food on plates washed them in the canal. I am sure the food was fabulous but you go there at your own peril! This is the ultimate place to people watch – to immerse yourself in the hectic atmosphere and enjoy a way of life that is so vastly removed from our own.
We travelled to the market with a guide from AF Holidays. We elected to do a private car tour (@ A$120 per person min 2 people) which whilst more expensive than going on mass with a bus tour (@ A$56 per person for a half day tour) was a more personal experience for us and meant that we weren’t tied to the constraints of a bus tour.
Photographers heaven – amateur happy snappers will love this place
As a (very) amateur photographer this market was heaven. You are spoilt for subjects, although I couldn’t get past the faces of the vendors. I was entranced by a particular woman with a beautiful face that lit up whenever people bought her goods (and there was quite a queue for them). Our guide told us she was “well in her 80’s – that’s as close as she can guess her age. She’s worked here since she was 18”. As I swept my gobsmacked vision back to her life worn face I caught her eye and she smiled an enormous beaming toothless smile at me.
And THAT is exactly why we explore the world!!
Until next escape…