If you are visiting Thailand, you should visit Thailand’s famous floating markets. There are several around the city, some more famous or bigger than others. The floating markets are essentially markets built over water. It’s a great experience and it serves as an opportunity find good cheap food and gifts.
You can reach them by traveling by car or tour bus for a day trip from Bangkok. I don’t recommend driving in Bangkok, it seems hazardous and the road rules are completely different from the one’s I am familiar with, plus I don’t think you really want to be stuck in the infamous Bangkok peak hour traffic. It’s much easier being in peak hour traffic sitting in a bus, where you can just read, watch something on your phone or chat with your other tour companions. (Having been to Bangkok twice, I can safely say it looks dangerous getting around by car and there are a lot of people happy to cut you on the road.)
To get the most out of our days, we decided to book a day tour with Klook. It’s all pre-planned and it’s good value for money. Our tour was about AUD$40 per person for the whole day. On Klook, the main taglines for our tour was the following:
- Watch a train pass through the middle of a bustling market – Maeklong Railway Market
- Relax at the authentic weekend market of Amphawa, frequented by the locals
- See the iconic Damnoen Saduak Floating Market, the most popular market in Thailand
It was an early morning back in January 2019. We left our hotel and travelled to the train station. I wouldn’t bother with taxi in the morning, since it is close to impossible to get anywhere on the road. (Bangkok’s public transport isn’t bad, it’s just that it is poorer placed and most of the landmarks are far from the train stations.) So we had to get to the entrance of Century Mall at 8:15 am and lookout for a Klook banner stand near the mall’s entrance.
To get to the meetup location, we had to take the BTS (train) to Victory Monument Station, then leave the station using Exit 2. It wasn’t too hard to identify Century Mall, which isn’t a grand shopping center but it is nice enough. As we came down the exit, there were street food vendors selling some incredibly delicious sticky rice with meat and other delectables. It was only under AUD$1 for some sticky rice and two different side dishes.
Once we arrived, it was bustling with many different tour groups and coaches. If you booked multiple day tours via Klook, you need to remember how to get to this location since you will have to come back several times during the course of your holiday. Before heading off, we had to make sure we approached the right person and that our names were on their list. (Just make sure you don’t get on the wrong coach.)
Here was our itinerary for the day tour:
8:30am depart from Century Mall (next to BTS Victory Station)
10:30am arrive at Damnoen Saduak Floating Market (60 minutes electric boat ride)
11:30am explore floating market on your own time
12:30pm visit Wat Bang Kung and Thai Boxing Temple
2:00pm arrive at Maeklong Railway Market
3:30pm-3:50pm experience the train
3:50pm arrive at Amphawa Floating Market, explore on your own time
6:00pm 1 hour boat trip to see the fireflies
7:30pm depart for Bangkok
9:30pm drop off at original meeting point
The times were a good indication and it was pretty close with all the times. We started early in the day and came back really late in the evening. For just AUD$40, it definitely felt like we got our moneys worth. Plus, there were so many people on the coach with us so we met many people from around the world.
All the food had to be paid by us, which is fine, because I remember being on a tour in mainland China where the food was included but it was really bland and uninteresting. So, it’s always much better when you can choose your own food.
For the most part, I found the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market unique in that a lot of the journey was just us sitting in the electric boat and following the river beds and passing several vendors whose shopfront faced the river. They sold mostly souvenirs and ornaments (and it was good to see other people on our boat get involved in the boat bartering that occurred). For the most part, I thought most of the prices were inflated. Why would I want to buy a 5 cm “gold” elephant ornament for the equivalent of AUD$10?
A lot of the prices at these markets come at different rates, one for locals and one for tourists. Although I knew some of the prices were double what they charged locals, I found most of the food delicious and still far cheaper than if I had bought it back home in Australia. I didn’t bother me, because for the most part all we did was just spend our money on food and drinks. I was happy that I managed to try so many delicious food. I tried noodles, including boat noodles, at each of the floating markets for around 40 baht each and for dinner I had some octopus salad on rice, larb gai salad and some fresh crabs for under AUD$10. The ingredients were fresh and tasty. It was really delicious!
The tour managed to excite with the amount of things we were able to do. We had the electric boat ride through Damnoen Saduak Floating Market in the morning, rode a train at the Maeklong Railway Market (which was just an old train) and had a boat trip around Amphawa Floating Market in the early evening (but didn’t see many fireflies since it was a tad early).
Like many tours, we didn’t get to spend much time at each of the locations. We were hurried along each destination, so we couldn’t fully appreciate a location. But at least we managed to experience a lot of things, so that next time we could choose the venues we want to come back to.
Also, make sure you bring some coins with you because using toilets in Thailand cost money.
Our first destination Damnoen Saduak Floating Market is located to the south west of Bangkok:
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