Damnoen Saduak Floating Market
This article is about Damnoen Saduak Floating Market, so the answer to the question “Is Bangkok Floating Market ACTUALLY in Bangkok?” is NO. There are some “floating” markets in and around Bangkok, but some of them are no longer really floating markets at all and others pale in comparison to this one. You will need to take a very inexpensive van ride that takes a bit over an hour or else pay high tourist prices to go in a tour group, but it is an interesting side trip from Bangkok if you have time.
Getting to Damnoen Saduak Floating Market
Getting there is very easy. I give step by step directions in the video. Take the BTS Skytrain to Victory Monument. Look for exit 2 and go to the bottom of those stairs. Make a u-turn at the bottom of the stairs and you will see a 7-11 just ahead on the right. Turn right into a driveway immediately BEFORE the 7-11 and this will lead you into a garage full of vans that go to all kinds of destinations around Bangkok. The price is only 90 baht, which is less than $3.00 USD. The van will likely make a stop where everyone can get out to pee or buy a drink.
At the Floating Market
Do you like buying fresh fruit at floating markets? If so, you’re in luck because there are a lot of old ladies in row boats selling their fruit (pun intended). There are also stalls adjacent to the canals selling all kinds of tourist trinkets and other worthless junk, so if this is your thing and you charter a row-boat, you can waste your money there. There also seemed to be thousands of hats available for purchase. There are plenty of shopping opportunities adjacent to the canals as well, so you don’t have to get in the water. I did notice some inexpensive clothing and the vendors quickly came down on their prices when I started to walk away. And, of course, there is food.
Photography Tips for the Floating Market
Tip #1: Do not take rowboat from a packaged tour deal! If you do this, you will likely not be able to get out of the boat (they are very uncomfortable) to get the perfect shot. Instead, take a public van (see video) from Victory Monument BTS and see the floating market by foot. Once at the floating market you can still go for a boat ride if you really want to. The best advice there is to take a powered boat so that you can get away from the market. Also, get there as early as possible when the sun is low, but stay long enough for the sun to be directly overhead. Find an area with good light, be patient, and wait for the perfect subject to enter the light by boat. There are a few platforms just for this purpose (photo above) that appear to be open to the public.
When to Visit Damnoen Saduak Floating Market
I went with my production assistant and two photographer friends (David Leo & David Vining) in the middle of the week. This is the only floating market that I am aware of that is open 7 days a week. I highly recommend going on a weekday to avoid bigger crowds. They open fairly early and start closing around noon. The exact hours seem to be at the whim of the individual shop owners and vendors on boat.
What do they Sell at Damnoen Saduak Floating Market
As you can see in the photo above, they sell exactly the same kind of stuff at the floating market as they do at every other market in the entire country of Thailand and pretty much everywhere in Asia. It is a unique thing to see, so go for the scenery rather than the rare retail experience.
Should we Hire a Boat?
Hell yes! You definitely should hire a boat. Much of the best photography will be from land, but maximize your time in the area by seeing some local life nearby. You can do this with just a one hour rental on a powered boat. Do the rowboat if you like, but you will not get far from the floating market area and will miss out on a lot of friendly waves, unique architecture, and the opportunity to see locals not trying to sell you something! If you are in a group of people you should be able to get the price down to around 200 to 300 THB per person for one hour. Be sure they understand that you want to get away from the market area.
Old boat reused as a decorative flower planter.
The area away from the floating market is very scenic, though the neighbors may not always agree!
We road alongside this concrete boardwalk for about 10 minutes before it ended. The ups & downs caught my attention.
This was an isolated market about 15 minutes away by boat. This must be where the locals go shopping. It was way bigger than any other market we saw.
I’ll leave you with this photo of a beautiful Thai girl in a colorful costume.
Is Bangkok Floating Market ACTUALLY in Bangkok?
No, it is not. It is over an hour away (much longer pending traffic) by van or private car.