Damnoen Saduak is considered to be one of the most popular touristic attractions in the Thai capital, with hordes of tourists swarming there every weekend. However, out of the plenty of Bangkok’s floating markets, it happens also to be the only one opening in weekdays, when it can be quite nice a destination to spend a relaxing morning or afternoon.
It is situated about 65 km west of Bangkok, and you can find a multitude of tour agencies offering organized day-trips to the place, for prices which can vary from as high as you can imagine, down to 400 baht (the cheapest I heard of), which is quite a fair price. If you, however, want to preserve the most of your budget, and you are not the kind of tourist who likes being picked up from a place, carried around like a freight, and dropped back at the same place without having to think of anything, you’d rather take my approach on it, going there on your own by public transport.
There is a mini-bus line running from Victoria Monument station in Bangkok to the market and back for a 100 baht each way. The trip can take from an hour and a half up to well over two, depending on the traffic. However, we didn’t find that bus any excessively uncomfortable, so the time may pass by delightfully enough peering out of the window the various city districts you’ll be passing by, either sleeping or whatever…
When we finally arrived, the bus stopped a couple of kilometers before we reach the site for a reason unknown to me, until it became obvious as soon as I stepped my first foot outside the bus. The bus company has a contract with a tour agency. So, that’s why it let us get off right outside its office where a tout-lady was lurking, so to attempt to offer us to hire a boat for the ridiculous amount of 2000 baht an hour! (which amount I can bet it constitutes a monthly salary for a great number of people in this country). Furthermore, she even tried to convince us that we cannot walk to the market, calling forth an obscure argument which I didn’t really understand – nor I gave any effort to do so. Anyway, as we started to walk to the market, we kept encountering more and more boat-hire-service-agencies, which were laying consecutively by the side of the road, each of them with a tout trying to offer us the damn boat for a price proportionately dropping as we were approximating the market. When we finally made it to the market the offer had sunken to 100 baht, and it could possibly fall even more if we were to bargain it. But we didn’t, as, from the very beginning, we did not have any single plan of hiring a boat anyway.
We rather wanted to just spend an easy afternoon strolling along the canals, and so we did, and we pretty much enjoyed it also. By the time we got there, the most of the tourists were away, the most of the souvenir shops were closed, and a general tranquility was prevalent around that built-on-top-of-water-village and its water-alleys. You could only see a few old ladies squatted astern their canoes, wearing those large wooden hats (or rather portable sheds) of theirs, rowing slowly around the canals and trying to sell some last more of their fruits or whatever. The most of the inhabitants had already fastened their vessels and were sat resting on some shady corner or another on the wharfs outside their homes. And they would always greet us with an earnest, wide smile when we were passing by them. We kept walking around watching the sweet little wooden houses built upon trunks above the water. Every now and then we’d need to cross the bridges from side to side – of which some were bridges in a more common sense while others mere planks above the water. We also moved outside the village where we could walk a little around the banana crops surrounding it. That’s how a beautiful afternoon was spent.