Not far from the gritty streets of Thailand’s capital city lies the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market. Built up along a river in Ratchaburi Province, you can shop down the river in a small rented boat that pulls up along vendors in boats and along the shore.
Chances are, if you’re headed anywhere in the region, someone is going to point you to the market as a must-see destination. And truth be told, it certainly has its charms. Fresh fruit, carvings, trinkets, spices, and even weaponry are all for sale, though if you see something you like, best get it before your boat pulls away…backtracking really isn’t an option.
Although the market is busy and bustling, your boat operator will likely also take you through a small village that lies along the river as well, where things quiet down and you get a chance to sip on the obligatory coconut that you’ve likely purchased from one of the boat vendors along the way. The village brings to mind the canals of Venice, where roads have been replaced by waterways. Years ago, Bangkok itself was considered the “Venice of Asia” before boats were abandoned for faster options such as scooters, tuk-tuks, and cars.
If you’re not one for small boats, there’s still the option of walking along the edge of the river, where plenty of shops and merchants peddle their goods. Prices are negotiable, which is generally the case when traveling in Asia. Don’t take the first offer, unless you’re feeling generous or can’t be bothered to haggle a bit.
One recommendation I would definitely make is to take a visit to virtually any of the food vendors on the river. I stopped along the banks to have a bowl of soup from a sweet old lady who served up a noodle soup that I have been craving ever since. Simple noodles, chicken and fish balls in a light broth can haunt your dreams and cause instant spasms of hunger for years to come. As a general rule in Asia, always, always try the noodle soup.
Bus trips can be arranged quite easily from the Khao San road area from Bangkok.