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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Bangkok - Floating Market

Tour date: 29th May 2013

In 2005, during my 1st visit to Bangkok, my family and I were brought to a miniature of floating market along Chao Phraya River due to time limitation by the travel agent. I was not happy back then, as it was not as what I used to see in Thailand's famous floating market as can be seen from travelling magazine and/or travelling documentary. Hence, during my 2nd visit to Bangkok, we had booked a proper tour to Floating Market from the travel agent who occupied a small office in imm fusion sukhumvit hotel. 


The travel agent drove us with a Sedan Toyota car at a charged rate of THB2,000 to take and wait for us at Damnoen Saduak Floating market, Wat Pho and drop at MBK Mall. That's what was agreed between Anne and myself on 28th June 2013 during our discussion with the travel agent held on 28th June during lunch at Tesco Lotus. There are many reason why we decided to rent a car rather than taking public transport, beside conveniences. We will have a very packed schedule ahead of us on that day following our agreed itinerary, hence it was more convenience to run from place to place within 1 day if we have a rented car.


The rides to Rajburi Province, where the Damnoen Saduak floating market is located is by taking Highway No. 4, a road called Phetchakasem Road. From the main road, we took a left turn at Km. 80 for another 25 km ride along Bangpae-Damnoen Saduak Road. For those who wish to go there by bus, may do so as there are public buses, available in both air and non air-conditioned leaving from the Southern Bus Terminal. The bus leaves from Pinklao-Nakhonchaisi Road (where the bus terminal is located) for Damnoen Saduak every 40 minutes from 0600 hours onwards. The fare is around THB50 (single trip/one way) for air-conditioned and THB30 for normal buses. 



We were informed ahead by the travel agent to start the journey from the hotel at around 0700 hour, after breakfast as the most suitable time to be at the market is from 0800-1000 hour. The journey was about 1 and a half hour as there was no traffic in early morning. It is about 100km distance from Bangkok and usually 2 hours drive to reach the place. 


Damnoen Saduak is believed to be one of a well known and most attractive floating market sites. Historically, it was actually the name of the canal dug in the reign of King Rama IV by the military men and the people of Rajburi, Samutsakorn and Samutsongkram Province directed by Phayasrisuriyawong, the minister of Siam Defence. In those days without rivers and canals, transportation was almost remote, thus, King Rama IV with his great concern over the country's future economic growth, had instructed to dug the canal dug to connect the Taachin River in Samutsakorn Province and Maklong River in Samutsongkram Province.


At present, Damnoen Saduak is one of a provincial district of Rajburi Province. Most people live densely along both sides of the canal from one end of the canal to another.The majority of this people are agriculturists. They grow several different kinds of fruit and vegetable for examples oranges, grapes, papayas, cabbages, bean, onion etc. The land in this area is naturally fertile. 





Apart from providing transportation, Damnoen Saduak  Canal also provides farmers with adequate water for agricultural purposes for the whole year around. More than 200 sub-canals were dug by local peoples their irrigation purpose. In addition to irrigation, the sub-canal has becoming private route for the people to take their agricultural products to the markets in neighboring provinces as well as to Bangkok.




The market starts operating from about 0800 hours to about 1100 hours. the Floating Market is routinely crowded with hundreds of vendors and purchasers (mostly tourist) floating in their small rowing boats selling and buying or exchanging their goods. The marketing items available are normally foods, fruits, vegetables and local souvenirs items (local hand made products) which were mostly brought from their own orchards or house business. They usually travel on their small rowing boats. Nowadays the long tailed boats pushing by engine becoming very popular. People tend to use them instead as it is faster with engine added on.




Arriving at Damnoen Saduak, you can either walk on the passage along the canal on the right hand side or take a boat at the pier nearby the Floating Market area at the price of THB10 per person. There are 3 Floating Markets in Damnoen Saduak, Ton Khem, Hia Kui and Khun Phithak. 





We would recommend that you check the rates for hired boat as what the travel agent in Bangkok charged us is rather expensive than what we checked on the website (after we return), instead of THB500 to THB600/ per boat for 2 hours, we were charged at THB1500/boat. The boat stopped at all 3 markets, a coconut farm and a temple along the boat cruise. We rather feel cheated for not checking the rates properly.




Nevertheless, it was a priceless experience for both Anne and myself. Check Anne's photo (mostly hers as I was acting a photographer and she was my model during the journey). Enjoy!




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