Visiting a floating market seems to be one of the most recommended things to do in Bangkok, and Damnoen Saduak is one of the most popular floating markets close to the capital city of Thailand. Despite so many tour options to visit a floating market from Bangkok, my boyfriend and I decided to visit Damnoen Saduak Floating Market without tour on our last trip to Thailand.
Before deciding to make a DIY trip to Damnoen Saduak from Bangkok, our main consideration is actually the fact that most tours start super early in the morning, and none of us is a morning person. Especially not during a holiday! LOL.
As a result, we decided to go to the floating market by researching the public transportation from Bangkok to Damnoen Saduak, and just wing it on D-day to see if it's worth visiting or just another tourist trap in Bangkok. Well, I've got a lot to say about this trip in general so I'm going to share it based on my personal experience. So, here's my take about visiting Damnoen Saduak Floating Market and whether it's worth visiting from Bangkok!
Visiting Damnoen Saduak Floating Market From Bangkok
If you think Damnoen Saduak Floating Market is located in Bangkok, you're wrong. Damnoen Saduak is a floating market situated in Ratchaburi, around 100 kilometers outside Bangkok area so you need to spare around 2-3 hours for a one-way trip if you're planning to visit the floating market from the capital city.
Initially built in 1866, the Damnoen Saduak Canal was constructed by order of King Rama IV to connect the Tha Chin Rivers and Mae Klong. Although it may not be the oldest, Damnoen Saduak is the largest and most popular floating market in Thailand. And apparently, the market appeared as the setting in one of James Bond movies in the 1970s, The Man with the Golden Gun.
As a result, you can expect crowds visiting the floating market on a daily basis and you'll never run out of tour options if you want to join a tour to visit Damnoen Saduak Floating Market from Bangkok.
It's also possible to visit Damnoen Saduak without joining a tour. However, you need to keep in mind that the public transportation from Bangkok to Damnoen Saduak will make a few stops along the way so the journey may take longer than if you join a day trip from the capital city.
How to Visit Damnoen Saduak Without Tour
Visiting Damnoen Saduak Floating Market without tour is possible, but it's not exactly time-efficient since you must take a bus that will stop a few times before you reach your destination.
The bus ticket to Damnoen Saduak from Bangkok is cheap, but the difference between the price of doing a DIY tour to Damnoen Saduak and joining a tour is actually pretty slim. I'll elaborate further in this section so you can calculate and see which one is worth doing if you're planning to go to Damnoen Saduak when traveling to Bangkok in Thailand.
How to Go From Bangkok to Damnoen Saduak by Bus
The easiest way to go to Damnoen Saduak from Bangkok is to take the bus from the Southern Bus terminal in Bangkok. Since we booked an Airbnb in Bangkok not too far from the bus terminal, we spent more time waiting for the bus than our journey to get there.
We left our apartment in Kalapapruek area at around 10 AM, and it took us only around 15 minutes to get to the Southern Bus terminal. Enter the bus terminal, and you'll see some counters that sell bus tickets to several day trip destinations from Bangkok, including Damnoen Saduak, Ayutthaya, Hua Hin, etc.
When we reached the counter that says “Damnoen Saduak,” the lady told us that the soonest bus would depart at 12.10 PM so we had more than an hour to wait for the departure. We went to 7-11 and got some snacks from a nearby food stall while waiting for the bus.
We traveled in February 2023, and the bus ticket to Damnoen Saduak cost 80 THB (around $2.5 USD) for one way.
Bus to Damnoen Saduak from Bangkok
The public transportation to Damnoen Saduak from Bangkok is more like a van than a bus. Depending on how many passengers they can take along the way, keep in mind that the van can be super cramped. So while the ticket may sound cheap, it may not be the most convenient way to travel to Damnoen Saduak.
This is also the reason why it's better to take the bus from the Southern bus terminal, since this is the starting point for the bus going to Damnoen Saduak so you'll have plenty of spaces to sit properly on the bus before they take some more passengers along the way.
After we departed from the Southern bus terminal, the van stopped at some big market nearby that actually looked more convenient to take the bus from. I'm not sure what the name of this place is, but I think it was only around a 15-minute drive from the Southern bus terminal. After that, the van occasionally stopped to take more passengers, even in the middle of the road.
The journey took around 2 hours, and we reached Damnoen Saduak Floating Market at around 2.30 PM. Not too late, considering we stopped a few times.
Boat Rental at Damnoen Saduak Floating Market
As soon as we reached Damnoen Saduak Floating Market, we were offered boat rentals by the entrance. It cost us 2,000 baht (around $57 USD) for a 1-hour boat ride to explore Damnoen Saduak Floating Market, and we also added some extra for the tip to the captain by the end of our boat trip.
Considering the average price for the tour to Damnoen Saduak from Bangkok is around $30 per person, the difference isn't that much with what we paid when my boyfriend and I traveled together to visit the floating market. However, a DIY trip to Damneon Saduak can definitely save a lot of money if you travel in a group since the long-tail boat that we rented should fit up to 4 (four) passengers.
During our boat ride, we can also stop for shopping or eating at the floating shops and cafe. We stopped for both and here's our take… The cafe that we went to didn't charge much, and they even gave us a bonus to try out their homemade Thai traditional dessert.
Unfortunately, I forgot to write down the name of the cafe. Well, it's not exactly a fancy cafe anyway. In fact, I think the cafe owner also lives in the house where the cafe is because her cat was relaxing there when I went to use their toilet.
However, beware of the shopping part because as expected… The shops around Damnoen Saduak Floating Market are super overpriced!
If you really need to buy something there, the key is to haggle to the point that the price is fair for you because they definitely won't give a fair price at the beginning. If not, honestly you can possibly get the same item somewhere else. Maybe at Chatuchak weekend market, Asiatique The Riverfront, or even Khaosan Road!
Another thing to consider is that there's a reason why most tours start early in the morning. I imagine the floating market will be more lively in the morning, because when we went there in the afternoon only a few shops were open while 75% of them were already closed.
Bus from Damnoen Saduak to Bangkok
The downside of doing a DIY trip to Damnoen Saduak from Bangkok is that you can't secure a ticket back to Bangkok so you need to expect to do everything impromptu when planning out your way back to Bangkok from the floating market.
The good news is that if you rent a boat ride from Damnoen Saduak Floating Market entrance, chances are you could also ask your boat captain if they can drop you off at the bus stop to Bangkok. Ours was very accommodating that he went so far to get off the boat to show us the bus stop near the market.
We stopped at a different spot where we got on the boat, and it was within walking distance from the bus office with the Damnoen Saduak-Bangkok route.
When we got there, no one was there so we were a bit nervous of whether we'd get a bus back to Bangkok or not since it was already around 4.30 PM. But someone came and said that the next bus (that would also be the last bus) to Bangkok would depart at 5 PM.
We got a chance to explore the market nearby for a little bit, and came back on time to get on the bus back to Bangkok. However, since it was the last bus, we departed slightly later than scheduled as the driver waited for more passengers to join in.
The price was the same, but since there was no staff at the bus office, this time we paid directly to the driver. And given the idea our travel time was exactly after office hours, if you plan to visit Damnoen Saduak in the afternoon just like we did… Expect late arrival on your way back to Bangkok, because the traffic jam in Bangkok after 5 PM was insane!
I think we got back to the Southern Bus Terminal in Bangkok at around 8 PM, so there are definitely some downsides to visiting Damnoen Saduak in the afternoon!
FAQ About Visiting Damnoen Saduak Floating Market From Bangkok
In this section, I'm going to list a few questions related to visiting Damnoen Saduak Floating Market. So, here we go!
How much does it cost to go to Damnoen Saduak Floating Market?
It's free to visit Damnoen Saduak Floating Market. However, you'll most likely need to rent a boat to get the full experience of exploring the floating market. They usually charge the boat ride hourly, in which we paid 2,000 baht for an hour boat ride.
You may also need some extra funds if you plan to shop around the market. Although keep in mind that some shops at Damnoen Saduak Floating Market can be super overpriced, making it feel more like a tourist trap than a place worth visiting near Bangkok!
What is the best time to visit Damnoen Saduak Floating Market?
There's a reason why most tours to Damnoen Saduak start early in the morning. Early morning is the best time to visit the floating market, as you can experience the market in its busiest and liveliest period.
It may drain your energy if you're an introvert, but visiting Damnoen Saduak Floating Market in the morning is probably the best way to explore the canals and all the activities around the market.
While you can still go to the floating market in the afternoon like I did, most shops would be closed so the only way to do it is just enjoying to stroll through the canals and haggling with the shops that try to milk the fact that you visit them on the low period of the market!
Is it better to go to Damnoen Saduak with a tour?
Yes, and no. In one way, visiting Damnoen Saduak with a tour will most likely be more convenient since typically the tour company will reserve a private car for you and the other tourists to visit the floating market together.
On the other hand, I think visiting the floating market without a tour also gives you some sense of local life as you get to see how the public transportation in Bangkok operates to the outskirt of the city. Along the way, you can also see some local markets and schools for the best local experience.
Depending on your preference, visiting Damnoen Saduak with a tour may be the best for you if you prioritize comfort over everything else. However, I'd recommend exploring the floating market on your own if you want an authentic experience!
Conclusion: Is Damnoen Saduak worth visiting or just another tourist trap in Bangkok?
As a Southeast Asian, I definitely feel like it's a tourist trap since the stuff they sell at Damnoen Saduak Floating Market is so overpriced and I bet you $10 that I can possibly get a better experience (and cheaper!) if I go to a floating market back home in Borneo.
However, I can also understand why Damnoen Saduak Floating Market is worth visiting if you live outside Asia. It's a vibrant experience for those who don't get to see a floating market in their home country, so maybe visiting Damnoen Saduak Floating Market can be interesting for you.
Personally, I don't think Damnoen Saduak is worth visiting. I definitely won't be back if I ever go back to Thailand, but I would still encourage you to see it for yourself just to see if that's maybe more your cup of tea.
So, have you been to any of the floating markets in Thailand? Have you been to Damnoen Saduak? What's your take on the largest floating market in the country? Share in the comment below, and cheerio!
Marya The BeauTraveler
I am the founder and main editor at The BeauTraveler. I spent 4 years working in the aviation industry but ironically got to travel more right after quitting the industry in 2015. Born and raised in Indonesia, I started working remotely in 2017, and while I stay at home most of the time, I also regularly spend 2-3 months living a semi-digital nomad life elsewhere every year.
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