Thailand is home to many floating markets, that also function as hang-out spots for locals over the weekend. However, when it comes to Damnoen Saduak – the famous floating market, which is located 100 km from Bangkok – it’s artificial and designed for tourists only. It may look great in photos and brochures, but this is merely a show packed full of tourists; it lacks authenticity and functions as a typical tourist trap.
Though many tourists mistakenly think that Damnoen Saduak is in Bangkok, it is located some 100 km away, very close (a 10-minute ride) to another famous floating market – which is far more authentic and worth your time – Amphawa floating market, which is active on weekends only.
Please note: even though Damnoen Saduak is formally located in Ratchaburi province, it is very close to Amphawa and thus I’ve included it – for convenience purposes only – among other attractions in Amphawa area.
A few words about the history of the place: Damnoen Saduak floating market is located on a canal that was dug back in 1866, as instructed by King Rama 4. The canal is 32 km long, with multiple short canals branching out of it. It was meant to connect Mae Klong and Ta Chin rivers for commerce purposes, and water the fertile fields of the area. In 1970, the ministry of tourism decided to turn the place into a tourist attraction and indeed, it evolved with time, until it became a business for tourists and foreigners – with all the implications and flaws that follow.
Damnoen Saduak floating market today: the market includes a maze of canals and 3 markets – Ton Khem and Hia Kui in 2 parallel canals, and a smaller market called Khun Phitak, some 2 km away.
Around 9 AM, long lines of tourist busses and vans start filling the place, and herds of visitors start pouring in. In the canal, old Thai women in straw hats sail through, putting on a “market show”; meanwhile on the riverbank, local peddlers persuade tourists to buy tacky souvenirs and cheap, redundant commodity for higher prices than in any other market (where you can easily find the same items). Some tourists sail in the horridly crowded canal and others stroll between the usual souvenir and knick-knack shops.
In conclusion: when a Thai person wants to buy a bottle of milk or some bananas – he doesn’t take a boat and sails to some floating market but rather goes to a supermarket or a nearby street market. While it may look appealing in pictures, Damnoen Saduak – the most famous market in Thailand – is merely a show that doesn’t serve locals; it lacks authenticity and provides a typical tourist trap.
Opening Hours: Unlike the authentic floating markets for locals, which operate on weekends only – Damnoen Saduak floating market is active every day of the year; the place gets filled with visitors around 9 AM when herds of tourists start pouring in, and gets rather empty as noon approaches.
My Opinion: While it may look very good in pictures, Damnoen Saduak lacks authenticity and provides a typical tourist trap.
Please Notice: as this floating market is inauthentic and artificial, it is not included in our private luxury tour plans, but if you’d like to integrate it as part of the Amphawa tours – it’s possible to do so.