Summary: Damnern Saduak Floating Market is filled with tourists and probably because it is designated by the government to be a tourist attraction, it has a whole lot of overpriced goods. Even so, it was still fun to float in our boat and people watch. The boat ride also include a trip through some of the extended canals beyond the bustling market. One market booth outside of the boat area had a wonderful local artist who sold us a small painting that now hangs in our living-room.
Boats, boats and more boats. We arrived early in the day to the Damner Saduak Floating Market because our guide said the afternoon was far more packed. We laughed because, as you can see from the photo below, the docking area was already pretty jammed despite our early departure.
Located approximately 60 miles outside of Bangkok, the floating market at Damnern Saduak is most definitely a tourist trap. That doesn't mean you should skip it but bear this in mind during your visit. For one, the markets show travelers what was the traditional method for selling goods along the Bangkok areas waterways before modern development of the land. The floating markets at Damnern Saduak are a part of a canal system that is 32 kilometers long, and has more than 200 branches.
At every corner of the main market area, there are vendors trying to convince you to part with your money. Even entering the boat, a photographer takes your picture and upon arrival at end, he will try to sell you a plate with your photo on it. Also, all the items along the route are priced higher than in less populated areas of Bangkok. This is all to say that if you go into the experience knowing these things, you can get past these issues and just sit back and enjoy your time. The reality is that you do not have to buy anything here and instead just take in all the sights. (more below).
Once in our boat, our operator - an advanced-age woman - slowly but expertly guided us through the shopping canals. Eventually she took us past the markets and through some of the local neighborhoods that line the canals of the region. It is a quiet and peaceful journey.
At the end of our tour, after dodging a few more sellers, we made our way up and over the bridge that crosses the main dock. Just on the other side was a section of artwork from local artists that sat with their artwork. Despite the higher prices, we ended up striking up a conversation with one of the artist and after a little bartering, we brought home a small painting that ended up being one of my favorite souvenirs from the trip.
While we generally try avoid tourist traps, we had a good time at the Damnern Saduak Floating Market. Total time: 1-2 hours.