Damnoen Saduak is undoubtedly the largest and most famous floating market among the locals and foreign tourists in Thailand. Some say it's a tourist trap but I guess if I want to see the best, I should go for the best cos from what I read, other floating markets are not as big and happening so you might not get the best experience.
It is quite far from Bangkok though, about 100 km away in Ratchaburi Province. I was suggested to go there on my own, early in the morning to avoid the hoards of tourists. But as I didn't make any research prior to my trip, I decided to just follow a tour.
There were full day tour which includes visit to the Tiger Temple and some other attractions and half day tour which is only going to the floating market. I found a deal for the half day tour with a travel agency nearby my hostel for only 250 Baht. Quite reasonable considering its distance. In fact, I thought it was cheap!
I was told they would pick me up around 7 am at the hostel. On the day of the tour, I woke up very early and by 6.55 am, I was already waiting in front of the hostel. There were a few other travellers waiting. A couple of them were going under the same travel agency as mine. So we waited together. Half past 7, we were still waiting. I was already worried and silently cursing the travel agency. Perhaps, we've all been scammed. But since I had company, I decided to wait.
Luckily, the representative from the travel agency finally came around 7.45 am and walked us to a nearby hotel. A group of travellers were already waiting there. We were then given a badge, to indicate which group we should follow. That was because after the tour to the floating market finished, we would be separated according to which tour we chose.
All of us travelled in minivans and reached Damnoen Saduak almost two hours later. But we weren't dropped exactly at the floating market. We stopped at an area to get on the long tail boat.
From there, it was about 10 minutes to Damnoen Saduak Floating Market.
As we reached the floating market, we were free to do our own activities. You can explore the shops on foot via narrow walkways that follow the canals or opt to hire a paddle boat.
Of course I opted to ride the paddle boat to experience the real floating market. 150 Baht is for approximately one hour ride.
We passed by many small boats selling fruits, snacks and souvenirs. Countless sellers paddled along the congested canals offering visitors, either on the bank or on the boats, their products.
The guy paddling our boat just manouvred slowly along these shops in case we wanted to buy something. The souvenirs looked mostly the same as what I saw in town but I guessed the prices were a little bit higher as it was a tourist area.
The floating market runs daily from early morning until noon. The best time to watch the market in full flourish is between 6 am to 9 am, before all the tourist buses arrive from Bangkok. But yeah.. I had no choice but became a tourist myself.
At around noon, we gathered at the meeting point and followed our assigned vans to go back to Bangkok or continued for the full day tour. The journey back to the city was faster as the driver used the highway. We reached Bangkok in just a little over an hour. He dropped us back at our hostel and I continued exploring the city on my own.