Damnoen Saduak Floating Market in Thailand

We visited the floating marking in the Damnoen Saduak District of Ratchaburi Province on the last day of 2011. Arguably the most famous floating market in Thailand, it is located off Highway 325 about 110 kilometers southwest of Bangkok. To get there, turn off the Rama II Highway at the city of Samut Songkhram and follow Highway 325 north for 15 kilometers.

Damnoen Saduak

The floating market runs daily from morning until about 3 p.m., when most merchants close up shop. The best time to visit is in the morning when the market is most active. Its footprint covers about one square kilometer and includes several open air markets that line a network of narrow canals (khlong, in Thai).

Damnoen Saduak (2)

Damnoen Saduak (70)

Damnoen Saduak (47)

Some shops are accessible by foot via narrow walkways that follow the canals, although most vendors sell food and souvenirs from boats or shops on shore that tourists can only visit by boat. Madam Pauw’s businesses occupy the most real estate. She runs a large store, café, coffee shop, and boat tour along the main canal. A friendly lady, you can meet her at the cash register in the main store.

Damnoen Saduak (22)

Damnoen Saduak (29)

Damnoen Saduak (45)

Sources indicated that the canals in Damnoen Saduak District have been in existence since 1866, when the Thai King Rama IV commissioned a 32-kilometer long canal system fed by the nearby Mae Klong River. The market is a more recent development but has been in existence since at least the 1960s, when the canal scene in The Man with the Golden Gun was filmed there. James Bond floated down the Damnoen Saduak floating market in the 1970 film. The 2008 Nicolas Cage film Bangkok Dangerous also featured the market. Many local vendors operate shops out of their homes and live behind or above their stores. A network of trails and footbridges limited to residents gives them access to the highway. The rural area beyond the market features a mixture of houses and fields where farmers grow rice, Malacca grape, pomelos, mangoes, bananas, and coconuts that are available to purchase at the floating market.

Damnoen Saduak (63)

Damnoen Saduak (36)

Damnoen Saduak (84)

The Thai architecture and vendors in wooden boats with colorful dress and flattop Asian straw hats are major draws for throngs of tourists who want a taste of traditional Thailand. Tourists can explore the market in motorized or hand-rowed boats that cost between 300 Thai baht (US$10) for 30-40 minutes or 600 baht ($20) for an hour. There are several boat operators in the market who will likely solicit you for a ride; shop around for a better deal. We went with the first operator who approached us and found out that another one would have charged the same amount for a longer ride.

Damnoen Saduak (40)

Damnoen Saduak (26)

Damnoen Saduak (14)

Many vendors sell Thai dishes cooked right on their boat that are cheap and delicious. We ate a hearty meal of chicken satay (spicy peanut sauce) skewers, white rice, and bowls of noodle soup for 180 baht (about US$7). The Thai iced tea (sweet tea with milk) cost 30 baht (US$1). Of course, for those who are less adventurous, there are several coffee shops and a 7-11 convenience store in the market that sell packaged western food.

Damnoen Saduak (7)

Damnoen Saduak (50)

Not far from the floating market lie a couple other tourist attractions. The Rose Garden is a popular stop to smell the roses after the market. We did not visit the garden but heard that it is beautiful. Tourists can also meet Asian elephants at the market at certain times of the day and go on an elephant trek through the canals.

Damnoen Saduak (37)

Damnoen Saduak (93)

Damnoen Saduak is a great daytrip as long as you go when traffic is light. The morning and evening rush hour commutes and holiday traffic can make the trip a longer one than it needs to be. The trip is faster if you travel during off-peak times during weekdays and on weekends.

Video clip of the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market


Map picture

Resolve to Make 2012 A Great Year

Happy New Year! How did you enjoy ringing in the new year? Did you wake up feeling great or with a literal or proverbial hangover? Now that the celebrating has subsided, are you ready for 2012?

This year may be a momentous one with some major milestones on the calendar, from the Chinese Year of the Dragon to the end of the Mayan calendar. Some dates are already set, such as the Expo in Yeosu, South Korea (May 12-August 12), the Summer Olympics in London (July 27-August 12), not to mention the landing of the Curiosity rover on Mars in August, and, barring a new framework agreement, the end of the Kyoto Protocol on December 31. Some major events this year are already known, while others are not. No one really knows what will happen in places such as North Korea, where newly-installed “supreme commander” Kim Jong Un takes over as leader; possible sanctions and threats to blockade the Strait of Hormuz; unrest in Syria and other protests sparked by the Arab Spring; the European financial crisis; protests in Russia; potential economic slowdown in China; general elections in the United States and in dozens of other countries worldwide. No one knows what will happen. On December 21, 2012, when the Mayans purportedly predicted the end of the world will occur, we’ll look back at the year 2012, analyze the fall out, and, hopefully, be around to tell about it on December 22. Until then, we can only speculate about the future.

There’s no reason to worry about 2012. We can only control what falls in our own sphere of influence, which for most people amounts to whatever affects us directly. What do you have planned for yourself this year? Have you considered making some life changes? I believe in making and achieving goals, and I consider New Year’s resolutions worthwhile. Realistic resolutions can help frame a goal and give you a specific objective to achieve. You may not achieve everything you set out to do in a given year, but if you achieve at least one resolution or make progress toward one, you’re better off than you were. I met half the resolutions I set for myself in 2011 and set some new targets to achieve in 2012. The ones I did not achieve will be carried over to this year. They range from publishing a new book to losing weight to strengthening my faith to learning the guitar. Some will be easier than others, but I resolve to tackle them all in the next 12 months.

Even if you’re not the type of person to make New Year’s resolutions, there’s one goal you can resolve to achieve this year. Make this year a better year than 2011. Make it the best it can be. It doesn’t matter if you had a good or bad year last year. Life can always be better. Resolve to make 2012 a great year.

Empanadas or postres?

Dear Reader, if faced with the daily choice of chicken/beef/ham empanadas (meat-filled dough pockets) or creme/carmel/cherry-filled glazed pastries virtually every morning for breakfast–because that’s all the Paraguayans seem to eat for breakfast–what would you do?
Oh, probably scream for a bagel with cream cheese.  Neither of which is available in Paraguay.  That we know of.