The Floating Market gained worldwide recognition after it was used in a legendary James Bond scene. It was here that Roger Moore zipped around in a souped-up longtail boat evading crooks and wowing cinema-goers around the world.
Today, it is a major tourist attraction in the Bangkok area despite being remotely located in Samut Songkhram; about an hour’s drive southwest of the city.
Situated at Damnoen Saduak, the Floating Market (of Bangkok) is made up of a number of small canals which are patrolled by small boats piloted by crafty ladies always ready to sell their wares and jockey for position with their competitors. The market is hot, sticky and busy; but an amazing amount of fun! You have to get up really early to experience it at its best.
Today, this Bangkok Floating Market deals with more tourists than it does local people, but that does not prevent it from being a truly memorable experience. The boats are piled high with an enormous amount of produce; from fruit and vegetables to handicrafts. If a visitor is feeling peckish, they can simply hail a passing noodle-boat, complete with stove and condiments, all seeming to be precariously placed near the rather grimy water.
Most visitors to Bangkok Floating Market choose to take part in an organized tour rather than finding their own way to the market. While the second choice is possible, using a tour company will probably ensure a better experience. Perhaps the best of both worlds is to take a private car from Bangkok and then a private boat around the market. This ensures guests can do things at their own pace.
Visitors should be aware that the market opens at 06:30 and ends around 10:00. After 08:00, the market becomes very busy, so early-birds will get the best photos and produce.
Boats take visitors along the canal that eventually leads to the Floating Market, and on this journey there are some interesting sights to behold. One can get a glimpse into the lives of the local people while houses, gardens, orchards and businesses flash past as you make your way up the river.
The peace and quiet is soon shattered by the cries and shouts of vendors as they paddle their way expertly along the canal. There are some rudimentary Thai restaurants on the spot and plenty of food on offer.
The Rose Garden
Most organised tours to the Floating Market end up here afterwards, and it’s certainly one of the most rewarding tourist sites outside of Bangkok. Much more than a rose garden, this large estate comprises wonderfully tended tropical gardens and a cultural village where you can witness firsthand typical traditional Thai activities, along with elephants demonstrating their ‘entertaining’ skills. You can even take part in all sorts of handicraft skills.
The Floating Market is all set among a charming teak village, with a cultural show at the end. Regal private teak villas are for hire around a pretty lake and there is a hotel on the banks of the lush, meandering Tha Ching River – the riverside restaurant is particularly recommended. Incidentally, it was from nearby here that the world famous Siamese Twins originated.
Bet you didn’t know that!
Born in Samut Songkhram in 1811, Siamese Twins Chan and Eng Bunker were Thailand’s first famous duo. They were conjoined twins who were shipped off to the States in 1825 to join the Barnum Freak Show Circus. After travelling the world and making a fortune, they bizarrely married a pair of sisters and sired a dozen children; it must have been an intriguing ménage à trios.
- Guide to Bangkok Night Markets
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- Bangkok City Tours
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- An Introduction to Thai Food