Damnoen Suduak Floating Market is one of the most popular booked tour in Thailand. I usually prefer to go on my own adventures and avoid expensive private tours. Moreover, there were some pretty bad reviews so I was a little weary upon arriving. At first sight, the floating market was a charming view and there were already many sampans (boats) at the dock. Needless to say, the experience started smoothly and we really enjoyed the morning tour of the market. Below are 5 shopping tips after our trip to the market.
#1. Don’t buy clothing, bags and trinkets
Damnoen Saduak Floating Market has been considered a tourist trap and everything here were seriously overpriced within and outside the market. Before entering the market, I was looking around outside the market and there were a few stalls which sold clothes, such as elephant pants and tank tops averaging at 350 baht. At Chatuchak Weekend Market, you can get them at 100 baht each. However, some things could be more special due to the moment such as jade amulets, elephant toys, straw hats that may be worth considering.
#2. Always haggle first before purchasing
I learnt this after witnessing my local thai friends haggling prices for almost anything material before a purchase. It’s almost a systematic methodology for shopping here. The price tags on display are usually at a higher markup and seasoned locals know that; and use it to their advantage when dealing with merchants. Make an effort to not get ripped off, try to lower the price by simple hand signals + suggesting a lower number.
#3. Hold back, relax, choose wisely
Most of the items at Damnoen Suduak Floating Market were not exclusive, meaning they were available at another floating or retail market in Bangkok. There’s no need to seize the moment and buy something that you fell in love with at first sight right here. Hold the impulse and enjoy the boat ride first, continue to explore what the other stalls have to offer. There’s a high chance you’ll find the same items at other canals or motorboats. But if there’s something really exquisite that really caught your eye and if not purchasing it means a lifetime of regret, then splurge away. It’s unlikely you’d return back to the market again anyway.
#4. Caution when buying food
Avoid eating any of the cooked food served at the motorboats. It seemed like the food had been laid out for quite some time and flies can be seen hovering over them. Honestly, the premises don’t seem very hygienic and you don’t want to risk it. However, there was a huge variety of fruits – baskets of grapefruit, strawberries and mangoes, etc. These were pretty safe to eat without much worry for an upset stomach. Bangkok’s famous boat noodles can be found here as well but I found it more fascinating to watch the sellers cook instead. I’d recommend having lunch at the Pad Thai stall outside the floating market. We ordered spicy pad thai and boat noodles, which were very tasty, affordable and conditions appeared cleaner.
#5. Buy the experience
The experience of Damnoen Saduak Floating Market was worth it, as we got an authentic insight into the local merchants’ way of life. As a city dweller, I found the entire journey to be quite refreshing. The only thing I bought here was a photograph taken at the start of the ride (~100baht). These are memories that stay with you forever.
Related: Ayutthaya and Temples of Bangkok
- This is rather obvious, but be careful not to drop your phone into the river. There’s not turning back afterwards.
- Protect your fingers: Make sure your hands are inside the boat and not placed at the sides, as other boats might bump into yours as the boats glide past.
- Spend at least 30-40 minutes here, to capture many different moments in your photographs. The market can get quite hectic in the early afternoon, so try to come in the morning when it is less crowded.
- There are other attractions such as the coconut sugar farm and elephant village nearby.
Location: Damnoen Saduak 70130, Thailand.
Thank you to our local friends in Bangkok to take us here and negotiate lower prices for the boat ride (~200 baht/person) 🙂