Damnoen Saduak Floating Market - Bangkok Day Trip

You can hire long boats that you paddle or you can splash out on a power boat and driver. The engine is an old car engine that powers a long prop and propeller that goes into the water at the back. Before you get into the boat go to the toilet and make sure you carry an umbrella or rain coat in case the heavens open up. If your boat does not have a cover wear a hat to prevent sun stroke. Make sure you have put on enough sunscreen.

Sun hat sellers

The power boats are noisy and great fun. They speed you down the side canals as they transport you to the site of the market. A trip to the Damnoen Saduak floating market lets you see the old traditional way of selling and buying household goods, fruits and vegetables from small boats. During the long-tail boat ride to the floating market, you'll pass orchards, and traditional Teak Thai houses on stilts. You will be able to catch a glimpse of the way the Thais' live and travel by boats in this water world.

It is fun seeing the children playing around their Thai house verandas or sitting in a bath tub being washed by Grandma. Some of the children play by jumping into the river and 'bombing' their friends just like kids anywhere else in the world. You get friendly waves from some of the senior citizens enjoying the sunshine and having a smoke.

I noticed a lot of the 'fields' attached to the buildings consisted of cleared earth and row upon row of coconut bearing tropical palm trees. Between each row of trees was a water filled irrigation ditch. Some sections of the canal had a path on one side but many did not. The only means of transport was boat. Each house had a small boat tied up to one of the support stilts.

Having seen the photographs of the floating market I was just expecting to see the floating shops. What I did not realize was that the banks of the canals were lined with shops. Some large, others family run stalls. Your driver will stop at the bigger shops and wait for you to get out and wonder around the bigger establishments. The prices are cheaper than Bangkok but still remember to haggle.

veg and fruit seller

There is a lot of tourist junk for sale but if you look carefully you can find some high quality wooden carving at very reasonable prices. Once back in the boat you navigate through a mass of sight seeing boats full of tourists from all over the world and stall holder boats. You will be constantly asked 'you buy, you buy?' Everything is on sale from iPods, sunhats, sun cream, drinks, scarves, football shirts to spring onions.

I would highly recommend you buy a large green coconut with the top cut off and two straws stuck in the hole. The coconut milk is so refreshingly creamy. They chop the top of the coconut off in front of you so you know it is fresh. Bananas and pineapple cut up on plastic trays are offered for sale by the women who run their own floating shops.

Some sell cooked banana plantains on sticks fresh from the mini grills on their boats. They are a bit of an acquired taste. Our driver saw me looking at some of the unusual exotic fruit offered for sale. I had no idea what they were. They were the size of an apple but the outside was a deep plumb purple colour which sharply contrasted with the red and yellow foliage leaves near the stalk. It looks like a fruit you would see on the set of a science fiction film.

'What is it called?' I asked. 'Mangosteen' was the reply. The sales woman on the boat ripped open the purple flesh to reveal the white internal segments. She stuck a few onto a stick and let me taste them. I was very dubious as they looked a bit like a large maggot. The taste was amazing. It was a cool citrus sweet flavour. It made me say, 'wow that is fantastic I'll buy a kilo'.

Fast food seller

Having enjoyed one exotic fruit I was keen to try another. In the next box was another alien looking fruit. It was the size of a golf ball, red in colour with a profusion of long tan coloured soft spikes. The fruit is called rambutan. They grow on trees in bunches. You can use a knife or your finger nails to rip open the red skin to revel the white fragrant edible interior flesh that surrounds the brown pip. Do not eat the pip as it is bitter. They are very refreshing, juicy and full of vitamin C. They taste very much like the less spiky Chinese Lychee.

Some of the boat operators will take you for a tour of the suburbs which includes a stop to see some traditional Thai dancing. Floating past lots of different stilt house is a fascinating experience. Each house is different. It would be like any other Thai suburb except that there is no land, no road, pavement or gardens. All you see is water everywhere. It is so unusual.

On the way back to your car or coach the operator will normally open up the engine full throttle and speed you through the backwaters. On hot humid days it is great to feel the wind in your face and the roar of the engine behind. This adventure will take most of the morning.

Travel books