Bangkok Floating Market – Getting There

There are several ways of getting to the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market, which is about 130 km (80 miles) from downtown Bangkok. The easiest and most convenient way is to go on one of the hundreds of day tours departing from Bangkok. These tours cost anywhere between 500-1000 baht per person and you can usually book it from your hotel or at one of the many tour shops around Khao San Road.

The advantage of this route is that everything is taken care of for you; the boat ride along the canals and around the market is already included, and afterwards there is usually a stop at a butterfly or snake farm, as well as some “artisan” shops. The vans/buses are air-conditioned and will usually pick you up from your hotel or at a central location close to you.

The downside is that you have a very limited amount of time to spend at the market, and since these tours don’t get to Damnoen Saduak until around 9AM, it is already very crowded at this point. It’s not uncommon to have bottleneck congestion at the scenic spots along the canal, especially the main area under the bridge, and since the boats can barely move, the rowers try to get past this area as quickly as they can. This gives you barely enough time to appreciate the scenery, let alone give you the time to look around and buy the exotic food stuff being sold by the friendly boatwomen.

The other option is to hire a taxi for the day from Bangkok. This enables you to set your own schedule and go at your own pace. The downside is that, it’s the most expensive option, and will set you back anywhere between 1000-2500 baht, depending on your haggling skills. However, if you’re a party of 3 or more, this becomes a reasonable option. On my last trip to Bangkok, I decided to hire a taxi to go to Damnoen Saduak since I was with my Mom and I wanted to make things as hassle free and as convenient as possible for us. We took the bus back though, since I wanted to spend as much time as we could at the market and didn’t want an impatient driver waiting for us.

For the select few who are brave and daring enough to do it by themselves, this article is for you. This breaks down the steps needed to get there without losing your sanity or hard earned cash, as well as how to get back to the city in one piece and at your convenience. The public buses in Thailand are basic, but they are air-conditioned and they are safe. The bus leaves from the Southern Bus Terminal on the eastern outskirts of the city, and is actually located at the parking lot of a mall. Note that locals know this place as Sai Tai or SC Plaza. Telling the driver that you want to go to the Southern Bus Terminal will result in confusion or blank stares. The first bus leaves at 6AM and leaves every 40 minutes after. The trip lasts anywhere between 90 minutes to two hours, depending on traffic. The bus number is 78, and you pay on board; just hop in as soon as you see it. There is a huge sign on the front of the bus in English to help you locate the right one.

Take a taxi to the Southern Bus Terminal, or Sai Tai Plaza as the locals call it. It’ll cost anywhere between 150-250 baht depending on where you’re coming from; I paid 150 baht from the Old Town area (Wat Saket).
The bus will let you off at the Shang Boat Pier, where touts will try to charge you 2000 baht/person for a 90-minute boat ride through the canals. DO NOT PAY this amount, haggle and haggle hard. Start at 300 baht/person and do not settle for anything more than 600 baht/person. If the tout holds their ground, walk away. Don’t worry, they will follow you and try to get you to agree on their now reduced price. Hold your ground until you get the price you want.
After your boat tour, if you want to explore the market more at your own pace, make your way back there on foot, by going back to the main street, turning to your left as you walk out of the parking lot, and walking about a mile east towards the market. There is only one street in that area so don’t worry about getting lost. Just keep walking until you see the river bisect the street.
This is where you should end up after 15-20 minutes of leisurely walking. You can either go down on this side of the street and explore the markets below; or you can cross to the other side and do the same thing. The bridge separates both sides and it is not possible to cross to the other side without heading to street level.
To get to the bus heading back to Bangkok, walk back towards the direction of the boat pier and continue walking until you reach the highway. When you do, cross the street and turn to your left. (Area marked with red asterisk denotes Shang Boat Pier.)
Keep walking until you see an overpass bridge, go up and walk to the other side, then walk down the stairs and continue for another 5 minutes.
Go up this stairs to cross the overpass, when you get to the other end, there is another flight of stairs that will let you go down to street level.
Turn right at the first intersection you see once you get down from the overpass. You should see the buses waiting in this alleyway. The bus facing you at this point is the next one going back to Bangkok. Double check with the driver before settling down that it is the right bus.

Let the driver know where you’re headed when you first get on the bus, i.e.; Sukhumvit, Khao San, Paragon, etc; and later on when you get closer to downtown, he will drop you off at a bus stop where he knows you can get a bus for wherever you’re headed. If you know how to navigate the bus system, by all means hop on the one that’ll take you where you need to go. If not, there is no shortage of taxis in Bangkok, and it cost very little.

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