Adrift in tranquility

04/01/2018 11:38

Discover Damnoen Saduak, Thailand's most famous floating market

Traveling to the sleepless city of Bangkok, visitors are spoiled for choices that are genuinely Thai. However, those eager to escape the urban bustle should head for the nearby rustic floating market of Damnoen Saduak to explore the authentic local culture in this Land of Smiles.

  Like the residents of many other nations along great rivers, Thai people have entrusted their way of life to the Mekong, with floating marketplaces where deals are made on boats and coracles. Damnoen Saduak is one of the oldest and most famous markets in Thailand. Located 100km from the capital, it may be reached via a highly advanced public transport system or on a tour. Each day, guests from Bangkok flock to this floating market.

    Using basic English, visitors can reach the city bus station and buy a ticket to Damnoen Saduak Floating Market in Ratchaburi Province. Be sure to set out early, even the night before, in order to explore the floating market at dawn when the canals are not clogged with merchant boats.

Damnoen Saduak Market takes place where a series of canals converge. Boats, sampans and coracles laden with merchandise sneak through every single interlacing corner. The banks are also cramped with market stalls. Some visitors explore this floating market by strolling along the shores and watching the activity down on the river. However, most visitors still hire boats that accommodate six people and join the vibrant market. Damnoen Saduak Floating Market specializes in fruit, handicrafts and traditional foods. The landscape resembles a soulful painting of colorful boats loaded with fresh fruit. Visitors can barely take their eyes off the ripe and inviting bunches of bananas, succulent mangoes, lush green guavas, provocative Thai durians and jack fruit. There are also boats heavily laden with coconuts, a specialty of Thailand that entice market goers with their sweet and cool juice and thin shells. Numerous boats sell local snacks like grilled seafood, mixed salads, rolled salads, compote, sticky rice and cakes that are both delicious and beautifully presented.

Fruit and snacks aside, visitors will find an abundance of traditional handicrafts made by skillful Thai artisans. As a kingdom of coconuts, lots of handicrafts are based on coconuts, including ornaments and kitchen tools. Buy a traditional Thai hat to wear around the market and bring home as a souvenir. Pairs of sandals and lovely sedge bags are also tempting.

  It takes just two hours to tour the market, buy some handicrafts and savor some local snacks. Now, hire a boat and head away from the floating market, out of sight of the canals and into the wide river to reach scenic riverside villages where tiny cramped houses stand side by side, surrounded by flowers.

Seen from the river, life in Damnoen Saduak appears rich and joyous. The locals decorate their homes with flower beds and fences covered with vines, or simply place flower pots on windowsills. Every house looks neat and fresh, which hints at an affluent and tranquil life. The locals are very friendly and genuine, admitting that the influx of tourists has brought the floating market fame and enriched many of them. An outing to Damnoen Saduak Floating Market is a peaceful jaunt on the river.
Linh Yen

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