The only way to visit the Bangkok floating market is on a tour. Says the travel agency selling tours. A six am bus ride beckons instead.
“Take the bus,” said a friend. “But get off at the right stop or you’ll end up in paddy fields. And walk to the market, whatever anyone says.”
Damnoen Saduak Floating Market, 60 miles away in Ratchaburi province, is a classic Bangkok day trip. Tours vary, perhaps from $40, but public buses leave the Southern Bus Terminal for a few dollars.
This isn’t a money-saving exercise, rather the freedom to explore without restriction. After a two-hour ride, the bus driver indicates when to get off. When I do, I'm told it’s too far to walk, but it’s not: 15 minutes past khlongs, canals, bright green reeds and teak houses.
At the market, I roam the raised walkways beside the water channels. They are packed with sampans selling Tiger Balm to tourists and fresh vegetables and meat to locals, who barter with vendors over the price of dragonfruit. I snack at every opportunity. For lunch, I eat pad thai on a porcelain plate, freshly cooked on the boat. Another vendor floats past with cold beer.
Later, I take a boat ride along the canals passing stilt houses and marshes. At the market, there’s time for a final portion of mango sticky rice. And a beer. One for the road.
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