Early one morning on my last trip to Bangkok, we skipped the buffet breakfast at the hotel for something more authentic. It was my sixth time visiting the city, but it was my very first breakfast excursion to a floating market. That’s what I love about Bangkok. It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve been, there’s always something new to experience – like the fact that Bangkok used to be a city of canals. Back in the day, Bangkok’s canals served as the city’s main channels of transportation and the city’s way of life developed around them with an array of markets on the waterways. But as the city modernised, the canals were filled to make way for new roads, and as the canals disappeared, so too did the markets.
We headed 100kms out of the city to visit one of the most popular ones left – the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market – where we were able to experience Bangkok’s traditional way of life. The best time to get there before the hordes of tourists descend is when it opens at 6am. That’s when the locals shop and also when the monks paddle through. This interaction is actually how the monks participate in society. They come to get food and to help the locals with any issues they may be having.
If I was a monk in Bangkok, I’d have these floating markets on my route too. There is a smorgasbord of incredible food on offer, and it’s all super fresh and deliciously tasty. We feasted on everything from coconut pancakes served hot on banana leaves, to chicken satay skewers, fried bananas, fresh coconuts and crispy spring rolls. In fact, the coconut pancakes could possibly be one of the best things I have ever eaten. EVER! The best way to describe set-up is like a Thai version of yum cha on the water, where instead of trolleys there are boats.
We did a private tour with Diethelm Travel so we could get there early, but they also do a half-day group tour where you’ll arrive at the markets at around 9am (get there any later and you’ll be in boat gridlock).
Where: Ratchaburi Province – a two-hour drive from Bangkok.
When: Seven days a week from 6am – until 12 noon.