When it comes to floating markets, there isn’t a much more renowned and popular one to visit in all of Thailand than Damnoen Saduak Market. It is on top of many traveler’s itineraries for good reason with the huge array of things to buy here from traditional Thai foods to souvenirs of all kinds including some gorgeous pieces of artwork that you can take home with you.
I took a daytrip here from Bangkok as part of a tour and truly enjoyed visiting both Damnoen Saduak Market and Maeklong Railway Market which are around a 20-minute taxi ride from each other.
One of the mind blowing things about Maeklong Railway Market is the fact it is literally situated on a train track and the train runs through the middle of it. This creates a problem for the local sellers there as they must move their stores before the train goes past. Otherwise, it will knock them over!
The railway market has easily existed for over 100 years and hasn’t changed much at all in setup since it was first started in the early 1900s. There is only one place which comes slightly close to this experience is the train street in Hanoi, Vietnam.
This train street also has a train that runs through the middle of it. The main difference between the two is that there are only a few small shops and cafes at the train street in Hanoi whereas Maeklong is an entire market with lots of small stalls on either side.
I absolutely enjoyed this daytrip and both markets are must-visits in my opinion. In this full guide, I will share everything I learned from my daytrip there to make yours as smooth and fun as possible.
So without further ado, here is everything you need to know before visiting Damnoen Saduak Floating Market and Maeklong Railway Market near Bangkok!
A Full Guide To Damnoen Saduak Floating Market and Maeklong Railway Market – Everything To See and Why You Should Visit
- How To Get There
- Bangkok To Damnoen Saduak Market By Bus
- Bangkok To Damnoen Saduak Market By Taxi
- My Experience At These Two Famous Thai Markets
- Opening Times and When You Should Get There
- Why Visit Damnoen Saduak Floating Market?
- Why Visit Maeklong Railway Market?
- 3 Recommended Foods To Try
- Other Interesting Places To Go While In Ratchaburi
- Hin Khao Ngu Park
- How To Book A Group Tour
How To Get There
When visiting these markets, I would recommend two transport options which is either going by minivan or getting a taxi there. These are the best ways because otherwise you have to get a train and a bus after which makes things a lot more complicated.
Some recommendations I‘ve read actually involve getting a train, bus and then a taxi which would be far too much of a hassle for me and I think it would be a big headache for most people.
I did a group tour of both markets with GetYourGuide that offered hotel pickup when I went. This was great because they picked up from most of the popular tourist areas in the city and all I had to do was wait outside.
The experience I had with this was easy-going although I can imagine getting a minivan or a taxi would also be a good idea. Here is how you can get either one:
Bangkok To Damnoen Saduak Market By Minivan
Cost from Sai Tai Mai Bus Station (return): 80-100 THB ($2.44 – $3.05)
Journey Time from Sai Tai Mai Bus Station: 2 hours
Minivan Schedule at Sai Tai Mai Bus Station: 6AM to 11PM
The easiest way of getting a minivan from Bangkok would be to head to Bangkok Southern Bus Terminal which is also known as Sai Tai Mai Bus Station. This is around a 25-30 minute taxi drive from Khao San Road in total.
If you are alone or traveling with one of your friends, you could take a grab motorbike taxi at the same time to the bus station and meet each other when you arrive.
Once you arrive at Sai Tai Mai, head to the left side of the main building where you will find the station with the minivans. The platform for Damneon Saduak is number 304 and the minivans leave throughout most of the day so it should be easy getting one.
The leaving times are also frequent too from what I’ve heard although it is very difficult to find the official times online.
Bangkok To Damnoen Saduak Market By Taxi
Journey Time: 1 hour (depending on traffic)
Cost: 1300-1600 THB ($40 – $50)
If you are looking for both an easy and smooth way to get there, a taxi will be your best bet.
Of course, this will come with a price but a taxi will get you there faster and save you the hassle of having to go to the bus station at the same time. You can also arrange a deal with a taxi company where you can hire a driver for a day.
This is a good way of saving money and you can strike up a good bargain if you are willing to negotiate. This is a better option than paying 1300 Baht each way which will amount to almost 100 dollars there and back when you could get a taxi for the day for less.
Either way, you can’t beat a taxi for transport if you are willing to spend more.
My Experience At These Two Famous Thai Markets
Before visiting these markets, I didn’t quite know what to expect although I had seen photos of them online which made me really excited to say the least.
Upon arriving with my tour guide, the first thing I did was ride the train to Maeklong Railway Market.
This is one of the best things to do while at the market so I knew I had to do this as the train does run directly through the middle of it. I saw a huge range of foods here which I can imagine are all part of dishes that are eaten regularly in Thailand. A large portion of these foods are also seafoods too which shows how much of a staple food it is in Thai cuisine.
By coming here, you are learning a huge part of Thai culture itself by seeing most of the things that locals buy on a daily basis. The market goes on for 100 metres on the train tracks.
Of course, the second market I visited was the must-see of the whole trip which was Damnoen Saduak Floating Market. I came here by boat which is nice because it gives you a view of either side of the riverbank.
Similar foods and clothing items were also sold here although the floating market included an extra factor which was that you could buy from people in the river on the boat.
This was by far the wildest part of the overall experience because locals are literally selling things on other little boats right next to you!
Opening Times and When You Should Get There
Damnoen Saduak Opening Times: 7AM-5PM
Maeklong Opening Times: 7AM-5PM
Although both markets are open until late in the evening, I would advise getting there as early as possible to get the most authentic local experience. This is especially true with the floating market because it quickly becomes busy at around 9am in the morning so you will want to get in and out while it is still quiet and see everything there is to see.
You can get away with going to Maeklong later as there are a bit less people there but I would still advise arriving no later than 9am for two reasons:
1. This will allow you to see the floating market for a couple of hours first.
2. The first train arrives at 9am so you’ll be able to see it as soon as you arrive.
It is also possible to visit them both in the evening because they are open until 5pm. The only problem with this is that a lot of the shopkeepers have already left by that time.
To get the most out of your trip, the times recommended above are best.
Why Visit Damnoen Saduak Floating Market?
Out of all the floating markets that you can visit in Thailand, Damnoen Saduak is up there as one of the most popular among visitors.
This is not only evident from the 18,000+ Google reviews it has online but also because of how busy it is most of the time. On a busy day, the river running through the middle is full to the brim with boats and you can see people practically everywhere you turn.
As Thailand is one of the most popular countries in the world for tourism and this is the most popular floating market in the Bangkok area, it is safe to say that there are a LOT of people coming here each month.
The overall fun doesn’t just lie in the market itself but the enjoyable boat ride through the river and sights that can be seen on the way.
Enjoy interacting with the local people while passing through on your boat and try practicing some Thai with them too if you want while shopping.
Why Visit Maeklong Railway Market?
Maeklong Railway Market is the only railway market in the entire country of Thailand which is the primary reason why it is so popular as a tourist destination. Unlike Damnoen which is one of several floating markets in the country, you won’t get a chance to visit a railway market anywhere else while in Thailand.
Known as one of the top destinations to go to for daytrips close to Bangkok, Maeklong offers an alternative market experience which is like no other.
The train which frequently passes through the market sometimes knocks over the stalls there so you will see a lot of venders quickly saving their goods.
I must say, it is funny watching them moving their stalls before the train comes and most of the time, they are very successful at it!
You haven’t quite had the real local Bangkok experience until you visit Maeklong Railway Market. In addition to this, its popularity is reflected online with over 10,000 Google reviews and a majority of these being positive.
3 Recommended Foods To Try
As a big fan of local experiences, I would advise trying as many local dishes as you can while you are here.
This will give you the most authentic foodie experience at the Thai markets and you will be able to learn what the locals eat daily here. Here are some tasty local food options that I would recommend trying:
Price: 12-20 THB ($0.37 – $0.61) per bowl
Boat noodles are a staple part of Thai culture and is reflected in the fact that they have been sold on the boats of river markets for centuries. As you might have guessed, these noodles are cooked on a boat directly in front of you and you can see all the ingredients that goes into the bowl you are eating out of.
You can choose from a bunch of different meats ranging from chicken, pork, shrimp and even duck along with special herbs.
Mango Sticky Rice
Price: 50-60 THB ($1.52 – $1.83)
Mango Sticky Rice is an absolute classic of a Thai dessert which consists of mango, sugar, coconut milk and sticky sweet rice all bundled together on a neat little plate.
Every time I come to Thailand, I always find a local stall which sells it because of the fact I love it so much.
The great addition to getting some mango sticky rice at a market is that you know it is authentic and is close to what the locals are eating.
The texture of mango sticky rice is creamy but also natural. It is much healthier than most of the sugar-filled desserts we get in the west and is a must-try in Thailand.
Pad Thai With Seafood
Price: 70-80 THB ($2.13 – $2.44)
Pad thai is the national dish of Thailand and is my favorite dish out of them all to eat in the country.
It is truly a classic although it can be difficult to find a good one. A lot of places don’t typically sell real pad thai with local ingredients. Especially the touristy restaurants which don’t source their foods from local markets.
For this reason, I would recommend getting a pad thai while you are these markets and it will be worth your while. In this way, you can be confident you are getting the best of the best because all the ingredients are locally grown.
In addition to this, I would also recommend getting a pad thai with seafood such as shrimp because this is more consumed by the locals.
Hin Khao Ngu Park As A Family Trip Near Ratchaburi
If you are traveling to the markets with your family, a great outdoor activity that you can do is visit Hin Khao Ngu Park. This is of course if you have spare time but it looks like a wonderful place to go with plenty of beautiful scenery to enjoy. This is also close to the floating market so it is worth a visit!
Opening Times: 9AM-6PM
Entrance Fee: Free
Price To Rent A Paddle Boat: 40 THB ($1.22)
Hin Khao Ngu Park not only has free entry, but it also has some spectacular views of the river in the distance.
You can walk around here with your family and it is a great family-oriented place overall.
Take some amazing Instagram photos on the large red bridge that stretches across the river here as they are sure to look impressive.
After that, you can choose to rent a paddle boat and get up-close and personal with the rocky scenery that surrounds the stone park. There are also monkeys that live here that can be quite interesting to see and a cave with bats inside apparently.
It is worth a visit if that is the sort of thing you are interested in!
How To Book A Group Tour
There are lots of different websites out there which offer a full market tour which includes both markets.
This makes sense because they are in close proximity of each other, so it is a good idea to see them both at the same time.
I did one of these tours myself and I would absolutely recommend it to anyone out there who is looking for a good one to do.
This tour also includes full transportation from your hotel as mentioned at the start of this guide which is helpful instead of rushing around trying to make it to the bus station on time.
The tour guide I had was also very knowledgeable and was able to answer all my questions.
You can see and book the same tour that I did with getyourguide by clicking here.
I am a big fan of GetYourGuide and did another tour with them to Ayutthaya.
1. Is The Railway Market Safe?
Although there is a train which runs directly through the market, this is not dangerous and locals are very familiar with it. If you or anyone else you are traveling with were in a dangerous position, I am sure that someone around would move you very quickly and nothing would happen.
Nevertheless, it is still important to keep your senses about you when traveling to a place like this in general.
This market has been a key part of the local culture in Thailand for over 100 years and if it was dangerous, it would have been shut down.
It is perfectly safe coming here with your family and there hasn’t been a single tourist death recorded as far as I am aware.
2. How Long Is The Boat Ride At Damnoen Floating Market?
A full market tour will last for one hour and this will allow you to absorb everything the market has to offer.
You will journey around the full length of the market with a local paddling the boat and you can do some shopping at the same time.
Of course, there is also an option for shorter rides with a private boat taxi although these do not include a tour of the market.
I was very happy a chose the full tour and would recommend this to anyone else.
3. Should I Visit Both Of The Markets?
I would personally advise visiting both markets but that is up to you.
They are only a 20-minute car journey from each other and are both incredibly unique in their own way.
If you can only see one, I would say to see the railway market because of the fact it is the only one in the whole of Thailand.
No matter how long you are staying in Bangkok for, both of these fascinating markets fit perfectly into any itinerary and there is a reason why tourists flock to them in their thousands each year.
Going to markets in Thailand isn’t just about shopping or the food, it is more about the wonderful experiences you get here by being side by side with locals and seeing the way they live.
In terms of markets in Thailand, you really can’t get much better and they aren’t far away from Bangkok either.
Make sure to ride the train at Maeklong Market and try to take a full boat tour at Damnoen. I guarantee doing these two things will make your trip worthwhile!