Actually 100 kilometres south of the Thai capital and very touristy, a morning trip to the travel wonder of Damnoen Saduak is still worthwhile. Similar to the highway chaos in central Bangkok but on water, small canals (klongs) are packed with long narrow boats piled high with fresh produce or simple stoves and a surprisingly varied menu. Expertly piloted by determined straw-hatted women, boats jockey for prime position ready to stop at a moment’s notice to barter their goods or sell their breakfasts.
Undoubtedly, the favoured method to arrive at these colourful, noisy, congested markets is long-tail boat through backstreet klongs past tranquil fruit orchards and local people going about their daily lives – kids jumping excitedly into the dirty water or parents cleaning or cooking from their small traditional teak houses or tiny ramshackle huts.
All styles of breakfasts are possible from luscious fresh tropical fruit, through small round pastry dumplings, deliciously strong spicy noodle dishes, satay sticks and tasty seafood to unidentified sweets rich in colour.
Having changed from my first visit many years ago, today the market boats also happily flog various souvenirs, ranging from elegant silks and handicrafts to tourist trash, to willing travellers, losing a little of the market’s older appeal.
The market is humid and hectic with visitors so it warrants being particularly early. After breakfast as traffic peaks, it is worth hiring one of the boats for a while and enjoy the market chaos from the water and marvel at the manoeuvring skills of the paddlers.
Consider spending the afternoon having a Thai massage to recover from the rigours of a market morning. However the day is completed, Bangkok’s floating market makes for an entertaining and fun early morning provided your expectations aren’t for too authentic an experience and offers a small insight into life on the Thai canals.