Maeklong Railway Market, Damnoen Saduak Floating Market, and the Khlong Lat Mayom Floating Market
Damnoen Saduak Floating Market and Maeklong Railway Market half-day tour
A visit to Thailand isn’t complete until you’ve visited a floating market. Damneon Saduak is arguably the most famous floating market in Thailand so naturally we wanted to visit. It was used for a scene in a James Bond film, “The Man with the Golden Gun”, and also in “Bangkok Dangerous” (2008) starring Nicholas Cage. We saw photos of the Maeklong Railway Market and were interested in checking it out also, so when we saw a tour that included both, we booked it without hesitation. Was it worth it though?
Our pickup time was set for 5:45am. We were there early and ended up getting picked up at 5:35am. Unfortunately we didn’t leave Bangkok until after 7am because we had to drive around the city picking up our tour guide and more tour participants. We spent a lot of that time waiting around in front of hotels though, so the process could have been scheduled better. After picking up the last of our group, we SPED through the streets and basically flew down the highway to get to the Maeklong Railway Market. We made it just before 8:30am and had about two minutes to run over and press ourselves against the buildings lining the track before the train came passing by. After the train went by, the vendors set up their goods and overhanging tents up to the edges of the track again. I thought we would have some time to browse the market, but our guide announced that we would be leaving in less than 10 minutes. He said we could go and take photos, but we would need to meet back in 7-8 minutes and that the train passing by was just a “highlight” of the tour.
A bit disappointed that we couldn’t spend more time at the railway market, we headed to our next destination. We arrived at a boat dock along the river and was told that the longtail motorboats would take us to the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market. The boats can fit 6-8 people, and the length of the boat doesn’t make it easy to turn but our boat driver expertly navigated the canals. Our tour guide and driver didn’t go by boat and met us at the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market when we arrived, so the boat ride isn’t really necessary. Once you get to the market, if you want to go to the heart of the floating market area, you’ll have to pay an additional 150 baht per person and get into another boat. There were a variety of boats for hire, some had motors, some were paddle boats, some had umbrellas or a strip of cloth overhead for shade.
It was around 9:45am and we were given about an hour to explore the market. By this time the heat of the day was getting to be unbearable. Our 2-month old baby was not happy with the hot and humid weather, so we decided against taking a boat to the main floating market area. There were still shops to browse, and a few eating places at the river dock, but we did notice that the prices were geared towards tourists rather than locals. Although the vendors in the boats and docks were locals, it seemed that all of the patrons were tourists. Maybe locals visit earlier in the day, or on weekends, but when we went it seemed to be solely a tourist attraction.
After meeting back up with our group at 10:50am, we got back in our tour van. The tour website states that we would visit the two markets and be back to Bangkok around 2pm. Since it takes about 1.5 hours to get back to Bangkok, we wondered if we would be getting back early. Instead, we were driven to an elephant and tiger park to wait for about an hour. All of the half-day tours the company offered met up there to shuffle their passengers around so they wouldn’t have to drive all over Bangkok in the afternoon dropping everyone off at their respective hotels. Since the tours that included visits to the elephant and tiger park lasted longer, we had to wait for them to be done.
Book a full-day tour or do a self-guided tour. The half-day was too rushed and felt like we were there to just take a few photos.
Be prepared for the weather. It’s a day mostly outside, so be prepared for the heat. Carry water, bring a hat, and portable fan.
Khlong Lat Mayom Floating Market self-guided tour
We also visited the Khlong Lat Mayom Floating Market. If you’re staying in Bangkok, it’s fairly easy to get there. You can take the BTS skytrain to the end of the line to Bang Wa Station, then catch a taxi to the market. We used the Google translate app to show the taxi driver our destination in Thai.
The Khlong Lat Mayom Floating Market is only on weekends and attracts both locals and tourists. When we arrived, we thought that the market was just a couple of boats and a handful of shops along a small water area. It looked tiny! But one of the store owners told us to keep walking past a parking lot area and we found the heart of the market. It was much bigger than we had anticipated. To be fair, most of the market is on land next to the canal so there isn’t a lot of “floating”. We did buy some fried bananas and palm cakes from a couple of boats, but they were docked and we were on land. The market had apparel stalls, knick-knacks, home-made goods, etc., but we were mostly interested in the food. The food stalls were plentiful and the prices were fair. There are many tables near the food stalls and they are shared by everyone. We sat down next to some local Thai ladies who were happy to tell us where they got their delicious looking meals and drinks. They also helped fan the baby since it was hot out.
After filling our bellies, we took a longtail boat tour through the canals. It included two stops – one stop at a tiny floating market next to a small temple, and another stop at an orchid farm before returning to the Khlong Lat Mayom floating market. It cost 100 baht per person (baby was free). Although this boat tour was touristy like the boat ride we took through the canals to Damnoen Saduak, the houses and temples lining the canals were more picturesque by the Khlong Lat Mayoum Floating Market.
We enjoyed our time at the Khlong Lat Mayom Floating Market more because we were on our own time schedule. The vendors at that market were more relaxed and we liked that we spent more time at the market than traveling there. We think we would have enjoyed the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market and Maeklong Railway Market more if we had been given more time there. Even so, we appreciated being able to visit the historic floating market, and the unique railway market. If you get the chance to go, make sure to do a full-day tour, or maybe do an overnight so that you spend most of the day experiencing the markets instead of traveling to and from Bangkok. Interested in seeing the markets? Here are the tours we recommend for getting the most out of your day.
The “Private Damneon Saduak Floating Market Day Trip From Bangkok” is a half-day private trip specifically to the Damneon Saduak Floating Market only - with a short canal cruise. Pick this one if you are only interested in seeing this Floating Market, and nothing else.
Choose the “1 Day Thailand Floating Markets Tour“ if you are interested in seeing all the important markets in the Samutsongkram province, including the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market with a long-tail boat ride, the Wat Bang Kung and Thai Boxing Temple, the Maeklong Railway Market, and the Amphawa Floating Market with a 1-hour “firefly” boat trip.
Or choose the “Risky Market & Amphawa Floating Market Day Trip From Bangkok“ if you are interested in seeing the Maeklong Railway Market (“Risky Market”), the Amphawa Floating Market, and a night motor boat cruise along the Canal to see how the villagers spend their daily life by the river.
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Jenny & Bradley of EatWanderExplore