Our second (and last) full day in Thailand brought us all over Bangkok but the day’s highlight would definitely be the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market, about 100 kilometers southwest of the capital. And here’s how our third day went.
We didn’t seriously consider going to a floating market as the nearest one from Bangkok is about a hundred kilometers away, but as our luck would have it, we got some last-minute opportunity to do so. Our hotel lobby has a counter for tourist tours and they arranged for us to have a service to Damnoen Saduak Floating Market. We arranged for this just a day earlier so it’s not cheap (฿1,500 roundtrip, taxi service only). Charge it to experience, as they say. And so, by the mid-morning we were on a long ride out of the city.
Our long drive to Damnoen Saduak gave us a good opportunity to see so much more of Thailand way outside of our normal range. This also allowed us to be in actual Bangkok traffic and also appreciate their roads. As infamous as their traffic is, it is actually much better than what I normally encounter in Metro Manila—at least from what I experienced. Sure, the volume of traffic is huge but it is constantly flowing at speeds so much faster than Metro Manila’s EDSA. Our driver easily cruised at 40-60 kph while in traffic and once we got out of the Bangkok area, we were most of the time doing 100 kph.
I was truly impressed at how fast they drive in Thailand. I guess I’m just used to the slow gridlocks of Metro Manila. The speed that they drive reminds me of Los Angeles (California) but without the blowing of the horns. Looking back, I don’t think I’ve heard any vehicle blow their horn during our entire trip to Thailand! And even as we near Damnoen Saduak and entered much smaller roads, we can still keep the 100 kph speed! I didn’t see anyone cutting or any pedestrians crossing everywhere anytime and so I guess it makes them more confident in driving fast! Either that or our driver just drives really fast! But one thing’s for sure—their road culture is much more “civilized” than what I’m accustomed to!
After about an hour or so drive, we arrived at Damnoen Saduak. Since our booking from the hotel tourist counter only covered transportation service, we had to pay separately for the boat we’d use to the floating market. This costed us another ฿1,500 per person, but we got the boat all to ourselves at our own pace with no time limit.
I honestly felt like I was going on a ride in a theme park as I boarded our boat. I didn’t really plan on buying anything from the floating market so this experience is basically just about the ride!
I was amazed by how expansive their canals are! They’re everywhere! It’s like they decided to build their roads out of water! They go through the farms, beside the houses, and eventually lead to the market. And as with any roads, shops pop-up every now and then selling a lot of different items from food to interesting souvenirs. Prices are, as expected, touristy, but there are some interesting items nonetheless.
Eventually, we arrived at the main market. There are so many things to see! Some of the things that got my attention were food as I was feeling a bit hungry, but I didn’t get any because I don’t want to eat in a boat. The place is a great place for people-watching too!
After a while, we were on our way to see the rest of the tour.
The last part of our tour brought us to this very nice temple that I did not get the name of. As we docked, we some people throwing some crumbs on the water and saw a lot of fishes actually thrive here.
We took a few minutes here to walk and have some pictures. Afterwards, we headed back to where we started.
We were hungry when our tour completed so we got us some food from where our service was waiting. Here, we got some of the best tasting Pad Thai I’ve ever had.
And then we’re off for another hour of commute back to Bangkok… 😴
After getting some rest at our hotel, we had our very late lunch at a place with a very intriguing name…
The restaurant got its distinct name to raise awareness on a wide range of social issues like sexual health and family planning and to generate income to support various development activities of the Population and Community Development Association (PDA).
While the outside might be a bit odd, the inside is very much pleasant.
They offer a lot of items here, in fact their menu is probably the thickest I’ve seen anywhere, but in the end, we picked something a little more familiar.
We spared some moments after eating to look around before we go to our next adventure…
And then we’re off for more shopping! Our destination: Pratunam.
Pratunam is one of the major shopping districts of Bangkok and what’s great about it is that it has everything from the usual market to high-end malls! The latter is the least of our concern as our intent is to get good deals on pasalubong.
We again used the BTS to get to Pratunam. We alighted at Chit Lom Station and walked the rest of the way to the market. We passed a lot of malls along the way but what caught my attention is the ferry service that passes through the area. The canal that it uses is quite narrow and the waters are black yet they still were able to utilize it for transport. If we could just apply this in Metro Manila we could definitely improve the traffic situation. Anyway, let’s go see Pratunam!
Pratunam looks in every way like Divisoria in Manila, from the vendor-lined streets, to the stalls, everything! What I find interesting is that despite being a great place for bargain-hunting, high-end malls are just a few hundred meters away! And would you believe that the landmark of the area is one of Bangkok’s tallest building, the Baiyoke Sky Hotel? It’s quite an amazing mashup.
Pratunam is a very good place for shopping. For once, we saw items with reasonable prices which you can still haggle with. And with so many options, you could spend hours here! We stuck to our shopping list to avoid overspending, and once we’re done we headed back to the BTS.
On our way to the BTS Station, our attention was caught by something that looked like an altar in the middle of the grounds of a mall. Our curiosity got the best of us and we took a closer look.
Upon closer look, I realized that the place really has some religious significance as people were praying in front of what looked like an altar with a deity figure on it. Some of them were even leaving some offerings! I’ve seen similar altars like these all throughout the city in front of businesses, hotels, and even some homes. And on certain occasions, we were able to see some people praying in front of them. Filipinos are known for being deeply religious but we usually pray indoors inside the church or our homes, not in public, open-air spaces like these! It’s akin to seeing someone pray in a grotto on a street which I’ve never seen. Such devotion is remarkable.
It was still relatively early for us to have our dinner (and since we also had a very late lunch) so we took some time off to rest. This downtime gave me some time to search for a decent place nearby to have dinner.
I think I was searching for authentic Thai food that is just a train ride away and closes late when I found 55 Pochana. It closes at 3:30AM and is located in an area that we haven’t been to yet so choosing it was easy. From our place, we simply took another ride on the BTS and alighted at Thong Lo Station.
55 Pochana is the first place that we dined in that offered us water when we took our seats. I would’ve been impressed had it not been for the fact that the bottled water that they gave us wasn’t free and they charged it to us later on. I had a hunch it wasn’t free, but we had no way of asking as all their staff hardly understood anything we said. We got through the ordering process by pointing at the picture of the item on the menu.
The tricky part of ordering is when an item has a variety of options. One of our orders can be made with chicken or other meat. We repeated “chicken” several times but we were given some other item that we were sure we did not order. Somehow the word “chicken” got through to one of their staff and so we got what we think is the item that we ordered. Again, it was really good but the spiciness is just next level!
We had one last situation when we were paying our bills. Apparently, they only accept credit cards for bills of at least ฿500! Our orders didn’t reach that amount but we don’t have enough Bahts to pay in cash (we spent most of it in Pratunam!). And so we had to order more to get our bills up to ฿500. Upon suggestion of one of the staff, we tried their dessert.
And so with two cups of their dessert, our bill thankfully ended up to exactly ฿500! What a night!
Rounding up this post are my usual tips derived from our experiences of this day:
- Joining a group tour would gradually reduce the cost of visiting Damnoen Saduak Floating Market. An entire tour usually lasts six hours, roundtrip travel time included, and could even include other stops that we have not had. The latest you can do so is at least two days prior to the tour and you may book it through various sites online or through your hotel. You could use our total cost (฿1,500 for the roundtrip taxi service + ฿1,500 boat ride per person = ฿4,500 for two) as your benchmark if the package is reasonable.
- Tourist prices apply at Damnoen Saduak Floating Market so I suggest buying only items here that you think would not be available elsewhere that you’d be visiting.
- I did not see any money changers around the floating market and I doubt that any of the vendors accept credit cards so bring along enough cash you think is enough for your expenses and purchases.
- The Pad Thai sold where the taxis await is really good!
- If you need free condoms, go to Cabbages & Condoms 😀
- Pratunam is the best place I could think of to shop as they have everything from the high-end malls to the cheap sidewalk stalls. Very easy to get to as well with the BTS.
- There are money changers around Pratunam but not all of them accept Philippine Peso (₱) so bring enough ฿ for your shopping.
- 55 Pochana is a good place for dining in late but note of the minimum ฿500 bill if you’re using credit cards.
To be continued…
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