Damnoensaduak floating market tourists Ratchaburi Thailand

Thailand 2010: Damnoen Saduak Floating Market tour, Cobra show… and leaving Bangkok

Date:  29th November 2010

My final day in Thailand… and I still made most of the time I had before flying out.

Even though I still had an entry ticket to DreamWorld theme park which I got for free via Cleartrip, I decided to chuck that and opted instead to do something I couldn’t do last year.

I booked myself for a floating market tour via the lady who owns Thai House Inn and she got it for me for ฿600 (Rs. 890/$20/€14).

Bangkok Rama bridge early morning Thailand
Left Bangkok at around 6am; headed to the neighbouring district of Ratchaburi, a 100km drive
Shrimp prawn farms outside Bangkok Thailand
Passed by a lot of shrimp farms. Turns out Thailand is largest exporter of such shrimps. (That explains the abundance of prawn crackers)

After an hour long drive, the van reached a canal where there were other tour groups gathered near some boats.

Floating market tour starting point boats Thailand
We would then be split up into groups for each boat
Canal longtail boat Bangkok Thailand
I grabbed the spot in front

Damnoen Saduak Ratchaburi canal boats Bangkok Thailand

Damnoen Saduak river taxi boats Bangkok Thailand
No roads from here on out, just canals all the way to the ‘floating’ market

Floating village longtail boats parked Thailand

River to Damoen Saduak floating market Thailand
It was a lovely morning ride

Damnoen Saduak river pier Bangkok Thailand Floating village Thai women canal Bangkok

Damnoen Saduak floating village house by river Bangkok Thailand
It was a charming sight to see houses and entire villages live by these canals
Damnoen Saduak floating village river Bangkok Thailand
Kind of appears as though the ‘roads’ are flooded 🙂

Damnoen Saduak floating village Bangkok Thailand Damnoen Saduak river homes Yamaha Fino Bangkok ThailandDamnoen Saduak village boat lift Ratchaburi ThailandDamnoen Saduak floating market flower pots Ratchaburi ThailandDamnoen Saduak floating market sheet Ratchaburi ThailandDamnoen Saduak canal house Ratchaburi ThailandDamnoen Saduak floating market river motorboat Ratchaburi

Damnoen Saduak floating market sign Ratchaburi Thailand
That’s where we were heading

Damnoen Saduak floating market row houses Ratchaburi ThailandDamnoen Saduak floating village houses Ratchaburi ThailandDamnoen Saduak floating market pedestrian bridge Ratchaburi ThailandDamnoen Saduak floating village home Ratchaburi ThailandDamnoen Saduak floating market canal Ratchaburi Thailand

Damnoen Saduak floating market lanes Ratchaburi Thailand

Once we reached the market, we got out of our boats and were informed by our guide that we had nearly an hour here. But, if we wanted to boat ride around the market, we would have to pay ฿50 (Rs. 75/$1.6/€1.16) and it was not included in the tour package. Obviously, none of us wanted to simply walk around the ‘floating’ market, so I paid up.

Damnoen Saduak floating market old boat lady Ratchaburi
I sat right in front again

Damnoen Saduak floating market boats fruit hawker Ratchaburi ThailandDamnoen Saduak floating market paddle boat vendor Ratchaburi Thailand

Damnoen Saduak floating market paddle boats Ratchaburi Thailand
Mind you, there are many boats carrying tourists around the market all morning. The market closes by afternoon.
Damnoen Saduak floating market hats vendor Thailand
Plenty of hawkers (on boats of course) pull your boat over to try and sell you their wares

Damnoen Saduak floating market hats ThailandDamnoen Saduak floating market souvenir vendor ThailandDamnoen Saduak floating market vendor pulling Ratchaburi Thailand

Damnoen Saduak floating market saffron spices Ratchaburi Thailand
A lot of the stuff for sale are souvenirs and other Thailand memorabilia

Damnoen Saduak floating market vendors Ratchaburi Thailand

Damnoen Saduak floating market pork noodles Ratchaburi Thailand
No shortage of eateries as usual

Damnoen Saduak floating market Paew boat service Thailand

Thailand souvenirs for sale floating market Ratchaburi Thailand
And as usual, you can haggle for a much lower price than what they initially quote

Damnoen Saduak floating market morning rush ThailandDamnoen Saduak floating market restaurant Ratchaburi ThailandDamnoen Saduak floating market under bridge Thailand

Damnoen Saduak floating market handicrafts Thailand
Even under a bridge there was no shortage of hawkers

Damnoen Saduak floating market lights boat Thailand

Damnoen Saduak floating market insects bugs Thailand
From preserved animals…
Damnoen Saduak floating market snake Thailand
.. to even getting photographs with a massive snake. All available under the bridge.

Damnoen Saduak floating market hawker boats Thailand

Damnoen Saduak floating market coconut boat Thailand
Nicely shaven coconut 🙂

Damnoen Saduak floating market bags sculptures Thailand Damnoen Saduak floating market hawker boat ThailandDamnoensaduak floating market water canal Ratchaburi ThailandDamnoensaduak floating market tourist paddle boat Thailand

Damnoensaduak floating market fan hats hawker Thailand
After much pandering, I ended up buying two of these hats for my nieces. The hats can be folded into fans as well. Paid around ฿100 each.
Asian tourists floating market Thailand
Best advised to keep your hands inside at all time. The boats do ram into each other.
Damnoen Saduak floating market end Thailand
It was time to turn around and go back

Damnoensanduak floating market souvenirs sale Thailand

Damnoensanduak floating market boats jam Thailand
This is what a floating market traffic jam looks like

And this is what it sounds like 🙂

Damnoensanduak floating market Durian Thailand
Durian. Ugh.
Damnoensanduak floating market hats hawker Thailand
Yes, lots of hats

Damnoensanduak floating market handicrafts Ratchaburi ThailandAfter riding for around half an hour, we were dropped back on to the platform.

Damnoensaduak floating Thailand flag boat Ratchaburi
Continued taking photos on foot

Damnoensaduak floating market morning Ratchaburi Thailand Damnoensaduak floating market boat ride Ratchaburi ThailandDamnoensaduak floating market shops Ratchaburi ThailandDamnoensaduak floating market dog Ratchaburi ThailandDamnoensaduak floating market boats crossing Ratchaburi ThailandDamnoensaduak floating market fruits boat Ratchaburi ThailandDamnoensaduak floating market paddle boats fresh food Thailand

Damnoensaduak floating market tourists Ratchaburi Thailand
The floating market is one of those ‘must see’ places in Thailand
Damnoensaduak floating market massage chairs Thailand
Yes, you can get a massage just about anywhere in Thailand

Damnoensaduak floating market canal boats Ratchaburi ThailandDamnoensaduak floating market long boat Ratchaburi Thailand

Damnoensaduak floating market paddle boats parking Thailand
How paddle boats are ‘parked’
Damnoensaduak floating market smaller canal Thailand
I would have liked to have gone through there

Damnoensaduak floating market entrance king portrait Thailand

Damnoensaduak floating market food boat Ratchaburi Thailand
How heavy must the boats be to hold the weight of two gas cylinders?

I walked back to the designated meeting point for our tour group. It was time to leave, so we all got back to our respective vans.

I was under the impression the floating market tour was over and that we would be on our long drive back. But no, instead, the van took us to a nearby Elephant Village.

Now, I had been to an elephant camp in Chiang Mai back in 2009 so I knew what to expect and more importantly, why they bring tourists here as ‘part of the package’.

Floating market tour elephant ride village Thailand
It’s ฿600 for an elephant ride -_-
Elephant village ride tourists Thailand
I wasn’t interested
Elephant village forest history Thailand
Instead, I sat at the cafe and read up trivia

After waiting for nearly half an hour for the few from my tour group who wanted to go for the elephant ride, we finally got moving again. Next up, the Cobra Show.

Cobra Show entrance ticket counter Ratchaburi Thailand
Again, they only drop you here, you still had the option to pay and enter

Even though I had seen videos from the ‘most exciting show in the world,’ I did not want to wait outside in the heat again. So I paid the ฿30 or ฿50 it was for the ticket and went in.

Cobra Show arena Bangkok Thailand
The arena inside (Panorama comprised of 6 shots)

They start off with the announcer welcoming everyone and explaining in fairly understandable English that the purpose of the facility is to ‘educate’ visitors that snakes are not all that dangerous as people make them out to be.

Cobra show extracting snake venom Thailand
A badass-looking Thai staff member showing us how they extract snake’s venom

The also bring around snakes to you in case you want to take photos with one around your neck. And since I hate snakes…

Cobra show Mithun snake around neck Thailand
I thought I’d give it a try 🙂
Cobra show python snake showing tourists Thailand
They have all kinds of snakes, like huge pythons as well

The ‘exciting’ parts kick in when they demonstrate how the trained staff catch snakes. Which has to be seen in action:

The guy also caught three cobras, one by one, which was quite impressive.

The excitement continues when they bring out a snake’s worst enemy in the animal kingdom, the mongoose — and then make the two fight.

Cobra show mongoose snake fight Thailand
“Snake, meet mongoose”
Cobra show mongoose snake fight tourism Thailand
“Snake… meet mongoose!”
Cobra show mongoose fighting snake Thailand
“Snake… snake…snaaaaake!”*
Cobra show mongoose not fighting snake Thailand
Introductions over I guess

Here’s a video of the mongoose fight some more:

Thirty minutes of, erm, animal cruelty, the show was over. The staff went around seeking donations from the visitors, and I tipped ฿100 to the guy who caught the snakes with his bare hands, because that’s quite some skill.

Outside, there have a mini-zoo with a few reptilian creatures.

Mangrove snake cobra show ThailandCobra show crocodile Thailand

Cobra show python tourist neck photograph Thailand
If you want photos with much bigger snakes, you can take them here
Cobra show Thailand snake park Thailand
But I wanted to sit in the air-conditioned van as it was quite hot!

I asked our guide if the ‘tour’ was over, but he said there was one final stop. Ugh.

This was some handicrafts showroom where they specialize in wooden sculptures.

Thailand wood craftsman at work

Buddha statue wood carving Thailand
But I must say, quite impressive wood work (That sign seems a bit ironic btw)

Thai craftswoman handicraft carving Thailand

Teakwood amazing woodwork craftsman artist Thailand
Scratch that, some *very* impressive wood work!
Teakwood detailed amazing woodwork craftsman artist Thailand
Wonder how many weeks it takes for such stunning works of art
Wooden elephant sculpture handicrafts Thailand
They’re all for sale but it’s not like they’re easy to fit into a suitcase and take back with you

Needless to say, none of these wooden sculptures carved out of teak wood come cheap. Most of them were in the thousands of dollars (yes, dollars, not Thai baht)!

Thai wood handicrafts showroom Thailand
They have a showroom with some smaller pieces of wood work inside

After another half-an-hour spent here, we headed back into our vans. I was finally done with the ‘floating market’ tour. As touristy as the above sights may seem, I still feel a visit to the floating market is a ‘must-do’ in Thailand. Damnoen Suduak is the most popular floating market, thus the hordes of tourists. There are a few other floating markets across Thailand.

The journey back into the city took a lot longer for me as I was going to be the last one dropped. I eventually got down at MBK to have lunch… at KFC.

KFC seaweed flavour chicken Bangkok Thailand
Last year, KFC Thailand introduced a sweet ‘n’ spicy variant of their chicken, and it was my last meal before leaving. This year, KFC introduced a seaweed infused variant. It was alright, better than last year’s sweet ‘n’ spicy.

With my final meal in Thailand complete…

Siam Paragon Krispy Kreme line Bangkok Thailand
Oh for god’s sake Thai people, there’s NOTHING special about Krispy Kreme!

Anyway… I headed back to Thai House Inn to pack up and check out. I sat down for a bit before stepping out again, but this time, without my camera bag for a change. I wanted to give my shoulders a rest after the nearly two weeks I strained them. I walked further down from Nana BTS to see whether there were better sub-฿1000 accommodation available so that next time if I do choose to stay in the Sukhumvit area, I don’t have to stay to at Thai House Inn.

Hopefully, next time I’m in Bangkok, if I don’t have much shopping to do, I’ll stay in Khao San road.

At around 5:30pm, I took the BTS to Phaya Thai station. They had only recently opened the new skytrain link directly to Suvarnabhumi airport, saving passengers both time and money.

Phaya Thai airport line BTS station Bangkok metro
The Phaya Thai airport link station
Phaya Thai airport link to Suvarnabhumi BTS station Bangkok
And as an introductory offer, the ticket to Suvarnabhumi was a cheap ฿15! I paid nearly ฿500 last year for taxi!

The journey took  just 30 minutes. Clearly a better option for those with less luggage. I was early enough for my 9:20pm Thai Airways flight to Bangalore.

Suvarnabhumi airport metro BTS entrance Thailand
The entry into the airport from the BTS station is at the basement

Walking up to the departures section, I was quite stunned to see just about every Indian passenger heading back to Mumbai with a massive LCD/plasma TV in tow. It’s as though everybody knew how much to pay off the Mumbai customs officials upon arrival.

Quite ridiculous really, especially seeing many of them pleading with the check-in personnel not to impose excess baggage charges… because some of them were (unsurprisingly) way over the allowed limit!

Statue Thai art Suvarnabhumi airport ThailandAfter checking-in, I headed to the VAT (value added tax) refund office to declare my purchases and get my VAT refund forms stamped by the officials. Then came the rather long queue at immigration.

Thai sculpture Suvarnabhumi airport gates
Passport stamped, I was through

I checked out the Duty Free, bought two bottles of liquor that my friends requested (prices and selection are fairly good here) and then went to the VAT refund counter to get my cash refund. Submitted my form and got 7% of the total value of my purchases back in cash. I mentioned this last year and I’ll mention it again: for the VAT refund, one needs to shop at stores that participate in the VAT refund scheme for tourists. Upon purchase, you will get a VAT refund form from the store and it’s only upon showing that same form at the airport will you be eligible for a refund. You can’t simply show a bunch of store receipts and expect a cash refund (‘cos I’ve seen people do that).

Sitting at my gate, I had plenty of time for a flashback. Another trip to Thailand that didn’t feel ‘complete’. Had I successfully covered the big lantern release in Mae Jo, Chiang Mai, I would have scratched North Thailand off my list and only focused on South Thailand for my next visit.

I wasn’t even in the best of health the first week, which sucked. Still… all I can say is that I did the best I could and I hope my readers enjoyed this series.

So until Thailand 201_, it’s back to India for now! 🙂


Previous posts in this series:

Thailand 2010: Gurdwara Siri Guru Singh Sabha, Sampeng Market, JJ market (again)

Thailand 2010: Back to Bangkok — Chinatown, Patpong, Platinum Mall and Chatuchak Market

Thailand 2010: Pattaya — Beach road, Viewpoint, Jomtien Beach, Walking Street

Thailand 2010: Golden Triangle in Mae Sai; Chiang Rai’s White Temple (Wat Rong Khun)

Thailand 2010: Heading to Chiang Rai by bus, Wat Jedyod and Golden Clock Tower

Thailand 2010: Last day of Loi Krathong; Sunday Grand Parade (Day 4, Part 2)

Thailand 2010: Chiang Mai Zoo (Day 4, Part 1)

Thailand 2010: Chiang Mai Loi Krathong celebrations; first Grand Parade

Thailand 2010: Chiang Mai cooking class; Loi Krathong celebrations in Mae Jo, Sansai

Thailand 2010: First day in Chiang Mai for Loi Krathong; driving up Doi Suthep

Thailand 2010: Arriving in Bangkok and preparing for Loi Krathong in Chiang Mai

 

*Metal Gear Solid referance

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3 Comments

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  • Preeti Baliga

    08/02/2013

    Thank you for the posts Mithun. I’m planning to visit Thailand with my husband and friends this March. Your blog really helped me elevate my insufficient knowledge about the country. Although still apprehensive about the Tiger Temple which is on our itinerary, I’m very excited about the rest. 🙂

    [Reply]

    Mithun Divakaran Reply:

    Glad I could help, and have fun! 🙂

    [Reply]

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