Damnoen Saduak floating market is an exciting site attracting tourists from all over the world. The market is located in Damnoen Saduak district, Ratchaburi province approximately 100 kilometers West of Bangkok. In Thai culture and way of life, rivers and canals are an important means of relaxation, transport and source of food. The people of these communities use water from the rivers to crop rice and irrigate other crops. Some of Thailand’s most important festivals such as Loy kratong and Songkran (New Year celebrations) were water based. The market is named after a canal dug by King Rama IV’s army to provide farmers of this region with adequate irrigation water. Thailand is known for having a number of picturesque floating markets. Damnoen Saduak floating market gives tourists an opportunity to experience the local community way of life as in the past. The community around Ratchaburi is mainly comprised of farmers who depended on water from the canals for irrigation and for transportation of their agricultural produce from their farms to market places. Day in day out, boat vendors flock the floating markets as they bring fresh flowers, vegetables and fruits from their farms and plantations by use long tail row boats and canoes. The culture, traditional way of life and traditional foods of the floating market community has attracted tourists from outside the community who have the desire to experience it.
Damnoen Saduak floating market consists of three floating markets: Khun Phitak, Ton Khem and Hia Kui. Ton Khem is the largest of them all followed by Hia Kui. Khun Phitak is the smallest.
The films, Bangkok Dangerous of 2008 and The Man With The Golden Gun feature the floating market.
HISTORY OF DAMNOEN MARKET THAILAND
Damnoen floating market has developed over many years in history. . Bangkok is located in wetland areas. The landscape is sloppy with several river valleys. Occupants of these areas mainly used water as an important means of transportation. The floating market community established after canal dredging in the year 1866. The canal created a link between Mae Khlong and Tha Chin rivers. Water transport extended through Damnoen Saduak district. The King Chulalongkorn who was in reign at that particular time gave the name, Klong Damnoen Saduak to this new canal. Kong Damnoen Saduak got recognition for being the longest and the straightest canal in Thailand. Buyers and sellers would meet in the floating market by use of boats. The gardeners would bring their vegetables and fruits from their orchards to the floating market through the canal using boats and canoes. The traders brought their products to the market early in the morning and they would paddle their boats back home at around noon when all products were sold. This way the floating market of Damnoen Saduak developed.
The sellers paddled their boats to the floating market to sell their products would wear long sleeved dark shirts with same style of bamboo hats commonly referred to as ‘Ngop’ the members of the community mainly engaged in barter trade.
With time the areas surrounding the rivers and canal grew and developed\d. the population grew as well. Road and railway transport developed and the people of this region opted for land transport rather than water transport. This was as a result of economic and technological development in the region. The floating market transformed from an agricultural community to a tourism community. With time the community became a symbol of charming appeal for other people outside the floating market community. Pictures of the traders at the floating market went round and people from other communities admired and desired to experience. This followed the opening of the first tourist attraction referred to as Damnoen Saduak floating market. This happened in the year 1967. People from other communities heard the stories about Damnoen floating market and they explored the floating market. Since then the government has promoted Saduak Floating Market as the most important provincial and national tourist attraction in the area and the entire Ratchaburi province. The government constructed a road beside Ton Khem canal. This road enabled tourists and the locals access the market by land transportation. The members of the floating community transformed their farms into tourist attraction businesses. Parking lots were built along the Ton Khem canal. The market eventually gained fame and became known as Damnoen Floating Market.
PRODUCTS SOLD IN DAMNOEN MARKET THAILAND
Wide range of locally produced products and services are sold in this floating market. Bargaining is a common feature of this market. Examples of these products include: Thai silk, clothes, conical hats, paintings, handicrafts and crafted candles. Nicely arranged tropical fruits, flowers and vegetables brought to the market provided a beautiful display for tourists to admire. Tropical herbs and spices were also sold in this market. Souvenirs and Thai massage services were also sold in this market. Traditional Thai foods such as coconut rice, Thai traditional desserts, papaya salads commonly referred to as Som tum and mango sticky rice are available in this market.
ECONOMIC BENEFITS OF DAMNOEN FLOATING MARFKET
The Damnoen market has promoted the culture and heritage of the people of this community. The market has also generated more income for the people of this community. This is as a result on increase in numbers of tourists visiting the floating community. Employment opportunities for members of the floating community have been created. Tourism networks have expanded to the nearby communities. The lifestyle of the people of this community has undergone transformation.
Even with several transformations in the community, the beauty of the way of life of the community of Saduak Floating market community has been maintained. The traders still use rowing boats to get their agricultural produce to the market. They have maintained their traditional way of marketing their produce and this has intensified tourism in the region.
SAFETY AND PRECAUTION WHEN VISITING DAMNOEN SADUAK FLOATING MARKET
Tourists visiting the floating markets by use of boats and canoes are required to take precautionary measures and put on life jackets or vests. Overloading of the boats are not allowed.