The concept of a ‘floating market’ seemed foreign to me.
However, it’s quite common in a country like Thailand and is a representation of a significant part of Thai culture.
For this reason, I was looking forward to visiting one of the floating markets while I was in Thailand.
As luck would have it, I visited Lao Tuk Luck Floating Market on my first weekend in the country. It's located on Thailand’s longest canal, Damnoen Saduak in Ratchaburi, and is also known as 'the original floating market'.
Although we arrived there early in the morning, the market was busy. There were quite a number of vendors already on their sampans (small wooden boats) selling different kinds of fruit, while some were selling ready-made meals like noodles.
The female vendors at the market wore straw hats known as ngob, which seemed fitting, as it was quite sunny. Some of them sold these hats on their sampans, too.
We were also on a boat, although ours was a bit bigger than the ones the vendors were using as it’s specifically designed to carry visitors to and from the market. Our boat moved slowly through the canal, allowing us to take in the organized chaos that is the market at its busiest. We rowed aside other boats filled with both local and international tourists and watched some of them alighting at the canal’s banks so as to shop at the souvenir shops located there.
The souvenir shops sell a variety of things, including clothes, works of art, wood carvings, and metal ornaments. As the market mostly attracts tourists, the prices of these things are exaggerated. However, if you’re a skilled bargainer, you might be able to buy some of them at a cheaper price.
We eventually arrived at the end of the market where we alighted, got to stretch our legs, and got a glimpse of how coconut sugar is made. We also got to taste it before we left the market and headed back to our place of residence.
Laotukluck Floating Market is quite close to Thailand’s most popular floating market, Damnoen Saduak Floating Market, which has been featured in movies such as James Bond: The Man with The Golden Gun and Bangkok Dangerous.
The best way to get to the market is by booking a private tour as a group. This will ensure that you and your group are picked up and dropped off at your hotel, and will also allow you to split the cost amongst yourselves. Allocate an entire day to the floating market visit, as the journey to and fro is rather long.
For an accurate representation of the market, visit it between 7.00 am – 9.00 am when it is at its busiest and stay at least until noon if you can. And make sure you polish your bargaining skills before approaching any of the souvenir shops. 😉