Travel Tuesday with Taylor to Damnoen Saduak, Thailand
by Taylor Deer
Explore Thailand’s Largest Floating Market and Taste Real Coconuts!
I hope everyone enjoyed my first Thailand blog post on the capital city of Bangkok! After enjoying my time exploring the beautiful Grand Palace and sacred temples of Bangkok, we drove an hour southwest to the Damnoen Saduak District – the area known for the largest floating market, salt fields and coconut sugar farm.
On our way to Damnoen Saduak, we passed land that looked like typical rice paddies. Our tour guide Mr. Perez, informed us that they are actually salt fields. One of the cool things I learned during that bus ride was that most of the salts we use for cooking come from these fields outside of the Bangkok area!
It usually takes around one month to produce the salt. As you probably have wondered, it takes a lot of hard work and effort to make salt. The prepared fields are manually flooded with water from the Gulf of Thailand and left to dry naturally in the sun. When the water has eventually evaporated, the salt is then piled, cleaned and bagged for sale. How awesome is that?
Coconut Sugar Farm:
Our first stop of the day was to the Coconut Sugar Farm in Samut Songkhram. Coconut is a popular fruit in Southeast Asia and they come from the coconut flowering tree that looks like a regular palm tree. Coconut sugar is also found at this tropical farm and it is a popular and healthy alternative to the typical white sugar we are used to baking with in the United States.
Just like salt, the process to make the sugar requires a lot of hard work and manual labor. The sap from the coconut trees is collected and placed into a basket. They are then poured into hard metal pans so that the sap from the trees can boil into a caramel-like texture. Once the sap becomes hard, it then crystallizes and is ready to be used for cooking. I had so much fun helping mix the sap!
I give the owners and workers at Coconut Sugar Farm a lot of credit because my arms easily tired out after a few minutes of mixing the sap. Afterwards, I was able to cool off with a refreshing and tasty coconut! I was so excited as this was my first time ever drinking out of a real coconut. The owners and workers were able to chop off the top of the coconut for me and I was given a straw to enjoy the delicious water. Once I finished, I couldn’t help myself but eat all of the coconut cream left over. The farm had hammocks and rocking chairs to lounge, relax and enjoy the delicious fruits.
The Largest Thai Floating Market:
After our time at the Coconut Sugar Farm in Samut Songkhram, we got back on the bus and headed straight to the world-famous Thai floating market in Damnoen Saduak. Many of my friends who have previously visited Thailand told me that the floating markets were awesome, so I was pretty ecstatic to finally go! When we arrived, we hopped onboard a long tail speedboat that took us through the jungle and into the canals of the world’s largest floating market. We had a blast cruising through the water, but we got a little freaked out when we were told to keep our hands in the boat because of the anacondas and crocodiles living in the channels. Even though the boat was going fast, it was so low to the water that anything could’ve jumped out! It was such a fun experience and we had a lot of great laughs out of it. We passed traditional Thai houses, natural jungle that usually featured a shrine or gold Buddha here and there and we saw tropical birds flying through the trees.
We cruised along the channel for 20 minutes. Before we reached the market, we could smell the delicious Thai foods and dishes being sold and hear the liveliness coming from all of the vendors and buyers. When we finally reached the market, we saw nothing but colors, happy faces and ornate souvenirs made from love. My friends and I all looked at each other and agreed that we hadn’t lived prior to coming to Thailand. This is a new way of life – an exciting and timeless experience.
At the floating market, you can purchase gifts straight from other long tail boats or you can ask your driver to pull up to a vendor you are looking to shop at. It is an awesome and authentic concept! We were able to park our boats and walk around the market as well.
The elephant is the sacred and royal symbol for Thailand and elephant pants are the “official uniform” for women traveling through Southeast Asia. These beautiful patterned pants are worn loosely and make for a Bohemian look. Since there are strict dress codes for many of the temples and palaces in Thailand, elephant pants work perfectly. They are even light enough for the humid Thai weather in the mainland and ocean breeze at the islands. In the United States, you can purchase elephant pants online at The Elephant Pants (as seen on Shark Tank) while donating money to save the elephants. At the floating markets, as well as all of the other markets in Thailand, you can find a pair of elephant pants for men, women and children of all shapes and sizes. In addition, you can even purchase elephant shorts, dresses, skirts, rompers, jumpsuits, shirts and more!
In addition to elephant pants, you can also purchase elephant figurines, key chains, coffee mugs and more as well as jewelry, paintings, handcrafted household items, purses and wooden knifes. One thing to keep in mind when you visit the floating market during your time in Thailand is that you are falling into a tourist trap. All of the items being sold are much more expensive than if you were to buy them at a smaller market in a different city. You can, however, test your negotiation skills with the vendors since they never want to miss out on a sale. (Business is everywhere; you never get away from it.)
The food sold at the floating market is also amazing! You can purchase coconut ice cream, barbecue chicken, coconut and banana pancakes, green tea chips and fresh fruit such as pineapple, bananas, dragon fruit, purple mangosteen, durian and mango. The fruit in Thailand is fresh and so delicious. I ate it with almost every meal during my two weeks in Thailand and I admit, now that I am home, it is tough to find a pineapple as fresh as what I ate in Thailand. When you go, indulge in as much Thai fruit as you can!
The Damnoen Saduak floating market is huge and you can find almost everything there! It was definitely one of the most memorable experiences during my time in Thailand.
Phra Pathom Chedi:
After our shopping spree, we drove 45 minutes north to Phra Pathom Chedi featuring the tallest Buddha shrine in the world. This 416 foot Buddha stands on the site where Buddhism was first introduced into Thailand over two thousand years ago.
During our time at Phra Pathom Chedi, we got to witness several religious ceremonies with Buddhist monks. We even got to walk around and explore the many other golden shrines and intricate architecture.
We ended our tour of Phra Pathom Chedi by exploring the small caves and taking pictures on the steep staircase. Visiting this historical and sacred site was a great way of ending our time west of Bangkok before starting our adventure to Phitsanulok the next day.
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For more information, please email me at Taylor@sitinmyseats.com.
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