I am really happy that the Kanchanapisek Outer Ringroad has been finished. It now allows us to easily explore tourist attractions around the perimeter of Bangkok quickly and easily. So, last weekend I set off on a day trip to Nakhon Pathom, to the West of Bangkok. My destination was Don Wai Market. Some people call this a floating market. However, strictly speaking, it is a market on the banks of the Nakhon Chaisi River. If you come looking for a Damnoern Saduak Floating Market or even a Amphawa Floating Market then you will be disappointed. You won’t see many vendors selling their products on little boats. But, they all have their own attributes which makes them special. I personally enjoyed Don Wai Market and will certainly be going again.
Don Wai Market has been around for over a hundred years. However, it is only recently that it has started to become popular with daytrippers from Bangkok. From my own home, it only took 45 minutes which makes it almost a local source of good food. And I think that is why so many people go there at the weekend. The market was originally famous for the boiled ducks, but now there is a much greater variety of food. Not just curries and snacks, but also Thai sweets. Judging by all the pictures on display, a lot of celebrities and politicians also come to this market.
It is best to go to this market as early as you can in order to beat not only the heat but the crowds as well. It opens at 6 a.m. I arrived at 9 a.m. as I dropped in at Wat Rai Khing first to pay my respects to the highly revered Buddha image. They have a popular fair here in April. The temple is also famous for the fish sanctuary where you can buy bread to feed the fish. It is possible to catch a boat from here to Don Wai Market for only 60 baht. However, as I was early, it looked like they were waiting for enough people to make the journey worthwhile. As you can see from this picture, there weren’t that many people at the market when I first arrived. However, when I left at midday it was so crowded with people it took forever to move through the crowds. By that time I couldn’t wait to escape.
Tourists weren’t going to the market just to buy food. They were going to eat at one of the many floating markets that lined the river. In fact, there are so many of these restaurants that as you walk along the market you don’t get a clear view of the river. However, you do get fine views when you sit down to eat. Just don’t go too late in the morning. Maybe best to come here for a brunch. I was tempted to buy a lot of food to take home. Unfortunately, I had more places to visit on that day and so didn’t think it was a good idea to buy too much fresh food that might go off in a hot car.
To get to Don Wai Market is quite easy. I took the Outer Ring (Highway 9) from Samut Prakan. I then turned onto Highway 4 which is signposted Nakhon Pathom. Shortly after the Rose Garden you need to turn right onto Highway 3316. However, as you cannot do a direct turn here, you have to continue as far as the bridge over Nakhon Chaisi River and U-Turn under the bridge. Make sure you keep left for this. You will see a bigger sign for Wat Rai Khing rather than for the market. Keep going until you reach the market on the left. You cannot miss it nor the crowds. Make sure that you arrive early if you want to park a car. This costs 20 baht. There is more than one place to park. Just keep driving along the road.
Boat Trip on Nakhon Chaisi River
A good market near Bangkok is Don Wai in Nakhon Pathom Province. I was there recently to do a report for thai-blogs.com. It is a great food market if you enjoy Thai food. However, you can also join boat trips which makes it a more enjoyable experience. I thought I would only be an hour or two at the market before moving onto my next location. However, because of the boat trip I ended up staying all morning. As you know, I love boat trips and cruising down a river with natural air-conditioning is a fun way to spend the day.
There seems to be a number of different companies running boat trips at Don Wai. As you walk down the market it is easy to find them. Most organize two trips. The first lasts 75 minutes and costs 60 baht for adults and 30 baht for children. The second lasts 120 minutes and costs 100 baht for adults and 50 baht for children. The brochure is only written in Thai. However, they have basically the same route though obviously the second one goes further down the river. The first tour starts at 9.30 a.m. and continues at roughly one hourly intervals until late afternoon. The second tour starts at 10 a.m. on Sundays and 11 a.m. on Saturdays. This continues at roughly 90 minute intervals until mid afternoon. During weekdays there are only two rounds during the middle of the day for lunchtime crowds.
The boats are converted rice barges. Most have arrangements of tables and chairs. The boat didn’t actually go anywhere as such which was a bit of a disappointment. Our destination was the Rose Garden, but all we did was go that far and come straight back. However, what the trip is really about is buying food in the market and then taking that on the boat trip with you. I didn’t realize that but luckily a Thai family felt sorry for me and decided to feed me. People often do that. I don’t know why. As long as you bring some food along, and maybe a few bottles of beer, then you will have an enjoyable and relaxing trip. Maybe snooze a little. The people at the table next to mine certainly slept the whole way.
Overall, I did spend a good morning at the market. I would advise that you go as early as you can as it does get crowded by mid morning. I would suggest exploring the market first then taking a late breakfast on one of the rice barges. The 70 minute tour is plenty enough as the seats were a bit uncomfortable for anything longer than that. You will probably end up staying here for about 3 hours. In my next blogs, I will give you ideas of where else to spend the rest of the day.
Latitude: 13.770961 (13° 46′ 15.46” N)
Longitude: 100.283675 (100° 17′ 1.23” E)