Category Archives: Ratchaburi

Siam Cultural Park

Although Siam Cultural Park in Ratchaburi Province has been around since 1997, it strangely doesn’t make an appearance in any of the English language guidebooks such as Lonely Planet. In fact, they only seem to mention Damnoen Saduak Floating Market as the sole attraction for the entire province. There is a course a lot more to see and I will be sharing with you my day trips to that province soon. I visited this park on the same day as I went to the floating market. You just head north on Highway 325 and head towards Amphoe Bang Phae. The park is on the left before you get to the main intersection. You cannot miss it.

In some ways Siam Cultural Park is a bit like the Ancient City in Samut Prakan. It gives a slice of our cultural heritage with samples of Buddha monuments and Thai architecture. However, they do it in a slightly more controlled and on a smaller scale. It also reminded me of the nearby Thai Human Imagery Museum as there were many fiberglass wax works. The first place you visit is the Hall of Fame Building. Here you will learn about prominent people in Thai society. Each fiberglass model is placed in the context of their work environment. For example, in the above picture you can see the late wildlife conservationist Sueb Nakasatian studying a map in his office at the Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary. Other prominent Thai figures include: Montri Tramot (musician), M.L. Pin Malakul (educator) and Prof. Sanya Thammasak (Past President of Privy Council). There are also regional figures such as Mother Theresa and Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh, and Chinese leader President Mao Zedong. As you enter each room, you will be able to listen to commentary about each figure which rotates between Thai and English in a continuous loop.

The next area you visit is the Buddha Images of the Three Eras. These Buddha images, which are 129 inches high and made of smoked brass, show the sculptural styles of the Buddha images from three different historical periods. For example: Chiang Saen (11th-18th Century), Sukhothai (13th-14th Century) and Ayutthaya (15th-18th Century). I will write in more detail about this later.

The next area is the Jujaka Light and Sound Cave. This tells the story of Vessantara, the last human reincarnation of the Lord Buddha. Vessantara had intense passion for charity. The selected part of the epic on show is “greedy Jukaka begging for Vessantara’s two beloved children”. The story teaches about the Buddhist precept that we should be self sufficient and should not cling to worldly attachments.

The next area are the Monk’s Quarters. Here you will find a collection of Thai style houses called “kuti” which accommodates monks at their temples. Each kuti has a lifesized fiberglass monk who has been active in preserving and upholding Buddhism in Thailand. Not only are the images realistic and recognizable, they have also replicated their “kuti” in fine detail. Some of these monks look so real that several times I witnessed Thai people bowing down in respect in front of them.

The final area is the Four Regional Thai Style Houses. At the Ancient City, the Thai houses are spread around, so it is nice to see them all here in one group. This makes it easier to differentiate between different architectural styles. Another interesting innovation is that each house has fiberglass people showing every day life for that region. Some are cooking while others are going about their every day business.

I spent a couple of enjoyable hours at the park. There was not only a lot to learn but it was also a pleasantly relaxing place to just sit and contemplate our heritage. Though, to be honest, it wasn’t always that quiet. Although there were no other foreign tourists here, there were coach loads of high school students who were being taken on tours of the park. Obviously this shows that the park is a very educational place. If you get time, then I would suggest you come and visit. Do it in combination with the floating market or other nearby tourist attractions. Entry is 200 baht for foreigners which seems reasonable. I politely asked in Thai if I could have local price as I am a teacher. She asked me which school and which coach I came on. I told her that I drove here by myself. She was sympathetic and so she gave me the rather cheaper admission price of only 50 baht. It never hurts to ask. Though always be polite if they decline.

For more day trips and excursions from Bangkok, please visit our sister site at In the photo album you will find more pictures that I took of this attraction.

Damnoen Saduak Floating Market

Offering food to a monk early in the morning

I have probably been to about half a dozen different floating markets around Thailand. Out of all of them, Damnoen Saduak is undoubtedly the largest and best known among Thai and foreign tourists. Some people also say it is the biggest tourist trap. However, this can work to your advantage. Genuine floating markets are few and far between. When they do happen you will be lucky to see more than three boat vendors at one time. However, at Damnoen Saduak, there are so many boat vendors that it is a feast for your eyes almost in every direction you look. Yes, I know it is now almost exclusively set up for tourists. But if you look beyond this then you will get not only some beautiful picture postcard photos, but also a cultural experience of life in Thailand a hundred years ago. Follow my tips and you will have a more enjoyable experience.

The floating market at 7:45 a.m.

Damnoen Saduak Floating Market is in Ratchaburi Province, about 100 kms southwest of Bangkok. You can go there by bus 78 from the Southern Bus Terminal. A trip that takes just under two hours. This goes via Nakhon Pathom on highway 4. If you like, you could stay there the night and catch an early morning bus to Samut Songkhram which passes Damnoen Saduak. Many people go here as part of a tour that then goes to the Rose Garden in the afternoon. When we first went in 2001, we went down the day before and stayed in a hotel at Damnoen Saduak. This has the advantage in making sure you are there long before the tour buses arrive from Bangkok at 9 a.m. For my trip last weekend I left home when it was still dark at 5:10 a.m. It is a long trip along the outer ring road and then onto Highway 35 which passes Samut Sakhon and then Samut Songkhram. However, due to the new Kanchanapisek Bridge over the Chao Phraya River, my journey was much quicker than back in 2001. It was so quick that it was still dark when I arrived at 6:15 a.m.! I was one of the first people to arrive although there were already quite a few boat vendors paddling along the canal.

As it was still too dark to take photographs I declined the offers of boat trips. I decided to wander around for a while. As the minutes ticked past, more tourists started to turn up. Some in tour buses and others in their own cars. However, at this early hour they were still exclusively Thai. It was nice and peaceful at that time. A kind of calm before the storm which I knew was going to happen in a few short hours. If you have ever been to the tropics, you would know that it gets light very quickly. By about 6:30 a.m. it was almost light enough to take some pictures. However, I decided to delay a bit more as it would be easier for me with a bit more light. While I was waiting I walked around to get an idea of the prices for the boat. Most of them seemed to offer boat tours for 400 baht for one hour or 200 baht for half an hour. I told one lady politely in Thai that I thought 400 baht was a bit expensive considering the boats were powered by paddle and that they didn’t have to buy any fuel. She then said, “Alright, I will give you Thai price of 300 baht for one hour” and quickly wrote the price down on a ticket. I am not sure if that really is the Thai price, but I decided to go with it. Seemed fair as it was for the boat rather than per person.

At this early hour, the boat vendors selling fruit and delicious meals far outnumbered the tourist boats. As we paddled away, I seemed to still be the only foreigner around. We passed many small boats where the vendors were offering me fruit or snacks. A bit further we turned a corner. Along the edge of this canal and the next one are rows and rows of souvenir shops. Most of them selling the same stuff. However, most of them were still closed. The lady paddling my boat asked me several times if I wanted to stop to buy something. I replied that I just wanted to enjoy the view. Up ahead I could see a lone monk paddling along on his alms round. Waiting on the banks were locals with food to offer the monk. This was more like it. Much better than the tacky souvenirs on offer. I was just reaching for my camera when the oarsmen started to turn left to go down another narrow canal lined with souvenir stalls. I quickly asked her if we could continue going straight on as I had no interest in buying souvenirs. I remembered from last time that they take you to a shop at the other end of the canal where they tell you to get out for 15 minutes to look around. Luckily for me she was sympathetic and she paddled on in pursuit of the lone monk.

To be honest, apart from the monk and some canalside activity, there wasn’t too much to see. However, the peace and quiet of the early hour was really worth it. She took me on a long circuit which eventually came out in the wider Damnoen Saduak Canal. The water here was more choppy. She told me that they had opened the floodgates and so the water was quite high. I asked her a bit about her average day. She said that this was her first trip of the day. At the wekeend, she probably would come out five or six times. For that she would get 100 baht per trip. During the week she would be lucky to do three or four rounds and she was paid only 70 baht per trip. I am not sure if she was playing on my sympathy, but it did make sense that she didn’t get all of the 300 baht. After all, she wasn’t the person that approached me at the start. So, when I got back, I gave her a 100 baht tip. I think in cases like this, always try to give people at grass level a tip as they often do the hardest work.

“The farang are coming! The farang are coming!”

After my enjoyable boat trip, I decided not to rush off but rather explore more of the area on foot. So, after a breakfast of rice porridge for 20 baht, I wandered around taking pictures and shooting video of the various canal side activity. I also went for a walk along Damnoen Saduak Canal which you can see in the above picture. There were a number of paddle boats coming along this canal heading for the area where I started my own tour. I was curious to see where they were coming from. Then I realized what was happening. When I drove down the road I kept passing signs that said “you have arrived” in Thai. In some ways these were deceiving people. They had boats you could hire, but you have to paddle along this canal to reach the main area where you can see all the boat vendors. As you can see, it was a bit of a bumpy ride for them as the water was choppy. It was made even worse as bigger long-tailed boats with motors were whizzing by. These were full of foreign tourists who were on tours. Their coaches had dropped them off at the main road in Damnoen Saduak and they continued to the market by boat. In the above picture, you can see at least four of these boats. A dozen had already passed me as I walked along the tow path.

Traffic jam on the canal at 9 a.m.

By the time I got back to the area where I had started it was already 9 a.m. And what a scene that greeted me. The canal was literally plugged with boats which were nine deep. It was a traffic jam of the worse kind. People were fast going no-where. Can you see the boats with awnings? These have engines unlike my paddle boat. Some of them had changed to a paddle for this section. But others kept turning on and off their noisy engines in order to move along. This is a new phenomenon. The last time I had come here there were no motorized boats. In fact, there is a sign now that says no engines are allowed to be started along here before 8 a.m. I still think it is worth your time and trouble coming here. But, please take my advice. DO NOT come on a tour from Bangkok. And make sure you finish your boat trip well BEFORE 9 a.m. If you do that then you will have a much more enjoyable trip. I left as soon as I had taken that picture. The place had become a circus and it was no longer my quiet little floating market.

As always, you are welcome to add your comments below. If you have any question then please visit our Paknam Web Thailand Forums where we have a team of experts waiting to answer your holidays questions 24/7. This blog is being archived at our Bangkok Day Trips website where you will also find many more photos I took on this trips and also some video clips. I will be writing more about day trips in this area soon.

Floating Market – Damneun Saduak

Finally my dream comes true! What did I dream? I ever dreamt to visit the famous floating market for ages. I know it from the postcard where portrays the crowded canal where full with the selling fruits on boats.

Driving from Bangkok to Samutsongkram province since 7.30 am on last Monday, we followed the sign of Damnuen Saduak Floating Market. The rule of traveling, you should have Thailand map or navigation with you in order to avoid getting lost. The most problem of tourist without guide is getting lost because we cannot keep following the sign in ever place. Why? From our experiences, the provided sign supposes to direct us to our destination will not locate along the way that you travel. Let’s me rephrase it again that there will be not much sign to lead you to the destination unless you have your own map r navigation. Frequently, when you are in the city, it will no longer provide the direction sign to the point of interests and you have to take a guess which way you will make a turn between right and left.

To travel to the floating market, you should go there before noon otherwise there will be no more things to appreciate. I think it should be call as “Morning Floating Market”. The most favorite activity is traveling via boat to see the beautiful scenery and Thai traditional way. The cost of the hiring boat may be different, depends on the boat owner. It means you can negotiate to get the suitable price. For us, we hired a little rowing boat with 250 baht per trip. Along the trip, you can ask the rowing person to stop and buy something as you want such as fruit, food and souvenir.

surroudings of floating market

This photo illustrates the surrouding of Damneun Saduak Floating Market. There are many boats on the canel. It is the crowded market. Trafic jam can be found not only on streets but also on the canal!

Amazingly, you can see many tourists who sit on the boat were eating food i.e. noodles, banana and Thai dessert. Well, this is an amazing trip that you can have experiencing in eating noodles while you sit on the boat. Not many places provide such a service, only the floating market. Perhaps this is the root of the word “Boat Noodles” or “Guaytiew Ruea” (Guaytiew means noodles and Ruea means boat).

Boat Noodles

The boat noodles on the shore where we can take a seat and taste how delicious the noodle is.

Comparing with other “boat noodles”, I prefer “boat noodles” at Victory Monument in terms of the hot and spicy taste and cheaper price while the floating market provides the best location for dining the boat noodles – you can choose to eat the noodles on your boat or sit on the shore along the canal. Other different thing as I noticed is a boat noodle at the floating market does not have chicken blood as the major ingredient of boat noodles unlike other boat noodles. Sometimes, I explain this type of noodles as “Bloody Noodles on boat” to my foreigner friends in order to illustrate the noodles in clear aspect.

I assume that they may use different recipes. Mainly the most delicious boat noodles often state that they are from Ayuthaya or Rangsit, it depends and it taste very spicy because of the seasoning i.e. dried chili and parsley (using parsley to cover the smell of blood).

In my opinion, I think it seems to be a bit uncomfortable to eat noodles while you are sitting on the boat unlike sitting on the desk where you can sit stable and does not sway. That’s why we chose to eat noodles on the chore not on the boat and the cost is 15 baht per bowl. The significant characteristic of boat noodles is the noodles should be prepared and cooked on the boat.

We ate Khanom Krok that contained on the banana leaf. We had to be careful to eat it because it could harm your tongue by overheat of Khanom Krok. After that the rowing boat leaded us to the Souvenir Shop where you can have a free sample of fresh sugar water – in Thai we call it as “Namtan Sod” (Namtan means sugar, Sod means fresh). Namtan Sod (nahmH dtaanM sohtL) is made from nectar of sugar palm tree and it tastes differs from coconut water. The sugar palm tree looks like coconut tree. Thai people do not plant 2 of sugar palm trees in front of their house because of their height which look like “Pret”- a tallest demon which appear at night and crying at the top of its voice.

Moreover, you can find various products made from coconut and the price is cheaper than Bangkok. For example, the coconut lamp which made from polished and craved coconut shell. A bunch of 5 coconut shells costs 800 baht and a bunch of 3 coconut shells is 650 baht, which are cheaper than the price in Bangkok (I have ever asked for the price at “Made in Thailand Exhibition” and it costs 2,500 baht. The shop assistant told me that many foreigner customers buy this coconut lamp especially Japanese. Also it provides the painted paper/cloth fan, which cost 250 baht and 350 baht, respectively. The significant of the painted fan is the portrayal of floating market and Thai traditional village.

Along the canal you can find many tropical fruits especially 10-baht coconut for relieve your thirsty. It is cheap price when considering with the price in Bangkok or other places. I saw many of Foreigners who were eating banana. Why foreigners like to eat banana? My husband replied me that most of foreigners have never eaten tropical banana especially the smallest one i.e. “Glauy Namwa” – cultivated banana or Musa sapientum Linn (scientific name) and “Glauy Khai”- tiny egg-banana. In Germany, people will eat Africa banana, which is very large and long banana. Actually, I do not like to eat banana because I am afraid that other people will think I am a monkey-like person.

fruit on boat

Do you know that “Glauy Namwa” is considered as a very healthy fruit? Yes, it is. The ripe banana can be purgation but not much while the raw banana could be stop the purgation.

When we got off the boat, we went straight to find a place where we could enjoy the taste of “Boat Noodles”. Most of the noodles shops on the shore look the same, so it depends on our decision where to sit and eat. The taste won’t be too different and the price seems to be a fixed-price. My husband ate 3 bowls of noodles, and his favorite noodle is “Sen Lek” – rice flour noodles in smaller/thinner shape. Finally, we ended our floating trip with walking along the shore and took some photos.

Finally, we ended our trip with walking and surveying the price of souvenirs. Next trip maybe go to another floating market where locates in Bangkok – Taling Chun Floating market. However, I have to search for more information i.e. direction otherwise we won’t arrive the destination!