I still can’t believe that I am diligent enough to write my entire Thailand trip. After a visit to Ayutthaya, the Ancient City, and a romantic dinner cruise along Chao Phraya, let’s continue re-visiting my adventures in Bangkok on my fifth day.
As mentioned in Travel Diary Day 4, Kimchi Man and I went to a Korean travel agency to book us some slots in tour groups. For today, we availed the “Floating Market Tour” because he knew this was included in my bucket list. As always, I am touched by his thoughtfulness.
MAEKLONG RAILWAY MARKET
The tour guide told us that the floating market would be few hours away from Khao San Road, so I was surprised when our van took an abrupt stop nowhere near a river. He guided us towards a railway, which actually reminded me of one in the Philippines – it has vendors selling various produce. I initially thought we were brought here to do some local shopping, so I walked along the railway and looked what Thais usually have in their market.
Ever the knowledgeable tourist, Kimchi Man informed me that it was no ordinary market for it lies along an active railroad. Few minutes later, I correctly heard alarm clocks going off, and soon, the unmistakable horn of an approaching train. What happened next was both amazing and terrifying.
Vendors scrambled around to pull back their baskets of goods and undo their shops’ awnings. Customers hurried up to find a safe place far from the rail, while excited tourists prepared their cameras.
The train then appeared from the curve and proceeded chugging down the entire stretch of the market, brushing stalls few inches away.
As soon as the last part of the train rolled through, vendors quickly unfolded their stall umbrellas, and like magic, the market was active again like nothing had happened.
TIPS: The Maeklong railway is famous for its one of the largest seafood markets in the country, more commonly known as the “Umbrella Pulldown Market”. It was fun to witness such bizarre yet dangerous display, but just stay on the safe side of the railroad.
DAMNOEN SADUAK FLOATING MARKET
I have watched several movies with scenes filmed at this world-famous part of Thailand. After that, I started wishing that one day, I would be able to try shopping at the largest and most popular floating market in the country, Damnoen Saduak. Now, I was very happy to scratch one more item in my bucket list!
At first, Kimchi Man and I walked around the area and took some obligatory tourist photos. I noticed that aside from vendors selling in boats, a lot of stores were already situated on either side of the canal. From souvenirs, to fruits, vegetables, and local cuisines, we found a wide array of things to buy.
Finally, we decided to take a boat and have a tour around the river market. I immediately found the humor in our boat’s name as soon as I sat – the inscription said “F1”. Like other boat “drivers”, ours was a woman whose name I couldn’t correctly pronounce and recall now. She was wearing a plain blue long-sleeve shirt, and I found it amusing that both Kimchi Man and I had the same color.
Like the photos I saw in Google, boats were full of colourful fruits and vegetables; some were even dedicated to only one fruit, e.g., banana boat. Pun intended. I also saw some selling Pad Thai and other dishes.
Getting hungry, I glanced at Kimchi Man and pointed at a lady selling delicious-looking snacks. We passed her boat since our boatwoman was paddling fast. However, it was amusing when the lady vendor paddled to us and offered her services.
There were a lot of things to buy, but we ended up loading ourselves only with fruits. I was happy to personally shop through the busy floating market, but wasn’t able to take a lot of photos while riding the boat. The canal also got congested especially in the shaded area, so the traffic made it impossible for me to get good pictures to share. Nevertheless, the experience was special and fun. I loved that we had our own private boat, unlike others who shared in a group.
TIPS: Although it will give you a traditional market experience, Damnoen Saduak Floating Market is becoming tourist-oriented as of late. Prices are also higher compared to outdoor markets. If you don’t like to bring a heavy camera, just remember to prepare a waterproof case or sling bag for your camera phone. I didn’t think of this, so I didn’t take much photos in fear of my S4 swimming in Thailand waters.
THE GRAND PALACE
It was after lunch when we were dropped off at Khao San Road. Though a bit tired, we proceeded with our next stop for the day – the must-see Grand Palace.
Bangkok’s most famous landmark, The Grand Palace is a complex of impressive buildings laid very similar to that in Ayutthaya. With its imposing and striking interior, ceremonial occasions like coronations are done within these walls.
Kimchi Man and I are so tiny in this picture!
Any Bangkok or Thailand trip will not be complete without a tour in The Grand Palace. Make sure to take a lot of photos!
WAT PHRA KAEW
Within the grounds of the Grand Palace lies Thailand’s most important Buddhist temple, the Wat Phra Kaew. Enshrining the highly revered Buddha image carved from a single block of Jade, this temple is also one of the attractions in the palace both for tourists and locals alike.
TIPS: With the King’s Palace and Bangkok’s most sacred site, it also follows that there is a strict dress code when visiting here. Visitors must be properly and modesty dressed – no tank tops, bare shoulders, see-through clothes, sandals and flip-flops. If you came unprepared, there is a booth near the entrance where you can rent clothes.
Directly adjacent to the Grand Palace, Kimchi Man and I walked under the scorching heat of the sun to Wat Pho. The temple enshrines the largest single Buddha image about 160 feet long, The Reclining Buddha.
The site was originally a center of education for traditional Thai medicine and it was here where Thai massage was born. After the image in Wat Phra Si Sanphet (see TD Day 4) in Ayutthaya was destroyed, King Rama I built a temple to enlarge and restored a reclining Buddha statue.
Being the largest and oldest wat in Bangkok, Wat Pho is home to more than one thousand Buddha images. Yes, I have seen enough Buddhas here to last a lifetime.
After seeing all these marvelous Thai architecture, Kimchi Man and I ended our tour rich in knowledge of the country’s history and beliefs. Having few hours to spare before sunset, we hailed down a cab to go back to Nouvo Hotel and checked out.
Oh no, is this the end of my Thailand trip? Stay tuned to know more!
Have you tried shopping in a floating market? Visited religious sites different from your beliefs?