Fish Market in Jaffna, Sri Lanka
PHOTO ESSAY From a glass cabinet, a statue of the Christian saint guards the fishing village in Jaffna, the Tamil...
Instantly, aroma of a reach meat broth, cooked vegetables, herbs and spices fills the air. Carefully, nearly in slow motion, the chef gets up from a tiny wooden bench and goes to the back of his wobbly galley kingdom. After a while, in the same slo-mo manner, he comes back with a bowl full of rice noodles. The cook floods noodles with an aromatic broth and hands it over to stretched in his direction arms.
Suddenly, a hollow thump sounds out. Struck by an invisible force chef loses his balance and nearly
drops the delicious content of the bowl into waves washing his culinary kingdom. Several angry words
fly towards the woman, whose fruit-filled long and narrow wooden boat hits chef’s floating stall.
Both tourists and traders carefully watch the commotion on the canal of the Damnoen Saduak Floating
Market. Each of them is squeezed into a similar-looking wooden boat, which carries them through
endless waterways of the market. Stalls with almost everything you can think of – clothes, reed hats,
souvenirs, carpets and woven bed covers – coat the canal banks. As if the abundance of goods on the
waterside was not enough, also the channels are busy with floating stalls full of fruits, flowers and
drinks. And rice noodles flooded with aromatic broth.
Floating market Damnoen Saduak is located about 100km southwest of Bangkok. Its origins date back to
the second half of the nineteenth century when King Rama IV ordered the digging of a canal linking the
Mae Klong and Tha Chin rivers. Residents began to use the channel as a means of water transport and
transportation of goods. Another 200 water threads were created on their initiative, which facilitated
access to further settlements. Trade on the water bloomed until the second half of the 20th century
when roads infrastructure began to supersede the canal network. Water markets started to disappear
one after another. A few years later, however, the Thai government considered the potential of floating
markets as tourist attractions. Damnoen Saduak is a typical example of this. Everything here is done for
tourists. Mini-cruises in long wooden boats through canals (khlongs) covered with souvenir and clothes
stands together with floating fruit stalls, and even mini-restaurants are an effective recipe for tourist
The place is worth visiting to experience the wet shopping spree. Mentally, however, be prepared for
crowds, both on land and in water. Along the embankment, squeezing through the masses of people is
not the most pleasant experience, but getting stuck in a traffic jam in the middle of one of the khlongs is
kind of exciting.
As in every typical tourist attraction, the prices of goods here are massively inflated – something that you
can get for just a few baht, here costs tens of dozens. Haggling is inevitable, even expected by the
When the stomach starts to grumble, it is a must to try "boat noodles" – rice noodles, flooded with rich
beef or pork broth full of aromatic herbs and spices. Noodles can be bought at the water-front diners,
but it is advisable to order the dish in one of the booths straight from the boat.
Market rush hours start about 9:00, so it is worthwhile to appear at least one hour earlier.
Consider Dumnoen Saduak Floating Market visit a day trip. It is best to combine it with a visit to a nearby
Maeklong Railway Market.
Damnoen Saduak, Damnoen Saduak District, Ratchaburi 70130, Thailand
Buses departing from the Southern Bus Terminal in Bangkok will take you to the vicinity of the market.
They start to run from 06:00 approximately every 30-40 minutes, and the whole journey will take about
Another option is a hired car trip – the whole journey will take about 1 – 1.5h depending on the traffic
Market opening hours:
Seven days a week from 8:00
One way bus ticket price – about 50THB (Thai Baht) / 1.50USD.
An organised private car trip to both: Maeklong and Damnoen Saduak markets is about 2000THB /
60USD (including boat hire in Damnoen Saduak).
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