In the past, daily commerce in Thailand was conducted mostly along rivers and canals, or ‘Klongs’ in the Thai language.
This busy water network served as the principal means of communication which earned Bangkok the moniker, "Venice of the East" courtesy of its early European visitors.
According to history, around 1866 King Rama IV ordered a 32-kilometre canal to be dug at Damnoen Saduak, 109 kilometres southwest of Bangkok, to connect the Mae Klong River with the Tacheen River, later becoming the site of the most renowned of the floating markets.
Today, Bangkok’s floating markets provide vibrant and bustling marketplaces that are open each day until noon. The culture-rich market at Damnoen Saduak is considered a "must see" for visitors seeking to experience the age-old and traditional style of buying and selling fruits and vegetables.
Australian-based travel company Bunnik Tours’ Victoria Brett says every morning hundreds of boats crowd the market area with most of them paddled by women in straw hats who are ready to stop and bargain at a moment’s notice.
"The canals are filled with flat boats piled high with fresh produce as the region is famous for Malacca grapes, Chinese grapefruits, mangoes, bananas and coconuts," Brett says.
Visitors will also find locals selling freshly cooked noodles and a smorgasbord of souvenirs.
Brett says a boat trip through the colourful markets will give travelers a taste of everyday Thai life as they drift past traditional Thai houses built on stilts.
Bunnik Tours offers a 15-day small group tour to Thailand. Highlights of the tour include the Damnoen Saduak floating markets, Grand Palace and Golden and Emerald Buddhas, a visit to the Australia-funded Hellfire Pass Memorial Museum and Allied War Cemetery, explorations of world heritage listed ruins in the former capital city of Ayutthaya and sightseeing at Suthotkhai Historical Park.
Travellers will also have the opportunity to experience a working temple at Wat Mahathat, visit the Golden Triangle and hill tribes and enjoy a cruise on the Mekong River.