Damnoen Floating Market, Thailand (Do-It-Yourself)
Usual tours from Khao San would range from 300 Baht to 600 Baht, and this includes only transportation to and from the floating market plus a 20 minute long-tail boat ride around the community. You would have to pay extra for a paddle boat tour around the actual market (100 - 150 Baht, shared). Since this is only a half-day tour, leaving Khao San at around 7 AM and you'll be back usually at around 1 PM, no lunch is included. That means you'll have to pay for your own food while in the market - and there's plenty to choose from.
Related post: Damnoen Saduak Floating Market: It's the ice cream, and more
This is actually my third time to visit the floating market. The first two was through a tour agency booked in Khao San. Since there are plenty of competing tour operators, each trip is different. Some include a trip to the Snake Museum, others stop at various cottage industries (silk, painting, carving, etc).
But my trip to Bangkok would not be complete without a trip to the floating market. I want to go back for one reason: FOOD.
Specifically, I'll travel 110KM from Bangkok in search of the world's most delicious ice cream. Well, almost. But it's so good, I'm literally salivating on the way there, and I usually end up ordering 3 to 5 servings for every visit. In fact, I'm such a fan the ice cream vendor knows me even if I just visit once a year.
So, is it possible to go to Damnoen Saduak under 300 baht?
You bet! Here's how I did it:
1. Catch the mini-bus (it's actually a 14-seater van) to Damnoen Saduak. Their terminal is at the Victory Monument in Bangkok. There is a train station a short walk to the terminal (BTS Sky Train Victory Monument Station, 25 Baht from Silom).
First van leaves at around 6 AM, but sometimes you have to wait for another 10-20 minutes as the van wouldn't leave unless full. Fare is 90 Baht, and travel time is around 1 hour and 30 minutes.
(Since there are numerous other van terminals in this area, make sure you ask specifically for the one for Damnoen Saduak in Ratchaburi Province. The other drivers and touts would know and point you to the right direction. There should be a ticket window that says Damnoen Saduak or Floating Market. Confirm with the ticket vendor before you pay.)
2. Tell the driver to drop you off at the market, not on any boat station where they will charge you 1000 Baht (which would eventually go down to 400 Baht if you keep on saying no) to bring you to the market. We forgot to tell our driver, and we (there was a German tourist in same van) we're unwilling to pay another 400 baht for the boat, so we walked for 10-15 minutes from the boat station to the market.
3. Going back, you have the option of riding a motorcycle which would bring you to the mini-bus terminal, or you could walk for about 30 minutes. Mini-bus to Bangkok would be 90 Baht again. Alternately, just across the mini-bus/van terminal is the bus terminal which would bring you to the Bangkok's Main Bus Terminal for only 63 Baht. You would have to take another bus to go to the city center, which would cost you another 19 Baht. The difference is 8 baht and it's not worth it. Take the mini-bus/van and it's quicker, just one ride straight to Victory Monument.
So, cost summary is:
Van to market = 90 Baht
Paddle Boat, shared = 100 Baht
Bus to South terminal = 63 Baht
Bus to Silom = 19 Baht
TOTAL = 272 Baht
So would I recommend a do-it-yourself trip to the floating market?
If, like me, it is your second or third time to visit, then I would say DIY is the way to do it. If it is your first time, it may be more convenient to just book a tour in Khao San, provided you get a decent agency.