Damnoen Saduak Floating Market

Beware of Scams at the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market in Thailand

Damnoen Saduak Floating Market:  Don’t let scammers ruin your visit to the iconic Damnoen Saduak Floating Market! Learn from our experience and follow these tips to avoid tourist traps.

The famous Damnoen Saduak Floating Market in Ratchaburi Province was high on our Thailand bucket list.

We booked an Uber for just the one-way trip from Bangkok, since the floating market is situated around 60 miles outside the city center. We figured we’d arrange separate transportation for the return journey later. Little did we know that our plans were about to get derailed by one of Thailand’s infamous tourist scams.

Damnoen Saduak Floating Market
This vendor in a bright purple outfit sitting on a wooden boat, arranging her fresh tropical fruits, vegetables, and other wares under the shade of a classic Thai hat.

Scammers in Action

One of the first major red flags was when our Uber driver was trying to pull a scam right at the start of our trip.  As we were heading out from Bangkok, the driver said he was willing to wait for us at the floating market and take us back to the city afterwards. So far,  so good.

However, he then tried to convince us to pay him directly in cash for the return fare, rather than through the Uber app like we had already paid for the first leg of the trip. He claimed he could give us a discounted rate if we paid him this “separate” fee outside of the app.

This immediately raised suspicions. Why would we pay him in an untraceable cash transaction when we had already paid Uber for the initial trip service through their secure platform? This seemed like a common tactic for drivers to avoid paying the commission to Uber and potentially overcharge unsuspecting tourists.

While we were initially hesitant about the driver’s request to pay cash for the return trip, we eventually agreed to the arrangement. Our thought process was that it could be difficult to book an Uber taxi to take us back to Bangkok from the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market since it’s located quite far from the city center.

As I mentioned earlier, the floating market is situated in Ratchaburi province, over 60 miles outside of Bangkok’s urban core. We worried that once we were ready to head back after our visit, there might not be many Uber drivers available in that relatively remote area to hail a ride through the app. Being stranded was a concern.

Another red flag popped up when the driver tried to convince us to make extra stops that were completely unnecessary for our intended trip to the floating market. He suggested we take a “side trip” to get breakfast first, or that we stop at one of the landmarks in Ratchaburi province to take some photos.

While stopping for food or pictures seems harmless enough, these were obvious detours meant to lengthen the total trip time and milk more money out of us. The driver likely gets kickbacks or has partnered vendors at these kinds of predetermined stops along the way to the floating market.

By getting tourists to agree to the extra stops, the drivers can run up the meter higher than the intended direct route should take. Or they suggest upcharges and added fees to cover the “extended” journeys. It’s a common scam tactic to nickel-and-dime travelers once they’re trapped in the vehicle.

We didn’t take the bait. We made it clear from the start that our sole destination was the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market itself, with no stops or detours. The driver seemed mildly annoyed but continued on – perhaps hoping for another opportunity to squeeze more money from us down the line.

The subtle reminders of his “sweet tooth” attempting to tack on peripheral costs showed he likely had ill intentions from the start. By staying firm on our plans, we avoided falling into one of his money traps. When a driver or guide insists on add-ons you didn’t ask for, it’s usually a scheme to extract every last penny from you.

The last straw came when our driver tried to usher us out at the first pier we arrived at, which was clearly not the entrance to the famous Damnoen Saduak Floating Market itself. Thankfully, our daughter had the location pulled up on Google Maps and realized we were at the wrong place.

We confronted the driver and firmly demanded he take us to the real, proper floating market as was agreed. He had a guilty look but begrudgingly agreed and got us back in the taxi.  Our suspicion was that the driver was likely in cahoots with operators at the first pier, perhaps receiving kickbacks for bringing tourists to their overpriced boat rides before reaching the real market. Only about 5 minutes later, we finally arrived at the authentic Damnoen Saduak Floating Market.

A family that travels together loves each other

However, the hassles weren’t over yet. As soon as we got out, someone approached aggressively trying to charge us an astonishing 3,000 Thai baht (around $90 USD) for just a 1.5-hour boat tour of the market canals. This was clearly a scam trying to grossly overcharge unaware tourists.

We politely declined the outrageous offer. Instead, we walked further into the market area away from the main entrance. There, we were able to negotiate directly with a licensed boat operator for a 1.5-hour tour for just 400 baht total – a savings of 2,500 baht compared to the first ridiculous quote.

While we ultimately avoided getting ripped off, the initial runaround and persistent scam attempts had already soured the whole experience and put us in a foul mood.

It was thrilling to finally cruise the iconic maze of narrow canals, see the iconic scenery of vendors selling goods from their boats, sample exotic snacks and souvenirs from the waterside stalls. But those magical moments were tarnished by the frustration of having to stay constantly on guard to avoid getting ripped off at every turn.

The wonderful sights and flavors couldn’t make up for the lingering sense of being misled and taken advantage of by shameless scammers.

This fresh mango sticky rice from a vendor at the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market looks like the perfect treat.

Tips to Avoid Tourist Traps at Damnoen Saduak Floating Market

  1. If doing a self-guided/DIY visit like in our case, only book transportation through legitimate rideshare apps or taxi services. Never agree to go “off the books” and pay cash directly to the driver, even if they claim a discounted rate. This opens you up to being overcharged.
  2. For a hassle-free and secure experience, consider booking a package tour through a reputable travel agency. Their guided tours to the floating market include safe, accredited transportation and negotiated fair rates.
  3. Always have Google Maps open and monitor the route your driver is taking to ensure they go directly to the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market’s proper entrance. Don’t let them divert you elsewhere.
  4. Once at the market, negotiate boat tour prices directly with the licensed vendor boats inside the canal area. Haggle assertively to get the lowest local rate. Avoid anyone soliciting aggressively outside, as they are likely tied to scams.
  5. Insist your boat guide takes you through the residential canals to see authentic Thai life – houses on stilts, locals going about their days, etc. Be wary if they try to make unwanted vendor stops, as they likely receive commission for bringing in tourists.

The common thread is staying vigilant, only utilizing legitimate operators, negotiating firmly, and not being afraid to walk away from any suspicious touts or offers. A little preparation and confidence can go a long way in avoiding scams and ensuring you get an authentic, reasonably-priced experience at this iconic floating market.

Have you had any encounters with travel scams on your adventures? I’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments!

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  1. Neely Moldovan says:

    I haven’t been to Thailand but I feel like traveling out of the US for me makes me a little nervous. Good to know about things like this.

  2. There are always so many scams to be wary of when travelling! Thank you for making us all aware of what could potentially go on at the floating market!

  3. Oh my gosh, I had no idea that things like this could happen at the Floating Market. I’ll definitely have to be cautious of this when I finally go visit it for myself.

  4. Your insights on avoiding scams at the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market are incredibly helpful! The practical advice and personal experiences you share are essential for any traveler wanting to navigate the market safely and enjoyably. This guide is a valuable resource for visitors to ensure they get the most out of their visit without falling into common tourist traps. Thank you for putting this together!

  5. This is excellent advice. Any time you visit a market like this, you have to be wary of scams, especially if you’re a tourist.

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  7. Caroline says:

    That sounds like a horrible experience. I would have been scared and I don’t even think I would have finished that trip. Thanks for the heads up for the scams ran at Damnoen Saduak Floating Market in Thailand

    1. Hi Caroline. Yes, we cancelled all the succeeding trips and went to the hotel straight. . . a bit scary..

  8. Thank you for sharing this information. I love visiting Thailand, and I hate extra stops while we drive to see something nice too.

    1. Hi Olga. That’s the beauty of traveling. I like to see random places while traveling.

  9. There are always so many scammers when you travel to an unknown destination. Being alert is very important. Thanks for sharing your experience; it will help many people avoid getting scammed.

  10. I know there are some shady things in Thailand but first time knew about this floating boat market scam. Thank you for bringing awareness to this.

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