One of the best parts of traveling to faraway places is the chance to experience the diversity of culture and tradition that exists in each location. During a visit to Myanmar (Burma), visitors must take the time to visit the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market.

There you will be able to see how people of this region have bought and sold vegetables and other items for a hundred years. Of course, many say that the market is not as authentic as it was once and that it has become geared more to the tourists that to the locals.

While there is certainly some truth to this, it still remains a fascinating thing to see the small boats full of fruits, vegetables, meats and other items clog the waterways while all vying for the best spot in which to barter with the buyers – both locals and tourists.

The floating market once featured small paddle boats. Today, the waterways are shared by larger boats that are powered by small engines. It is on these boats, called longboats, that tourists can travel in to reach the markets.

There are guided tours available that will bring you to the market and include an English-speaking guide that will stay with you throughout your time there. When your shopping is done, you will be transported back to your hotel.

Seeing the markets with a tour guide is recommended rather than going it alone. With Deluxe Kosher Tours, a guided tour to the markets is included in your package.

Some who have visited the market describe it as being two distinct markets. The first is for the tourists. You will be able to find very reasonably priced souvenirs and other such items. The other part of the market is the one where locals would visit.

That is where spices and fresh food items can be purchased. Some of the vendors cook right on their boats and sell their freshly cooked items to market goers. While not all of the food will be appropriate for those trying to keep kosher, much of it will be just fine.

The market is only open until noon each day, so you will need to plan to arrive early in order to be able to spend any time there. Past visitors have found wonderful bargains such as silk scarves for $5 and intricately carved small wooden boxes for $2.

An important piece of advice to keep in mind when visiting these markets is to never pay the first price asked. The vendors expect you to bargain with them, and that is part of the fun! See how great of a deal you can get on any of the thousands of items being offered at any given time.

While part of the excitement is seeing what kind of bargains you can get, the other part of the charm is viewing life much as it would have looked in this city a hundred years ago. Sure, the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market has morphed into something that is as much for tourists as for locals, but it is also a place that is legitimately part of the history of the area. If for no other reason than that, it should not be missed.

Tagged: Stuart