Everyone has heard of Thailand’s floating markets and many visitors take an organised tour to the tourist Mecca, Damnoen Saduak. There are actually at least 5 floating market sites within reach of Bangkok, we wanted the real deal, something most western tourists don’t see, something that was still Thai, so we headed to Amphawa Floating Market for a weekend on the river. Amphawa is about 90 Km south west of Bangkok in Samut Songkhram and you could do it as a day trip, we opted to stay 2 nights in the unspoiled rural lushness surrounding the market. We stuffed up a little and ended up booking a hotel too far from Amphawa market, a 300 Baht tuk tuk or 15 Baht songtaw ride away. In the end it turned out well, the young owner took us on a personal guided tour in his car, including Damnoen Saduak floating market ( just up the road), the Temple in a Tree and a strange little zoo. We later took a second tour of this region to discover more floating markets and nearby Maeklong railway market. Read our Amphawa Floating Market Guide here with mention of other floating markets and Maeklong railway market, nearby.
The other floating markets around Bangkok
Damnoen Saduak, Thailand’s best known, most touristy, floating market is about 100 Km outside Bangkok and not far from Amphawa. We visited this one too, a post is coming. We’d suggest Amphawa as a better option. Damnoen Saduak is a morning market, Amphawa an afternoon and evening market, so it’s easy to do both. Damnoen Saduak seems to specialise in pork noodle soup, Amphawa in seafood.
Talin Chan floating market is within Bangkok, about 12 Km from downtown. If you hire a long tail boat for a khlong tour you will probably pass this one as we did. It’s very small.
Khlong Lat Mayom
Bang Nam Pheung floating market
Tha Kha floating market is again, near Amphawa, it’s smaller, more authentic, almost tourist free and the food is out of this world. See our full post on Tha Kha and nearby Maeklong railway market, here.
Amphawa Floating Market Bangkok
Amphawa is an afternoon and evening market and it’s all about fish and seafood. The little market boats piled high with amazing looking crabs, prawns and squid wait near the banks while street stalls sell fish cakes, whole fish and unidentifiable fish – based dishes.
Should You Visit Amphawa as a Day Trip, Overnight or for a Weekend?
Amphawa is a weekend, afternoon and evening market, others are morning markets. It makes sense to me to stay overnight or a weekend break would be a lovely thing to do. This area is unspoiled farmland, very Thai, very tropical and it makes a lovely change after bustling Bangkok. We’ve now visited this area twice, once as a day tour from Bangkok, once as a 2 night stay, both were good. See further information in the box below.
More Useful Amphawa Hotel and Tour Booking Information
You can book a day tour to Amphawa from Bangkok easily, some options include:
Get Your Guide offer hundreds of tours within Thailand, including this day trip which also includes the amazing Maeklong railway market. They have a price guarantee, find the tour cheaper and they refund the difference. We use Get Your Guide often to reserve tours in advance. See the Amphawa and Maeklong tour here
Take Me Tour are a Thai company who arrange private tours with local guides, read about our experiences with them here, you can also sign up through us for a 500 Baht discount.
If you are staying in Amphawa consider:
Rimrabeang Cafe and Suite. It has some of the best ratings in Amphawa and tends to sell out. It’s right on the water’s edge . Around $100 per double. More details here.
Baanrack Amphawa. Such an adorable building and again, right next to the water. Doubles around $25 including breakfast. Amazing reviews! More details here.
If you’re looking for a bargain maybe take a look at Hotels Combined, they search multiple sites to find you the best deal.
Bangkok to Amphawa:
Bus or private tour ( or taxi) only. There is no train. The bus , it’s a mini bus, leaves from Pinklao bus station Bangkok and passes through Maeklong for the railway market. The journey is about 1.5 hours to Amphawa and costs around $3 each. Just turn up at the bus station and buy a ticket. In 2018 we believe the buses are also going from the Southern Bus Terminal. Pinklao is closer to central Bangkok. It’s confusing because Pinklao is also called the Southern Bus Terminal sometimes. Bangkok bus terminal ( Southern) is Sai Thai Guo . You need to check the Thai names. You should be safe with Pinklao because that’s where we got the bus.
At Amphawa traditional shop houses line the waterways. You can stroll along the banks or take a boat tour. You’ll have no difficulty finding a boat. The area is incredibly pretty and lovely to explore on foot.
These fish cakes in a sticky, sweet, hot sauce were beyond good and cooked right in front of us at a street stall. Cost, 20 Baht, 50p.
We didn’t try the crabs, prawns or squid, but maybe we will next time. It’s well worth going back for a second Amphawa feast, try as many dishes as you can.
Steamed pork dumplings, again made amazing by their sauce. 20 Baht/portion.
Some of the boats serve whole seafood, others soups and noodles, order from the steps alng the riverside and your dish is prepared to order.
Amphawa isn’t just about seafood, you’ll also find loads of sweet, sticky treats. There are souvenir and T shirt stalls, but not the tourist tat of Damnoen Saduwak. Amphawa market is a far nicer experience that its touristy big brother.
Amphawa Floating Market With Kids
There is plenty here to keep the kids interested. Keep a tight hold of little ones, they will be very close to water at all times. There are toy shops, market areas with a fun-fair type vibe and endless sweet treats to buy. My boys’ favourite is sticky rice with banana, but there are all kinds of things to tempt them. Your children may enjoy a boat ride or the little ferry nearby. The fake Lego is very good!
As darkness falls and the fireflies come out to play, Amphawa gets even prettier. After dark more stalls open, but we never saw big crowds. We were visiting not long after The King’s death, maybe that decreased number of Bangkok visitors, but the crowds we’d read about weren’t there on Friday or Saturday.
Amphawa is a weekend market. We arrived on Friday afternoon and left Amphawa on Sunday morning after a second evening visit.
Accommodation Near Amphawa Floating Markets
Finding the Best Deals on Amphawa Hotels, Guest Houses and Hostels
Amphawa does get full particularly on weekends so it’s best to book in advance. To find lowest prices check Hotels Combined , they compare multiple online booking engines to find you the best price for your dates, this is often the best place to find your deal. Agoda are Asia specialists and often have more selection and some great deals, they are Asia specialists and Hotels Combined DO NOT CHECK AGODA. So always take a look at this site separately. Booking.com can help you with fully refundable reservations. People booking a long time in advance often like to take this option.
We stayed at Banmaimo Resort, a collection of basic wooden villas, with aircon, breakfast and private shower rooms, right on the river bank. It’s a lovely spot and we very much enjoyed the experience. It’s a fair way out of Amphawa but the countryside is stunning. The young owner, Nu, gave us a tour by car which we very much appreciated, otherwise you’ll need to use songtaw and ferry to get to Amphawa markets.
There are places to stay right in the floating market area, although you will pay more and on weekends they will be fully booked. There are some beautiful boutique hotels and hostels just a step from the water’s edge, perfect for a weekend away. Check out these and other Amphawa accommodation using the booking engines mentioned above.
Getting to Amphawa Floating Markets From Bangkok
We took the bus from Pinklao bus station. Cost 70Baht ( under £2.00) per person, it takes about an hour and is a comfortable ride. The minibus drops you at the 7-11 right next to the Amphawa floating markets. From here we took a tuk tuk to our hotel. This minibus stops at Maeklong Railway Market on the way. Maeklong is the market on the train tracks, where the stalls have to pull back when a train passes through, so it’s very possible to do both in one day. Day trips and tours are also available.
Other Things to Do in Amphawa
If you’re not content to just graze your way around the markets, there are some interesting sites to visit nearby. Don’t miss the “Temple in a Tree” Wat Bang Kung. Right opposite is a strange zoo come WW2 aircraft collection. They have camels, crocodiles and an ostrich along with various deer, horses, goats and water buffalo. Admission is free. Boat rides are popular, including evening cruises to spot the fire flies. You can certainly fill a morning exploring this area, it’s a millon miles from tourist Thailand!
More Information on Travel in Thailand and Thai Food
We hope you make it down to Amphawa floating market during your Thailand trip and we hope this post helps you decide which floating market to visit, there are plenty of choices. It took us around 20 years to discover this little gem. For more on travel in Thailand head back to our main Thailand Travel Blog page. or you could read up on what’s on the menu in Thailand in our compete guide to Thai food.