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 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.
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
Amphawa Floating Market
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.
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 crowd’s 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
We stayed at Banmaimo Resort, a collection of 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. Check out Amphawa accommodation here and book before you arrive.
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!
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