You can enjoy Amphawa floating markets as a day trip from Bangkok, as it is only 50kms or so away. But being us, with time on our side, we decided to stay a couple of days. Amphawa is, as you would expect situated on a river. The Mae Klong river is wide and edged with tradition wooden houses, farmland and of course being Thailand some stunning wats and temples.
Traditionally Amphawa was the central hub for trade and agriculture for the Samut Songkhram province. Thus living beside and on the river made sense for the local people. And today travelling along the river you can see many still live this way.
The Amphawa floating markets really come to life on the weekend, from 1pm Friday onwards. I had expected them to be like other markets and be morning affairs, but not so. There are traders there during the day but at night it kicks off. It is hypnotic watching the chaos of long tail boats and wider passenger boats navigate around the narrow canals. Many of the long tail boats house make-shift kitchens, think woks and open flames, dishing up food to diners on canal side tables.
The old wooden buildings along the canal and down the alleyways are a mixture of tourist shops and tiny restaurants. Seafood, traditional Thai food, souvenirs, local fruits and sweet treats feature largely. I like my sweet things but the Thais take sweet to a whole new level that even I can’t handle.
If you want to escape the madness of the Amphawa floating markets you can take a boat ride up the river. During the day you can visit the local wats and temples along the Mae Along River. In the evening, during the rainy season (May -October) you can see the fireflies.
Amphawa Floating Markets weren’t even on my radar of places to visit in Thailand, so again I have my clever other half and his mate Google to thank for this find!
Tips for Amphawa Floating Markets
Getting there is simple from Bangkok, you can easily do a day tour as it’s only about 1.5 hours away.
As we were coming up from the south it was a bit harder (of course!). We had to get to get a minibus to Mae Klong and then catch a songthaew (red truck) to Amphawa. I thought this was going to be tricky but it was a piece of cake! Our little local travel agent in Cha Am got the Bangkok bound minibus from Hua Hin to call in to collect us (saving us $8 in taxi fares!). The mini bus stopped by the side of the motorway under a bridge in Mae Klong (I kid you not!) for us to climb out. And sitting under the bridge waiting was a songthaew! The mini bus cost AUS$10 for the two of us, and the songthaew to our hotel cost us AUS$8.
In Amphawa we stayed at the Panviman Amphawa Garden Resort which was walking distance to the Amphawa floating markets, but in a nice quiet street. Breakfast was served right beside the river at their sister hotel. We would recommend either hotel. Hotels tend to book up quickly for Saturday nights with Thais coming down from Bangkok for the weekend, so book well in advance if you want to stay Saturday night. When we went we could only get Thursday and Friday night.
When in Amphawa you can hire a boat for AUS$20 for a one hour river trip or you can join a 2 hour trip to see 5 temples in 2 hours for AUS$4pp. We did the two hour trip and really enjoyed it. The temples were good and having Thais tourists on board with us who knew what to do helped us Aussies not look twits!
- Prices correct at time of writing May 2018