Mar 25 2011
While most visitors to Bangkok get their floating market kicks at the hyper-touristy Damnoen Saduak, Amphawa floating market offers a more authentic option with less classic photo ops.
An hour and a half outside of Bangkok in Samut Songkran province, Amphawa is an afternoon market (no early am wake up!) very popular among Thais. There is undoubtedly a touristic element to Amphawa but unlike Damnoen Saduak here the tourists are almost exclusively local and the occasional foreign face is noteworthy.
The market itself sits on quaint Amphawa canal, part of a network of more than 300 canals jutting out of the Mae Khlong river. With elevated banks boasting wooden store fronts and canal-side seating Amphawa is where Thais come for their floating market experience. Instead of Beer Chang T-shirts and Muay Thai shorts, shops here sell trendy Thai favourites such as old-fashioned toys, artsy postcards and cutesy clothing.
Of course, as this is Thailand one of the market’s main draws is its endless khanom or snacks. Streams of people wander the banks stopping frequently to sit on benches and chow down on dried pork, whole fish and other local treats. On steps leading down to the water groups gather to buy softshell crabs and fresh som tam from sellers floating by.
Boat trips to nearby temples are touted throughout the market and cost 50 baht a journey, though there is definitely enough to see without getting on the water. In the evenings boats take visitors to see the incredibly popular fireflies.
Three to four hours at the market should be enough but if you wish to spend the night there is a sampling of homestays and small hotels to choose from. Also keep in mind crowds get dense late in the day when Thai shoppers come out from hiding in the shade.
Travelling to Amphawa is easy by mini van from Victory Monument. If you are coming from the BTS Skytrain follow signs to Century mall. While walking towards Century look for a small alley between the mall and the Siam International Building identified by the big Suzuki dealer out front. Turn left at the alley and you will see a mini-van station. Ask anyone working there about vans to Amphawa.
Tickets cost 80 baht one-way and seem to leave whenever the vehicle is full. Purchase your return ticket to Bangkok as soon as you arrive in Amphawa to make sure you don’t get stuck out there without a lift back to the city.
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