The Amphawa Floating Market in Samut Songkhram province in central Thailand, is one of the largest and oldest weekend-only markets. Located just 50 kilometres southwest of Bangkok, this weekend flee market also has one very special feature for people who like to sleep late; it is an afternoon market.
Hence, unlike other Bangkok markets no early morning wake up call is required in order to get there by opening time which is around 11 AM. While the market may not look all that inviting due to the seemingly run down condition (of the old wooden shop fronts and houses that line the Amphawa canal), appearances can be deceptive.
I first visited the Amphawa market in 2009, and found this to be an affordable outdoor market that has a good supply of both fresh produce (including seafood and fruit and vegetables) and consumer products including clothes and souvenirs.
One of the reasons that this is such a good market, is because many of
the customers are Thai. The foreign tourists that make it here
are the day trippers from from Bangkok. The nearby Samut Songkhram
train station is also home to the well known Maeklong Railway Market
which is unusual as it is set up on the train tracks and the vendors
have to shift their stalls several times during the day when trains
The Amphawa Floating Market which is said to be one of largest in Thailand is located along a section of the Amphawa canal near Wat Amphawan Chetiyaram in Samut Songkhram which itself is quite a small town (see marked in red within map below).
The Amphawa market has been at this location since at least 1766 during the reign of King Prasat Thong when this area flourished as an agricultural community.
Today, when you arrive here little seems to have changed as this floating market maintains much of its original old world charm. So much so that back in 2008, the Amphawa community was awarded the UNESCO Asia Pacific Honorable Mention Award for Culture Heritage Conservation.
The vendors start to arrive around 10 AM in their long wooden boats; packed with coffee, noodles, fried sea mussels, fresh produce, drinks and other goods. All the big and bright umbrella's come out and are used by the vendors in their boats to shield themselves from the hot Thailand sun.
By mid afternoon the floating market is in full swing with the vendors parking their boats along the sides of the canal where the wooden store fronts display their goods and entice customers to buy the fresh food and produce on offer.
A bridge built over the canal allows visitors to walk from one side to the other and peruse the market along both sides.
Be warned though, the waterfront walkways on both sides of the canal are quite narrow and by late afternoon the market is very crowded, so it becomes increasingly difficult to take pictures or get a good view of the canal.
Speaking of the canal, by late afternoon it can resemble a Bangkok traffic jam as numerous vendors maneuver their boats in a bid to get the best vantage point to offload their goods.
SHOPS AND FOOD
with a selection of cafes, restaurants, pubs, coffee stalls and novelty shops within the main
precinct there is plenty of shopping and eating to keep you interested
for several hours. Some of the items on sale at the souvenir shops include hats, silk scarves, t shirts, flip flops, clothing, toys, key chains and woodcarvings.
Fish, crabs, sea mussels, fried pork, noodles and
rice are just a few of the staples that are on the menu along with a
variety of fresh fruit and vegetables and snacks such as chips and chocolates. Many of the vendors prepare and sell the food from within their boats (see image below). Meals vary in price from about 30 Thai baht to around 120 Thai baht.
In my opinion, the Amphawa Floating Market provides a more traditional Thai market experience than say Damneon Saduak Floating Market as 95% of the people who visit Amphawa are Thai. However, as these two markets are connected by the water canal, you can hire a water taxi and visit both of these Thai markets in one day.
Apart from the shopping, there are also boat tours available which take you along the canals to the nearby temples and these boat tours also allow you to see the local farms and landscape.
Their are a number of operators within the general area and the cost is approximately 50 Thai baht per person for a short trip.
The Amphawa Floating Market opens between 11 AM and 9 PM (but plan to arrive after lunch) on Saturday and Sunday. It gets very hot here so make sure you cover up and wear a hat if you tend to burn.
Being located about 1.5 hours from Bangkok, the best way to travel there
is by mini bus. Mini bus tours are available from Victory Monument in Bangkok which cost about 100 Thai baht one way while public buses are also available from Bangkok's Southern Bus Terminal.