Take a day trip to Amphawa Floating Market in Samut Songkhram
a vendor in the market, early morning
Amphawa is a village near Samut Songkhram, southwest of Bangkok. It was the birthplace of King Rama III, and today boasts a very popular and trendy floating market with tons of food, sightseeing tours, and shopping along the canals.
Getting to Amphawa
Sure, you could take a bus from Bangkok's Southern Bus Terminal and be at Samut Songkhram just over an hour later, but where's the adventure in that!?
It's much more atmospheric and exciting to make a day of it and go by train, though it can be difficult and a bit confusing, so not many foreigners travel by rail to Amphawa.
Depart from Bangkok's Wongwian Yai Train Station at Wongwian Yai BTS (10 baht, 1.5 hours) to Samut Sakhon, where you will cross the river by ferry and board the next train all the way to Mae Khlong Station in Samut Songkhram (10 baht).
take the river ferry to cross from one side of the river to the other
If you go by train, you will arrive at the world-famous Umbrella Market (Mae Khlong Market), where vendors have built the market literally on top of the railroad tracks! As the train slowly pulls into the station, the canvas awnings are pulled back, and the vendors scramble to clear the tracks of their goods and wares as the train passes with just inches of clearance!
Look out your window to see the amazed tourists smashed up between the train and the walls of the alleyway snapping photos and ogling at the strange sight. It's really fun to be on this train as it arrives!
tracks at the Umbrella Market
From the market, take any of the blue songtaew (8 baht) which are clearly market as going to Amphawa. Ten or so minutes later, you will arrive at the floating market!
at the floating market
What to do at Amphawa
Hop aboard any of the 50-baht canal tours on a long canal boat! Most 2-hour tours will take you along the canal to five or seven famous temples, giving you a glimpse at a traditional way of life as you pass homes and shops along the riverside.
At night, board a romantic hour-long tour out into the dark parts of the canals to watch for fireflies twinkling in the dark trees!
Of course, as a floating market, Amphawa is a fantastic place to eat some cheap, delicious, and incredibly fresh seafood! Take a seat on a little plastic stool at the side of the canal and order plates of shrimp pad thai, grilled salt fish, scallops, or giant pink prawns directly from vendors grilling the seafood on their boats. Crack a beer and watch market life go by.
Explore the trendy vintage shops along the canal.
During the day, pay a visit to Pat Pat palm plantation just across the street from the market. This is a project that encourages local farmers to preserve traditional and eco-friendly ways of producing organic products from palm, including palm sugar, soap, and many more.
If you arrive at the right time, you can even see how the palm sugar is made from the harvested palm syrup!
palm sugar being produced
Where to stay
Amphawa is totally doable as a day trip from Bangkok, but it makes for a nice weekend trip too! There are dozens of homestays and guesthouses along the canals. Unless it's a holiday weekend, you probably won't even need a reservation in advance. Rooms vary in price, from 600-5000 baht ($20-150) per night).
What to eat
Seafood, and lots of it! Being right on the coast, you won't get seafood much fresher than at Amphawa!
Also, pay a visit to one of the vintage-style restaurants along the canals for "boat noodles". Served in small coconut bowls, you aren't meant to have just one helping of this cheap dish! Order several servings and create a tower of empty bowls!
If you've got a day to spend, and want to take a relaxing visit to a beautiful place where you can explore a bit of a traditional way of life, Ampahwa Floating Market is highly recommended!