Visiting the Iconic Amphawa Floating Market
The Amphawa floating market is one of Thailand’s most iconic attractions. It is located just 90 minutes from Bangkok in Samut Songkhram. Being so close to Bangkok, it makes for a great and easy city escape.
Samut Songkhram is a very local area. It is not overly developed for tourism so expect to see an authentic view into the Thai lifestyle.
Out at the Amphawa floating market the canals really come to life. Boats zip around offering all sorts of goods, elderly ladies yell about how good their fresh mangoes taste and you’ll probably even see young children swimming or showering in the water.
Boats will pull up offering hot grilled seafood, fresh fruit, souvenirs and tours. It really is a life on the water. There is so much happening along these canals that they’re almost as busy as downtown Bangkok!
When you visit the Amphawa floating market you’ll understand why Bangkok was once regarded as the Venice of the East.
The market gets very busy around lunchtime with huge crowds of Thai visitors. On a busy weekend it can be difficult walking down the main strip. Because of this I actually prefer the quieter Khlong Lat Mayom floating market in northern Bangkok.
What can I buy at the Amphawa floating market?
The Amphawa floating market offers an assortment of hand-made crafts, tacky souvenirs and loads of food.
The range of souvenirs and other goods are somewhat similar to what can be found at the Chatujak Weekend Market. Expect to find printed “I Love Amphawa” t-shirts that you’ll probably never wear, textiles, herbals soaps and children’s toys that will break after first use.
The real attraction of the Amphawa floating market, and what bring so many Thai visitors here is the abundance of food. Thais absolutely love going out of their way for a good seafood lunch or dinner, and this market makes no exceptions.
For those that like playing it safe, try staple Thai dishes such as Pad Thai, Fried Rice or Krapow. Get a little more adventurous with Boat Noodles – rice noodles with sliced meat in a pig’s blood soup.
However seafood is what people really visit for. Sit alongside the canal on the stairs or the low lying benches. BBQ seafood restaurants on boats will pull right up to offer you grilled prawns, shells, snails, fish and squid. Being only a few kilometers from the coast, you can expect the seafood to be fairly fresh. I don’t guarantee you coming away without Bangkok belly though.
As you wander though the market you will also find a range of really unique looking Thai deserts. These traditional deserts are generally made of a tapioca starch, mixed with bright colours and a served up in sweetened condensed milk on ice.
Another great desert to try is the coconut ice cream served up in an emptied half coconut shell. The ice cream is then topped with peanuts or Thai sweets all for about 30THB (1 USD).
When you’re full from seafood and sweets, go in search of a Thai style iced coffee. This is sure to break the food coma ready for the next lot of exploring ahead.
Longtail Boat Rides
After lunch be sure to get on a longtail boat tour which explores the area surrounding the Amphawa floating market.
Way before Bangkok was bumper to bumper with cars, it was actually filled with boats.
Longtail boats are, as the names suggests, long wooden boats. Traditionally they would have been rowed around the canals. These days they pack a hugely oversized outboard motor that screams above all else.
These things are so loud that you should really try to sit up the front. Try get on the boat first because the Thai’s have figured this out already too.
The longtail boat will take you exploring the area surrounding the Amphawa floating market. You’ll journey through small canals and then venture out across the Mae Klong River.
Out here you’ll pass stilt houses constructed on the river. In between there are mangrove forests, while behind there are small rice farms and coconut palms.
Boat tours generally last about 1 hour and include a visit to a Thai temple along the river.
The Thai temple is impressive. One of the most popular things to see here is the temple inside a tree called Wat Bang Kung.
Visiting the Amphawa floating market fireflies
Are you staying around the Amphawa floating market until night? A river tour checking out the fireflies is a must do.
Jump on another longtail boat after about 7pm. These boats will have a sign showing something like “Amphawa floating market fireflies tour.”
The longtail boat will take you back out onto the Mae Klong River. Here it will slowly pull up to a few well known sections for watching the fireflies. On some nights the trees really light up like a Christmas tree! Other nights you might just get really unlucky and see nothing at all.
The fireflies tour is a unique experience and well worth doing. The tours lasts about 45 minutes to 1 hour. This is plenty of time to see more than enough fireflies.
Amphawa Floating Market Opening Days and Hours
FAQ – What days is the Amphawa market open? The market is open weekends only.
Don’t plan on turning up during the week as you’ll find a bunch of closed stalls and pretty lifeless canals.
The Amphawa floating market is open from midday to about 8pm. It really comes to comes to life after about 2pm and stays fairly busy into the night.
The market is commonly referred to as the Amphawa evening market, so take the tip and avoid early mornings.
How to Get to the Amphawa Floating Market
The market is actually not located in Bangkok, but in the province of Samut Songkhram. It is about 80 km from Bangkok itself, however still close enough to enjoy as an easy day trip.
The trip takes about 90 minutes each way. Coming back in the afternoon can take over 2 or 3 hours if the traffic is bad.
The easiest way of getting to the Amphawa floating market is by minibus from Bangkok. Minibuses leave from both Mo Chit bus station and the Southern (Sai Tai Mai) bus station.
Minibuses used to depart from Victory Monument BTS station, however all services here have been relocated since 2016.
Day Trip – Amphawa floating market and Maeklong Railway Market
The Amphawa floating market and Maeklong Railway market are located less than 30km apart. These markets can be easily combined into a great day trip.
The easiest way to get from the Amphawa floating market to the Maeklong railway market, or vice versa, is by songtaew. A songtaew is pick-up truck style taxi with two rows of seats in the back.
You are best visiting the train market in the morning then head over to the floating market in the afternoon.
Check out my article on the Maeklong Railway Market (also Bangkok Train Market) for more information on opening hours and how to get there from Bangkok.
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