Amphawa Floating Market Essential Guide
The Amphawa floating market is one of the most iconic places to visit in Thailand. It is located just 90 minutes from Bangkok in Samut Songkhram. It is a great Bangkok day trip and an easy escape from the city.
Samut Songkhram is a very local area. It is not overly developed for tourism so expect to see an authentic view of 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 quickly understand why Bangkok was once called the Venice of the East. There is water everywhere you look!
The market gets very busy around lunchtime. Many local visitors come here for the seafood barbecue right by the canal, so it can feel easy to get a bit lost.
Check out these awesome tours of the market by local group Inspitrip. They will help you navigate the market properly and show you where those hidden gems are. Transport, boat rides, and lunch are included – and you get a bonus visit to the Maeklong Railway Market! That’s two for the price of one.
What can I buy at the Amphawa floating market?
The Amphawa floating market offers an assortment of hand-made crafts, souvenirs and loads of interesting local foods.
The range of souvenirs and other goods are similar to those at the Chatujak Weekend Market. Expect to find printed “I Love Amphawa” t-shirts, traditional textiles, and herbal soaps. Not all these souvenirs are what I would go out to buy, but some are definitely nice!
The real attraction and what draws so many Thai visitors is the food. Thai people love going out of their way for a big seafood meal and Amphawa Market is no exception.
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 through 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 colors and a served up in sweetened condensed milk on ice.
Another great dessert 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 in the Canals
After lunch, get on a longtail boat tour to explore the area surrounding the floating market. Longtail boats are, as the name suggests, long wooden boats. Traditionally they would have been rowed around the canals. These days they have a hugely oversized motor which you can hear from anywhere.
The longtail boats are so loud that you should really try to sit up the front. You will have to get on the boat first because the Thai’s have figured this out already too.
Watch out for the boat price scam. Some sneaky locals will try to get you on a private boat for 2000 THB. A single ticket on a shared boat is just 50 THB per person. Huge difference!
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.
Amphawa Firefly tour
If you are hanging around until late at night then I suggest hopping on the Amphawa firefly tour.
Jump on another longtail boat after about 7pm. These boats will have a sign saying “firefly tours.” You can’t miss them.
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 firefly tour is a unique experience and well worth doing. The tours last about 45 minutes to 1 hour. This is plenty of time to see more than enough fireflies.
Amphawa Floating Market Opening Hours 2018
What are the Amphawa Floating Market opening hours in 2018? The market is open weekends only. Don’t visit during the week as you’ll find a bunch of closed stalls and pretty lifeless canals.
The market is open Saturday and Sunday from about 11am to after 8pm. The best time to visit the floating market is actually after 2pm when the market gets more lively. It then stays busy late into the night.
The last bus leaves the market around 7pm to 8pm. Be sure to check the timetable on the day you go, so you don’t have to get a taxi back!
How to Get to the Amphawa Floating Market
The best way of getting from Bangkok to the Amphawa Floating Market is by minivan (tickets and timetable). Tickets start from 150 THB per person. A one-way journey takes about 90 minutes.
Minivans depart hourly from Bangkok’s Southern Bus Terminal (Sai Tia Kai Pinklao). You will need to catch a taxi to get to the bus terminal which could take up to 30 minutes itself, so allow plenty of time.
Note 1: the bus to Ampahwa used to depart from Victory Monument BTS station. All services have been relocated since 2016.
Note 2: minivans returning to Bangkok in the afternoon can take much longer than 90 minutes if the traffic is bad. Don’t plan on flying out the same afternoon as visiting this market.
Day Trip – Amphawa 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.
I suggest 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 for more information.
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