Some of Thaïland’s most beautiful scenes are certainly the floating markets. Full of colours, little boats paddling on the river and gorgeous food, a visit to one of these markets has long been considered an essential part of the trip for tourists in Thaïland (and from Thaïland too.) and with growing tourism it seems difficult to keep something authenthic and old fashioned. While many have became tourist traps (like Damnoen Saduak, where tour boats loaded with westerners often outnumber the traders), some are succeeding to keep a little authenticity. 100km Southwest from Bangkok, in the lovely town of Amphawa, you might just find a little more of the old world charm, and a little less of the package tour rat-race.
Escape Bangkok for a day or two and make your way to Amphawa. Accomodations are not cheap (around $20 for a double room with airco as a minimum) and you will need a transport to reach the markets. Rent a bike or a car for this trip to enjoy it fully.
Amphawa is a little town that doesn’t see so much tourism except during the week-end. Why is it so popular from Friday to Sunday? The floating markets surrounding the town of course! There are two of them and we would reccomend that you try them both. Very different to each other, they both bring something special.
Tha Kha Floating Market
Open on Saturday, Sunday & 2nd, 7th and 12th day of the waxing moon and waning moon of the Thaï lunar calendar.
If what you were looking for was a charming little market, authenthic and simple, well you have it ! Tha Kha is my little favourite for a good reason : it is rural and beautiful. Here, between the boat selling piping hot curry and spring rolls, and the one selling fresh produce from the local farms, there is no space for anything else, except perhaps the couple of boats that offer you a river tour and the locals mooring up alongside their friends for a quick natter before returning to business.
Go between 9.00 and 10.00 to observe the market waking up and taking shape slowly. Order some food and climb on the bridge to see the boats passing by, the women chatting about their day while handing out some fresh watermelon, the kids playing around.
Tha Kha is peaceful. It’s a small floating market, authenthic, no souvenirs to buy and surrounded by a beautiful jungle. What is there to not like about it?
Amphawa Floating Market.
Open on Friday, Saturday, Sunday.
Different and quite touristic (Thai and Chinese tourists mainly), Amphawa is a favourite and is quite busy. Many boats will try to sell you a ride on the canal but just take a walk around. Between souvenir, craft shops, food stalls, the main market happens on the side of the river. A couple of boat offer food on deck and if you are a seafood lover you will be in heaven !
Shrimps, clams, crabs, fresh and grilled for you on a little boat, it’s hard to resist ! Amphawa is the place to be for your lunch !
Maybe not very authenthic anymore, the modernity of this markets makes it popular and very different, a surprising
mix of the old and the new world that the Thaïs seems to adore. The old fishermen in his wooden rowing boat, bringing in his haul using the same nets and rods that his great grandfather did, will be moored up alongside the boat selling memory cards for your camera or an Ironman themed carry case for your Iphone 5. It’s buzzing, always busy and for a good reason: you can find anything! Daring, different, Amphawa is a perfect representation
of Thaïland these days : modernity and tradition that normally wouldn’t mix very well, but somehow works here.
Other activities :
If you are staying overnight you might want to know what you can find in the area ? Amphawa and its surroundings are known for its swarms of fireflies! So a little hunt at night might be welcome ! Be aware though that these critters won’t always adhere to your schedule, and it’s entirely pôssible that you might fork out for a two hour boat ride and not see a single one.
Around town you can also easily find fishermen, jungle scenes and salt lakes. There is always something to do in Amphawa ! Or just do like the locals and chill for a bit !
Where to stay & eat :
Accomodation is tricky in the area. We do recommend the Naming Resort. For rooms around $20 you can get aircon in your room and a pretty view on the river with a little balcony. You might be able to see fireflies (we didn’t) if you are lucky.