Tag Archives: Samut Songkhram

Wat Bang Kaphom in Samut Songkhram

I was on my way to the floating market at Amphawa the other week when I came across this interesting temple. On the outside it was deserted and very undistinguishable from any other temple that I had been to in Thailand. I almost passed it by but then a coach load of Thai tourists pulled into the small parking lot. They left their coach in single file and were led to a small wihan off to one side. My curiosity got the better of me and I decided to follow them. I am so glad that I did. Wat Bang Kaphom is located off Highway 325 between Samut Songkram and the Amphawa Floating Market. It is an old temple dating back to the Ayutthaya period. It is one of those places that should be in the Lonely Planet but isn’t.

The old building is dominated by a large Buddha Footprint in the center. It is unusual in that it has four distinct layers. There are four different footprints superimposed on each other. They are believed to date back to the Thonburi period and were once said to be covered in silver plating. The footprint at the lowest level is made from mother-of-pearl inlaid wood. What makes this room outstanding are the stucco reliefs found on the walls. Normally, temple walls are covered with mural paintings depicting episodes from the Buddha’s life. It is unusual to see this 3-D effect in a Thai temple, though I have seen many in India.

Swimming Monkeys in Samut Songkhram

Over the years, at www.bangkok-daytrips.com, I have written about many of the day trips that I have been on in the Bangkok area. I have long since been to all of the major tourist attractions and now I spend most of my time looking for new attractions within driving distance of Bangkok. The other day I found a new one just 90 minutes away from Bangkok in Samut Songkhram Province. Along the coastline, at a small community called Klong Khone, I found a group of homestays which provide various activities for mainly Thai visitors from Bangkok. These include boat tours where people could see up close the life and work of local fishermen. However, the highlight of these tours is the visit to see the so called sea monkeys who live along the coastline.

Samut Songkhram Province is fast becoming a popular eco-tourism destination for people living in Bangkok. I first went there on the Maeklong Railway trip where the train passes through the market on the tracks. Then on another visit I went to the emerging floating market at Amphawa. When I went back again last year I discovered literally dozens of new places around the market that were advertising homestay and various activities such as giving alms to the monks who passed the homestay early in the morning paddling a boat. It is possible to also join boat tours here and along the coastline at Don Hoi Lot. This is a popular destination for families to come to eat seafood and relax in the shade of the trees. If you continue on Highway 35 for about another 8 kms then you will reach the turn-off for Tambon Klong Khone.

Although this area is relatively unknown to independent foreign travellers, it has become popular with Thai people who come here with their university or company to take part in various activities such as planting mangrove saplings. At the main turn-off, there was a large bilingual sign pointing out places such as the Conservation Mangrove Center and various homestays. However, apart from that, there was very little in the way of English signs to show you where to go. The only clues we had were colourful signs advertising numerous homestays. Hardly any of them had any English, but many had pictures of the sea monkeys swimming in the water. We decided to follow the sign for “Baan Khlong Clone Resort” mainly because it also advertised their own dot com website.

On our arrival we were greeted by the resort manager. He ushered us to a large dining area over a pond where he showed us various photo albums of people who had already enjoyed their stay at the resort. He told me that about 60% of them were students from universities. The resort has a number of bungalow type buildings where you can sleep four people comfortably for 2,000 baht. He said that they would put in an extra mattress for 300 baht per person. For bigger groups he also had the options of renting out a large dormitory for 4,000 baht or people could sleep in tents. I have posted more pictures of this resort over at our ThailandQA.com Forums. Although I was tempted to stay the night, what we had mainly come to do was to join a boat tour to see the sea monkeys.

The manager told us that it would cost us about 700 baht to rent a boat for a trip that would last one or two hours. He seemed quite vague when he was giving me prices of the accommodation and various activities. It wasn’t like he was trying to cheat me, but rather he wasn’t sure how much he could get away with charging. While we were looking through the photo albums a Thai couple came and he told them the same price of 700 baht for the boat trip. It did seem to be on the expensive side but as you can get up to five people in one boat it could be good value for money if you take advantage of that. So, we agreed to rent a boat straight away. We were given a lifejacket, a large farmers style hat with a wide brim, and a cold bottle of water. Before we set off, I double checked that we would indeed see the monkeys. The other side trips of “jet skiing” and observing fishermen activities were of incidental value to me. We were assured that we would indeed see monkeys. And as it turned out, we saw literally hundreds.

I have said many times before that I really like doing boat trips as it is a great way to experience natural air-conditioning as you whizz down rivers and canals. The boat wasn’t too comfortable as we were basically sitting on a low stool with no backs to lean onto. The boat also didn’t have a canopy so make sure that you put on sunscreen and a hat. About ten minutes after we had left the homestay resort the boatman slowed down and then cut the engine. As we drifted towards the bank we quickly spotted the monkeys that were racing to greet us. I counted about 30 monkeys. Some were young babies being carried by their mothers. Many were on the banks while others were in the trees. Then we heard a splash as one had jumped down into the water to swim out to us.

It is a funny, I had always thought that monkeys were scared of water. But, here we were watching monkeys swimming in the canal. Not only that, but they were diving too. One of them had spotted some fruit floating on the water, and then after grabbing it, the monkey dived under the water and swam for 2 or 3 meters before coming back up for air close to the bank. Our boatman told us that on hot days that the monkeys would play in the water in order to cool off. They would hang from the branches of the trees and dive bomb into the water. As there were only the two of us on the boat, there was no pressure to move on and the boatman said that we could stay as long as we liked. However, as we didn’t have any food to give the monkeys they quickly grew bored of us and just sat still on the banks.

After a while, we continued on with our boat tour. We soon left behind us the mangrove forest and we were taken out to sea. He showed us some of the many fishermen huts that were built on stilts over the water. In Thai these are apparently called “krateng”. He then took us further down the coast and then up another estuary to a small fishing community. Along the way we stopped at a few spots to observe the monkeys. We passed about 4 or 5 other tour boats though for most of the time we were alone. Some of these tourists had come prepared with bananas for the monkeys. In other boats I could see that they had mangrove saplings so I presumed that they were going to help replant the mangrove forests. Many of these had been cut down to make way for shrimp farms. They now realized that this was causing land erosion so the community were desperately replanting. But, it takes time.

Our boat went up as far as Wat Klong Khone before turning around for the return trip the same way. We stopped again to see the monkeys on the way back. By the time we had returned to the homestay resort nearly two hours had passed. We hadn’t seen much about the way of life of fishermen. They were probably sleeping inside to escape the midday heat. However, seeing the monkeys swimming in the water was alone worth the trip. If you are feeling adventurous, there is an opportunity to do the local version of “jet skiing”. This involved a wooden plank shaped a bit like a surfboard and a long piece of rope tied to the end of the boat. The boatman then offered to pull us along at high speed. We declined. This surfboard is really used by the local people at low tide to skim across the surface of the mud as they look for sea creatures. They knelt on these boards and then pushed themselves along with the feet.

Before we left, we decided to check out another homestay in order to compare prices and activities. We next decided to follow the signs for Home Krateng. I had seen a report about this one on a Thai language blog. On arrival we were again greeted by the manager and then showed around. The homestay here seemed cheaper at 1,200 baht but I soon realized that this price was per person and not for the room! However, it was a package price. If you arrived at noon, you would be given, lunch, dinner and breakfast. You could also have one of the meals on their krateng out in the sea. Some people also opt to sleep here at night. This price also includes the boat tour similar to the one we had already been on. You would need to have a minimum of four people sharing the room. If there was only two of you then you would need to pay more per person. Like the other resort, these people also seemed to be unsure of prices as I grilled them. They kept saying “about”. When I asked about children they had to have a discussion between themselves first on how much the discount should be.

Home Krateng also offer boat tours if you don’t want to stay the night. However, at 1,000 baht for the boat it was more expensive than Baan Khlong Clone Resort. But, the seats looked more comfortable with backs and there was also a canopy shading you from the sun. The pictures of the tour that they showed me also looked a bit more interesting than our own tour as they took you to a mussel farm where you can see various shellfish stuck to poles in the sea. Some of the pictures also showed foreigners. Apparently a popular Thai tour guide called Tong has been bringing groups of foreigners to this location for the last few years. However, the homestay manager told me that it was very rare for foreign independent travellers to come here. I really want to come back here again. Maybe bring Nong Grace as well as she would love to see the monkeys. However, to make it economical you would need at least four or five people in your group. Nothing I had seen so far was for independent travellers.

Tambon Klong Khone is not easy to reach by public transport. On the way out I did see some songtaews that had come from the nearby town of Samut Songkhram. But the sign on the front was only in Thai. As the place is also spread out then you would need to choose a homestay before you arrive if you don’t have the luxury of a car. During the weekend and on public holidays you would need to book in advance if you intend to stay the night. Like I said before, there are hardly any road signs in English and no-one seemed to be able to speak English. It is a bit adventurous but certainly worth the effort. Follow this link to our forums at ThailandQA.com where I have posted pictures of road signs and more instructions on how to find this location. Don’t forget to also post your experiences if you go to see the monkeys.

Market on the Railway Tracks

Market train

There are two kinds of trips that I love doing but don’t often get a chance. These are boat trips and train trips. Well, this weekend I had a chance to do just that and I must tell you that I had a great time. For quite a few years I have heard stories about the mysterious Maeklong Railway that runs from Bangkok to Samut Songkhram, south-west of the capital. The railway is not part of the national network and you won’t find any of the train times listed on the timetable at the State Railway’s website. Not only that, but there is only one narrow track which is broken about half way by a river. Here you have to disembark and cross to the other side by boat. Then, at the far end you will find that the train tracks double as a market! It all seemed to good to be true and I had to take this journey before it became a thing of the past.

We started our trip in Bangkok on a Sunday morning. For most people, there are two well-known train terminals in Bangkok. These are Hualamphong Station and Bangkok Noi Station. However, there is one more on the west bank which not many people know about. It is called Wong Rian Yai and is just south of the large roundabout of the same name.  It is easy to find the roundabout as it has a large statue of King Taksin (no relation to Prime Minister Thaksin). However, the station is so tucked away that you really have to keep your eyes peeled as you are driving along. There only evidence that there is a station is a sign in Thai.

We turned in and found that there were only four parking spaces which were all taken. So we decided to drive further on down this narrow road. On both sides were vendors selling food and snacks to people waiting for the train. As we progressed the road became narrower and narrower. It became so narrow that we were starting to wonder whether we were going the right way. But we finally reached a place where we could safely park the car for the day. The attendant told us it would be 20 baht for the first two hours. I told him we were going to Samut Songkhram and would be away for the whole day. This seemed to shake him rather. Why would we want to take the train to Samut Songkram when we had a perfectly good car? In fact he was right. It would have been a lot quicker for us to drive straight there along the main highway. In the end he compromised on a fee of 50 baht.

Market train

Trains leave Wong Wian Yai about every hour between 5.30 a.m. and 8.10 p.m. The first stretch takes you to Samut Sakhon, which is confusingly called Mahachai by the local people. So, when you go to buy your ticket, make sure you say Mahachai. Here you catch a ferry to the other side and then buy another ticket to take you to Samut Songkhram. This also has a second name which is more commonly used by the locals. This time you need to ask for a ticket to Maeklong (the “k” is pronounced as a “g” ). You really have to plan your day well because the timetables don’t really match. Sometimes when your train arrives the other is leaving. Other times you only have 30 minutes or as much as two hours! We decided to catch the 10.40 a.m. train which gave us 110 minutes in Mahachai and 60 minutes in Maeklong.

I think there are only two or three train on this line. You couldn’t really have more as it is a single track. The trains can only pass when they are in a station. If you are feeling the heat, you will be glad to know that the 10.40 a.m. train has an air-conditioned carriage. The trip to Mahachai costs a whopping 10 baht. If you decide to sit in the air-con carriage, the conductor will ask you for an extra 15 baht. About 60 cents in total for a one hour journey! Not bad when you consider how much it would have cost me in petrol if I had driven there.

The train left on time and we trundled out of the station. After about 15 minutes we started to leave the big city behind us and the concrete blocks were replaced by banana plants and orchards. There were a number of brief stops along the way but none of them lasted for long. A few times when we stopped the only evidence I could see that we were at a station was a sign in Thai and English and a small patch of gravel. As we approached most of the roads, the driver blew his whistle and slowed down as he carefully looked both ways. He then crossed the road. Many of these roads didn’t have any barriers to stop the cars. Every now and then we were back into another community or passed a few factories. But, most of the time we were in the countryside. I must admit I was a bit like an excited schoolboy and kept looking out of the window on both sides. (A small tip, if you do decide to ride the air-conditioned car, you won’t see much out of the dirty windows!)

Market train

We arrived in Mahachai on time at 11.39 a.m. The time had passed quite quickly. We climbed down from the train on the lefthand side. But there was no obvious way to leave the station as there was another train blocking our away. This train was nearly full and it looked like it was about to depart. However, people from our train started to climb up into this train and out the other side. So, we decided to do the same. We weren’t actually in a rush as we had a full 110 minutes before the next train left from the station on the other side of the river. I reckoned it would take us at least 15 minutes to cross. Call it 30 minutes to be safe. As we had plenty of time I wandered to the area at the back of the train to take some pictures of the market vendors. Can you see our train in this picture? It has already been penned in and won’t be getting out in a rush!

[Related article: Fish Market at Samut Sakhon ]

Market on the Railway Tracks

Maeklong railway

I have been telling you about my recent trip on the Maeklong Railway in Thailand where my first stop was Samut Sakhon (otherwise known as Mahachai). This city has one of the biggest fish markets in the country and I enjoyed myself looking around and also going on a boat trip on the river. The railway line from Bangkok opened to the public in 1905. Along its 31 km length there are 18 stations, though we didn’t stop at all of them. There has been talk of discontinuing this service but I don’t think they will do so. There were four carriages and some people had to stand up for the journey.

At Mahachai, we had to catch a ferry to the other side of the river in order to continue our journey to Samut Songkhram (otherwise known as Maeklong). We had to wait around for a while because the times didn’t match up. They don’t really expect you to go all the way from Bangkok to Maeklong. Actually, the second section from Ban Laem to Maeklong doesn’t seem as popular. There are only four trains a day and two carriages. But for me, it was the best section of the railway.

Our train was due to leave at 1.30 p.m. We had 110 minutes to explore Mahachai. This is the last train you can catch if you want to return the same day as the next train at 4.40 p.m. spends the night in Maeklong! The only other trains are 7.30 a.m. and 10.10 a.m.  When you go to buy the ticket you need to say you want to go to Maeklong. Don’t forget to pronounce it “mae-glong”. This will set you back 10 baht for the one hour journey. This line is slightly longer at 33 kms. If you arrive too late then you can buy the ticket on the train. Or, if you do that boat ride I mentioned before then you can ask your boatman to drop you off at Talat Phlu which is the second stop on the line.

Maeklong railway

This section of the railways spends more time in the countryside. The areas here is not so built up and the journey proved to be more enjoyable. When you go, make sure you get a window seat on the left hand side. There is more action and scenery on this side! It isn’t long before the greenery makes way for the salt farms and windmills. Saltwater is pumped into shallow, large ponds in the fields and then left to drain. As we passed we could see dozens of people raking salt into piles. At another place people were loading large sacks of salt onto a truck. It was fascinating to watch them at work as we trundled past at a leisurely pace. I made a mental note to come back here by car to explore the salt farms.

The journey was over very quickly and we soon entered a built up area. The outskirts of Maeklong. I knew that during the last 100 metres or so the train would pass through a market. Literally. I know it sounds strange but this was my planned highlight of the trip. I wanted to get pictures of the market stallholders pulling back their produce as we passed through the market. It had always intrigued me and I wanted to come and see for myself. For this event, I made sure I was at the front of the train. The door to the driver’s cabin was open and I asked him if it was OK if I took some pictures. He said “no problem”. As we approached a corner he sounded his whistle a number of times. Then, as we rounded the corner we were presented  with the image in the above pictures. I thought I would see people rushing to grab their vegetables before it was run over by the train. But, they knew the train was coming and everything had been cleared!

I took a few pictures here, then went back to my seat to see if I could take some pictures of the people in the market from my window. But, as they had pulled back their awnings, I couldn’t see anything! In fact, we were so close that I didn’t dare to stick my head out of the window. It wasn’t quite as I had imagined it but nevertheless it was an interesting experience. A short while later we arrived at the final stop on the line. In front of us was another river blocking our way. There was a ferry here to the other side but sadly no more tracks. The next train to leave was at 3.30 p.m. so we had about an hour to explore the city. Not enough time to go on the river but time enough to explore that market on the railways tracks.

Maeklong railway

By the time we had walked to the market at the rear of the train everything was back to normal. The awnings had been pulled back to give shelter from the blazing sun. All of the vegetables and seafood had been pushed back closer to the line. If you look closely at the picture, you will see that some of the seafood containers are on wheels. For these they just pull them back to let the train pass. However, other people have to literally carry their vegetables away from the tracks. The market vendors are actually on either side of the tracks. It is the customer who has to walk down the middle of the tracks. This is probably OK for Thai people but I had to keep ducking as there wasn’t much headroom here.

As we went along I took quite a few pictures and also bought some seafood for my meal that night. As I asked for the price in Thai the vendor was taken back and started asking me a bunch of questions. Where was I from? What work was I doing? How long had I been in Thailand? Then, as I walked on, I could hear her excitedly telling other sellers all about me. It was so obvious they don’t get many foreigners down here. Actually, that reminds me. When we were in Mahachai, a Thai family came up to me waving their camera. Of course I thought they wanted me to take their family portrait. I often volunteer to do this. However, the mother wanted her picture taken with me! Now, that hasn’t happened to me for a long time. I remember when I was backpacking across China more than 10 years ago I used to have people lining up to have their picture taken with me. But not so much in Thailand.

After about 100 metres we reached the end of the market. We bought some iced coffee here near the road then turned around and proceeded to walk back through this fascinating market! We could, of course, walked back along the road, but a market like this was just too good to miss. Back at the station we still had about 20 minutes before the train was due to leave. It was actually our train and I noticed that a lot of the people that had come with us were waiting to go back. Thinking we had plenty of time we sat down and ordered a bowl of noodles each. There didn’t seem to be many people on the train so we didn’t think there was a rush to find a seat. That was our mistake.

Maeklong railway

With only five minutes to spare, we went to buy our tickets and then boarded the train. It still wasn’t full but people had reserved their seats by putting plastic water bottles or shopping on their seats. Unfortunately, all the best seats had already been taken. A lesson to learn for next time. If you do this trip then make sure you reserve your seat for the return journey before you get off. My seat this time was near the rear on the lefthandside. I had my back to the engine. I was thinking about going forward again to take some more pictures when I suddenly had this brainwave. Why didn’t I take some action shots from the rear window! This way I would get some pictures of them pushing their produce back to the tracks as we passed.

This turned out to be an excellent idea though with one small problem. The window was not only dirty but the sun was shining straight into my eyes. Not so easy to take pictures but then I had this other idea. Why not take a video? So, I ended up with this excellent one minute video which I posted yesterday over at our sister site thailandvideoblogs.com. This worked out really well. As we passed through the market, you will be able to see on the video, the market vendors pushing their produce back to the tracks. I made a note that if I ever returned here, I would take pictures from the rear of the train as we arrived so that I wouldn’t be shooting into the sun. Then, when we left I would shoot from the front.

The return journey passed very quickly. However, it wasn’t uneventful. About halfway back, the train started to slow down (not long after passing under the main highway from Bangkok) and people rushed to the windows on the lefthandside. I couldn’t see what was going on at first. Then someone tossed out a bag of cucumbers. Then about 30 monkeys ran towards the train. I have never seen so many monkeys in one place. That was fun. After we had watched them for a while, the train continued on its journey back to Mahachai. At the terminal station, we followed everyone to the front of the train and walked the short distance to the river to a different pier. I guess this was a special boat put on for people from our train. As the trip was slightly longer it cost 5 baht instead of 2 baht.

Back in Mahachai we had about an hour to wait for our train. This was just long enough to walk around and to buy some refreshments. You know, I had a really enjoyable day. It was tiring for sure but it was fun and certainly a wonderful experience. I really want to do this again and I have already made plans. The next time I will drive down to Mahachai earlier in the morning to see the fish market. And then catch the train to Maeklong where I will spend longer in order to explore more. That way I can be there when a train arrives and passes through this wonderful market.

The next time you are in Thailand, make sure you find time for this train trip. You won’t regret it.

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Latitude: 13.407440 (13° 24′ 26.78” N)
Longitude: 99.999393 (99° 59′ 57.81” E)

A Trip on the Maeklong River

I was telling you the other day about our trip to Amphawa Floating Market .  Unlike other markets, this one took place in the afternoon. When we first arrived, we explored both banks of the canal on foot. I told you about this before. By the time we got back to the pedestrian bridge it was nearly half past four and the crowds had started to build up. We could see quite a few people climbing into boats that they had rented. We went to take a closer look and we were then soon approached by a man who asked if we wanted to rent a boat. I asked how much and he said 400 baht per boat (about $10). Looking down I could see a flat bottomed boat with no seats which reminded me of my uncomfortable ride on the lake in Sangkhlaburi. But he saw my look of dismay and quickly said “No, no, your boat is the big one over there!” And it was certainly big. In fact, big enough for 16 people! He then said he had two Thai people already and it would therefore only cost us 100 baht each. We agreed. Why not? It sounded like fun. And it was.

Our boatman took us out of the canal and onto the mighty Maeklong River. He then took us in a northerly direction with the fast setting sun slightly ahead and to the left. We passed the King Rama II Park and many traditional style houses on both banks. This area isn’t really built up much and there were plenty of palm trees. It was coming towards the end of the day and a number people were already climbing down the steps from their houses to the river. Some were fishing but many were taking a bath and washing their hair. Although the light was good for taking pictures, I couldn’t really take anything on the West bank because of the low sun. It might have been better to have gone on this boat trip a little earlier. However, the sun would have been hot. The Thai way of dealing with this is using an umbrella  or improvising with a folded newspaper.

Our first stop on this pleasant journey was Wat Bang Kung. This is a historically important location because of a battle between King Taksin’s forces and the invading Burmese. It is also famous for being featured in the “Unseen Thailand” guidebooks. In the temple grounds there is a small chapel that is completely enclosed within the roots of a banyan tree. It is almost like the tree itself is the pillars of the temple and that without the roots the chapel would fall down. I took the above photograph from one of the windows near the back. You can also go inside to pay respect to the Buddha image. In the grounds of the temple is also a statue for King Taksin (no he is not related to Prime Minister Thaksin – their names are not even pronounced the same). There are also life-size models of  Muay Thai fighters in different poses.

Our boatman/guide then took us back to our boat. Before getting in, we fed some of the massive fishes in the river. For some reason, Thai people like doing this kind of thing. I have already made a mental note that when I get around to creating a tourist attraction, I will make sure that there is a pond so that Thai people can pay to feed my fish! Back on the boat, we turned around and headed back, though this time along the West bank. A short distance away we stopped at another temple. This one was called Wat Bangkae Noi. This one was very crowded as there was a big event going on. In the main chapel we found quite a breathtaking view. The walls and ceiling had some amazing teakwood carvings. These depicted the life and teachings of the Lord Buddha.

After this we headed back to our starting point at the Amphawan Floating Market. By this time our boatman was rushing us a bit as he was keen to get back. In the early evening they do another boat tour to view the fireflys which apparently is very beautiful. For this he can get more money as they charge 600 baht per boat. So, we could understand his rush. But, it was OK. The boat ride lasted about 90 minutes which was about perfect. We wouldn’t want to be on the boat any longer than that. As we arrived back at the floating market we were really shocked about the number of people. The pedestrian bridge and both sides of the canal were jam packed with Thai tourists. I am glad we had done our exploring earlier in the day.

I will certainly come here again and I strongly recommend for you to visit too. I think next time I will come earlier so that I can do more exploring. There certainly seems to be a lot to see in this small province of Samut Songkhram. Certainly there are hundreds of canals to explore and also to visit the local farming communities. There are also other floating markets here to be discovered.

Amphawa Floating Market

Amphawan Floating Market

At the weekend, I drove down to Samut Songkhram to visit the King Rama II Memorial Park Fair . But, I also wanted to take this opportunity to visit the nearby Amphawa Floating Market. Unlike the famous one at Damnoen Saduak , this one doesn’t start to get going until the late afternoon. Very good news for late risers. It also means you can visit the nearby park first before finishing your day with a meal at the floating market. I am not going to pretend that Amphawan Floating Market is more photogenic than Damnoen Saduak. That isn’t true. You won’t see as many boat vendors here which means you will get a different kind of photograph. So, by all means, still go to Damnoen Saduak for your photo opportunity. But, if you have the time, also come to this floating market for the atmosphere which is so much better. It is also more authentic as you won’t find the rows and rows of stalls selling the same tacky souvenirs. The best thing about Amphawa Floating Market is that it is still relatively unknown among Western tourists as it isn’t featured in Lonely Planet yet. There must have been a thousand people there, but I didn’t spot one European face. This is where the Thai tourists come to experience a floating market.

Amphawa Floating Market

We arrived at the canal at about 3.30 p.m. We weren’t really expecting to see much as we had heard that the market wouldn’t start until late afternoon. However, as we walked towards the canal, we could see that a number of vendors had already set up their foodstalls along the Soi and more were wheeling their carts into position. There weren’t that many tourists yet so we decided to wander up the canal in a northerly direction. (This is beyond the pedestrian bridge you can see in the above photograph.) Although many of the houses lining the canal in this area were doubling as shops and restaurants it wasn’t long before we started walking by private residences. The front was open for most of these houses,  and we could see people inside lying down watching tv or sleeping. A bit voyeuristic so we tried not to stare. We carried on walking for a while until we reached another pedestrian bridge where we crossed and started walking back.

It was actually quite quiet and peaceful. I was starting to think we should have come earlier. Though of course it would have been much hotter. We then came across a couple of houses that were advertising homestay. This sounded like a great idea. We made a mental note to come back here again to do that. It would certainly be interesting to explore the area more while there were no tourists around. I had earlier seen pictures of monks rowing up and down this canal collecting food during their alms round. To see this you would have to be here early in the morning.

A bit further up we spotted a lady in a small boat paddling along the canal. Judging by the ingredients laid out in front of her it looked like she could cook pad thai for us. I was feeling a bit hungry so I called out to her and she came paddling over. I was right. We sat on the side of the canal bank while she cooked us some very delicious pad thai.  In the picture above, the bank is much further up, so the people cooking in the boats had a pully system hooked up. They put the meal in a basket and you then pulled it up! Very ingenious.

Amphawa Floating Market

This was fast turning in to be my favourite floating market destination. So much to see and do.

Related article: Boat on the Maeklong River

Related websites: www.AmphawaFloatingMarket.com

MAP:

Latitude: 13.424978 (13° 25′ 29.92” N)
Longitude: 99.955029 (99° 57′ 18.10” E)