Everyone has heard of Bangkok’s famous floating markets, with the most popular one being Damnoen Saduak.
The main draw to these enchanting floating markets is, of course, the fresh seafood that is prepared right on the water. Vendors on longtail boats fill the khlong (canal) ready to whip up some boat noodles, grilled prawns and shellfish, and serve them to you via fishing pole!
What many tourists don’t know is that there are actually a total of five floating markets in the area surrounding Bangkok. But if you’re looking for the real deal, a truly authentic Thai experience, you should visit Amphawa Floating Market.
Fascinated yet? Keep reading to find out how and why you should explore this colorful waterside market.
Why You Should Visit Amphawa Floating Market
For the Food
From the afternoon until the evening, customers perch themselves along the shores of the canal, unable to resist the succulent fragrance of seafood. They relish in the delicious flavors of expertly seasoned dishes on tiny tables meticulously placed on narrow stairs leading down to the water. If you’re feeling a little less adventurous, you can walk a bit further away to find restaurants with real tables and chairs that aren’t as close to the edge but serve equally tasty food. From tasty pork dumplings to sweet and spicy Thai fish cakes to less-recognizable dishes, Amphawa Floating Market is a wonderful place to sample a variety of eats.
The market gets quite busy around lunchtime, as many locals flock to the canals for a seafood barbecue. It really gives you a glimpse into the local life as this is something you wouldn’t see at other, more popular, markets.
For the Shops
Along each side of the canals, you’ll find traditional shophouses, handmade jewelry, Thais carving wooden souvenirs and coconuts being chopped, as well as an array of miscellaneous trinkets that can also be found at Chatuchak Weekend Market.
For the Sweets
It’s no secret that Thais have a sweet tooth and are passionate about confectionery treats. In the streets surrounding the market, you can be sure you’ll find an incredible array of unique looking Thai desserts sold from small carts. Despite their slightly deceiving colors, these traditional desserts are typically made from tapioca starch, condensed milk, and pandan (a plant that often gives Thai sweets their green color and vanilla flavoring). Another common dessert you’ll find is coconut ice cream topped with crushed peanuts and served in an emptied half coconut – a real Thai classic!
For the Canals
Though the food itself and the unique way of serving it are the main attractions in this market, the canals should not be missed. After exploring Amphawa Floating Market on foot, hop on a longtail boat to traverse the waters. There are two tours to choose from, the temple or the island tour, and tickets for both can be purchased at counters around the bridge.
The boats take you to several temples around the area, one of which serves as home to different animals including ostriches, deer, goats, boars, and peacocks. Another intriguing temple that is visited on the canal tour is a temple that is entangled in the roots of a tree! Inside the temple is a gold buddha statue that locals regularly come to pay their respects to.
How to Get to Amphawa Floating Market from Bangkok
The best way to get to Amphawa Floating Market from Bangkok is by minivan. Minivans depart every hour from the Bangkok Southern Bus Terminal (Sai Tia Kai Pinklao) and cost about 150 THB per person. The drive to Amphawa takes about an hour and a half and the minivans drop you off right near the floating market.
In Amphawa, buses depart back to Bangkok from Phrachaset Road, east of the town center. You’ll be able to recognize a roadside stand that is clearly marked.
When to Go to Amphawa Floating Market
This particular floating market is only open on weekends. Don’t bother going during the week as you’ll be disappointed by a bunch of closed stalls and empty canals. Saturday and Sunday are when the area truly comes to life! Cafes, restaurants and wooden shop houses awaken to welcome tourists and locals alike from 11:00 AM to about 8:00 PM. However, the best time to visit is in the afternoon, after 2:00 PM, when the market really begins to buzz.
Getting Around Amphawa Floating Market
Amphawa is quite a small town, making it fairly easy to get around. Many homestays or hotels offer free bikes to guests, while other options include taxis and tuk-tuks. Though, I’d recommend exploring on foot.
Since the market is located on a web of canals, you can also choose to explore Amphawa and the surrounding area via a private boat tour. These typically cost around 400 THB for a two to three-hour cruise along the canals.
Experience Authentic Thailand
Having remained faithful to the Thai culture, and not yet on every tourist itinerary, Amphawa Floating Market gives visitors a real chance at experiencing local traditions. I loved visiting Amphawa Floating Market and hope that this guide inspires you to add it to your Thailand bucket list!
For more on travel in Thailand, check out my Bangkok Travel Guide.