There are a number of floating markets in the Bangkok area, but many of them are early morning markets and (reportedly) very touristy. The Amphawa floating market is a little different – it’s an afternoon market and supposedly more authentic than most. On my recent trip to Thailand, we made our way there via car service, a 1½ hour drive southwest of downtown Bangkok.
As soon as we arrived, it was clear that this place is a very popular destination for daytrippers from the city, particularly during weekends (akin to Torontonians flooding Niagara-on-the-Lake). It was absolutely packed with tourists – local Thai tourists, that is, and only the occasional western visitor. It was so crowded you could barely walk along the water, and certainly the heat of the day also made it difficult to get around. It was very interesting to see, but next time I’d try to find a time that was less busy and hot.
This “floating market” is really more of a local riverbank market along an offshoot of the Mae Khlong River. The canal is lined with shops selling crafts and souvenirs, and food stalls amid charming wooden houses. It can be pretty noisy – a heady combination of shops blaring pop tunes, sellers peddling their wares, and the odd riverside karaoke singer make for a carnival-like environment. On the water, vendors in long boats prepare, cook, and sell their dishes to diners who sit and eat along the canal, and on narrow steps leading down to the water. The most popular dishes are all kinds of fresh seafood such as crab, squid, and fish. You can also hop on a tour boat and experience Amphawa directly on the river.
As the sun sets, the market becomes a little less hectic as people start to head back to the city, and the canal takes on a very different atmosphere with the evening lights. With a little more space, you can start to browse the little shops around the area and pick up some souvenirs – or just continue snacking 🙂 .