Thailand off the beaten path – Two floating markets
This series covers places where not many tourists show up. Discover the gems, that lie off the beaten tourist track!
Only attractions where, during my entire visit, I haven’t come across more than five other international tourists make it into this category. I don’t count local tourists.
Since I’m already quite experienced with tourist attractions in Thailand I wanted to go a step further and explore floating markets, that are not touristy, at least not for Western tourists.
Here a Thailand off the beaten path experience for you
Amphawa floating night market
It’s open on weekends from the evening and stretches along both sides of a channel next to Mae Klong river. Most stalls are on solid ground, but there are a few vendors, that sell from their boats. It’s fun walking around, although it can get very crowded, as Amphawa is a destination for domestic tourism.
Take the night boat tour for 60 Baht per person. It will last around one hour. The main attraction on the tour is seeing fireflies glowing in the night but just on one kind of tree. You won’t understand the boat-guide speaking Thai. Therefore you can focus on enjoying the lovely atmosphere.
You should get something to eat in one of the many restaurants. There is one right at the end of the market with a wonderful view onto river and it has an English menu with pictures. This is also your chance to try Thai sweets, as many stalls offer portions to try. But be a nice tourist and also buy something.
Tha Kha floating morning market
This market opens on special days according to the lunar calender plus on weekend mornings until noon. The earlier you come the quieter it will be. But it can still be considered as a hidden place. Many locals tried to talk me out of the idea of visiting. They said, it’s nothing special.
I agree, when it comes to the market. It doesn’t look very beautiful with lots of concrete borders. But you can get some good food here. Just try as many snacks as you like. And rent a boat with a guide (speaking Thai only). I just had to pay 50 Baht for 2 persons and was rewarded with a tour of about one hour. The tour goes out of the market area through quiet channels along palm tree plantations and lovely wooden houses. Some of them are 100 years old. And the guide, a lady, was paddling, so no disturbing motor sound all the time. But – it’s Thailand – so the noise reduction was compensated with another noise: Many dogs along the way were taking their duty serious and barking passionately at us intruders.
Thai sweets delivered by boat. Yummy!
Staying overnight in the area
I stayed locally thanks to the help of my Thai girlfriend.
If you don’t have that help I recommend to do this: Ask a Thai person in a hostel or hotel to organise the following for you: Guesthouse home-stay in Amphawa near the market, someone from the guesthouse picking you up from the minivan terminal and bringing you back there, a tuktuk driver bringing you to the other attractions in a day-tour. We paid 1000 Baht to visit Tha Kha floating market, Don Hoi Lot and the Samut Songkhram train market. The duration of the day-trip was 6 hours. If you offer a payment of 100 to 200 Baht to that person, you should find someone, who can do that for you and will be able to stay at lovely places for under 1000 Baht a night and really be able to melt with the locals.
How to get there
Use the minivan service from the Bangkok BTS station Victory Monument. Take the exit no. 2 and proceed to the place full of minivans. Just tell a ticket vendor “Amphawa” and he will guide you to the right ticket booth (writing only in Thai). You will reach Amphawa in about 1.5 hours.
Do you like boat rides? How about one into a cave?
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For these two one weekend day is enough, if you stay the night before in the area.
In the proximity of Bangkok there are around five floating markets. Seeing them all keeps you busy for 2 or 3 days.
I am heading to Bangkok next month and even though I will have limited time I really want to check out the floating markets. How many hours do you think I will need to set aside?