Bangkok's Hidden and Subtle Charm: Amphawa Floating Market

The first time I came to Bangkok, going to a floating market was third in my to-do list (first was to go to Ayutthaya and then to the Grand Palace). My schedule did not permit me to go to a floating market at that time. The plan of going to a floating market, likewise, did not materialize the second time I was in Thailand. The 200 Baht river tour in Ayutthaya, I admit, is not an authentic floating market experience. It was short and very 'touristy.'

Floating market in Ayutthaya

As luck would have it, I was given another opportunity to go to Thailand, and this time, I promised myself not to let the chance of going to a floating market pass. I googled on the famous floating markets in Thailand and asked friends who had been there for tips. A friend previously went to Khlong Lat Mayom floating market and told me that she had fun there. So I considered that, but then I saw this article and decided that I would go to Amphawa floating market instead. 

Apart from the fact that it is big and less touristy than the Damnoen Saduak floating market (as the article said), it was the first choice among the floating markets that I planned to go to more than a year ago. So I spent Friday looking for information on how to get to Amphawa through public transportation. Thanks to helpful bloggers and web articles, I was able to get to my destination with ease...well, except for the lady who shouted at me saying that there are no tickets for Amphawa in her booth. Thus, to help you dear reader, to dodge that lady and get to Amphawa with more ease than I did, I invite you to read on. 

First, you have to know that Amphawa floating market is far from central Bangkok. It took me nearly two hours to get there. The easiest way to commute to Amphawa is ride the BTS and alight at Victory Monument Station. There is a van terminal near the steps of Exit 4 of the Victory Monument station. Do not go to the first van terminal that you see - the one with gates and whose ticket personnel are inside offices - because that is where the screaming lady is stationed. Instead, go straight ahead and you will find another van terminal that is open and has a more informal setting.

This is the van terminal I am talking about

The ticket counters

Once you have seen the second van terminal, go to counter number 1 and say Am-PHA-wa (with stress on the second syllable). The ticket costs 80 Baht and you have to wait for some minutes as the van will only leave once its almost full. 

Ticket from Victory Monument to Amphawa Floating Market

The travel roughly takes two hours so you can still take some nap and arrive to Amphawa feeling refreshed. Once there, the van stops in front of a small terminal for vans going back to Bangkok. I followed the instruction of a blogger who said that buy your ticket back to Bangkok once you arrive in Amphawa to ensure your slot. The lady at the ticket counter will ask what time you prefer to leave Amphawa back to Bangkok.

The van terminal and ticket counter in Amphawa

The entrance to the Amphawa floating market is just across the terminal. Going inside there, you'll be surprised at the cute and beautifully-designed homestay places for those who want to go on an overnight. 

Entrance to Amphawa Floating Market

The floating market inside reminded me of the one in Ayutthaya although this is much bigger. Vendors also sell some unique items and souvenirs. Of course, food, especially fresh sea food, is being sold there. You may also buy some seafood by kilo (a kilo of shrimp would cost around 300 Baht) and have them cooked. There are also restaurants and dessert places. 



One cool cafe inside Amphawa

But Amphawa does not only offer food, souvenirs and the floating market experience. It also has a boat tour that allows you to see some temples, with their amazing architecture and design, and a mini zoo. The boat tour costs 50 Baht (depending on which boat tour you get) and lasts for about an hour and a half. The tour will bring you to around five different temples where you can pay respect to Buddha and give some donation. The boat will stay for about 15 minutes for each stop. The last stop is the best one, at least for me. It has the mini zoo and the Wat Khai Bang Kung temple, or the temple inside the tree. 

The boat tour

A lady selling some turtles in one of the stops

It was my first time to see a camel!

You can also feed them too!

The Wat Khai Bang Kung is across the zoo but you have to cross a main road to get there. The Ayutthaya-era temple is enclosed by roots of a banyan tree and is reminiscent of the temples of Angkor Wat.

Wat Khai Bang Kung

That was the last stop for the boat tour and I can say that it is really worth the money and the time (especially if you have not see the temples of the Grand Palace). I went back to the market area feeling satisfied with my trip and some of my purchases. I then ate in one of the eating stalls where they cook your order in the boats below. 

Where they grill the seafood

At around 3 PM, Amphawa got really crowded and it was really difficult to get your way towards other stalls. Good thing, I booked my return trip to Bangkok at 4 PM so I got to leave before Amphawa gets more crowded. 

Amphawa is a place in Bangkok that I really recommend you to go to. It has the authentic feel that one, perhaps, cannot get from other markets such as Chatuchak or Asiatique. There are not too many foreigners in the area and you can see that Thais really go there to buy some fresh produce. Lastly, not too frequently that you can see a penguin roaming around a floating market.








2 comments:

  1. "Once you have seen the second van terminal, go to counter number 1 and say Am-PHA-wa (with stress on the second syllable)." --- very important tip! Haha!

    Wow, this truly an authentic floating market experience. Borrowing your term, it's not the usual 'touristy' floating market marketed toward visitors. Granting that there are rather few foreigners, was the language barrier a concern? :D

    PS.
    I will definitely go to the place just to see that penguin!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi B! No the language barrier was not a concern as long as you speak slowly and clearly. :D

    ReplyDelete

 

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