02 Aug Destination: Amphawa Floating Market (Amphawa, Thailand)
Fairly well known by residents of Bangkok, the Amphawa Floating Market retains some of the traditional river culture, while allowing the trendier nature urbanites need to slip in at almost every opportunity. Once upon a time, the river – and the market – looked a lot different, and of course has mostly modernized to meet tourists needs.
The touristy nature means you’ll find more than an ample supply of souvenirs. Without breaking a sweat, you’ll find keychains, pillows, shorts, toys, and of course t-shirts. Dear me – hundreds of different designs, all saying ‘Amphawa’ and ‘อัมพวา’, and in every imaginable color and size. Don’t arrive here too early, though – the market doesn’t get going until 3pm at the earliest, and continues through the evening until you’re ready to retire to your homestay.
What was I saying about cutesy, trendy stuff? There must be some (enough) people buying the kites to keep the owners in business, but were too often passed by the majority of holiday-makers and daytrippers.
You can walk along the river for what feels like forever – when you’re ready for a change of pace, however, there are several options around:
A couple of park areas are around, including the King Rama II Memorial Park (not pictured), which we unfortunately missed. As you might expect, the further away you get from the river, the more ordinary things tend to get.
Yes, I love flowers. Especially pretty ones. Just wait until I post some with the macro lens 🙂
I’m told that food is the biggest reason people make the trip to Amphawa AKA Ampawa – and frankly, I wasn’t too impressed. The floating boats had few menus visible, and the ‘point-and-smile-and-pray-it-won’t-kill-you’ option should be the last resort, not the first choice. I personally found it hard to trust the sanitation of food prepared on a boat, surrounded by other boats that can easily splash, less than a meter away from some nasty looking river water. There’s also the matter of needing a place to eat – you’re not sitting on the boat while doing that, and the sidewalks are already crowded enough as it is. The restaurants along the sidewalk / boardwalk are mostly Westerner-friendly, with English menus available at every place we passed.
If you’re in the market for cutesy stuff, however, this is much like Myeongdong in Korea – a large, outdoorsy shopping area with lots of cutesy stuff few people actually need.
It’s after the sunset that the market begins to pick up some steam. It’s less about shopping now, and more about having a good time. Maybe the shopping becomes the excuse, or maybe it’s the landmark that people are drawn towards.
This area has a number of photo ops – whether you want to fly with a pink elephant, or stand next to Superman in a phone booth:
The lock prevents you from getting too close, though I don’t think it’ll do much to hold back the man of steel.
The urbanites and the locals enjoy the area for rather different reasons…
This seems especially appropriate, even after Psy’s wild success.
Ladies and gentlemen, you probably didn’t come to a traditional-style floating market to play Angry Birds in real life. But this is 2013, of course, and so you can. 100 baht buys one ‘game’. You get five birds (plus one as a ‘practice’) and your goal is to knock out or knock down the five pigs. It takes a bit of strength to pull back the slingshot, but there’s a ridge behind which you can brace yourself. Protip: go for the piggies themselves – the wooden boxes are too heavy to move with a cotton-filled bird. It’s kind of hidden, but with a bit of exploration you’ll find it.
As a kitschy, touristy destination, it’s fun for the whole family. The homestays, we later learned, are usually completely booked solid, so you’re taking your chances of not having a place to sleep if you don’t book ahead. Think of this as the sort of destination where you can stay overnight, but you’d probably be happier making a day trip out of it.
Name: Amphawa Floating Market
Address: along Prachaset rd., Amphawa, Samut Songkhram 75110 (GPS: 13.425646,99.953763)
Directions: Both minibuses and standard buses make the trip from Bangkok. If you’re up for a minibus, start from Victory Monument and ask around (or keep your eyes open if you can read Thai)
Hours: 12pm-9pm, although parts of the market open earlier or stay open later. Closed on Mondays.
Website: no official website, though the unofficial Google Plus page has some reviews.