Ask any one of the literally thousands of travel agents in Bangkok for advice on visiting a floating market and sure enough they’ll point you in the direction of the extremely well-known one in Damnoern Saduak, Ratchaburi province. Damnoen Saduak floating market has been transformed into a tourist sightseeing fad with almost as many foreign tourists as locals.
At the end of the day, I’m not going to say that Damnoern Saduak isn’t worth going to, I suppose it is; but if you want to get off this very beaten touristy track and experience a more authentic floating market, then head for Samut Songkhram province instead.
Amphawa floating market, open from 3pm til 9 at night, Friday, Saturday and Sunday is a must-go for those who enjoy the genuine charm of life on the river. You will be able to bustle with vendors both on and off the river and sample the culinary delights of popular Amphawa river munchies. So, if you are feeling a bit hungry after the trip from Bangkok, you’ll be able to tuck into a fancy mix of grilled prawn, squid and octopus. Then there is also Amphawa’s speciality of Omelet with Mussel.
Along the river is a Walking Street where visitors can sit back and relax with a hot cup of traditionally made coffee and take in the delights of a market, which hasn’t changed for decades. Unlike Damnoern Saduak with its approximately 5,000 tourists a day, at Amphawa you’ll hardly being see any white-faces! The only tourists you’ll probably be seeing snapping pictures will be just Bangkokians.
Another market, just down the road from Amphawa, you ought not to miss if you get the chance is Tha Kha Floating Market. The market is on every Saturday and Sunday between 8am-11am but the days when it really gets going are on the waxing and waning moon days of the lunar calendar. Tha Kha specializes in fruits and vegetables which are grown and sold by the actual vendors, so you can be sure of getting the best possible prices. So, if you are a fan of the likes of deliciously fresh mangosteen, pomelo or sugar apple you will certainly not be disappointed.
If you don’t have your own transport, to get to either Amphawa or Tha Kha, you ought first to get a bus to Samut Songkram Town from Bangkok’s Southern Bus Terminal. There are also three trains daily between Bangkok and Samut Songkram which depart from Wong Wian Yai train station on the Thonburi side of the capital.
If you are planning to stay the night at Amphawa and really experience traditional river life, then a stay at Fon Home Stay is really recommended. Friendly Ms. Fon offers rooms in her lovely Thai house and also arranges boat trips. For more information, visit her website at www.fonhomestay.t-hi.com.
Dates of Tha Kha Floating Market 2008:
September : 1 , 6 , 11 , 16 , 21 , 26
October :1 , 6 , 11 , 16 , 21 , 26 , 30
November ; 4 , 9 , 14 , 19 , 24 , 29
December ; 4 , 9 , 14 , 19 , 24 , 28