Most people go to Amphawa Floating Market in Samut Songkhram as an easy day trip from Bangkok. It is only about 90 minutes away. I have done it several times myself. However, the popularity of homestays in recent years has seen a boom in business in this once sleepy town. Now it seems that almost every other house is offering homestay. As tourists we are really spoiled for choice. Or you would think so. Four days before my trip I called half a dozen different homestays only to be told that they were already full.
The majority of homestays have websites though most of these are in Thai language only. They are catering for the Thai market. Foreigners do go, but for them it is mainly walk-in. However, if you want the best rooms and locations, you need to book at least a week in advance. Sometimes two. The problem is that Amphawa is a weekend market so the majority of people come to stay only Friday or Saturday nights. If you are a tourist, who doesn’t need to work on Mondays, then arriving Sunday is your best bet.
Many of the homestays are quite expensive. Average prices are about 1,500 baht. The problem is the rooms are usually empty for the majority of the week and owners only make money at the weekend. I was lucky to be able to book the last room at Ban Rak Amphawa Homestay.The price wasn’t bad at 700 baht, however I didn’t have a private bathroom. On the plus side, I had a comfortable bed, air-conditioning and a television. The most expensive rooms were these two on the verandah by the river. These two are 1,400 baht each. As you can see, you only have a thin mattress on the floor. Other rooms with normal beds and bathrooms are 1,200 baht.
Ban Rak Amphawa is at the far eastern end of the market [MAP]. It is alongside the river which is important when looking for a good homestay. Although there isn’t a footpath along the river here, that was actually to our advantage as it gave us a little bit of privacy. Anyway, food vendors were going up and down the river all day and you just called out to one when you were hungry. The market itself is only a ten minute walk away. I had lunch here after I had arrived and had unpacked. And then I went to explore the market in the afternoon.
The owners of the homestay don’t really speak any English. So, you will need to get a friend to call them to book a room. You will then need to use an ATM to transfer about 500 baht as a deposit to their bank account. Keep the slip as you need to fax it to them. The homestay is down a very narrow Soi so you cannot park your car there. However, there was no problem in parking at Rong Jay (the Chinese Shrine) which is only a few minutes walk away. Another homestay here is called Ban Mae Arom Homestay [MAP]. The owner did say that she speaks English so you might find this one easier.
I enjoyed the peace and tranquillity at Ban Rak Amphawa. The owners were very kind and always did their best to please you. They have bicycles that you can use for free. Also, in the morning they will wake you up shortly after 6 a.m. if you want to make merit by giving alms to the monks. I only stayed here for one night but would have liked to have stayed longer. There is a lot to see in the area and I did enjoy the short bicycle trips that I went on around Amphawa. I also enjoyed walking through Amphawa Floating Market during the early morning when there were hardly any tourists. Most people don’t arrive until mid-afternoon.
This last photo shows Ban Rak Amphawa from the other side of the river. It was taken about an hour after the monks had finished their alms round. For more information you can visit their website www.baanrak-amphawa.com. The website for the homestay next door where they speak some English is www.banmaearom.com. I am going to be working on my own website as I think that you will find most sites about Amphawa are only in Thai. I would suggest that you bookmark www.AmphawaFloatingMarket.com as I will soon be updating it with new information and pictures from my recent trip there. I will also be working on a Map of Amphawa.