A short distance north of Amphawa there is another riverside market that has been trying to revive its old community. This is Bang Noi Floating Market that straddles a canal of the same name near the Mae Klong River. There has been a market here for more than one hundred years and at one time hundreds of market vendors and locals used to gather here to buy and sell. They used to meet on the 3rd, 8th and 13th days of the waxing and waning moons of the lunar calendar. However, once they started building roads in this area, the number of people visiting this market dwindled until it nearly died out completely.
After the success of the late afternoon market at Amphawa, the local government here decided to do something to revive Bang Noi Floating Market. They pumped a lot of money into the community to pay for renovations and infrastructure like walkways and bridges. It was formerly re-opened a couple of years ago and has already been hailed a success. Although it doesn’t get as busy as Amphawa, it still has a lot of charm and things of interest. The small numbers allow you to walk comfortably up and down the canalside walkways and visit the shops without interruptions. I like Amphawa but it is getting too crowded these days.
Bang Noi Floating Market is open during the day and starts to wind down in the late afternoon at about the same time as Amphawa starts to get busy. So, if you are looking for somewhere to eat lunch while waiting for Amphawa to open then you might want to consider Bang Noi. It is open every Saturday and Sunday from about 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. I arrived a bit late as I had lunch at Bang Nok Kwaek Riverside Market. By the time I got here at 5 p.m. some of the shops had already started to close. But I could see that there was a good variety of shops that sold souvenirs and handicraft. There was also a lot of delicious food on show.
At one of the piers I noticed that they had a boat service. I spoke with one of the locals and they said that it was a free boat tour up the canal. It was getting late but they agreed to take me. There were two rowers and I sat in the middle. I felt a bit embarrassed as they had to work so hard rowing against the current. I guess it was nearly low tide as a lot of water was flowing down Bang Noi Canal and out into Mae Klong River. From there it flows south past Amphawa Canal, through Samut Songkhram City and out into the Gulf of Thailand. Other canals that feed into Mae Klong River include Damnoen Saduak and Bang Nok Kwaek.
I didn’t really have any idea where we were going, but we ended up at this temple called Wat Sai. As we got out of the boat, one of the monks started talking over the loudspeaker about the history of the temple. Apparently Wat Sai is believed to be over 500 years old. Many of the buildings are built in traditional Thai style with teak wood being used a lot. As I approached the temple I heard the monk suddenly exclaim that “a farang has come to look around the temple”. Nothing like your presence being announced to everyone. Though I seemed to be the only visitor and I could only see half a dozen monks who were sweeping the grounds.
One of the monks offered to give me a tour of the temple. He took me into one of the teak buildings where they had a kind of museum of ancient artefacts. These varied from Buddhist scriptures written by hand on palm leaves to old Thai typewriters. In the basement of another building he showed me around a museum that contained a large variety of different kinds of boats. I asked him how many visitors he had shown around today and he said that I was only the second. Back outside my two oarsmen were waiting to row me back to the market. I felt a bit awkward having this all for free so I gave them a good tip once we got back. I will definitely come here again but next time I will come in the morning and eat lunch here.
The following is a map showing the location of the market and other attractions nearby.
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