Category Archives: Samut Songkram

Bang Noi Floating Market

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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Bang Nok Kwaek 100 Year Market

After the success of Amphawa Floating Market in Samut Songkhram, other communities in the area decided to try their hand at a weekend market. One such example is Bang Nok Kwaek Market which is alongside the Mae Klong River north of Amphawa [MAP]. The buildings and market here are actually over one hundred years old, but after the roads were built and less people travelled by boat, the market was practically abandoned.

Then a few years back, the local community decided to revive the old market. Although it doesn’t have the hustle and bustle of its younger cousin at Amphawa, it certainly makes up for it with its old time charm and friendly shopkeepers. If you want to experience an old Thai riverside market without the crowds of tourists then its worth spending an hour or so at Bang Nok Kwaek Market. Incidentally, the name comes from the Black-crowned Night Heron which is common along the river banks here.

I arrived at Bang Nok Kwaek in time for lunch. There was a decent variety of food worth trying out. There were crab noodles, khao haeng (rice soup without the soup) and pad thai kung maenam. It is the last one which I opted for and what you can see in this picture. I am sure many of you have had pad thai with fresh shrimp before, but this version has a large river shrimp. It tasted very good and cost 40 baht. My other snack was krathong tong which was equally delicious.

A visit to a riverside market wouldn’t be complete without a boat ride. That was why I was happy to spot this boat moored at one of the piers. I quickly finished my iced coffee and headed for the pier. Another surprise was a sign in Thai on the pier that said that the boat trips were free. I asked the boatmen about this later as we cruised along the Mae Klong river. He told me that the intention was to help promote the market but also the house of a local man who sells plants and herbal drinks. It was this house which was our destination. It was only a 30 minute trip but certainly worth doing.

You can reach Bang Nok Kwaek from Amphawa by travelling north on Highway 6006. You can also catch local transport from Samut Songkhram or from Amphawa. Just before the market on your left is the large white cathedral called The Church of the Virgin Mary. Here you go over a bridge and the market is then on your left. Interestingly, this canal is the Western end of Damnoen Saduak Canal which has a famous floating market at the other end. The market and river tours only operate at the weekends from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The following is a map showing the location of the market and other attractions nearby.

[cetsEmbedGmap src=,99.923744&spn=0.027626,0.038581&z=15 width=500 height=325 marginwidth=0 marginheight=0 frameborder=0 scrolling=no]

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Monks Doing Alms Round by Boat

For those of you who are finding that Amphawa Floating Market is becoming too crowded and touristy, then I recommend that you step back in time by staying overnight in one of the many homestays that can be found along Amphawa Canal. In the olden days, before roads and cars, these canals were the lifeline of the local villagers.

The first markets were floating markets as people came together on their boats to buy and sell. Other vendors would row up and down the canals selling direct to people in front of their houses. Monks would also leave their temples by boat and row along the canals on their early morning alms round. You don’t often get a chance to see this being practised these days so it is great that it has been revived at Amphawa.

The monks leave their temple before dawn. At the homestay where I spent the night, the owner came and knocked on my door at 6 a.m. to say that the monks would pass our pier soon. About three or four other people sat on the wide verandah waiting for the monks to come. We were lucky that our homestay was right on the water’s edge so the monks would pass right by us. The first monks came into view about ten minutes later.

The Thais at my homestay politely called out to the monk to come over so that they could make merit. Some of the monks had people rowing for them while others were alone. After the Buddhists had made merit, the monk gave them a short blessing. Even if you are not making merit yourself, it is a peaceful experience just to watch. Most people made merit with about three or four monks.

I stayed watching them for a while then went for a walk along the canal. Compared to the hustle and bustle of the previous night it was such a delight to stroll along the toll-path. It was virtually deserted. The only boats on the water belonged to the monks or vendors selling breakfast to the local people and the few tourists that stayed the night. The monks continued to row up and down the canal until about 7:15 a.m. I am really glad that I had got up early to experience this.

Cathedral in Samut Songkhram

One of the most beautiful Gothic cathedrals in Thailand is The Nativity of Our Lady Cathedral next to Bang Nok Kwaeng Riverside Market in Samut Songkhram. The cathedral has been a dominant feature of the river banks of the Maeklong River for over one hundred years. The walls are made of highly-heated clay brick coated with sugar cane molasses mixed into the lime. The colour of the exterior walls comes from a mixture containing charcoal powder.

In the year 1835, Bishop Courvesy was installed by the Holy Father in Rome as the first Bishop of Siam. He invited Friar Albrand from Singapore to help with the pastoral work at Rosary Church in Talad Noi in Bangkok. On his missionary journey, Friar Albrand passed through the Maeklong River valley. On reaching a village on the banks of Simuen Canal, he found eight Chinese Catholic families who had moved there from Rosary Church and had settled on this fertile land.

By the year 1847 there were about 200 Catholics and they built a wooden church with a thatched roof near the Raung Yao irrigation canal. In 1850, Friar Marin acquired a piece of good land near the Damnoen Saduak Canal which linked the Tajeen and Maeklong rivers. In 1890, Friar Paulo Salmon, whose statue you can see in the picture above, started the construction of the cathedral. It took six long years before they were finally able to celebrate the grand opening on 11th February 1896.

The stained glass windows were made by the Hector Co. from France. They depict stories from the Bible and of the Virgin Mary. During World War II, some parts of the church and the stained glass were damaged. The cathedral was renovated in 1994 just in time for its centenary celebrations. Today there are about 2,000 Catholics registered in the district though some of these have now moved away to work elsewhere.

You can reach the cathedral by heading north from Amphawa. Pass the Rama II Park and head towards Bang Nok Kwaeng [MAP]. The cathedral is open Wednesday to Saturday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. If you find it locked then inquire at the nearby information center. Mass is celebrated Monday to Friday at 6:15 a.m., first Friday and Saturday of the month at 7:30 p.m. and on Sundays at 6:30 a.m. and 9 a.m.

Tha Kha Floating Market

The most popular floating market in Thailand for tourists is undoubtedly at Damnoen Saduak. However, if you want to avoid the bus loads of tourists on a very well worn trail then I suggest that you head out to Tha Kha Floating Market (ตลาดน้ำท่าคา). This market is a short distance away in Samut Songkhram Province [MAP]. I was using a homestay at Amphawa Floating Market as my base and it only took me about 15 minutes to drive here. It is a bit in the middle of no-where if you don’t have your own transport. But, I am told you can catch a songtaew here from the market in Samut Songkhram City.

The Tha Kha Floating Market is far more genuine than Damnoen Saduak. Just think the same but twenty years ago. It is the kind of place where the boat vendors were also selling to each other in addition to the small number of Thai tourists that turn up. For the entire time that I was there I only saw three foreign tourists and each of them had personal Thai guides. I seemed to be the only foreigner there without a guide. One thing that I don’t like about Damnoen Saduak are the rows of souvenir shops all selling the same tacky items. At Tha Kha it was mainly fruit and vegetables but also some OTOP products made by local people.

Like at Damnoen Saduak, you can also go on a boat tour of the local canals. If I remember right, at Damnoen Saduak this costs something like 400 baht if not more. However, here it costs only 20 baht each! Which is ridiculously cheap. When I first went to Damnoen Saduak most boats had people rowing, though these days they all seem to have noisy motors. At Tha Kha they will paddle you along the narrow canals in peace and quiet so that you can better appreciate your environment. I was taken to three locations. Two old houses that are more than 100 years old and also a sugar palm factory.




The market starts running at about 8 a.m. until 11:30 a.m. The earlier you go the better. As it is a traditional market, you will find that the main days are on the 2nd, 7th and 12th days of the waxing and waning moon. You will need a special lunar calendar to work this out. As they are trying to develop this market as a tourist destination, it is also now open at the weekends. While I was there they were constructing some wooden buildings on the opposite bank. I presume to add places for people to eat or maybe more shops. I suggest that you go here sooner rather than later before it becomes too commercialized.

The following is a map showing the location of the market and other attractions nearby.

[cetsEmbedGmap src=,99.99507&spn=0.027628,0.038581&z=15 width=500 height=325 marginwidth=0 marginheight=0 frameborder=0 scrolling=no]

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