Category Archives: Samut Songkram

Ban Rak Amphawa Homestay

Ban Rak Amphawa Homestay - Amphawa Home of Love

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 The website for the homestay next door where they speak some English is 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 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.

Return to Amphawa Floating Market

I first went to Amphawa Floating Market in Samut Songkhram exactly five years ago. I went there for the annual Rama II Fair. This year it takes place on the weekend of 5th-6th February 2011. I have been back to Amphawa a few times since. I really like the floating market as it seems very authentic compared to the tourist trap at the nearby Damnoern Saduak. I also enjoyed the boat tour of the local river and temples.

Five years ago I didn’t see any foreigners at all and there was hardly anything about it on the Internet. Certainly not in English. Also at that time there was nothing in the guidebooks. Things have of course changed since then. Judging by chatter on the Internet there will most likely be more foreigners today. I think one of the things that many people like about it is that it is a late afternoon market. So, no need to wake up early. It is also only a weekend market.

This weekend I am going to go again, but this time I will be spending the night at a homestay by the river. I’m really looking forward to that as I have heard a lot of good things. However, I am worried that it may have become over commercialised with every other home becoming a homestay. There is certainly a lot of demand. The first four homestays that I called on Wednesday were already fully booked. I will be blogging about my weekend when I get back, but you can follow me live on Twitter @RichardBarrow.

I will be collecting new content for my Amphawa Floating Market website and also for the Samut Songkhram Map.

Wat Bang Kaphom in Samut Songkhram

I was on my way to the floating market at Amphawa the other week when I came across this interesting temple. On the outside it was deserted and very undistinguishable from any other temple that I had been to in Thailand. I almost passed it by but then a coach load of Thai tourists pulled into the small parking lot. They left their coach in single file and were led to a small wihan off to one side. My curiosity got the better of me and I decided to follow them. I am so glad that I did. Wat Bang Kaphom is located off Highway 325 between Samut Songkram and the Amphawa Floating Market. It is an old temple dating back to the Ayutthaya period. It is one of those places that should be in the Lonely Planet but isn’t.

The old building is dominated by a large Buddha Footprint in the center. It is unusual in that it has four distinct layers. There are four different footprints superimposed on each other. They are believed to date back to the Thonburi period and were once said to be covered in silver plating. The footprint at the lowest level is made from mother-of-pearl inlaid wood. What makes this room outstanding are the stucco reliefs found on the walls. Normally, temple walls are covered with mural paintings depicting episodes from the Buddha’s life. It is unusual to see this 3-D effect in a Thai temple, though I have seen many in India.

I wouldn’t suggest that you make a special trip to this temple, but it is a worthwhile stop on the way to the floating market. I have marked it for you on google maps. Visit our Samut Songkhram section of for more ideas for places to visit in this province. Don’t forget to also bookmark for all the latest festivals and events in Thailand. We have also started to put our notes together on a new website site about Amphawa Floating Market at All of these websites are part of the Paknam Web Network.

Swimming Monkeys in Samut Songkhram

Over the years, at, I have written about many of the day trips that I have been on in the Bangkok area. I have long since been to all of the major tourist attractions and now I spend most of my time looking for new attractions within driving distance of Bangkok. The other day I found a new one just 90 minutes away from Bangkok in Samut Songkhram Province. Along the coastline, at a small community called Klong Khone, I found a group of homestays which provide various activities for mainly Thai visitors from Bangkok. These include boat tours where people could see up close the life and work of local fishermen. However, the highlight of these tours is the visit to see the so called sea monkeys who live along the coastline.

Samut Songkhram Province is fast becoming a popular eco-tourism destination for people living in Bangkok. I first went there on the Maeklong Railway trip where the train passes through the market on the tracks. Then on another visit I went to the emerging floating market at Amphawa. When I went back again last year I discovered literally dozens of new places around the market that were advertising homestay and various activities such as giving alms to the monks who passed the homestay early in the morning paddling a boat. It is possible to also join boat tours here and along the coastline at Don Hoi Lot. This is a popular destination for families to come to eat seafood and relax in the shade of the trees. If you continue on Highway 35 for about another 8 kms then you will reach the turn-off for Tambon Klong Khone.

Although this area is relatively unknown to independent foreign travellers, it has become popular with Thai people who come here with their university or company to take part in various activities such as planting mangrove saplings. At the main turn-off, there was a large bilingual sign pointing out places such as the Conservation Mangrove Center and various homestays. However, apart from that, there was very little in the way of English signs to show you where to go. The only clues we had were colourful signs advertising numerous homestays. Hardly any of them had any English, but many had pictures of the sea monkeys swimming in the water. We decided to follow the sign for “Baan Khlong Clone Resort” mainly because it also advertised their own dot com website.

On our arrival we were greeted by the resort manager. He ushered us to a large dining area over a pond where he showed us various photo albums of people who had already enjoyed their stay at the resort. He told me that about 60% of them were students from universities. The resort has a number of bungalow type buildings where you can sleep four people comfortably for 2,000 baht. He said that they would put in an extra mattress for 300 baht per person. For bigger groups he also had the options of renting out a large dormitory for 4,000 baht or people could sleep in tents. I have posted more pictures of this resort over at our Forums. Although I was tempted to stay the night, what we had mainly come to do was to join a boat tour to see the sea monkeys.

The manager told us that it would cost us about 700 baht to rent a boat for a trip that would last one or two hours. He seemed quite vague when he was giving me prices of the accommodation and various activities. It wasn’t like he was trying to cheat me, but rather he wasn’t sure how much he could get away with charging. While we were looking through the photo albums a Thai couple came and he told them the same price of 700 baht for the boat trip. It did seem to be on the expensive side but as you can get up to five people in one boat it could be good value for money if you take advantage of that. So, we agreed to rent a boat straight away. We were given a lifejacket, a large farmers style hat with a wide brim, and a cold bottle of water. Before we set off, I double checked that we would indeed see the monkeys. The other side trips of “jet skiing” and observing fishermen activities were of incidental value to me. We were assured that we would indeed see monkeys. And as it turned out, we saw literally hundreds.

I have said many times before that I really like doing boat trips as it is a great way to experience natural air-conditioning as you whizz down rivers and canals. The boat wasn’t too comfortable as we were basically sitting on a low stool with no backs to lean onto. The boat also didn’t have a canopy so make sure that you put on sunscreen and a hat. About ten minutes after we had left the homestay resort the boatman slowed down and then cut the engine. As we drifted towards the bank we quickly spotted the monkeys that were racing to greet us. I counted about 30 monkeys. Some were young babies being carried by their mothers. Many were on the banks while others were in the trees. Then we heard a splash as one had jumped down into the water to swim out to us.

It is a funny, I had always thought that monkeys were scared of water. But, here we were watching monkeys swimming in the canal. Not only that, but they were diving too. One of them had spotted some fruit floating on the water, and then after grabbing it, the monkey dived under the water and swam for 2 or 3 meters before coming back up for air close to the bank. Our boatman told us that on hot days that the monkeys would play in the water in order to cool off. They would hang from the branches of the trees and dive bomb into the water. As there were only the two of us on the boat, there was no pressure to move on and the boatman said that we could stay as long as we liked. However, as we didn’t have any food to give the monkeys they quickly grew bored of us and just sat still on the banks.

After a while, we continued on with our boat tour. We soon left behind us the mangrove forest and we were taken out to sea. He showed us some of the many fishermen huts that were built on stilts over the water. In Thai these are apparently called “krateng”. He then took us further down the coast and then up another estuary to a small fishing community. Along the way we stopped at a few spots to observe the monkeys. We passed about 4 or 5 other tour boats though for most of the time we were alone. Some of these tourists had come prepared with bananas for the monkeys. In other boats I could see that they had mangrove saplings so I presumed that they were going to help replant the mangrove forests. Many of these had been cut down to make way for shrimp farms. They now realized that this was causing land erosion so the community were desperately replanting. But, it takes time.

Our boat went up as far as Wat Klong Khone before turning around for the return trip the same way. We stopped again to see the monkeys on the way back. By the time we had returned to the homestay resort nearly two hours had passed. We hadn’t seen much about the way of life of fishermen. They were probably sleeping inside to escape the midday heat. However, seeing the monkeys swimming in the water was alone worth the trip. If you are feeling adventurous, there is an opportunity to do the local version of “jet skiing”. This involved a wooden plank shaped a bit like a surfboard and a long piece of rope tied to the end of the boat. The boatman then offered to pull us along at high speed. We declined. This surfboard is really used by the local people at low tide to skim across the surface of the mud as they look for sea creatures. They knelt on these boards and then pushed themselves along with the feet.

Before we left, we decided to check out another homestay in order to compare prices and activities. We next decided to follow the signs for Home Krateng. I had seen a report about this one on a Thai language blog. On arrival we were again greeted by the manager and then showed around. The homestay here seemed cheaper at 1,200 baht but I soon realized that this price was per person and not for the room! However, it was a package price. If you arrived at noon, you would be given, lunch, dinner and breakfast. You could also have one of the meals on their krateng out in the sea. Some people also opt to sleep here at night. This price also includes the boat tour similar to the one we had already been on. You would need to have a minimum of four people sharing the room. If there was only two of you then you would need to pay more per person. Like the other resort, these people also seemed to be unsure of prices as I grilled them. They kept saying “about”. When I asked about children they had to have a discussion between themselves first on how much the discount should be.

Home Krateng also offer boat tours if you don’t want to stay the night. However, at 1,000 baht for the boat it was more expensive than Baan Khlong Clone Resort. But, the seats looked more comfortable with backs and there was also a canopy shading you from the sun. The pictures of the tour that they showed me also looked a bit more interesting than our own tour as they took you to a mussel farm where you can see various shellfish stuck to poles in the sea. Some of the pictures also showed foreigners. Apparently a popular Thai tour guide called Tong has been bringing groups of foreigners to this location for the last few years. However, the homestay manager told me that it was very rare for foreign independent travellers to come here. I really want to come back here again. Maybe bring Nong Grace as well as she would love to see the monkeys. However, to make it economical you would need at least four or five people in your group. Nothing I had seen so far was for independent travellers.

Tambon Klong Khone is not easy to reach by public transport. On the way out I did see some songtaews that had come from the nearby town of Samut Songkhram. But the sign on the front was only in Thai. As the place is also spread out then you would need to choose a homestay before you arrive if you don’t have the luxury of a car. During the weekend and on public holidays you would need to book in advance if you intend to stay the night. Like I said before, there are hardly any road signs in English and no-one seemed to be able to speak English. It is a bit adventurous but certainly worth the effort. Follow this link to our forums at where I have posted pictures of road signs and more instructions on how to find this location. Don’t forget to also post your experiences if you go to see the monkeys.

For more ideas of day trips from Bangkok check out our websites at and

Maeklong Market Railway Video

In Samut Songkram, there is a unique market that is held every day literally on the rail tracks. Just before the train arrives in the town, the market stallholders have to pull back their awnings and remove their produce from the tracks. They then have to repeat all of this when the train returns. Fortunately it is not a busy track. The train leaves four times and it arrives four times. The track is not part of the national network. It only runs between Samut Sakhon and Samut Songkram. You can do this easily as a day trip from Bangkok. I wrote a story about this a couple of years ago. I was back there again at the weekend to shoot a video of the train arriving at the station. Last time I was on the train. If you go to Bangkok Day Trips you can view my full story as well as view videos and photos of this location.

The Market on the Maeklong Railway >>>

Also watch the new video and my photos.