Best floating markets in Bangkok; Amphawa and Damnoen Saduak

Colorful house at Damnoen Saduak floating market
Colorful house at Damnoen Saduak floating market

Don’t know about you but we are big market and street food lovers for this reason South East Asia in general is a paradise for us. Floating markets sound even more interesting and appealing that’s why to visit at least one of them was in our bucket list for Thailand. There are two main floating markets near Bangkok; Damnoen Saduak and Amphawa market. The first one is the most famous and touristy, the second one is supposed to be more local and authentic. We went to check and compare two of them and on the way stopped at two railway markets including famous Maeklong market. 

A perfect two day Bangkok floating markets itinerary

Day 1. Bangkok – Amphawa floating market

The first market on the way was at Maha Chai station, we didn’t even know about it, just got off the train to switch the station and found ourselves in the middle of the market. The main product is fish and seafood, dried, fried and fresh. I’ve never seen soo many different dried fishes! If you want to try some this market is the best one to buy, here everything is cheaper than in the other three.

Maeklong train market

Late afternoon we arrived at Maeklong market, it was such a contrast, after absolutely local authentic market at Maha Chai, without any tourists, Maeklong wasn’t great. Exactly the same type of market, along the railway, with same kind of goods to sell but mentioned in tourist guides. Imagine our surprise when on arrival at the station we saw hundreds of tourists with cameras taking photos of a train going “through” the market. Some even ‘ventured’ to climb on the train when it stopped and took photos inside like if the train was anything special, just a normal non AC train you get everywhere in Thailand.

Our train from Ban Laem to Maeklong train station.
Our train from Ban Laem to Maeklong train station.

Amphawa floating market

From Maeklong railway market we headed to Amphawa floating market. The market is opened only at the weekends, Fri – Sun, the main show starts when it gets dark. Other days it’s very quite with almost nobody around, typical small town in Thailand. We arrived at Amphawa on Friday around 5pm., walked through the market in search of accommodation and it didn’t look very alive.

Two hours later we went for a walk and the market was all shining and sounding, with hundreds of stands and vendors. We’d recommend to stay overnight here to enjoy its vibe and flavor. At Amphawa you can see whole variety of Thai food from their favorite squid to deep fried sweet dough, many things you can try before buying. The majority of tourists here are locals, mostly from Bangkok, not many foreigners. For us the best time was on Friday late evening, the market was full with vendors, boats, food stands but not very crowded yet.

Friday night at Amphawa floating market, all shining and vibrating. Floating markets Amphawa vs Damnoen Saduak
Friday night at Amphawa floating market, all shining and vibrating.

Day 2. Amphawa floating market – Damnoen Saduak market – Tree Temple – Amphawa market

Next morning we woke up very early, really early, at 5.30 all to see the monks! Early in the morning Thai people come to the river with some kind of donation, mostly food. Monks paddle around in small boats and collect donations, all this action is accompanied with some praying. Very interesting culture experience.

Buddhist monk collecting donation, Amphawa floating market, Bangkok
Buddhist monk collecting donation, Amphawa floating market, Bangkok

Damnoen Saduak floating market

After watching the monks we went to another floating market, famous Damnoen Saduak, 15min. by bus from Amphawa. Unlike Amphawa Damnoen Saduak is a morning market, main action starts at 8.00 and finishes at 12.00. We took a van from Amphawa (20 Bhat/0,5$) and arrived at Damnoen around 8.00-8.30, just before the majority of tourists from Bangkok.

We just got off our van when a Thai lady ran to us, almost drag us to the counter saying we have to take a boat for 40 Bhat to get to the market. When we refused she tried to assure us it was impossible to get there on foot, we ignored her and kept walking on the road towards the market. It’s about 800m to get there and to see everything you don’t need a boat, there are plenty of walks through and bridges. By 10am the main canal got so crowded with tourist boats they couldn’t even drive through. The market itself caters for tourists, snakes for photos, souvenirs, magic medicine etc. We found this floating market less interesting than Amphawa and more expensive and touristy.

Traffic on the river at Damnoen Saduak floating market.
Traffic on the river at Damnoen Saduak floating market.

Tree temple Wat Bang Koong

On the way back we got off the van half way to see some Wats including famous Wat Bang Koong, temple covered with tree roots. It was quite a walk from the main road, about 5km. You can take a tuk tuk or try to catch one of local truck-buses.

On the way to Wat Bang Koong we visited two other temples, as always quite impressive and beautiful. First was Wat…, beautiful white building, meringue looking roof, nobody around except for about 10 dogs sleeping quietly next to the Buddhas.

Next was  Wat Phraya Yat, very interesting temple, beautiful and elaborate decoration of its facades. Was as empty as the first one.

Near Wat Bang Koong you can find dozens of sculptures representing muay thai fighters. If you want to do some training and are interested in learning muay thai Thailand is the best place.

Muay Thai sculptures, Wat Bang Koong, Thailand
Muay Thai sculptures, Wat Bang Koong, Thailand

Across the road there is some kind of a zoo Bang Kung Camp with goats, pigs, donkeys and one camel, you can buy some grocery and feed them.

To finish our intense day we went for a night walk on the market and jumped for a boat ride to watch fireflies. And we saw really many fireflies along the river banks, it was a very good end of our market adventure in Thailand.

Floating restaurants, Amphawa market, Bangkok
Floating restaurants, Amphawa market, Bangkok

How to visit two railway and two floating markets in two days?

From Bangkok take a train to Maha Chai station, get off there, it’s the first railway market on the way. Then continue by train to Maeklong, the second train track market. From Maeklong go by bus to Amphawa market, stay here overnight, walk around the market, try different food, do a firefly watching boat tour. Next day early morning catch a bus to Damnoen Saduak floating market. On the way back to Amphawa you can visit some temples including Wat Bang Koong or Tree temple, a temple covered with tree roots.

Amphawa floating market, Thailand
Huge pots with all kind of seafood, fish and chicken at Amphawa floating market, Thailand

Which Bangkok’s floating and railway market is the best?

If you have to choose only one market go to Amphawa, it’s the most interesting, colorful and bustling out of four. Let’s compare two railway markets and two floating markets.

Maha Chai vs Maeklong railway market

Maha Chai is the winner. Why? 1. There are no tourists walking in hundreds around and taking photos. 2. For mentioned above reason everything is cheaper. 3. It’s easier and faster to get there, just 1 hour train ride from Bangkok, for 10Bhat. 4. They don’t sell T-shirts, caps and other crap touristy staff, only fish, seafood and fruit.

Amphawa vs Damnoen Saduak floating market

Definitely Amphawa. 1. Less touristy, mostly Thai people from Bangkok. 2. Opened from morning till late, 9-10pm, at night gets very colorful and bright. 3. Here you can find a lot more typical Thai food, all these squids, shrimps, dried fish, pork balls, fried dough etc. 4. Food is cheaper at Amphawa. 5. You can walk around, take photos, videos and nobody tries to insist on buying something. 6. Can taste many things for free. 7. Nobody tries to charge you more because you are a tourist.

The good things about Damnoen Saduak is that it’s opened every day, from 8.00 to 12.00 and there are more selling boats than in Aphawa.

Fruit stand at Amphawa floating market, Bangkok
Fruit stand at Amphawa floating market, Bangkok

What to see in Amphawa except for the market?

In Amphawa there are more things to do and to see except for the market.

Wake up early to watch Buddhist monks collecting donations on the river and to experience different atmosphere of Amphawa market early in the morning.

Visit Wat Bang Koong and other impressive temples around. You can do a tour (100 Bhat/3$) or go on your own jumping on local jeep-buses (10 Bhat/0,2$).

Visit quite Rama 2 park  and nearby temple Wat Amphawa Chetiyaram, right at the end of the main market street.

Watch fireflies on the river banks. The tour costs 60 Bhat, you drive in a speed boat along the river with some stops at the spots with many fireflies. Additional to fireflies you’ll get a chance to see many bats specially when go under bridges. We liked this tour, many fireflies, pleasant trip through night market, on the way you can see some temples and a huge sitting Buddha, the statue looks quite impressive in the dark.

Tree temple, Amphawa market
Alya at Wat Bang Koong, Tree temple, Amphawa market

Where to stay at Amphawa market?

There are a couple of local guest house type place near the floating market. For budget travelers Ban Mae Arom guest house is a great option; located at the river, 5min. walk to the market, great view, good wi-fi, included breakfast, AV, clean and nice place. Double rooms from US$22. Another good budget place is Baan Tangkwa all the same facilities and services as the first place but located a bit further from the market. Double room from US$22.

In middle price range Oh Amphawa boutique resort is perfect option; the location is great, rooms are big,  AC, flat screen TV, wi-fi, included breakfast, very clean and neat hotel, at the river bank, beautiful garden, good restaurant. Double rooms from US$38.

If you want to spoil yourself why not to stay in Ardea Resort Pool Villa, located just 100m from the floating market. The place is just impeccable; big rooms equipped with everything guests may need, beautiful outside garden with swimming pool, included breakfast, very friendly and attentive staff. Double rooms from US$86.

Horseshoe crab, Amphawa floating market, Bangkok
Horseshoe crab, Amphawa floating market, Bangkok

How to get from Bangkok to Amphawa floating market?

There are many options from hiring a car to using public transport.

You can take a mini bus from the Southern mini van station, buses leave every hour, trip takes 2 hour, costs 90 Bhat pp. It’s maybe the easiest way of getting from Bangkok to Amphawa floating market except taking a private shuttle from your hotel (if it’s available).

We chose probably the most complicated though the most interesting and the cheapest way, trains. It took us a half of a day to get from Bangkok to Amphawa market but the journey was an experience on its own.

  • First step. Get to Wongwian Yai train station in Bangkok. You can get by MRT, nearest station has the same name Wongwian Yai, price from 21 Bhat/0,5$. We took a bus №4 (more options bus №149 or 173) from Lumpini park, 8 Bhat/0,2$.
  • Second step. Train Wongwian Yai station to Maha Chai, takes 1 hour, price 10 Bhat/0,3$. Check trains timetable at the end!
  • Third step. Go from Maha Chai station to Ban Laem train station. Need to cross a river, short ferry ride (3 Bhat/0,1$). After the ferry about 10 min. walk to Ban Laem station.
  • Forth step. Train Ban Laem to Maeklong, 1 hour, 10 Bhat/0,3$. Once in Maeklong check famous railway market, you arrive right there.
  • Fifth step. Bus (van) Maeklong to Amphawa, the bus stop is one block away from the train station. Bus costs 8 Bhat/0,2$, van 20/0,5$.

Food prices at Amphawa market

  • Good portion of vegetarian fried noodles – 20 Bhat/0,5$
  • Portion of fried rice with chicken/shrimps – 30/0,8$
  • King size prawns, 7 pieces – 150/4,2$
  • Noodle soup with pork – 25/0,7$
  • Tom Yam – 30/0,8$
  • Dishes with seafood/fish from 80/2,2$
  • Pork balls (3 pieces), chicken sausage – 10/0,2$
  • Corn in sweet soy sauce – 15/0,4$

If you want to go off the beaten trek and see a bit more then ordinary tourist, Amphawa is the place to go, great experience with Thai people.

King size prawns, Amphawa market, Thailand
King size prawns, Amphawa market, Thailand

Train timetable from Bangkok

  • Wongwian Yai (Bangkok) – Maha Cha
    leaves 05.30 06.25 07.00 07.40 08.35 09.40 10.40 12.15 13.20 14.25 15.25
    arrives 06.23 07.27 07.58 08.39 09.28 10.36 11.39 13.10 14.15 15.22 16.27

     

    continue leaves 16.30 17.05 17.35 18.35 19.10 20.10
    arrives 17.26 18.02 18.36 19.30 20.04 21.00

     

    Banlaem station  –  Maeklong

    leaves 07.30 10.10 13.30 16.40
    arrives 08.30 11.10 14.30 17.40

     

    Maeklong – Banlaem (return)

    leaves 06.20 09.00 11.30 15.30
    arrives 07.20 10.00 12.30 16.30

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Best floating markets of Bangkok, Thailand; Amphawa vs Damnoen Saduak. Comparison, itinerary, best time to visit, sea food, local sweets, activities, accommodation, tips.

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10 Comments

    • Hello, Laura! We didn’t book it in advance we were walking through the market saw this tour advertised at the river and got on a boat. You won’t miss it there is only one place where the market crosses the river. There are several boats doing it I don’t think it’ll be a problem to get a spot.
      Cheer!

    • Hi, Orlando! Thank you! We’re gland it was helpful for you! Hope you’ll enjoy Thailand and its Floating markets.
      Good luck!

  • Thanks for your sharing! Wandering around Amphawa Market is really an interesting experience but the thing I impress most is the cruise on the river in the night to see fire – fly.

  • I’m a big fan of markets too and I do look for authenticity when it comes to experiencing the sights and sounds of a marketplace.

    One of it is Khlong Toei which are mainly visited by locals and they sell every fresh produce imaginable!

  • So cool seeing the monks paddle around for alms. Never seen that in my life. I do wake early at times in Thailand to watch monks go through their daily alms routine. And to observe locals giving to the robe and receiving prayers. Great shots guys!

    • Hi, Ryan! Thank you for the comment! Watching monks in Amphawa was interesting experience something very different from bustling streets of Bangkok and partying islands.
      Cheers!

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