Don’t know about you but we are big markets 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 visiting 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 the famous Maeklong market.
A perfect two day Bangkok floating markets itinerary
If you don’t have two days to visit floating markets you can do a 1-day tour from Bangkok that will take you to both Damnoen Saduak and Amphawa floating markets with a stop at Maeklong Railway market on the way.
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 so many different dried fishes! If you want to try some this market is the best one to buy, where everything is cheaper than in the other three.
Maeklong train market
Late afternoon we arrived at the 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 the 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.
Amphawa floating market
From the Maeklong railway market, we headed to the 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 quiet with almost nobody around, a 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 staying overnight here to enjoy its vibe and flavor. At Amphawa you can see the 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 of vendors, boats, food stands but not very crowded yet.
Day 2. Amphawa floating market – Damnoen Saduak market – Tree Temple – Amphawa market
The 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 cultural experience.
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, the 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 to tourists, snakes for photos, souvenirs, magic medicine, etc. We found this floating market less interesting than Amphawa and more expensive and touristy.
Tree temple Wat Bang Koong
On the way back we got off the van halfway 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 the 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, a very interesting temple, beautiful and elaborate decoration of its facades. It 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.
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.
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 the 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.
An easier but more expensive way of exploring Bangkok markets is to do a one-day weekend markets tour from Bangkok that includes a visit to Damnoen Saduak and Amphawa floating markets, the Maeklong Railway market, the Tree temple, fireflies boat watching tour and pick up and drop off at your hotel in Bangkok. This tour is a great option for families with children and couples traveling together.
There is a cheaper tour option from Bangkok that takes tourists to the Maeklong Railway market and Damnoen Saduak Floating market.
Suggested Thailand tours and activities
- Tailormade Thailand: Island Highlights (G-Adventures)
- Bangkok to Chiang Mai Express (G-Adventures)
- Iconic Thailand (G-Adventures)
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. It can taste many things for free. 7. Nobody tries to charge you more because you are a tourist.
The good thing 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.
Places to see in Amphawa besides 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 the different atmosphere of the 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$).
Visit quite Rama 2 park and nearby temple Wat Amphawa Chetiyaram, right at the end of the main market street.
Watch fireflies on the river banks. The tour costs 60 Bhat, you drive in a speed boat along the river with some stops at the spots with many fireflies. Additional to fireflies you’ll get a chance to see many bats especially when going under bridges. We liked this tour, many fireflies, a pleasant trip through the night market, on the way you can see some temples and a huge sitting Buddha, the statue looks quite impressive in the dark.
Accommodation in Amphawa
Amphawa market is quite a popular place for locals to come on weekends like in any other touristy place in Thailand there are plenty of accommodation options here for different budget and travel style.
How to get from Bangkok to Amphawa floating market?
There are many options, from hiring a car to using public transport.
You can take a mini bus from the Southern mini van station, buses leave every hour, the trip takes 2 hours, costs 90 Bhat pp. It’s maybe the easiest way of getting from Bangkok to the Amphawa floating market except taking a private shuttle from your hotel (if it’s available).
We chose probably the most complicated though the most interesting and the cheapest way, trains. It took us a half of a day to get from Bangkok to the Amphawa market but the journey was an experience on its own.
First step. Get to Wongwian Yai train station in Bangkok. You can get by MRT, the nearest station has the same name Wongwian Yai, price from 21 Bhat/0,5$. 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 the trains timetable at the end!
Third step. Get 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$, van 20/0,5$.
Want to book a taxi to pick you up at your hotel direct transfer Bangkok to Amphawa Market?
Food prices at Amphawa market
- A good portion of vegetarian fried noodles – 20 Bhat/0,5$
- A 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 tourists, Amphawa is the place to go, great experience with Thai people.
Travel insurance for Thailand
It’s always recommended to have travel insurance when you go abroad especially if you’re planning to move around a lot by public transport and to do some outdoor activities like diving, snorkeling, surfing or just driving on a scooter. Make sure you will be able to get medical assistance any time you need. It’s quite handy to have insurance in case of a luggage loss, flight delay or cancellation and other emergencies. Insurance makes traveling less stressful when you know you’re covered in case of any unpredictable emergencies.
Items to bring with you to Bangkok
- Cap or hat
- Mosquito repellent
- LifeStraw water filter tap water in Thailand is not good for drinking
- Power adapter
- Light summer pants and scarf to cover the shoulders to wear when visiting temples
- Comfortable sandals (men’s option)
Recommended books and guidebooks
- The Rough Guide to Bangkok (Rough Guides). Kindle & Paperback. 2019
- Lonely Planet Thailand (Travel Guide). Paperback & Kindle. 2018
- Lonely Planet Pocket Bangkok (Travel Guide). Paperback & Kindle. 2018
- Lonely Planet Bangkok (Travel Guide). Paperback & Kindle. 2018
- DK Eyewitness Travel Guide Thailand’s Beaches and Islands. Paperback. 2016
- Insight Guides Southeast Asia. Paperback & Kindle. 2018
- Unconventional Bangkok city guide
- Kanchanaburi guide; things to do and places to visit
- Guide to choosing the best dive school in Koh Tao
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