Taking your vacation out of the enormous city of Bangkok lets you begin a whole new adventure into the traditional sights and pastimes of Thailand. One of these more traditional activities has become a draw to visitors to the country, the floating markets in Thailand.
Thailand is blessed with a wet natural climate. In the longitude band of 22 to 32 degrees, the country ranges from sub-tropical to tropical. While among its three seasons, beginning with the Hot Season and the Cool (or Dry) Season, it also does have a Rainy Season, the natural geography of the country offers a lot of water even besides the rain, which in actuality could fall just about anytime throughout the year and not only during the season named for it.
With an area of 513,120 sq km, this long and medium sized country includes 25 rivers and 254 river basins. The largest of the rivers are the famous Mekong River, which runs along the northern, north eastern and eastern borders, and the mighty Chao Phraya, whose name means the “River of Kings” and which flows through Bangkok, bisecting the huge metropolis.
As a primarily agricultural society throughout the centuries, these basins are also irrigated by a number of canals to feed water to the immense number of rice fields and so many different fruit orchards and vegetable fields. In Thai language, the word for canal is “klong”. You can even see these canals lacing through the vast urban sprawl of the capital city of Bangkok, while the fields have been covered with all kinds of commercial buildings and housing. We are talking wet and wild! Throughout time, these canals have even served as the highways throughout the city of Bangkok — which was once known in travel literature as the “Venice of the East”.
And you guessed it. Nowadays, in the notorious heavy traffic Bangkok city is famous for, the canals which still run through the city yet serve as transportation routes with public boats carrying passengers right through the city quickly, much as the express river taxis do, without having to deal with traffic jams.
Within Bangkok, but particularly without, where water traffic is much slower if occurring at all anymore, the floating markets in Thailand can be discovered along certain sections of these canals. They are a great place to view the traditional culture, to do some shopping for fruit and vegetables, as well as to try out some of the most delicious Thai street food you will ever taste. Thai street food has become rather famous around the world for its tantalizing variety of tastes, and it is absolutely on of the many things all the millions of visitors to Thailand every year look forward to indulging in while they are in the country.
A wonderful example of these fascinating floating markets in Thailand is definitely the Amphawa Floating Market, along with the famous and mysteriously beautiful fireflies in Amphawa. This happens to be the second most visited floating market in the country, extremely popular among locals, but also with the guests of VIE Hotel Bangkok.
Amphawa Floating Market is located about 50 miles to the southwest of Bangkok, in Samut Songkhram province.
It is imbued with an authenticity which most of the more touristy floating markets have begun to lose, and this is partly because there are somewhat less people here. However, morning is the time to visit since after noon it quickly fills up and becomes extremely crowded. Thai said, for the sheer sights and sounds of the unique experience of floating markets in Thailand, the weekend is probably the best time to pay a visit here for sightseeing.
An incredible draw for locals, mainly due to its delicious array of seafood and Thai street food, which can be found along its banks. Grilled prawns are a special delight and you can eat them right on the bank. Squid, prawns and shellfish are grilled on boats which gather around the large bridge of Amphawa. However, if eating them right there is not your thing, a number of good restaurants are also located here.
Street food stalls line the banks along with all other kinds of stalls you can usually find in markets in Thailand. You can even take a cruise around the market as well as explore the surrounding canals and rivers which are interconnected. The cruises (there are two per day) leave from the area of the big bridge and cost 50 baht per person.
A huge highlight of the cruise is a stop at Wat Bang Koong. Seemingly standing up out of the wilds, a huge tree has grown up around it and entangled it within its trunk and roots! Only the door and the windows seem to be free from the living tree, and the rest is inside.
Besides its interesting and, in many ways, magnificent architecture, the beautiful temple also houses a little mini zoo on the temple grounds. You can expect to see some deer, some boars, a few goats and ostriches here, some pretty squawking peacocks, and also, improbably enough, a camel.
If shopping is truly your passion, a rather famous open-air market is found nearby, the Maeklong Railway Market. Train Markets, known as Talad Rot Fai in the Thai language, are one of the oldest kinds of markets in the country of Thailand. This one was established in 1905. The many stalls line up along the tracks selling their huge amount of wares. Large quantities of good were, and still are, bound for the inner reaches of the city of Bangkok. You can bet that this is also a superb place to find some delightful Thai street food as well. And when the train whistle blows, the many venders of the Maeklong Railway Market make sure to move everything off the tracks, lock, stock and barrel.
This is why these kinds of markets are also known as a “pull-down market”—as the train comes and goes, the stalls of the Maeklong Railway Market periodically expand and contract!
However, the most beautiful attraction of the Amphawa Floating Market comes around when the sun goes down and is probably of the biggest reasons that this market has really become so famous. If you can bear with the heavy crowds of the afternoon and stick around till after dark, you will be in for a treat. Prepare to discover the enchanting fireflies in Amphawa.
The village and area around Amphawa is surrounded by numerous old trees, such as the one that covers Wat Bang Boong temple. An evening cruise will reveal that these trees and their branches are actually the home of bright and fascinating fireflies. The fireflies in Amphawa make a mysterious and beautiful sight as the swarm over the dark waters beneath the leaves and can make a visit to Amphawa an unforgettable trip.
Guests staying in VIE Hotel Bangkok will find it quite easy to reach Amphawa Floating Market with the advice of our helpful Concierge. A private car can be chartered, taken directly from VIE Hotel Bangkok. Or, to go in a more local style, a bus from the Southern Bus Terminal can reach it easily within two hours. What will greet your eyes after you make this trip is a scenic delight, as this is certainly the most picturesque of all the floating markets.