To keep things short and concise we’ll skip listing all of the floating markets in Thailand and go straight to our Top Pick, which is Amphawa. The reasons we chose Amphawa as best floating market are varied with the most important factor being the markets huge popularity with both foreign and Thai tourists alike. While foreigner tourists are more likely to book a tour to Amphawa floating market, the locals favor visiting Amphawa by private car and with their families.
Since Amphawa floating market is located only about 50 km from Bangkok it tends to draw huge crowds on the weekends when Bangkokians swarm out to escape the noise, heat and pollution of their home city. Popular pastimes include taking a stroll along the canals, shopping, and most importantly: eating to ones’ heart content, a popular activity in a country blessed with some of the best food in the world. Compared to the even more famous Damnoen Saduak Floating Market, which caters mostly to foreign tourists and early birds, Amphawa is slightly smaller and buzzing like a hive in the evenings. According to history the once small village of Amphawa has been present since the Mid-Seventeenth Century. Over the centuries the markets popularity has grown steadily and today it’s shops and food stalls litter not only the riverbanks but also stretch far out into the surrounding streets.
About the “floating” part of the market…When we say floating market, don’t think of Amphawa as that image of a thousand boats in the river, brimming with food and color. The actual “floating” part of the market is very quiet (while the non-floating part is massive), and there are just a few vendors who mostly sell things like potted plants and flowers and fresh fruits and vegetables from their boats, with just a few restaurant boats.
The main attraction is eating seafood, the favorite activity for many Thais. There is a variety of grilled sea foods on offer in the wooden boats that hover around the famous central bridge. They serve up an appetizing selection of huge prawns, shellfish, mussels, and squid from noon until late in the evening. Locals and tourists alike flock to each side of the river getting lost in this exotic adventure. Along both sides of the canal, are old charming wooden shops that sell souvenirs, handmade creations, gifts, and of course lots of sweets, snacks and desserts.
This market is open only on the weekends (May-October is raining season and also high season). In 2008, the Khlong Amphawa Community was given an Honorable Mention Award from the UNESCO Asia–Pacific Heritage Awards for Culture Heritage Conservation as a result of its efforts in preserving their local culture and architecture.