Amphawa is fun, it is always fun. This year I have travelled and passed through Amphawa, Samut Songkhram several times. I can't refuse when I am asked to join the Marketing Information Department of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) to travel to Amphawa because there is always a sense of fun every single time I visit there.
It's clear that there must be a concept when travelling with TAT. This trip is part of the campaign called Chill Out Thailand to explore the two provinces including Samut Songkhram and Ratchaburi to highlight on the 12 must-visit cities and to promote Thai way of life and community tourism. Thus, I divide each province into different reviews.
Generally, Samut Songkhram is a perfect province for Thai way of life tourism. It's full of traditional Thainess though it's very close to the civilised Bangkok just one hour drive. The main tourist attractions are temples, floating markets and fishing villages that reflect the Thainess. It perfectly falls into place when it is chosen as one of the 12 must-visit cities.
We travelled in an early August (pending too long!) and Amphawa is our main focus. We depart from TAT Head Office in New Phetchaburi Road, not long after we arrive in the downtown of Maeklong and a little further into Amphawa. Do you know that Samut Songkhram is the smallest province in the country and has least districts (only 3 districts same as Phuket)? There are Mueng, Amphawa and Bang Khonthi.
When visiting Amphawa on weekend don't' miss Tha Kha Floating Market. This place still remains an old traditional way of floating market. The space is well allocated, not too less or too much to accommodate tourists. Locals usually take the boats and sell goods every day during the period of the waxing moon and waning moon or every five days. This practice has been carried out until nowadays while Saturday and Sunday are added to open for tourists.
Tha Kha Floating Market totally differs from Amphawa Floating Market. The market operates in a small canal not in a canal at estuary. The goods sold here are agricultural products from locals such as coconut, banana, guava, lime, papaya and many more. Some people come to buy for further reselling or processing. There are a few restaurants and boats that sell foods but not dazzled. The atmosphere is local authentic and it doesn't develop that fast. Thus the uniqueness is well remained. Whoever visits here will fall into its charm like me.
Do not miss to take the boat and cruise along the canal to enjoy the garden and visit a very few places in the country that still making traditional palm sugar. The cruise is along the canal side surrounded by coconut groves and orchards. It's so refreshing to listen to the sound of paddle hitting the water. It costs 200 baht per boat, which fits 5-6 people. The entire journey is about 50 minutes. It is truly good atmosphere.
There is a homestay provided by a community enterprise for people who are interested in staying at Tha Kha. You can contact for more information.
Departing from Tha Kha Floating Market not that far after till we arrive at Ban Bang Pap Community in Bang Phrom. (Nowhere is far in Samut Songkhram). It's not yet well known but it's getting highly popular because of its interesting traditional way of life.
Ban Bang Pap is a village of gardeners like almost every village in Samut Songkhram but its distinctive point is the processing of fruit and vegetables which seem unlikely edible into tasty snacks so called 'Reborn Fruits'. This name is given because indescribable taste of fruits and vegetables such as Tinospora cordifolia, grapefruit peel, and chili are well preserved leaving full-flavored, sweet without its original taste. By turning Tinospora cordifolia to a sweet snack is really an ultimate work.
I'm very lucky to have the opportunity to see the process from the beginning. It is a community enterprise and has received many national awards.
Another notable activity at Ban Bang Pap is a bike tour to see local way of life. It is a low-carbon travel activity, which I highly promote. Incidentally, a group of private organisation is here for the field trip on the same day we visit thus the bikes are all taken. We listen to the children from Wat Kaen Chan School that demonstrate the processing of agricultural products such as charcoal from non-edible fruits to be used as deodoriser and salted-egg wrapped in ashes and etc instead. This is great and I can't stop smiling when seeing the children enjoy the resource from their village.
Alright, It seems like my stomach begins to cry for lunch. TAT brings me to a famous restaurant in Amphawa called Nong Um. Many people should know this restaurant, as it is quite famous thus I don't talk about this anymore. (haha...) After eating, we sit for a while to digest and wait for the time to lie down with relaxing foot massage on the Hatthatara boat.
Hatthatara is the Thai massage shop (and Resort & Spa in Amphawa), which operates at Amphawa Floating Market. It offers an exclusive cruise with foot massage along the Maeklong River. The cost per boat for maximum 10 people is 3,500 baht, taking one hour and a half for the entire round trip journey. There are 6 massage beds inside the both meaning one group do it on the way out and another on the way in but you can have long massage during cruising if there are only 6 people. However, if you don't want to rent a charter boat, you can also go individually at 350 baht per person. The boat runs every Saturday and Sunday evening but the seats have to be fully filled with passengers in order to operate the boat.
Normally, we must embark at Ampawa Floating Market but this time the boat takes from Nong Um restaurant since we are a special group. After embarking, we lie down to enjoy the cool breeze and relaxing foot massage. It's super great.
Typically, the boat will take you back to the floating market but it takes us to Bang Kung temple pier since we want to visit Bang Kung Camp and the famous chapel known as Bot Prok Pho, the unseen site in Thailand
There are always many visitors at Bot Prok Pho even on weekdays and extremely crowded on Saturday like this. I have visited here many times but I feel that this place is always beautiful and magical though the temple sign covers up the beautiful popular spot. The name of Bot Prok Pho does not mean that the chapel is only covered by the Bodhi tree but also other four types of three such as Banyan Tree, Bengal fig and East Indian Fig.
Another uniqueness of Bot Prok Pho is having no doors and windows. Locals make fun of that by comparing to 7-11 convenient store that is open 24 hours a day. You can come here if you want to pay respect to the Buddha at 02:00AM in the morning (haha...)
In addition to pay respect to a large sacred Buddha statue known as Luangpho Nilmanee and see the magical power of Bot Prok Pho, do not forget to pay homage to King Rama II Monument. According to history, this place was a military camp since he Ayutthaya era and it was abandoned. It was then restored again during the era of Thonburi by migrating Chinese immigrants from various key districts to set as Bang Kung Chinese Camp. Later, The Burmese moved the troops to the camp but the King Rama II was kind enough to allow Phra Maha Montree (Boonma) to march an army to help the Chinese soldiers to repel the Burmese army successfully.
Enjoying at Bang Kung Camp for a long time, glancing at the watch is nearly the evening. It's now the time to say hi to Amphawa Floating Market. A long-tailed boat takes us from Bang Kung Camp, cruises along the Maeklong River to Amphawa Floating Market. It is still bustling with the crowd though it is less extreme than the boom period during the last few years but there are a lot more Chinese tourists these days.
I still carry my camera because the sky is not dark yet. I have dinner in this area to recharge myself to go on after the sky begins to change its colour. The atmosphere at dusk and night in Amphawa is more charming than the day time.
There is no need to describe about delicious dishes, foods and goods. There are many small museums that are established by locals and the Amphawa Chaipattananurak project of the Chaipattana Foundation and also the showcase gallery from local photographers. You can enjoy strolling, eating and shooting.
That is one-day activity with Chill Out Thailand at Amphawa. It is a full version of Thai Way of Life Tourism. I am super happy and have so much fun. Other than this there are many more Thai Way of Life attractions such as Bang Noi Floating Marke, Bang Nok Kwaek Floating Market, The King Rama II Memorial Park, Ban Rim Klong, Wat Bang Khae Noi, at Bang Khae Yai, Wat Kummarin Kudeethong, Wat Bang ka Pom and etc. As I always say this is a real Thai Way of Life Tourism.
Samut Songkhram is a small province and Amphawa is also a small district but full of great sense. Again, I strongly confirm that it's never boring to visit here.
Tourism Authority of Thailand, Samut Songkhram Office Tel. 0-3475-2847 - 8.
Ban Bang pap Comunity Centre Tel. 0-3476-1985, 08-1274-4433.
Hatthatara Amphawa Tel. 0-3476-7695, 08-9672-0205.
If you are more interested in my reviews, want to chitchat or ask for more information (if I have) or invite me for travelling. I will be really pleased.